Folders: check. Backpacks: check. Pens, pencils, highlighters: double check. While we all know it’s essential to stock up on school supplies as fall closes in, readying youngsters for class is a head-to-toe process. Celebrity stylist Gocha Hawkins—who’s worked with Serena Williams, Beyoncé and Drake to name just a few—is here to emphasize the former. “Practicing healthy hair habits with your kids is crucial to having healthy hair as an adult,” she explains to Beautifully Brown.
To that end, the beauty expert and star of WeTV’s L.A. Hair offers a few hair tips for those prepping their kiddos for the first day of school and beyond. Read on to learn the best techniques for shampooing and conditioning, bracing for that first haircut and encouraging protective styles for A+-level tresses. To make it easier, we’ve arranged it by age.
If you have munchkins headed to elementary school, use scrunchies instead of rubber bands. “Scrunchies don’t tie the hair too tight no matter how many times you wrap it around the hair,” she shares. “That’s a good thing. When you’re using those rubber bands, you can have nothing around the hairline in no time.”
When it’s time for your son’s first haircut, suitable distractions are a must. Hawkins proposes “handing them a cell phone with games. I’ve learned that if you have one, they are good to go. The worst thing you can do is to give them candy, because they’ll be hyper and moving all around. Also, I always tell parents to wait until their son is at least until 3 or 4 years old before they are given a haircut. You can damage their hairlines if you start too early.”
For middle schoolers, try protective styles. Braids and twists are great choices since preteens begin to style their own hair at this point. “A parent should have a conversation with the beautician to make certain there isn’t too much tension on the scalp and that the braids aren’t too tight,” Hawkins says. “The beautician needs to also teach the student how to take care of the style. For example, when you go swimming or lay down for bed, tie up your hair. When you wash it, shampoo in between the braids to get to the scalp.”
Got athletes? “Always be strapped with an astringent,” she offers. “It may be alcohol or a dry shampoo, but you definitely want to remove that sweatiness off of the scalp, because it can lead to bacteria or fungus. Here’s a tip: Take a towel, wet it, put a little shampoo on it and go in between the scalp. If the hair is natural, you need to blow dry it after activities are complete.”
To aid students entering high school, consider weaves if the kids are wearing straight styles. “The scalp can handle weaves at this point. Sew-ins and leave-ins work well, because kids are into their appearance, and they are all so active,” Hawkins explains. “They don’t have time to press their hair everyday. It puts wear and tear on it, so other options are necessary. These are great alternatives, because you can apply heat on it as many times as you like. It’ll be right there and it will also allow your real hair to grow as long as you’re taking care of it.”
If your son or daughter is naturally ever after, they still must exercise caution and practice proper upkeep. “Wash and condition every other week. That is perfect, because you don’t want to strip the hair of its natural oils. People think they should shampoo the hair all of the time, but they are drying it out,” she says. “Also, use a detangler when needed. They are so rich with ingredients. It gives you that instant satisfaction.”