Our babies and toddlers can be just as prone to frizz, cowlicks, and flyaway locks as we are — after all, they come by it honestly. However, most parents would prefer to stray away from some of the harsh chemicals in hair styling products designed for adults, leaving us on the hunt for kid-friendly picks that get the job done.
We put together a list of the best baby hair gel that will tame their tresses and hold cool styles without irritating their sensitive, developing skin; cheeky, peaky mohawks and perfect ringlets are right around the corner
What are the most important things to consider when choosing hair products for my baby or toddler?
- The ingredients of the gel: Babies have very sensitive skin that’s still developing; it’s thin, absorbs chemicals easily, and can be prone to irritation even from natural products. That means it’s especially important to avoid harsh chemicals, dyes and perfumes that may cause rashes and discomfort for your little one.
- The result you’re trying to achieve: This advice actually applies across the board, not just for babies! The kind of hair gel, pomade, wax, cream, or spray that’s being used influences how hair performs. If your child has hair that’s curly and frizzy, a light gel or cream can help to keep curls springy and full and prevent an unkempt appearance. Pomades and waxes are great for taming and defining short styles, but wax and high-hold gels are best for wild styles like spikes and mohawks.
- Your child’s hair type: Whether your little one’s locks are fine, thick, textured, curly, straight, short, or long, it’s best to use products that perform well with their hair type and length. Light styling creams offer very little hold to thick hair, and pomade can make longer hair looked weighed down, so pick a product that works well with what they’ve got.
What’s the best way to use hair gel on my baby or toddler?
Before you begin using a new hair product on your baby or toddler, it’s important to make sure they’re not sensitive to its ingredients. Even natural products have the potential to cause a reaction on a young child’s sensitive skin, and an allergy pre-test can save you from a disaster down the road.
Applying a thin dab of the product on your baby or toddler’s inner arm is the best way to determine if they’ll react to the product. If their skin doesn’t react within 24 hours, you’re good to go — however, if the area is warm, swells, or flushes, your child is reacting to the ingredients and the product cant be used.
Once you know the product is compatible with your kiddo, it comes down to following the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s always best to start with clean hair and a small amount of product, as this will deliver the most desirable end result regardless of the product you’re using.
What are some of the most common natural ingredients in baby hair gel, and what do they do?
- Aloe Vera: Derived from the succulent plant of the same name, aloe vera has long been used as a folk remedy for soothing and moisturizing the skin. Some studies have demonstrated that it may be helpful in treating seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, both of which are relatively common in young children.
- Witch Hazel: A toner derived from the bark and leaves of the woody plant Hamamelis virginiana, witch hazel is frequently used in skin care routines because of its cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. In hair products, it can reduce skin irritation and help to alleviate scalp sensitivity.
- Chamomile: This little white flower boils down to a tea that many use to calm their nerves, but is also often found in natural skin care products thanks to its capacity to relieve skin irritation, fade discoloration and soothe breakouts.
- Jojoba: Acting as a natural emollient, jojoba is a plant-derived oil which acts as a dandruff remedy by soothing a dry scalp. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals which offer nourishment to hair.
Our top pick for the best baby hair gel
Most babies and toddlers have rather sensitive skin, and as such, super-simple picks that eschew fragrances, dyes, and harsh chemicals are the best bet when choosing their hair products. Free & Clear gel (check price on Amazon) comes dermatologist recommended for sensitive-skinned people of any age, and the lack of alcohol, dyes, fragrance, parabens, and other preservatives make it perfectly suitable for baby.
The product offers light hold and volume and static control, but doesn’t leave hair feeling stiff or sticky. If sensitive skin or chemical sensitivities run in the family, it’s a useful product to have on hand for everyone’s benefit. It doesn’t have the fancy look of some of the other picks on our list, but the trade-off is a low price and a product that gets the job done.
Medium hold gels can come in handy when creating more defined styles, but it can also sometimes leave hair looking bogged down. Fresh Monster’s natural hair gel (check price on Amazon) is a great pick for getting the hold their style needs without making hair look or feel crunchy and sticky. They can keep that perfect pony in place or have spikes that are sky-high, but the cruelty-free, plant-based gel will prevent the dreaded helmet hair look. Fresh Monster is hypoallergenic, so it’s great for babies and toddlers with sensitive skin, plus there’s no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or toxins, so it’s a gel you can feel confident about using on your little one.
Best Budget Buy
If your little one has ringlets galore, you already know that managing curly hair can be somewhat of a bear. The right products make all the difference, and SoCozy Curl Gel-Cream (check price on Amazon) strikes the perfect balance between smoothing, hold, and softness. The curl-gel uses blue poppy to coat the hair shaft for smoothness without looking weighed down, while pineapple extract acts as a relaxer for hair that’s coarse and dry.
Split ends are made less visible thanks to white willow bark extract, which can bond and seal damage to cuticles and create a smoother appearance. The budget-friendly product is also free of parabens, sulfates, and allergens like gluten, wheat, and nuts.
Best Organic Gel
If your baby’s hairstyle doesn’t require a high hold gel, your best bet is a pick that offers comfortable, lightweight hold without sacrificing volume. Created by a cosmetologist seeking chemical-free products for her kids, Little Roseberry (check price on Amazon) is great at smoothing frizz and flyaways, but doesn’t make hair look or feel stiff. When applied before blow drying, it can also help to offer some extra volume to limp or thin straight locks. The organic gel is made from gentle aloe vera juice, which can reduce hair loss, and witch hazel, which promotes scalp health. Little Roseberry also skips the pesky parabens and sulfates that can be dangerous to the skin and eyes of babies and toddlers, leaving the gel 100% toxin-free as well as cruelty free and vegan.
Best for lice prevention
There’s nothing nice about lice — the bloodsucking parasites are easily transmitted, especially between kids in classroom environments, and getting rid of them can be a real pain. Your little one may have a fighting chance of dodging the next outbreak with Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel styling gel (check price on Amazon) . It’s designed to offer light hold and and conditioning while als
o using powerful natural oils like rosemary, lavender, tea tree, citronella, geranium, and peppermint which can help to repel lice.
The inclusion of moisturizing jojoba and soothing chamomile and aloe make it equally effective as a styling product for simple looks without parabens or sulfates. Parents of kids with allergies, rejoice; this one is gluten, soy, dairy, and nut free!
Our sixth choice
If spikes, mohawks, and dramatic looks that stay in place all day are what you’re after, Wacky Wax (check price on Amazon) is your (and your kiddo’s) new best friend. It’s a perfect pick whether their tresses are straight or curly, and even though it offers awesome hold, washing the product out at the end of the day is a cinch — no extra scrubbing required. Small amounts can be great for taming their bed head and fixing their frizz, and the wax will never make their hair feel stiff or look greasy.
The product has a pleasant tropical fruit scent, but don’t worry, it’s not synthetic. The 100% cruelty free product is made from plant-derived renewable resources, and is free of allergens and irritants.
Best for boys
If you’re looking to add texture, style, lift, and spikes to short hairstyles, pomade is often your best bet for doing so without leaving hair looking crunchy and weighed down. Hip Peas Hair Balm (check price on Amazon) is a kid-friendly, cruelty-free pomade featuring botanicals like rosemary and lavender in place of harmful parabens and sulfates as well as nourishing vitamin B and vitamin E. The hypoallergenic product line is made from totally natural ingredients, is never tested on animals, and is clinically tested to be safe for your little one.
There are no synthetic dyes in this medium-hold pomade, and the only fragrance present is completely natural. It’s an ideal pick to have on hand for taming cowlicks and adding dimension and definition to boys’ styles.
If I’d rather not use products on my child, how can I tame curls and frizz safely?
If your little one has natural curls that are hard to tame, but you’d rather skip the products all together, try these tips to help keep their locks in line.
- Ditch split ends: If your child’s hair is getting longer, split ends can make curls look less than their best. A haircut can help to refine their style a bit.
- Cut out the daily shampoos: A wash in the tub is part of their daily routine for a good reason, but there’s really no need to shampoo their hair every single day. Just like adult hair, it can be stripped of natural oils by over-washing, leaving their hair frizzy, dry, and prone to flyaways.
- Treat their hair gently: Curly hair can see significant benefits from being styled with a gentle hand. Start by gently wringing their hair rather than wrapping and rubbing hair in a terry cloth towel. Wringing their hair, shaping their curls loosely and giving it a final wrap dry in a microfiber towel can help to prevent breakage. Never use brushes, which distort and damage curls, instead opting for a wide-toothed comb or your own fingers. Finally, don’t use heat styling tools on their hair if you can help it.
- If they’re old enough, pick the right pillowcase: If your toddler is in a big kid bed, a satin pillowcase doesn’t just feel soft, it reduces friction between your child’s hair and the fabric and is less likely to sap natural oils the way cotton and more absorbent fabrics do.
And our winner is…
It may not have the fancy look of some of the other picks on our list, but the trade-off is a low price and a product that gets the job done which makes the Free & Clear Hair Styling Gel (check price on Amazon) a clear winner in our book.The product offers light hold and volume and static control, but doesn’t leave hair feeling stiff or sticky. If sensitive skin or chemical sensitivities run in the family, it’s a useful product to have on hand for everyone’s benefit.