Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Hair Straightening for Children

Q: My daughter is 8 and wants to straighten her hair permanently. Is she too young to even be considering this?
A: Being completely frank, I would be against it; for a number of reasons.
First is that most eight-year-olds are too young to be able to really take proper care of their hair on their own. They won’t have the presence of mind to think “will this mess up my hair” during the 72-hour period after the hair has been straightened, and you run a greater risk therefore of messing up something that you spent a considerable sum of money on.
Another factor is the exposure to chemicals. A child’s respiratory system is still developing and can be more sensitive to fumes and their skin can be more susceptible to allergic reaction to the chemicals used in the straightening process. I feel safe in assuming you don’t want to endanger your daughter’s health over an aesthetic consideration.
You may also find some difficulty in getting a salon to perform the service. Depending on the specific “straightening service” you want, many salons and stylists may balk at such a young client. I know that there are special products made for use on children’s hair among African-American hair types for relaxing the hair, but the traditional thio-straighteners and the newer thermal reconditioning treatments don’t typically have such counterparts.
You will want to make sure that the salon is covered for liability if you decide to go ahead with the service. A salon that requires you to sign a waiver before performing a service is common practice and standard procedure, but you should be aware that signing this waiver – in some states – can completely remove any recourse from you if your child is injured or reacts badly to the service. The salon cannot afford to be liable for spurious claims, but you also need to feel that you can trust the stylist to know what he or she is doing. This is something which only you can know and on which only you can make a determination.
The bottom line is that it’s not really my decision. As her parent, it is yours. I honestly don’t recommend it, but would rather you be fully informed in case you decide to pursue the course. If you want to do a “permanent” straightening for your child, opt for the least harsh process in terms of chemical make-up AND cost.
My grandmother used to have a rule she followed with regard to my mother, aunt, and all my female cousins when the subject of their hair came up. Her view was that you only let a child have a hairstyle that he/she could take care of properly on his or her own. As long as the parent had to “style” the child’s hair for any specific occasion, then the child shouldn’t have chemical services, etc. (Of course, back then, it was perms and such, as the only available option.)
This is a reasonable view in my opinion, but I understand a parent’s desire to help a child feel better about himself or herself in some situations. Like I said, there are some real concerns in pursuing such courses of action, but the ultimate choice is between you and the stylist who will do the service.
Related posts:
Common sense tips for kids' hair
What is an appropriate age for a girl to get a perm?
Is it safe to straighten a child's hair with a flat iron?