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Curly Nikki

Did I Ask for Your Advice?

By January 27th, 202133 Comments
Did I Ask for Your Advice?
By: Andrea Dawn

If there’s one thing I really dislike, it’s getting unsolicited advice from another person. You know what I mean: the (usually) well-meaning friend, family member, coworker, or complete stranger who feels compelled to advise you on a matter which is usually none of their business. I’ve been on the receiving end of such advice on many occasions, and I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of dispensing it every now and then.
Recently I encountered a situation where I was just itching to dispense some unsolicited advice to a complete stranger. Here’s what happened:

I was at the checkout stand in a department store, and I noticed a grandmotherly looking White woman with two young boys who appeared to be bi-racial. One of the boys was about 2 years old and in a stroller. The other boy looked to be about 4 or 5 years old. They were both absolutely adorable, with big, beautiful, coily natural hair. I overheard the woman tell the clerk that the boys were her grandsons.

Her grandsons had the most beautiful hair, and lots of it, but it was extremely dry, tangled and knotted. It was particularly noticeable in the older boy’s hair. In my opinion a good conditioner, a good moisturizer and a good detangling comb would have made a big difference in the appearance of the boys’ hair.

In the community where we live, the Black population is very small. There are only a handful of stores that sell Black hair styling products, and even fewer that sell products suitable for natural hair. You really need to know where to go and what to look for. I find the process so discouraging that I usually end up ordering my hair products online. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for this White grandmother (or her son or daughter) to find suitable products to style the boys’ hair.
By now I’m sure you all know what I wanted to do.

I wanted to approach this grandmother and tell her where she could find some natural hair styling products in the community; maybe even give her some suggestions on how to effectively moisturize and detangle her grandsons’ hair.

But I didn’t. I reminded myself how much I hate receiving unsolicited advice, especially from a stranger. Also, I had no idea if she would receive my suggestions with appreciation or with annoyance. So I kept my mouth shut and watched her walk out of the store with her two adorable grandsons, their hair dry, knotted and tangled. None of my business, I know, but still…

What would you have done in this situation? Do you think it’s ever appropriate to give unsolicited natural hair advice to another person?


  • Jacky says:

    You didn't do wrong by doing what you felt was right.I sometimes feel concerned about how someone would react to my help too but i put myself in the person's shoes and wonder how it would be if i was the one with the problem so i approach the person and give the advice anyway.I noticed that when i politely allow people to give me unsolicited advice,some of the advice can be really helpful so i listen and take the helpful advice then later rethink the unhelpful advice to see if there's anything helpful in it,if it's not helpful at all i completely disregard it.Sometimes it could be God's way of trying to help you.I once got advice from different people three times to be less shy and more active so as not to be completely forgotten by my schoolmates the moment i left highschool.The first time i ignored the advice,the second time i thought about it and decided to ignore it but the third time really got me thinking that there was more to this advice. So i took the advice and started saying hi to students i didn't really know and to any student i met on my way in school.I started being more active and nice and helpful to others.I came a lot closer to God and kept trying to serve him properly and he helped me to bring peace and love amongst the students and to alot of people in the school.God made me popular(which i never thought would happen years before) for being good and made me a role model in the school.There were rough times,i must admit,when my classmates insulted me ,didn't like me and called me names like ''holy art thou'' but God helped me to keep being good till the very end and to even keep helping those who hurt me and it really paid off,you should have seen when i went to the school for a visit after i had already graduated,the students nearly pushed me down trying to hug me and to think that this almost wouldn't have happened because i was ignoring good advice.You can also learn to take advice politely like i did thanks to God because you never know what it might get you.

  • Maria P'hardy Pacino says:

    I disagree with majority. I would I complimented her grandsons hair after all you said their hair was beautiful. Then I would have ask "Well, what type of products do you use on their hair", and the conversation would have took from there. Yes, people should mind their own business, but at the same time it's alot of parents with biracial children. Some that honestly don't know what to do with their child's hair.

  • Derika says:

    I'm the "mind my own business type" although I may cringe inside. You just never know how some people can react to advice from a stranger. If it's someone I know or at least started a convo with in the store, then I'd feel more comfy giving advice.

  • Patty says:

    Oh thats right I forgot… It's only socially acceptable for females to have long hair.. Get over yourself. Natural hair is natural hair regardless of sex.

  • Imona Budget says:

    There is a white lady that attends my church who has biracial children(black & white). I myself have biracial children and one thing that I regret is cutting my 1st son's hair when he was 14 months. I was pregnant with my 2nd, and the best way to get his hair looking 100% was to wet his hair over a tub and wash with a shampoo+conditioner. His hair wasn't dry or frizzy, just wild from sleeping on it at night.
    He didn't like being flipped over the tub, so I marched him to the kiddie cut salon. They used clippers. I think that this was a HUGE no no for my son who had huge cornsilk curls, and I also messed it up myself cutting it at home once. His curl pattern in that area that I messed up isn't the same and it's been over 2 yrs. My 2nd son's hair has never seen clippers.
    Now I use scissors to trim his hair and a spray bottle to wet it in preparation for my daily routine with him.

    I said that to say, the lady that attends my church has kids who you can tell someone use clippers and they are cutting against the curl pattern. It's making their hair look weird AND they have issues with dryness…I almost wrote her a note one Sunday saying: "Please stop using clippers on their beautiful curly hair. Use scissors. Learn from my mistake. Also please call me for advice, if you want, about the products and routine for their hair." But I haven't because she might be offended and would not want my advice.

  • Imona Budget says:

    Not a haircut….just good products and a good consistent routine…..

  • 'Chone says:

    i think you did the right thing. I can be a lil sensitive about my hair and when I first started transitioning it was dry even though i was researching and trying out lots of products. i got "unsolicited advice" from a member of my church that was natural. Even though she meant well it still rubbed me a lil the wrong away, only because i felt like i was doing all that i could do. I later tried out her advice though. So situations like this are tricky because you dont know how that person will react to your advice. it could go either way, to be on the safe side you could wait until that person ask you or start up a conversation with her about how nice her grandsons look and how much hair they have. The grandmother would probually then say "yea its alot of hair but its hard to style sometimes" and then that gives you space to add your suggestions

  • Cort Robinson says:

    Oh I have to agree: I love Mimi's suggestion for how to broach the conversation.
    I also agree with Justme that you'll probably see them again..
    My stepdaughter and I have very different hair but the basics work for everyone: water, conditioner and olive oil. They do WONDERS!
    I kept reading the comments. Now I'm feeling conflicted. Okay. So here's my $0.02. Smiling goes a long way towards breaking the ice, as do compliments. So smile and say how adorable her grandsons are (should you see them again). Then maybe the time after that you could ask what products she uses in their hair (as if she does their hair). Grandmas are usually quick to set a person straight which may come in handy. IF she says she's not sure (b/c their mom/dad does their hair), grab a piece of receipt paper from the cashier and write down the CurlyNikki site and tell her to feel free to peruse. Explain that it's where you and many other naturals have found a lot of really good information and ideas for our hair. Even if a person has a good regimen they already use, everyone loves a new idea.

  • Gwenn4ya says:

    For a moment, I was gonna say you should of just told her, but I probably would of done the same. I've had my fair share of offering helpful advice. I was ridiculed for doing such a thing. Let it be known that I learned that some people just don't want to be helped and rather you "mind your own darn business". I know you only wanted to help. I feel ya. Poor babies. Hope someone tells them how to care for the babies hair!

  • Foxyrou says:

    I would've minded my own business and kept it moving! Her grandsons may not even care if their hair looks jacked up, anyway! Leave it be!

  • Yoruba Mutakabbir says:

    I would not be comfortable offering advice in that scenario.

  • Dawn Brame says:

    I probably would have went up to them and complimented them on how beautiful there hair was. Usually if anyone is having a issue with something, and you seem like you can lend some advice they will ask. For example my usually look quite nice, so other naturals who may be struggling with something will ask me questions. So this grandmother might have saw your natural hair, and asked for some advice if she needed it.

  • pemora says:

    thanks, this is actually good advice…the ONLY problem is that i don't do her hair anymore. but we were at the pool today and i was able to bring up the subject. taking her to target tomorrow for some goodies!

  • Jessica Coletrain says:

    Pet Peeve of mine, I typically where wigs to work, but one day while wearing my puff one of my 'vanilla' counter parts decided to comment 'I think you should keep wearing it straight', what i said 'ump' what i really wanted to say 'Mind yo' d*&n bizness' (in my Kevin Hart cursing out his teacher voice)

  • ss says:

    @pemora – when stepdaughter stays with you, does she let you do her hair?
    If so, take her shopping, let her pick out some apppropriate products, watch some youtube vids together, let her apply the products and send her home with them as a loving gift. You asked! LOL <3

  • Jeannette says:

    Great suggestion!! Because it is tricky and although I don't know if I would have been as bold as your neighbor, I like how you introduce hair into the conversation and complimented their hair. Again, great suggestion! I'm gonna keep that in mind….thanks 🙂

  • Jeannette says:

    In this situation, I would have done the same as you. Regardless if you have suggestions that may or may not help them, it's not mine or your business. I think that it is not appropriate to give unsolicited hair advice. But I think there is a way of giving it, without being unsolicited. For instance, if someone compliments my hair I tell them what I use BUT sometimes it's what really works for me and other times, I'm telling them what I think may work for them but they have no idea that I'm telling them what they should use on their hair.

  • abrunnin says:

    In that situation… KNOW YOUR ROLE. I wouldnt have said anything to her bc people go off when you say something about their kids/grandkids. So I think that was best to be just be quiet about. However, I find myself giving unsolicited advice to people when I KNOW it's something they need to hear. Those are boys and they probably needed a good haircut instead of natural hair products.

  • Megan M. says:

    Not just biracial children, I have witnessed black children as well and I want to say something but just keep it moving if they ask that just makes my day lol!

  • nubian_rose89 says:

    i would have started a conversation about the kids and let hair come up naturally (no pun intended). and if it didn't come up, i would have let it go.

  • Megan M. says:

    I remember when I was little my mother's friends use to ask my mother how she did my hair or what products she used. Most of the people were black or biracial, she also did some of the biracial girls hair. I have yet to give someone unsoildated natural hair advice only if someone ask me what I use in my hair then I am open to giving that advice, other then that I will just keep it moving and waiting because some people take things seriously and get offended easily.

  • Sue says:

    I struggle with the same thing but often keep my mouth shut because I don't want to seem nosy. But I've had occasions when someone complimented me on my hair and asks how do you get it like that? I then give suggestions on products or techniques. I definitely like the idea of paying someone a complement as well. If they seem receptive, you can continue with the conversation. If not, let it go and move on.

  • Angela B. says:

    I only offer advice when asked. I had a white woman approach me in a small, mostly white town's Walmart & ask for hair & product advice for her daughter. I was more than happy to help!

  • Davina916 says:

    I only give advice when asked. I'm sometimes tempted, but I don't know how the recipient will respond.

  • Esther Komolafe says:

    I would of complemented her grandson's hair and anwser any questions she has to ask.

  • Pecancurls says:

    I like the idea of paying a compliment and then leaving the door open for her to ask questions if she wanted. Put yourself in her shoes. She might not see anything wrong with the kids' hair and might take the unsolicited advice as being rude. It is a delicate balance. I remember all too well how I would get unsolicited advice when I was preggers (with #1 and #2). I know the "advisors" meant well so I smiled, however, sometimes it was annoying. I would get advice about labor/child birth — #2 was a scheduled c-section!). 🙂

  • Mimi says:

    About 40 years ago, I was that little biracial child with dry, tangled hair and a white mom who didn't have a clue! She said that one day, a Latina neighbor knocked on her door and just offered to help, and showed her what to do with my hair. Bold move, but my mom was forever grateful for that.
    Offering hair advise is tricky, because you don't want to offend anyone. You don't know how folks will react. But I think most times the advise will be welcome…the important thing is to start it off with a compliment about the child and his/her hair. Nine times out of 10, the child's mother/grandmother, etc. will see you as friendly and non-judgmental — opening the door to drill you with questions about hair. lol
    I help these white mamas out whenever I can, just like someone helped my mom! Just this past Sunday, I was in a store and there was a mom in the aisle with me and her little boy's hair was a dry, matted mess. I said "What a handsome little man, look at all that hair!" She looked at my hair, she looked at his hair, and said "But what do I do with it…?" So we had a litttle tutorial right there in Walgreens.

  • Raven says:

    I was in Target one day and there was a white lady in line in front of me with a baby girl she adopted. The baby girl had the most beautiful afro puffs. I couldn't help but smile. The little girl waved at me so I started doing peek a boo and all that with her. The lady turned and saw my hair and went into full question mode. She asked me about the products she used on her baby's hair and if I thought her puffs were too tight. We had a nice little chat and went on our way…so yeah…I'm guessing maybe people want to ask, but don't want to come off as the annoying type.

  • Shelly says:

    I completely understand! I have a biracial daughter and I have spent a lot of time and money finding products and routines to keep her hair healthy. I have to bite my tongue sometimes not to offer my unsolicited advice to others who could definitely use it. 🙂

  • mzcnnd says:

    It is a sticky situation, but I think it all depends on your approach. I work in foster care, so there are a lot of white parents caring for Black children. One family has three girls and one boy. The youngish (late twenties) mother seems to be a bit of a rebel, with a very unconservative haircut and color. Anyway, we had a function at the office and the first thing I noticed was the kids' hair. I just started a casual conversation and said, "What products are using on their hair?" She told me she was using the Kinky Curly line, and while I was glad she at least had some knowledge about natural hair products, I thought she might need to try something different so I said, "You should also try blah, blah which is great too." I might have first complimented the boys hair and then asked the Grandmother what products she uses. She might have said she wasn't sure or she might have welcomed the question and asked for suggestions. Her response to the question determines how much further you can go. I'm very much from the "mind your own business" school of thought, but if I'm approached in a non-confrontational manner, I'm definitely open to suggestion!

  • Justme says:

    You were right but, you'll run into that trio again (Given your description of the locale) so strike up a conversation.
    Eventually she'll as you.
    Problem solved!

  • pemora says:

    i'm having a hard time with this right now. my 13yo stepdaughter, who is biracial, has extremely dry and knotted hair. i really want to hand over natural moisturizing products and coconut oil but i don't want her mom to be offended and i question my place to say anything. very tough…i'm just not sure.

  • msdw8517 says:

    I probably would have told her how beautiful her grandsons' hair was opening up the door for conversation and for her to solicit my help if she wanted.

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