Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A dad's guide to washing his daughters hair

If you dads are anything like me, you were once pretty much clueless about hair. You grew up having some, probably noticed that girls tended to have much more of it, experimented briefly with sticking stuff it in to set it in strange shapes, grew it longer than your parents wished just to irk them, then basically forgot about it until you met a girl who actually made a big deal of it, then took more care of it (or began to lose it big time, which I sympathize with, but that's not this post's problem), then slowly regressed toward that former state of apathy.
Then, somewhere in that sequence, you had a daughter.
Wow, some things are just hard wired, and hair-prioritizing genes are certainly one of them.
What has this hair-clueless dad learned in the intervening 9 years? Not enough that my girls don't run shrieking whenever I wield the hair brush. Here are some pointers learned the hard way:

  • The chances that your daughter will want to grow her hair long are staggeringly high. Somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3, her total hair biomass will reach a threshold that will require advanced dad-skills. 
  • Unless you sport an exceptional alibi it's highly likely that you will be involved in expediting the nightly bath time hair routine. When you have multiple kids, you are allowed to call it "processing". 
  • Bath time can be an incredible amount of fun, or your worst nightmare (ED: not in this post, please). 
  • Washing hair: 
    • With boys, all you have to do is:
      • Get them to shut their eyes tight. *(#RDM)
      • Dump a bucket of water on their head, work in shampoo, then another dump of water or two.
      • And you're done.
    • With girls (about ages 4 and up), all you have to do is:
      • Get them to shut their eyes tight. 
      • Dump numerous buckets of water, making sure all the hair is wet enough. *(#RDM)
      • Work in shampoo, making sure it gets everywhere.
      • Dump multiple buckets of water.
      • Work in shampoo (optional), and dump even more buckets (optional).
      • Work in conditioner (pretty much non-optional). *(#RDM)
      • Grab a plastic brush and valiantly attempt to remove all tangles from hair. This is the really tricky part, because the conditioner eventually makes the brush handle slippery *(#RDM), as well as the minor issue that little girls with their eyes shut hate having their hair accidentally tugged at bath time *(#RDM). All that being said, A hard plastic brush with hard rounded bristles is the implement of choice.
      • To brush out tangles, split the hair into about four sections and work on one at a time. Start about 6 inches from the ends. Do NOT start at the scalp, which will only relocate the tangles further down and make them much tighter *(#RDM). Hold the bundle of hair tightly as you brush out the last 6 inches. Then move your grip up and repeat. Repeat on all bundles individually. Then combine the bundles and brush out from the scalp. Whew.
      • Dump multiple buckets of water, making sure ALL the conditioner has been removed. *(#RDM)
      • After the bath, you will have to dry the hair, which conveniently re-introduces many of the tangles you just extricated. Repeat the de-tangling procedure on towel-dried (ie damp) hair. 
      • Proceed to the blow-drier station. Note that it should be physically separated from the bath area, so as to avert any logical dad-attempt to streamline and multitask bath time and hair drying *(#RDM. OK, kidding about that one, really). Extensive Dad U testing has revealed that you will stand around feeling useless while attempting to blow dry brown hair for usually twice as long as for blonde hair. 
      • And you're done.
Fortunately, there comes a day when your services are no longer required. I can't say I miss the sore knees and achy back from bathtub duty, but I do miss the giggle fits. 

Dad U



  1. MANY laughs from this - good stuff. I had no idea what I was getting into with my daughters' hair.

  2. Thanks! Hopefully the laughs will outweigh the screams/cries/tears by the time they are autonomous wrt hair.

  3. I know the feeling quite too well my 1 year old has a Biomess right now. Sinatra during helps ease the tension (mine not hers). Hopefully she figures out her hair on her own soon.