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Adoption Blog: Talk to AF

Transracial Hair and Skin Care - Questions for Dr. Brooke Jackson

When parents adopt transracially, their child’s hair and skin may be very different from their own. Parents who have hit some snags while learning to care for their child’s African-American, Latino, Asian, or biracial hair and skin had the chance to send their questions to board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon Dr. Brooke Jackson. The online chat covered everyday ethnic skin care and hair care, as well as dry skin and other problems brought on by cold winter weather.

The chat took place on Tuesday, November 15, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST in the "Transracial Hair and Skin Care – Expert Chat with Dr. Brooke Jackson" discussion thread. That page will remain live so that AFC members who weren’t able to make the chat can read through the discussion.

Read the questions AdoptiveFamiliesCircle members submitted ahead of time in the comments below.

Brooke Jackson, M.D., is the Medical Director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago. Her specialties include ethnic skin care, laser therapy and skin cancer prevention. Dr. Jackson is the adoptive mom of three young children, and she is currently writing a book about transracial adoption and beauty.

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle



Thanks for providing this opportunity for Q&A. I am hoping for some advice on my daughter’s cradle cap, she is almost 7 months old and still has cradle cap. We are washing not more than once a week, sometimes we go longer than that between washes if her hair doesn’t seem to need it. We are using a dandruff shampoo as recommended by her pediatrician. In between washes, I spritz her hair with olive oil and rub it into the scalp.  She lost most of her baby hair at about 3 months, and new hair growth has started so want to be sure to protect the new hair.  Any advice on products, frequency and tools would be great. Thanks!


By donnainmass on Monday, November 07, 2011 at 11:03 pm.

My 9-year old daughter from Guatemala has always had dry, itchy skin. We’ve taken care of that by using moisturizing bath and body lotions. Recently, however, I noticed her scratching the side of her chin near her mouth. There’s a fairly large dry patch that is also several shades lighter than her regular skin tone. Facial moisturizer seems to be helping the itch, but the light patch is still there. I think it’s just cosmetic, but do you have any insights about it? Thanks for the opportunity to ask.

By SBL on Tuesday, November 08, 2011 at 12:40 am.

My latina daughter has very itcy skin.  From time to time she has bouts of excema on her elbow creases, near her underarms, along her waist band and sometime in circles on her face.  It is always wose in the winter.

I use only unscented products and try to use things that are free of the usual irritants.  I give her oatmeal baths when I’m not washing her hair.

We are heading into the dry skin season.  Any advice?

By YokoMama on Tuesday, November 08, 2011 at 5:28 pm.

My daughter is Latin-Asian. Birth mom is from Vietnam and birth dad from Colombia. I know both suffered from eczema. She doesn’t have it but her skin needs daily moisturizing, especially on her legs. Her knees and toes are particularly dry and darker than the rest of her skin. We use a cocoa butter shower gel (Johnson and Johnson) and a moisturizer formulated for atopic skin (Cetaphil Restoraderm) as the pediatrician recommended. We’ve been on that regimen for over a year (she’s 2 years old now) and haven’t seen much difference. Any suggestions? Why is her skin so dry on her knees and toes?

By Maru on Tuesday, November 08, 2011 at 7:48 pm.

Our 11 month old African American daughter has patches of bumpy, pale skin on her back.  The doctor called it eczema, but it hasn’t been itchy or scaly that I can tell.  I know it is irritated by a laundry detergent that we tried (we switched back) and am trying to determine what else contributes.  Right now, she has one or two minor bumpy patches, but the pale spots are still there all over her back and around the crease of her neck.  Our current regimen includes Aveno Eczema lotion and Cetaphil lotion - whichever bottle is handy, bathing weekly (spot cleaning as needed!) with Cetaphil cleanser if any soap is needed.  We were using Vitamin E oil for a while, but stopped that because it didn’t seem to be helping.  Her skin has been pretty much unchanged for 3-4 weeks.  Are the persistent pale spots an ongoing eczema outbreak?  Are they just the scars of an old outbreak?  How long should I expect it to take for them to heal (days, weeks, months, years)?  Can I do anything more, different, or better to help?

By Thalas'shaya on Wednesday, November 09, 2011 at 4:39 am.

My sons are full African American. Their hair is still super-baby fine, but now with a beautiful tight curl pattern. When cutting their hair, the guard on the clippers we have does not pick up their hair very well because of how fine it is. Do you have any recommendations on more suitable clippers to purchase? Thanks!

By twinkymom on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm.

Thanks so much.  I have 2 daughters and 2 questions.
Daughter #1 is almost 12 years old.  She has had braids, cornrows and locs.  At age 11, she asked for chemical straightening which we reluctantly allowed.  As her natural hair grew in, it was too hard to manage and the straightened hair was lifeless.  We did the Big Chop and she now wears her hair in a natural or in two strand twists.  She wants to flat iron her hair.  How do we help her to love her natural hair instead of her eternal quest for society’s ideal of long, straight hair?
Daughter #2 is almost 3.  She has had eczema but it is pretty much under control with moisturizing and limited application of cortisone med (Dr.‘s answer).  She had thick hair as a baby but it broke off gradually in her first year and now does not seem to grow.  Is this related to the eczema? Is there anything I can do to get it to grow? We do not use shampoo, just conditioner now on both heads.
Thank you!

By SheilaRose on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm.

My two sons are from India.  They both seem to have dry skin.  We use Bath & Body intense moisturizer body cream. It works, but we should use it every day.  Is there anything effective they could use less often?  Little boys don’t like to be bothered with creams and lotions! Also, my 9-year-old son has super thick, curly hair. It is down to the middle of his shoulder blades when wet, but springs up to his neck when dry. We are looking for a product to help keep the curls pulled out longer. We use Be Curly by Aveda, which smoothes and separates the hair into nice spirals, but they still bounce up tight. We also use KMS hairplay molding paste, but I’m not sure it’s effective at all. Is there anything we can use to give the curl more weight and pull it down? Perhaps a product from India?

By Caroline200 on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm.

My 15 year old African daughter has been diagnosed with Pityriasis Rosea and we have not been able to find any kind of cream that really helps with the itching.  She has had it for several years now and it comes and goes.  Hydrocortisone doesn’t seem to help any.

By LW on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm.

Great topic. Thanks for offering this to adoptive parents of transracial children.

My 6 year old daughter from China has long, very thick and coarse hair. We have been using adult hair products on her hair since she was three.

Her hair has a slight wave to it, and it gets very dry very fast. I have to use conditioner every time we wash her hair. In the morning her hair is very frizzy and looks dull. I take my daughter to get her hair cut with an Asian woman who recommended Matrix hair products. We have been using the “smoothing system” product line for a while and in the beginning it was working great. Until she started taking swim lessons again. The pool water is doing a number on her hair, and we have tried many different conditioners, detanglers with leave-in conditioner, but nothing seems to be giving her smooth and shiny hair.

Do you have any recommendations on what we can use to keep her hair at it’s best?


By lucaleve on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm.
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