My Havana Twists And Why I Will No Longer Be Using Extensions On My Daughter’s Hair

I have always made use of braid extensions. Having had them installed on my own hair since childhood, kanekalon hair has always been sort of an extension or my hair care repertoire. I will not knock braids now because along with weaves, they have been instrumental in my length retention efforts over the years.

I of course assumed that Jasmine (my little girl) would also have a childhood littered with occasional braid extension installs, naturally coupled with a good reggie but something happened the other day that made me change my mind.

Jasi is a very girly girl. Even at her tender almost 4 years of age, she loves watching mummy put on her make up and she knows the names of everything from lip gloss, foundation and mascara to lipstick and nail polish.

It’s the cutest thing but on the occasion that I am putting on full make up, she stands in front of the mirror next to me with her blocks pretending that each one is an item of makeup and copies each of my actions! It’s heart-breakingly sweet of course but not surprising seeing as she is at an impressionable age.

Jasi loves her hair worn down and usually wants it to look exactly like mummy’s, a fact that I will remind her of when she is surly teenager who no longer wants to talk to me! She lost her hair at 6 months and it didn’t start growing back until she was around one so really she’s only been growing her hair for about 3 years now so it’s not quite at a length that I would consider to be long yet.

She has had braids with extensions on two other occasions the first of which went by without a hitch but the second time was a tad more eventful. After I was done braiding her hair, she was exhausted and frustrated at having to sit in the same place for hours on end. Yet she sprinted over to the full length mirror to see her style and shrieked in delight. ‘My hair is soooo pwetty mummy’ she said twirling and curtsying. She seemed enamored with the fact that her hair was so long. This was taken shortly after her braids were installed.


Of course me and Otis thought that this was adorable but I remember having a mild discomfort about the whole thing at the back of my mind. Life went back to normal and after 4 weeks of extensions she didn’t seem to mind when we took the braids down and we went back to her usual braid outs and curly fros.

Last week however I bought some kinky synthetic hair to do havana twists on my hair but I was totally not prepared for Jasi’s reaction. She was so excited to see the hair telling me that it was ‘So pwetty’ and was I going to do here hair in braids now? She seemed crushed when I told her that the braids were only for mummy this time round.

I am finding all this rather strange because I know for a fact that Jasi loves her own hair. She’s loves to help me style it and once it’s all styled and down like she loves she sprints to the mirror to take a look at herself. Still there is something about her reaction to the braids that I am not all together comfortable with.

I think that she is taken in more by the length of her hair when she is in braid extensions than the texture itself, although I could be wrong.

Maybe I am jumping the gun here but I feel that I would rather that she experienced only her own hair from now on working on the principal that once she has her own length she will lose the fascination that she has with braid extensions.

Which brings me to my own pursuits. Late last week I twisted my hair in largish sections figuring that I would wear my hair that way for a couple of weeks but the my fine strands make disgracefully scant and scalpy twists.

scanty twists

So I installed the havana wists which took me all of 2 hours, easy as pie and they looked great if I do say so myself. I even made an effort with slicking down my baby hairs.

havana twists

So in Havana twists I thought I had finally found an easy way to protective style while looking fab but right now I’m not sure that I want to expose Jasi to hair extensions on either me or her any more. I feel somehow like I am sending her a message that ‘if you don’t like your own hair, just cover it up with shop bought hair’.

As pretty as these twists are I simply can’t have one rule for her and another for myself surely?

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  • Delia

    I never looked at it that way. My girls do not wear extensions but only because I never saw the need with their own hair being healthy and long. They are of mixed heritage. I think getting sew ins or even braids for that matter is a means to an end and you can explain that to Jasi when she is older.

    • True Delia. I will already have to explain to her that that’s how mummy grew her hair so long. But it’s not the ONLY way, just the easiest. Aah decisions!

  • Meredith

    I do understand your point of view, however, I truly believe that your daughter’s fascination with the hair is not that she does not like her hair, but simply that it is something that helps her to identify with you and be like you. If you keep a positive attitude about the different hairstyles and the reason that you choose to wear them she will be fine. I am natural after 20 plus years of relaxers and the latest styles that my daughters watched me wear. I have two adult daughters, one wears her natural hair and the other wears wigs, braids, and weaves on her natural hair because she does not like how her natural hair (very long and thin) looks. She takes great care of her hair, but then twists it up and wears cover-ups. Good luck with the decision, but I really think she just likes looking like you, so whether the two of you wear your own hair or extensions, she just wants to look like you – you do have a nice length.

    • I see your point Meredith, yet I still feel a bit disillusioned by the whole idea. She is so young and impressionable, I just don’t want to ‘break’ her, you know?

      I was never made to feel that there was anything wrong with my hair when I was growing up, except the usual ‘Oh your hair is too hard’ stuff that an occasional stylist would say under her breath while trying to get a comb through my DRY hair! Oh the memories!

      But when it comes to Jasi, even though I know that I’m being too idealistic I suppose I don’t want her to have any bad hair related memories.

  • This is a really great topic! Do you think she would feel that way about extensions used to so “short” hairstyles…like cornrows into a bun or my current bob-cut sew in? I like that the styles you do on yourself are naturally textured styles, so it seems its the length that is her thing. Sidenote – your daughter is adorable and I hope to have a “girly girl” some day!

    • That’s an interesting though ECP and I would have to say no she probably wouldn’t be too interested if it was cornrows with extensions. It’s probably more to do with length than anything else. Off to check out that sew in . . .

      PS – It’s weird how we ‘know’ so many people online who we’ve never met in real life. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if in 5 years I’m congratulating you on the birth of your daughter on your blog!

  • Rachael

    Hi Alma,
    Thank you for sharing.
    I wholly agree with Delia’s comment; its all about communication/education with our children. As long as you explain ‘EVERYTHING’ to her (whenever you feel she is ready to hear, understand and process ‘all of the above information’); then I don’t think you have anything to worry about; our kids are much more ‘intelligent and in tune’ with things than we give them credit for.
    Stay blessed and thank you for your continued/informative info!

    • I agree Rachael, we don’t really give our kids as much credit as we should and she will probably understand things more when she a tad older.

  • MsCurlyKat

    I love your twists, they are beautiful! Your little girl is SO adorable! When I was a stylist and ladies asked about putting extensions in their wee ones’ hair, I used to advise against it, and my thoughts have not changed on that subject. It has nothing to do with how I think it looks (because most of the time it looks really cute on the little ones), but more to do with the hair and scalp on a child that young. You noted she lost her hair at 6 months; our hair goes through phases as we grow and our bodies change. A baby’s hair is different from that of a small child, and a child’s hair is different from that of a preteen, and so on. I told the moms to wait until their kids were at least 10 or 11 before adding hair, and even longer if possible. Kids the age of your daughter have more fragile hair and it is more susceptible to tension and to the weight of the hair added in (it doesn’t feel heavy in our hands but to those little roots it does). At the most, do some individual braids or cornrows with your little girl’s own hair for a low maintenance style, being mindful of tension as you go.
    I think her excitement with the hair additions has more to do with length and something different than anything else. I can remember as a 3 or 4 year old, I had very long and curly hair; my mom usually put my hair in 2 or 3 braids. Even with hair like that, I still wanted longer hair, wanted to wear it out, wanted it to be straight (not knowing that chemicals achieved it back then). It’s just something different and looks like more fun than her natural hair, just like it was for me. I also remember when I was maybe 8 or so and finally was allowed to wear my hair out-I envisioned long flowing curls all day that I could whip around. The reality was much different-within about 20 minutes the humidity in the air made me look like a deranged sheep at shearing time, and that evening when mom was removing tangles I suddenly wished I had SHORT hair!
    So now, you don’t have to stop wearing yours; you can explain to her, that you learned it isn’t too good to put the extensions in her hair because her hair is still kind of fragile at this age and you want her hair to be long and strong like yours when she gets older.

    • Ha ha, deranged sheep! I feel your pain. Yes Jasi is wearing two strand twists with her own hair right now. Actually I can totally get that our hair changes as we grow older. My sister’s hair was always brownish, auburn while we were growing up and soft like cotton but as as soon as she hit adulthood, BAM suddenly she started to grow jet black coarse hair. At the time because we didn’t know this, we tried to figure out what exactly we did to cause her hair to grow that way! Was it the shampoo or maybe it was that stylist who put something on her head and it was never the same again. I can’t believe we were so naive.

      I have to ask, are you Scottish? We dont’ get too many people saying ‘wee ones’ too often in these parts. And how come you are not a stylist any more? Forgive my nosey-ness

      • MsCurlyKat

        LOL No I’m not Scottish, but I tend to sometimes use words that are as oddball as I am! Words people haven’t heard in decades, since their grandma last used them!
        You’re not nosy just curious. I was a self-employed stylist for 10 years, and at the time I got out of it because it is not a steady income flow-I always had my base clients and plenty of referrals, but when the economy changes the clients sometimes have to choose alternative ways to maintain their hair, and I couldn’t blame them. Then after I had been out for a year or two I realized that all those chemicals and sprays and such that I was subjected to on a daily basis, along with the smoke that puffs off of hair when it is styled with product and irons, had been taking a toll on my health. I didn’t yet know how sensitive I really was-it wasn’t til 8 years ago I found out about all my allergies. I now feel I likely wouldn’t have lasted much longer from a health standpoint in the industry. Then a combination of circumstances caused me to have to give up my license when I couldn’t afford to renew next time. Now, though, I have been seriously thinking about doing something involving all-natural haircare. I would have to go back to cosmetology school for a refresher course then take the entire test over again, so it will be a while! But I have been keeping up with the latest as much as I can thanks to the internet, and I am always trying to learn new things. I love taking tests too, so I don’t expect it to be too difficult to get my license again when I am ready.
        As for hair changing as we grow, I didn’t know about it either until I was in hair school, and even then I only half believed it, until I had some clients that kind of grew up in my chair. As kids their hair was thick, long, easy to blowdry, didn’t need additional heat to style it; as teens it started to take on a ‘mind of its own’, getting thicker and the curl pattern changing (I wouldn’t allow my customers to call their hair kinky or nappy, it was tightly curled-look at a piece of tight hair closely, it really is a curl pattern in it); some parents just let me take care of it more, some requested a relaxer. As adults it was usually at its thickest and as unruly as it was going to get. Older adults experience thinning, some experience texture change as well (mine has looser curls in the back now than it ever did and up near the front that section won’t mind me no matter what I do). If someone is lucky enough to get really old, their hair usually becomes really soft and silky, finer, and usually a looser texture. It is amazing to see all the stages, and fascinating to me! Apparently at least part of the changes are hormonally driven.

        • Hmm I think you mentioned before that you had a gluten allergy too. Surprising how some of these things turn up later in life instead of when you are a child. Then again, we come into contact with so many unnatural chemicals from air fresheners to car exhaust fumes, its no wonder that our body’s rebel against us!

          I have no doubt that you will pass your refresher course. I remember our discussion we had about curly perms a while ago so it’s obvious that you are quite knowledgeable about hair. Maybe you should be blogging too πŸ™‚

  • Shanna Small

    I have a 12 year old and something I have learned is that they are influenced by everything in their environment. This includes parents, TV, magazines, school, friends etc. You can give her 100% positive messages about her hair but if she has a nature that is susceptible to influence by others, than she could still grow up with insecurity. I would recommend just talking to her. Ask her why she likes the extensions and than ask her about her own hair. Use words that don’t bring in your own opinions. Simple questions, “Do you like your hair?” “What do you think about mommies hair?” Show her some pictures of different types of hair and ask her what she thinks is prettier. If her answers are upsetting to you, than I definitely would embark on a journey to help her love her hair more and I would personally lay off extensions for awhile. If her answers seem healthy and she just thinks long hair is cute and she like swinging it around, then she is probably okay and I wouldn’t worry about it.

    • That’s an excellent idea Shanna! Off to try that now . . .

      • Shanna Small

        Please let us know how it goes

        • Hi Shanna. I tried this using images from the internet but the results have left me even more confused than before. When it comes to natural hair types, there is no rhyme or reason for the hair that she prefers. Sometimes she will choose a shrunken afro, sometimes long hair. But when I add typical long white hair into the equation, no other hair has a chance. I even tried mid length white hair against long natural hair but she prefers the white hair. It’s only when the white hair is short that she prefers natural curly hair over it.

          It’s hard to come to any solid conclusions from all of this but I know for a fact that adding extensions into the picture just clouds things even more so I am actually resolved to get rid of all the weave-stuff. Sigh

          • Shanna Small

            I understand. I know someone might jump me for that but sometimes it comes down to what kids think is pretty. I think this is true for your daughters case. She may not have been influenced by society yet. It is like when you show a small child a shiny quarter and a crisp dollar and they go for the shiny coin because the think it is prettier. They have no clue that the dollar is worth more. In her mind, she truly may just feel that the shiny, silky, bright colored hair that White women have is prettier. It may have nothing to do with self hatred but everything to do with what her eye finds pretty. I would just make sure that she understands that her hair is pretty and to embrace it and keep it healthy. Part of natural hair is about accepting it for what it is. If I could snap my fingers and have wash and go hair that just falls into place and I could just run a comb through it and go, I would go for it. However, my hair doesn’t do that. So I have to love it for what it is. That is what you have to teach her. I don’t think you have to lay off the extensions to do that. Show her that you can wear it anyway you want and love it in many different forms. If you wore weaves all the time, than you would be sending a hair hatred message. If you wear many different styles with and without extensions and teacher her to have fun with her hair, than she will be okay.

  • Rita0317

    I am so glad Ive found your site, not to mention this article. I did my big chop on Jan 1 (happy new year to me!) because of my daughter. She was beginning to beg me to straighten her hair so it would look like mine and the other girls’ in her school. After 6 months of the both of us fully playing and learning how to style our hair she is much more comfortable with her hair. I was debating on whether or not I wanted to get extensions as a protective style for the rest of the summer, but I know my daughter will notice and become enamored with straight hair again. Im glad to see that Im not the only one that struggles with what impact that will have on my child. Thank you for this article. πŸ™‚

    • You are welcome Rita! I don’t actually have an issue with extensions per se. I just believe that it’s best that they resemble your own hair as closely as possible. I’m completely off braids (the straight and fake curly ones) but I really can’t find much fault with kinky twist or in fact havana twists as protective styles. Mind I wouldn’t dare use them if your little one is still in danger of thinking that they are in any way better than her own hair IYKWIM

      • I would also like to add that there are companies these days that produce true afro textured weaves so if you are after a protective style that won’t confuse your daughter texture wise they are definitely an option!

  • MzLdy Sunshyne

    I talk with my daughter about natural hair, what it takes to grow it and protect it. I’m sure to reinforceits a tool to help just like her eye glasses and my contacts. And eemind her we are already beautiful the way GOD made us

  • What an awesome internal debate to have, that you actually consider the effects your beauty routine is having on your daughter is a sign of an awesome mommy. Bravo to you!

    • Why thank you Kiya, this motherhood thing is trickier than it looks πŸ™‚

  • Latin_moca

    This is a late post but I don’t think it’s wrong for her to love her hair braided she loves her hair natural as well so there shouldn’t be a concern you should let your daughter understand that “store bought hair” is just another accessory
    Women use plus it’ll help keep her natural hair strong and healthy there’s nothing wrong with her enjoying the hrs of hard work her mommy put in to make her hair long and beautiful.

  • Toni

    My daughter will be 13 in July and I introduced extensions in her hair at about 10-11. At first she was adamant that she didn’t want extensions, but me, being lazy over the summer, just wanted a style that she can just wake up, spray, and go. Over the years, she would get extensions 3 or 4 times a year and she really likes them now. She hates it though when I have to take them down. It is almost like she doesn’t like her hair. This child’s hair is so super thick, it takes me about 2.5 hours just to press it with the hot comb. She doesn’t have super short nor super long hair. Her hair comes past her shoulders about at the top of her bra if it was pressed out. She just doesn’t like her hair in the natural state. She used to say that my hair looks like a “circle” (an afro). She is one of those girls that just love wearing her hair down, but I always have to explain to her that by wearing her hair down, it will not look straight like your friends that have their hair permed. Also, that I don’t want her to wear it down to protect her ends from becoming dry and brittle from brushing on her shirt all day, so I have her wear it up. Right now she is rockin’ 6 thick cornrows that I like to take down and re-do every 2-3 days, and she had one of her friends ask her is she going to keep her hair like that? (As if there is something wrong with her in cornrows wearing her own hair). I personally only put heat in her hair maybe 2-3 times a year. She will get a press at Easter, first day of school, and Christmas.

  • curlyprincesses

    Wow I thought it was just me but I go through the same thoughts with my oldest daughter whom I put kanekalon braids in about four times in her life so far. I did it to try something different and to give us both a break from styling however I was a little disturbed with how overly excited by the extensions she was? Her own hair is nice and thick and healthy but it’s not as long as it could be. On top of that her little sisters hair is a little longer than hers and a different texture. I guess I just want to be sure braid and twists extensions are only a protective style to like and have to grow hair out while wearing.. as long as we truly LOVE our own hair without it! Good post Alma.

  • Guest

    Honestly the reason why she’s acting like that is because of the reaction that OTHER people have when her hair is in braids vs when she’s wearing her hair in a natural state. She may be a little person but she can tell when people light up and think she’s looking extra cute vs not paying her as much attention and she likes the feeling of that. The more she receives overt and subtle compliments the better she feels!

    But I do want to tell you this….you won’t believe me because many of us have forgotten what it’s like to be a child and therefore we tend to do the very same ineffective adult things that were done to us when we were kids that really didn’t do much good.

    You’re thinking that if you give her twists using her own hair and not the extensions that she’s going to some how miraculously love her hair. But the reality is that all you’d be doing is stopping the compliments that come her way. Don’t get me wrong – some people will tell her that she looks nice but she won’t get AS MANY compliments as she did before and that’s not going to make her feel good. She won’t “lose” the fascination with extensions – she’s simply just going to submit because she knows that’s what you want (settling) or fuss and then settle (depending on her personality).

    I’ve seen this happen to many little girls and when my daughter started feeling that way, I didn’t just snatch it away from her, wipe my hands and think,”That’ll fix everything”. Instead, I let her have her extensions and used them as a protective style to grow her hair out. I showed her pictures of what her hair was going to look like when her hair grew to that length and told her that pretty soon, she wouldn’t need the extensions. Whenever it was wash day, she and I would cleanse the scalp, condition 1 inch from the root all the way down the hair strands and when we removed the extensions I showed her how to deep condition. So we used that time to learn about hair care WITHOUT her having to sacrifice length for years to achieve it.

    In 2 years, her hair grew to the length she wanted and you should’ve seen her face when she realized that SHE DID IT! πŸ˜€ Sooooo happy and she didn’t have to lose a thing! Because of all the time we spent taking care of her hair together, she learned what she needed to do to maintain her own hair while in extensions to promote hair growth for future length. Now mind you, halfway through this process she got tired of the extensions and said that it would be ok if she tried another style but it was ok because SHE came to that conclusion! I didn’t force her because of MY discomfort or some message that I thought I was sending her while ignoring what she felt about herself at that time! In this case, she got the best of both worlds by still wearing her extensions because I explained that the purpose of the extensions were to help her grow her OWN hair to her desired length and that it was merely a tool! By not taking it away from her, she didn’t feel like Mom was taking things away from her for no reason! even today, at 17 she remembers that and has thanked me for teaching her how to take care of her own hair, how to make decisions that were win-win and allowed her to remain happy while she accomplished her goal (which was longer hair). I hope that your decision will be one that considers your daughter’s self esteem today as well as her self esteem tomorrow.

    Take care,
    C James