Go to AAD Home
Donate For AAD Members Search

Go to AAD Home

Teaching your child healthy hair care habits

Many common hair care practices can lead to lackluster locks. Everything from rubbing shampoo into your hair rather than your scalp and brushing your hair while it is wet can damage your hair. Damaged hair looks and feels unhealthy. 

Teaching your child how to shampoo

Healthy hair care begins with learning how to wash the hair without damaging it. When your child is ready to start shampooing, follow these steps to help your child develop healthy hair-care habits. 

  1. Wet hair and scalp with warm water. Shampoo works best on wet heads and hair.

  2. Pour a quarter-size drop of shampoo in the palm of your child’s hand. Putting the shampoo in the hand first makes it easier to apply.

  3. Tell your child to massage the shampoo gently into the scalp. When shampooing, it’s important to wash the scalp rather than the entire length of the hair. Washing only the hair often leads to flyaway hair that is dull and coarse. Rubbing shampoo into the hair can break hairs, leading to unhealthy looking hair.

  4. Rinse well with warm water until the hair is suds-free. Rinsing well washes away shampoo and dirt.

  5. Cover hair with a towel. Help your child wrap a towel around the wet hair. This helps to absorb the water. Rubbing hair dry with a towel can damage the hair, causing it to break.

  6. Comb out damp hair gently. Use a wide-tooth comb, especially on curly hair. Don’t yank or pull the comb through the hair because that can pull out hair or break the hair.

  7. Dermatologists’ advice on conditioners for kids: Children with dry or curly hair should use a conditioner.

Teaching your child other healthy hair care habits 

Many things that we do to style our hair actually damage our hair. Over the years, this damage can accumulate, leading to unhealthy and unattractive hair. The best way to prevent unhealthy hair is to teach children healthy habits for taking care of their hair.

“One of the most common misconceptions about hair is that it is alive,when in fact hair is nonliving and does not heal itself once it is injured.”

─ Zoe D. Draelos, MD, FAAD

To help kids develop good hair-care habits that help prevent hair damage, dermatologists give parents the following tips:

  • Make braids and ponytails loose and use covered rubber bands.

  • Consider styles that don’t require heat and chemical treatments.

  • When using heat on the hair, lower the heat.

  • Understand that chemicals in relaxers, dyes, and other hairstyling products often damage the hair. The longer the time between treatments, the better it is for your hair. 

  • After your child swims, make sure to wash away pool chemicals. If your child’s hair is normal to oily, shampooing works best. Children who have very dry or African American hair should rinse well and apply conditioner. Pool chemicals that are not washed away can damage hair.

  • Use a wide-tooth comb more often than a brush.

  • When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the scalp and hair from the sun.

Related AAD resources