As a mother of tender heads and a tender head myself, the following are my tips for happy scalps.
1. Rule Out A Medical Condition
Anytime you experience pain, you want to make sure there is no underlying health issue. Consult a dermatologist, nutritionist, hairstylist, and/or a trichologist to determine the source of your pain.
2. Install A High-Pressure Shower Head
This is the first of many important tools for tender heads. Detangling should always be done under a high-pressure shower head. When used with a good detangling brush and conditioner, the water literally melts tangles. It also feels amazing on the crown.
3. Oil Hair Ties
As a tender head it's important to soak or rub oil into your hair ties before using them. Fine strands tend to get tangled in non-lubricated accessories. By oiling them, you ensure they easily stretch and do not prematurely pull out strands (which can be painful).
4. Perfect Your Finger-Comb
Our fingers are faster at identifying any tangles before they happen. It's best to loosen tangles with your hands (underwater) before using any tools.
5. Only Detangle Wet or Damp Hair
Keep a spray bottle on hand so that you can easily dampen the hair before manipulating it. The only time dry-brushing should be used is after a braid out or stretched style. Even then, this should be done in very small sections to heavily lubricated hair via conditioner or oil.
6. Be Strategic
When detangling, you must start at the ends and work your way up. Starting at the roots essentially creates knots and will rip your hair out. There are also times where you may have to hold sections of the hair, or the put pressure on the head, to minimize the sensations of brushing and combing.
7. Gentle-Hands Only
Some do not believe tender headedness is a real condition (which is fine). Our job is not to convince them. Instead, I only allow slow-moving, sensitive-scalp respecting hands near me and my girls.
8. Use A Wide-Tooth Comb
We got ours from the dollar store. It's best used in the shower to loosen severely matted hair.
9. Find A Ball-Less Wet Brush
Another dollar store gem. Purchase a wet brush that has soft, flexible bristles without the tiny balls on the ends. Those can get caught in our curls and cause damage.
10. Get A Quality Dry Brush
A 100% boar bristle brush should be used on dry hair. It's natural bristles neatly lay fine hair, so it's super soft and relaxing on the scalp.
11. Own A Hand-Crafted Wooden Pick
Nothing accesses the scalp through new growth better than a wooden pick. We bought ours at a local festival from Senegalese vendors. While plastic and metal picks are sold online and in stores, a hand-crafted wooden pick evenly distributes oils and is another tool that offers an amazing scalp massage.
12. Part Hair With A Rat Tail Comb
Our girls find the cool metal tip tickles their scalps.
13. Choose A Style You Love (& Stick To It)
Find your natural part, pick a favorite style and keep your hair that way. My daughter and I have had the same middle part in our hair for the past year. I love a low bun with a middle part, and our daughter switches between plaits, bantu knots and pony tails (all with the same middle part). Saving parts reduces the amount of manipulation, which is irritating to sensitive scalps.
14. Healthy Hair > Styled Hair
Super tight and sleek styles may look nice, but they do not feel nice on tender scalps. So as a mom of tender heads, I'm super okay with super loose, super frizzy hair-days.
15. Do Regular Hot Oil Treatments
I heat my bottle of oil in a jar of hot water. Drizzling warm oil on a tender scalp feels amazing.
16. Get Regular Temple Massages
Tenderly stroking and caring for the fragile hairs near the temples improves the overall scalp wellness of a tender head.
17. Gently Remove Debris
A few times I went to hair salons, the professionals shampooing my hair scrubbed my scalp so hard. This may feel good to some, but with a tender head, a gentle massage cleans the scalp just fine.
18. Include Distractions
Whether it is watching a movie or playing a game, distractions magically decrease hair complaints when my children's minds are focused on something else. As a nursing mother, I've also done their hair while breastfeeding or when they were sleeping.
19. Have A Comfortable Night Routine
Wearing night scarves literally hurts. They are too tight and uncomfortable - no matter how loosely they are tied. We've tried less-restrictive methods like satin pillowcases, bonnets and I even tried putting pajama pants on the girls' heads at night. None of these worked, so I let them sleep as they are and try my best to keep their hair hydrated.
20. Regular Check-ins
It's okay to regularly check-in with your children (and yourself) about how the hair process is going. Since I'm heavy-handed, I frequently ask our girls if I should loosen their ponytails, bantu knots or braids. Staying mindful about the tension applied, ensures that when the whole style is done, no one has a pounding headache from multiple pain points.
As a tender head, it's easy to talk about what hurts. I hope this post encourages you to identify positive sensations during your hair routine. Tools and techniques that make you feel good about being tender headed.
Are you tender headed, or caring for a tender head? What tips would you add? Need to schedule a one-on-one? Use code: HEART2HEART.
Until next time...
Love The Journey,
Our current hair products and tools...
Wet brush (from dollar store)