It’s really hard to find good hair care products for babies.
I came to this realization while walking through the beauty supply store recently. I was there for a few things, including a new hair oil for my oldest eczema-prone son, and something to help with the somewhat wild curls of my 10-month-old. I kept running across products marketed for children that were filled with ingredients I didn’t know much about. The ones I did know of, like mineral oil, were not what I had in mind. The best I could find were the essential oils, so I bought a coconut oil and hoped it would go the distance, wishing there more healthy, wholesome options out there.
Coincidentally, shortly after, I was given the opportunity to try a new rollout of items, hair products, that are for babies. This line was from PROUDLY, and it’s the second major collection from Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade‘s brand for wee ones.
“We think our kids deserve better than a 3-and-1 option,” Union shared with ESSENCE on a call ahead of PROUDLY Hair‘s official release, which was August 28 on Proudly.com and September 3 in Target stores and online. She was referring to the many hair care products that are tailored towards all children and want to be a shampoo, conditioner and styler in one.
“It’s inspired by Kaavia,” Union says. It was bore from the ways in which Union and her family had to adjust to care for their daughter’s ever-changing hair as she, like many Black people, has multiple textures on her head. “I wasn’t expecting how much hair she would have,” she says. “And she wants to wear it free.”
While Union was trying to find the best way, and products, to do Kaavia’s hair, Wade was supporting on the sideline since Kaavia doesn’t want him being the one trying to tame it.
“She let me touch her hair once and said, ‘Ok, daddy that’s enough,” he jokes. “‘We got the video.'”
The couple and business owners had already released body care products, diapers and more for Black and brown babies when they launched PROUDLY in 2022. With hair in mind as the next category to expand into, they enlisted their talented team to start with the must-have products in hair care: a detangler, two moisturizing conditioners (one for looser curls and a heavy conditioner for tighter coils), and a softening shampoo. The end results were a win with Kaavia, who uses both conditioners on her hair, and with the adolescents they were tested on. The line is now available on store shelves, and as usual, for a reasonable price ($11.99 each), with all items having a light, pleasant scent and utilizing nourishing, clean ingredients. For instance, the Defining Detangler has jojoba milk, marshmallow root, rosemary and glycerin and fennel seed. The Softening Shampoo has shea, rice bran and grapeseed oil. And the Moisturizing Conditioners also include murumuru butter (Medium) and mango butter (Heavy). Simple and safe.
“For babies, with their scalp, because it’s a lot more sensitive, they react more to what I would call mainstream products. So you want to prevent that. You want to make sure the scalp is clean,” says Heather A. McGowan, MD, New-York based board-certified pediatrician, who ESSENCE spoke with at a PROUDLY press preview in Brooklyn in August. She says those type of reactions leave parents hesitant to try new hair products out of a belief that they could lead to breakage and bald spots. However, what the PROUDLY team has created can help reduce that concern and improve the scalp health of Black and Brown babies and kids.
“It’s important to wash hair at least two times a week. It’s important to moisturize children’s hair. ‘Ok, but what do we use?’ Well, these are the products,” she notes. “They don’t react to these. They’re hypoallergenic, they’re tear-free, so they make the process a lot easier and manageable.”
“One thing about other products out there, they utilize the systems that dry out oils from the scalp and the hair and that keeps it brittle,” says Peter Kpere-Daibo, head of product development for PROUDLY. So we have a system that helps moisture go back in the hair follicle and talk about water and water concentration. These are natural. So that’s the difference between our shampoo versus the ones in the market.”
“We took the science we put into our skincare line and just incorporated that into the hair care,” he added.
And a good thing about PROUDLY hair is that it prioritized the most complex type of hair first — Type 4 hair.
“Our thought was, if we can perfect and help Type 4 hair, then we should be able to deliver options for all different hair types,” says Kpere-Daibo. “The heavy is for the tightest coil and to elongate the coil, hydrate it. The medium is for the waves and the curls,” Kpere-Daibo shares.
Added perks include that the conditioners can also be used as a leave-in because they don’t leave a thick, white cast in hair. So you can utilize them for day-to-day loosening of curls as the products help with slip and detangling. And with a limited lavender fragrance (other brands use a higher concentration of fragrance to give a sweet smell to their goods), PROUDLY is good for sensitive skin and babies. This line also comes just in time as we prepare for colder temps when dryness can affect our skin and hair most.
“With winter, you have to really work on keeping things moisturized because not only are you dealing with the cold, you’re also dealing with the heat inside the house. It really does dry the hair and the skin,” says McGowan.
With that in mind, I’ve gone all in with this first iteration of hair products on my boys’ hair. I’ve been using the medium conditioner on my oldest’s hair, as he has a TWA and we just need the right amount of moisture to pick it each day without having him writhing in pain. As for the baby, we utilize the heavy for his large afro that I’m just trying to tame every morning but also allow to grow (to what…we’ll figure out later). It’s been very helpful. I see them scratching their heads less and the hair feels softer. And the tear-free formula for the shampoo allows it to be used heavily in the bath, and the detangler is a lifesaver, used on the infant’s hair after the conditioner as I take a detangling brush to it while he watches TV.
After struggling in the beauty supply store, the PROUDLY hair line has been a welcome addition in my home. The products moisturize and clean, without leaning on ingredients that give me pause, and they do it all at a nice price point. Check out the line, along with PROUDLY’s full selection of products, including their latest Ultra-Rich Body Butter, at Proudly.com and Target.