How Soon Is Too Soon To Relax Your Daughter’s Hair?

little girlsSo, the other day I was having a conversation with my mom and my sister about some of the decisions that my mom made concerning our hair. My sister is 5 years older than me, so for as long as I can remember, my sister’s hair has always been permed.

I, on the other hand, was natural up until I entered high school. According to my mother, she didn’t want to perm my hair because I had a different grade of hair than my sister, and my sister’s hair just wasn’t manageable without a perm.

Which in turn, sparked a discussion on how soon is too soon to perm your daughter’s hair. Could you be harming your daughter’s hair by giving her a relaxer at a young age?

In stores they sale relaxers for girls, which is essentially just a relaxer in a lower strength than the ones for adults, however, it is still a chemical, and if left on too long can still burn and cause irritation.

I still have horror stories from memories of my mother perming my hair in our kitchen and washing it in the sink and the intense burning from leaving the perm in as long as possible, just to make sure every strand was bone straight.

I would even beg my mom not to wash it out until I was sure that it was straight enough, because I didn’t want any waves or kinks to be left curly.  And, at that age I was 14 or older.

I couldn’t imagine being a 3-5 year old and experiencing that pain. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer as far as whether or not to perm your child’s hair, but I do think there are things to keep in mind if you do decide to do it:

Make sure that the perm is applied by a licensed professional

Like I mentioned earlier, my mother was the one perming my hair. My mother never went to beauty school, so the only training she had came from her experience doing my sisters hair.

Licensed professionals are trained in applying relaxers to hair, and know the ins and outs. A relaxer should not burn if applied and rinsed out properly.

Also, when I started getting my hair permed, but hair began to break and shed at massive rates. For as long as I could remember I had long thick hair, hence the reason my mother was so hesitant for all those years to perm my hair.

I’m not in any way saying a perm will make your hair fall out, but what I am saying is that if you are not letting a professional apply it and then treat your hair, then there is a high risk for breakage. Just because the perm may be cheaper to purchase at your local beauty supply store, than to pay a professional, doesn’t mean that that is the best ideal.

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About Brittany Waddell

Just a Southern girl taking life by storm in NYC! Oh- and I'm natural too:) Be sure to check out my posts to learn some tips and tricks on how I tame my natural hair!

About Brittany Waddell

Just a Southern girl taking life by storm in NYC! Oh- and I'm natural too:) Be sure to check out my posts to learn some tips and tricks on how I tame my natural hair!


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  1. Nikki Belue

    DON’T. I think you should leave a child’s hair natural until they are old enough to decide for themselves what they want to do. So many mother’s choose to relax their daughter’s hair out of laziness and not wanting to deal with the process of natural hair. Leave their hair alone.

    1. Chondrell Wilkerson

      It’s not laziness. They’re uneducated on it and they turn to the one thing that they do know about and it’s relaxers

    2. Nikki Belue

      I say laziness because straight hair is far more easier and less time consuming than natural hair. The ppl I know that have permed their daughter’s hair did do it out of laziness and “not having time for that”.

    3. Kamela M Oxner

      Actually, a perm causes the hair to curl. And by the way, many the so-called natural hair products cause hair to curl; the ingredients indicate curl activator – chemical reaction. Its matter of choice; and no should be crucified for the hairstyle they may pick themselves or their minor children. Let’s stop with hair wars.

    4. Nikki Belue

      Perm is a straightener….not a curl forming product. I don’t know what type of perm you’re referring to and I’m not aware of any curl activating chemical in natural hair products. I make sure to read labels before I purchase(if I use store bought products at all) and I’ve never seen this chemical you speak of Kamela. Natural hair curls….naturally so why would one need an activator??? Maybe you’re thinking of Jerry curl activator???

      1. Ajah

        Well I was taught this jargon because we used to get our hair done at the base salon. It was cheaper to go to the base salon then an out in town salon.
        If you wanted a perm that means you wanted your hair curly hence using perm rods. Then you would say I want a Perm
        If you wanted your hair straight then you had to say that you wanted a Relaxer because you want your curls relaxed. I truly think that it really just depends on where your from. It’s the same as saying Soda, Pop, Soda-pop, or a Coke.

        I live in San Diego, so when I would get my hair relaxed I always said, “I would like my hair relaxed.” Since I had the same person forever, she knew what I wanted and then she handed me off to a male because she moved to another state and even though he is white he knew what a relaxer was. So all was good. Actually now that I think about it; he was the one that told me to go natural and he taught me about my hair and taught me how to take care of it, so my hair would grow. lol

    5. Chondrell Wilkerson

      Perms are actually used for white ppl with straight hair, it brings the curls. Blacks use relaxers to straighten. I may have them mixed up.

    1. Noèl Kimmie

      I know someone who put in their daughter hair at 2!! The lil girl starting fighting some got behind her ear/neck area and it burned her skin!!

    1. Tynika Nelson

      I agree with u. I wish my mom never permed my hair, but my daughter’s head will never see a perm unless she does it herself

  2. Shauna P

    My daughter is 8 and I’m definitely thinking about it. Maybe not a relaxer, but at least a keratin treatment or something. She’s tender-headed and her hair is very thick and coarse. She cries, I get frustrated, it’s not a good thing for either of us. I deep condition, I pre-poo, I co-wash. I don’t think it’s always about people being lazy. Different strokes for different folks

    1. Tiphanee Eason

      It’s definitely not. It’s about comfort level of both parties. I’m a stylist and I don’t recommend them but I also don’t tell a parent not to. Not everyone can afford to go to a stylist all the time. So you do what’s best for you. And you don’t have to leave it on long. Just long enough to make it manageable. Look into all options and make sure who ever you have do her hair make sure they are knowledgeable and answer all your questions you may have. Good luck with everything.

    2. Shauna P

      Thank you very much. I have it braided right now, but I am looking into all options.

    3. Ashley Alexandria

      As a mother you have the right to make an informed decision about your child. Do what you feel is best without being pressured.

    4. Tiphanee Eason

      You can also use apple cider vinegar oil and water mix also helps to detailed. Separating hair into quadrants or halves while shampooing n conditioning also helps. Also could be the washing products or products in general that will cause tangling. Being natural is great but it is A LOT of work. But good luck to all of you and happy holidays as well. Be blessed

      1. Ajah

        I just learned that ACV and beer is a good detangler. I was shocked.

    5. Chante Taylor-Hutton

      Keratin isn’t bad if applied properly. It’s is a protein treatment that coats the hair. You retain your curls and it gives wonderful manageability for someone tender headed. It’s only done 2x a year . But you have to do what’s best for your child and family. Just take the time to do research and spend the money and go to a professional if you do choose treatments

    6. Karema Mcfarlane

      I know heat is hated amongst naturals but you should try blowing out her hair (after washing) in very very small sections. * not Brazilian type blowout a low heat to stretch/dry type of blowout.

    7. Stacey NM

      Just wanted to add that not all hair agrees with coconut oil, even as an added ingredient. I found this out about my hair and had to explore other options.

    8. Shauna P

      My hair hates coconut oil, and I saw no added benefits of it in my daughter’s hair either. Now, our hair loves olive oil and black castor oil!

    9. Yolanda Hill

      Just twist her hair or ware a fro, put pretty head bands.. Don’t put chemicals please. .

  3. Tami Mckoy

    I was told they shouldn’t get a relaxer until they start menstruation because of the delicacy of their hair follicles.

    1. Natasha Thomas

      My child, my business! Do I tell you what to do with your child? My mom let me decide what to do with my hair at 18 so I’m doing the same for mine.

    2. Tiana Lee Kai

      ???? when the parents are letting their kids raise them… 18 is a great age to do whatever they want.

      1. Ajah

        well by 18 your an adult, so you can do what you want.

    3. Ashley Alexandria

      Why are we, as black women, always on the defensive? I merely was curious about your reasoning of choosing a particular age. Why can’t we have educated and respectful interactions with the hopes of enlightening others. I’m sorry you took offense to my question because it reall was just a question.

      1. Ajah

        Even though my mom relaxed my hair younger than 18. my mother would never hurt me. I personally feel it’s the mother’s choice and it’s no one else’s business. I think 5 is far too young. I would ask that they explore something else then a relaxer, but I’m not going to bash them for it, I don’t know what is going on in their life that led them to that decision. But I agree with Barbar try to keep them natural as long as possible.

  4. Marianela Arroyo

    I’ve never or would I ever relax my babies hair. That process with time changes the hair so much that the hair never grows out the same. It’s too harsh and should not be done. If it has to be done it should be done on a teenage girl who decided to do it because she wants to. I had my first relaxer at 7 and I’ve hated my hair ever since. Now that I’m natural, my texture is not the same from when I was little and I’ve had to struggle to get it to a healthier point.

  5. Mike Eddy

    We should be teaching our daughters that they are beautiful just the way they are, natural hair, brown skin and all!!!

    1. Rivian Jones

      And if a child has lighter skin then is she not beautiful? If you guys stop putting emphasis on brown and dark skin this self hate and hate for those lighter might actually go away. Just saying.

    2. Rivian Jones

      I embrace black period but I won’t get into this it’s just sad ya’ll push your insecurities on these kid’s. Having a perm does not equal hate for ones hair or lack of acceptance for ones natural beauty. You have a goodnight.

    3. Mike Eddy

      You came for me and I didn’t send for you and now you wanna retreat behind the original issue? Cool sis. And perming your hair is self hate at its finest. No matter how you spin it.

    4. Rivian Jones

      No it’s not denying your heritage equals self hate. Talking down on Men and women of your own race self hate. You women permed your hair once upon a time because YOU thought your hair was ugly. You wanted to fit in and now you all push that off on these young girls. you all can continue to fight over the texture of hair something so petty smh. I am not my hair and the job I have as a mother is to teach my daughter about who she is and to be proud. I will not teach her that another fellow woman of color hates herself because of the way she chooses to wear her hair. Black women or so harsh towards each other which is why I don’t have alot of female friends.

      1. Ajah

        women are hard on each other PERIOD. I choose to have more male friends which will make my baby shower very interesting once I have a child.

    1. Natasha Thomas

      That’s what I said but these heffas on here want to question why 18? Because she’s my child. Everyone parent their child different.

      1. Lyveno

        You took the question as an insult, and are calling them names because they “dared” to ask you why? They are not and were not challenging your parenting skills. It was just a simple question. No need to take offense and attack someone. You’re right–every one parents their children differently. Just like my mother wouldn’t let me wear makeup until I was 16. I allowed my daughters to wear makeup when they wanted to and they both were well into their teens.

  6. Amber Taylor

    Never, I wished my mom just pushed me to learn how to take care and embrace my natural hair. But I’m learning that now.

  7. Vedejah Scroggins

    I had a perm I think I was what 8 i dont know I don’t think I want to perm my daughters hair if I have one I’ll let them perm their own hair so they can take care of it themselves

  8. Fine Brown Frame

    I don’t have kids..but probably wouldn’t relax my dughters hair til jr high, unless she requested it a little earlier. .I don’t judge or condemn decisions other moms make in regards to “their” childs hair..

  9. Izmyel Gheeyar

    should be her own personal decision when she’s at least in high school (old enough to know the pros and cons of this decision)

  10. Loren Thigpen

    If you’re going to put any chemicals in your child’s hair wait until they’re about 12 or 13 anything before that can cause permanent damage..because they’re hair is fragile.

  11. Cheryl Williams Meeks

    Relaxer? Not until she’s a at least 12 for me. Heck I’m trying to figure out if 7 years old is enough to for braid extensions.

  12. Karen Jeneen Hilliard

    ✊✊✊✊✊ To all my mothers instilling and insisting on their daughters to love their hair for what it’s worth and knowing the detrimental damage the effects chemicals have on a young prepubescent girl. Start them on this pattern of thinking their hair is not acceptable, by the time they’re my age (41), they’ll regret it. I’m so glad I grew my daughters’ hairs back out. The chicks that was telling me to relax their beautiful, thick, down to the tailbone hair, kids didn’t have much hair, themselves. Edges all snatched like they were stolen and full of nasty gel. And neither did their mama’s head; all full of glue and jit!! Yeah, I went there! And yes, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. If I’d known what I know now, my hair would be hella long! I see right through this post and so do SOME of the rest of us!!

  13. Danielle Gorman-Callaham

    I relaxed my daughter around 6 years old. I’m a hairstylist and can take care of it. Saying that if your not going to get tup every 6 to 8 week and have it done EVERY 2 weeks don’t do it! You can’t just relax hair and don’t take care of it

  14. Terri Lezley Miller

    As avAfrican woman , my mom let me Choose that Step . Let your daugther decide , not you . Help her VALUE HER HAIR N CULTURE .

  15. Ashley Hester

    You should never relax a childs hair period, no matter how difficult it is to comb it. Just keep it moisterized and braided thats it. Putting perms and heat in anybody’s hair let alone a childs will break they hair out.

  16. Elizabeth Pough

    I worked in a daycare and had a 4 year old with relaxed hair the mother had all biracial children except one so I’m assuming she just didnt want to deal with it. It’s sad what it might be doing to her psychologically without knowing

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