“Oh my god, look at that hair!” “Your son’s hair is beautiful, he could pass as a girl!” “Can I touch his hair?”
Yup. These are the main things we hear from strangers when we go out in public. My son’s curly fro is definitely his main feature, and attracts a lot of attention wherever we go. I get a lot of questions and comments about his hair (the good and the bad), so I decided it was a topic worth diving into. I’ve collaborated on this post with another boy mommy blogger friend, Mazel, who also has two boys with unique, long hair. I’m so happy to have her alternative perspective on this topic: boys with long hair. We came up with a few common questions that we get about our sons’ hair and had fun answering them!
First off, here’s a little about Mazel:
Mazel is the creator of the blog, The Kid Kulture. Since becoming a wife, and a momma of 2 lively little boys (3.5 years, 2 years), she realized very quickly that in order to survive the chaos, she needed to create her own culture, thus was born, THE KID KULTURE. In this chapter of her life, she narrates their favorite activities, travels, tips and more on her blog, in hopes that other mommas can find solace in knowing they are not alone, but most importantly, that they CAN do it all, even if it gets pushed to tomorrow. Her main goal is to share her accomplishments AND mistakes with others, because motherhood is about community, and we all know it takes a village to get it done.
How did you decide that you wants to keep your son’s hair long?
Carolyn: Knowing that our children were going to be biracial, (my husband is Jamaican and I am Filipino), I had a feeling our son was going to have a very interesting mix of hair genes. I had an incredible amount of heartburn during both my pregnancies, so I knew they would come out with a head full of hair (that’s not just a old-wives tale, it’s actually scientifically proven fact!) Chase was born with stick straight hair, which started to curl when he was around 3 months old. It kept growing into this beautiful fro, so I had no intention of cutting it, so long as I could maintain it. So far we are going on 2 years without a haircut. Some argue that I’ve let it gone on for too long…but I feel it’s still manageable. And plus, it’s his key characteristic. Without his fro, I don’t think it would be as easy to pick him out of a sea of toddlers!
Mazel: To touch on Carolyn’s heartburn experience, I totally had no idea it was scientific fact! No Wonder! I think one of the coolest things about having a child is seeing how you and your husband’s genes carry on. We were really interested in seeing what parts of our hair genes our kids would have, and it never mattered whether our babies were boys or girls. The universe decided that we were having two boys, so boys with long hair it has become! With our older son, we ended up having to shave the sides of his hair just before his 2nd birthday, due to the horrific plague of LICE!!! I talked about that in one of my blog posts. We were in tears having to shave the sides off, but his little man-bun with the shaved sides has become his thing, thus making him “look like a boy” in society’s standards (insert eye roll here). What has been so interesting is seeing the difference between both our sons hair. Our older one has these loose curls that mostly resemble his dad’s hair, and our younger one has mostly straight hair, with random curls on the back, sort of like my hair. Basically, we will just let them tell us when they are ready for haircuts, or maybe as Carolyn says, when it gets unruly, but so far so good.
What are the products/processes that you use to maintain your boys’ hair?
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C: My hair could not be straighter, and my son’s hair couldn’t be curlier. This has been a looooong learning process for me (and still going), but I’m determined to be able to manage it on my own. When his fro was shorter, around 10 months old, I began with a regular baby shampoo and an organic detangling conditioner, by Little Twig. As his hair got longer and curlier, I consulted some of my friends who had experience with managing and styling natural afro-curls. They recommended products with argan oil, coconut oil or shea butter. I then experimented with some Shea Moisture products and Mixed Chicks products. I’ve since switched up the process and products, since summer humidity has changed his texture yet again. First of all, I’ve learned to only do a full-wash day once or twice a week so that his hair doesn’t dry out. This is usually an hour long process that includes shampoo/conditioning with Shea Moisture Curl Moisture Co-wash, combing through 1-inch sections from tip to root with leave-in detangler conditioner (Shea Moisture Protein-Free Leave-in Detangler + Mixed Chicks Kids Conditioner and wide-tooth comb. Every morning for daily maintenance I spray his curls with water, spritz in the Shea Moisture Hold & Shine Moisture Mist and massage in a little of the Shea Moisture Curl-enhancing smoothie…fluff and go! At night he sleeps on a satin pillowcase to prevent frizzing (the alternative to a silk headwrap). Whew! Ok that’s all. Our other son Carter is still too young to need styling, but his hair is a completely different texture so far! I use a gentle organic baby shampoo/conditioner for him (BabyGanics).
M: I often get asked how the boys have such soft, shiny hair, and my secret is COCONUT OIL! I only use coconut oil from Palau though. People actually make it and sell it at mom and pop stores, gas stations, literally anywhere on the island. My uncle makes coconut oil, so we always stock-up whenever we go to Palau. Now that the Coconut Oil industry is westernized, there are so many options for hair products with coconut oil that can be purchased almost anywhere. I don’t add anything to it, and the results are always great!
What type of reaction does your son’s hair elicit when he is out in public and what is your response?
C: Every time we go out in public with Chase, at least one person will comment on his impressive fro. Most people just smile and say “I love his hair!” However, some are bold enough to ask to touch it. But some completely skip the permission part and extend their fingers to reach his curls. Now I don’t mind if it’s a family member or friend that is fluffing his fro. But it boils my blood when a stranger does this, because I wouldn’t even think twice about touching a stranger’s kid. My child is not a pet, he’s not an exhibit, he doesn’t know you. My response depends on my mood and their approach. If they ask to touch it, I sometimes say “Only if he can touch yours”, which usually makes things rightfully awkward. If they go reach his head I definitely intervene, because no stranger is going to run their icky fingers through. I want Chase to know he has autonomy of his own body, including his hair. Until he can advocate for himself, I will do it for him.
M: Well, my boys always get mistaken for girls, which is fine. I enjoy saying, “He’s a boy.” – lol. There have been people, especially people close to us, who think it’s okay to tell us it’s time to cut their hair, but I just whip my hair side to side, and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” — Often times though, people just say how cute it is. I love Carolyn’s response to people wanting to touch her kids hair. Really? Who just walks up to a child and touches them? It’s weird! I love her point in wanting her son to know he has autonomy of his own body. This is such a great lesson for our children, and it’s not just strangers coming up to them and marveling over their hair, but even for us parents, which brings me to why we let their hair grow in the first place; let their bodies do what they do naturally, and when THEY are ready to say, “cut my hair”, we’ll go from there.
What are your husbands’ thoughts on your son’s hair?
C: will you ever cut it?
We get this a lot. My husband weighed in: “Of course we will cut it at some point! I’d love to wait until Chase could articulate how he feels about his own hair. Right now we’re able to keep up with the maintenance of his curls, but it might reach a point when the efforts of the process overshadow the outcome. If it gets too unruly or unkept, we might have to trim it down and shape it up to keep him from looking like a Wildling from Game of Thrones”.
M: Why would we cut it? — this is usually what my husband says when the topic comes up.
I think eventually I will want to cut it. We recently gave our older son’s hair a 1” trim because I think a little trim is actually healthy for the hair, but like I said, we’ll wait for him to make the decision. He actually doesn’t even want us to cut it.
So clearly we spend a lot time thinking about, talking about and maintaining our beautiful tresses. We have to think about our own biases and gender stereotypes about hair and how that can impact their self-perception of their identity. On the other hand, it’s just hair! Big picture, there are bigger things to talk about with a mom other than impressing on her that she needs to cut her baby’s hair, amirite? Big thanks to Mazel from Kid Kulture for contributing to this post, I had so much fun, and your boys are so adorable!!
Do YOU have a son with long hair? What have your experiences been with maintaining it, dealing with societal norms and deciding whether or not to cut it? We would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below!