Taming Your Daughter’s Mane: A Girls’ Hairstyle Primer for Dads


Even dads who grew up with a huge Afros, longish, rock-star-style hair or Mohawks gelled to magnificent spikiness may need a brief primer on how to care for and style a daughter’s hair. Before breaking out the shampoo, it may be useful to visit girls’ haircare blogs or check out advice for dads on a haircare forum. Also, you can learn a lot about products and styles by observing the stylist who cuts and styles your daughter’s hair.

Here are some basics to help you get started.

Shampooing, Conditioning & Combing

How often to shampoo depends on a child’s age—babies are once a week and older kids are three or more times—and whether your child’s hair is curly (wash less often) or straight (more often). After shampooing, work a small dab of conditioner into the ends of the hair to moisturize and detangle it. Use a comb with wide spacing between tines and start at the ends instead of the top, gently removing any knots.

Getting Ready to Style

To speed up the drying of straight or wavy hair and to style it so the ends turn under or flip out, it helps to blow dry it. Use a round hairbrush with small diameter for blowdrying short hair and one with a larger barrel for long hair.

Before styling, it’s best to let curly hair air dry so it retains its spring and volume. Towel dry curly hair gently, then add a pretty headband with a bow, flower or jewels. Pretty hair accessories dress up a simple style, even a glorious Afro untouched by braids. If you want to let long, straight or wavy hair air dry, one good way to keep it tidy is to braid it when wet.

Braiding Beautifully

It’s a labor of love to learn how to braid properly so your little girl can walk out the door in style. A tender photo essay on the Atlanta Journal Constitution website shows how Emory University Professor Clifton Green learned how to tend and braid his adopted daughter’s Afro. You can learn more at Rainbow Kids, which offers a simple tutorial for Afro braiding.

The Cute Girls Hairstyles website offers a simple “daddy ‘do” tutorial on how to split long, straight hair into two braids using the age-old technique of dividing hair for a braid into three strands and then weaving it by laying left strand over the center, right strand over center and then repeating until you apply a ponytail holder to the ends. The stylist shows how to dress up the look with hair accessories such as headbands, ribbons, scarves and clips.

Taming a Ponytail & Persisting

Maybe you saw the video about the dad who used a vacuum cleaner to tame his daughter’s hair into a ponytail or the spoof by another dad who pretended to braid hair with a vacuum cleaner. We can’t recommend suction. Instead, be a tough guy and learn the traditional, gentle method simply involving brush or comb and a pontail band.

When you’re ready to move on from the basic ponytail to some more advanced choices, iVillage provides instructions for 15 ways to style ponytails, some of which include braids. Don’t forget to add hair accessories, such as clips or barrettes, to keep flyaway strands of hair in place.

Mastering ponytails can take persistence, an important life skill in all matters. But remember, your pretty, pretty princess is worth it. So buckle down, swallow your manly pride and learn how to style your daughter’s hair.

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