How Young is Too Young to Put Extensions in a Child’s Hair?

December 23, 2011  |  

Thanks to faithful reader Tashia Jones (Hey, girl!), we were sent a story about all the fuss over Angelina Jolie putting extensions in the head of her daughter Zahara at just six years old. To be specific, she doesn’t have a long, flowing sew-in or something like that, but braids (the old-school Brandy kind). Radar Online talked to celebrity “groomer,” DaRico Jackson, who commented on the fact that the braids put in little Zahara’s hair were not only promoting her to second guess her own beauty, but they will damage her own hair in the future:

“If Angelina wants Zahara to be in touch with her roots and have her hair braided then she can do that with the child’s own hair and she doesn’t need to add extensions, Jackson stated. “She is far too young for that and Angelina is creating insecurity in the little girl that what she has is not good enough. Growing up with siblings who have long flowing hair, Zahara may grow to feel that her own natural hair is not pretty enough, and that without the fake hair she is not beautiful. She should be made to embrace who she is.”

Waltzing around with her mommy recently, little Zahara (from Ethiopia) held Angelina’s hand as she showed off her new braided extensions that reached down to the middle of her back in a ponytail. While many people (mainstream websites of course) thought the braided look was cute, many hair experts seemed to jump out the woodworks and blast Jolie for resorting to extensions for a young child.

As much as we used to see Jolie parading Zahara around with uncombed hair that was probably tangled as all hell, I’m not really surprised that she would resort to throwing braided extensions in her hair. As many kids as she has in her pack, and running around starring in movies and directing joints, she might not have the time. Because of that, the one whose hair might need the most tender love and care just doesn’t seem to get it. I’m just wondering why they won’t hire someone to take this child to the salon every few weeks!? Seriously, some braids using her own hair wouldn’t have taken as much time as having someone put extensions in Zahara’s head, which I’m sure had that little girl tired and antsy (I know that’s how I end up feeling!). I don’t think I started wearing braided hairstyles with extensions until I was like 12, and even then, after one month they were driving me crazy. When I took them bad boys out they had already started tugging some of my hair out, especially around my edges, so I’m hoping she won’t lose much of her own hair when they finally un-braid those things.

I totally agree with Jackson that this look is not necessary at such an early stage in her life. When you’re young, that’s when parents should be working with your hair, and as unruly as we would see Zahara’s mane looking since she was a baby, it’s a shame to see she the few options she’s being offered. However, if we’re going to put Angelina on a skewer for resorting to braided extensions, we also have to put some criticism on ourselves for putting perms in our children’s hair at a similar age, if not younger. As my sister would say, you can take out braids, but you can’t take out a perm (Well, you can, but that might take even more work).

In the end, braids are all good, but why not try it out with her own hair first? Angie should use some of that baller money she has and invest in Zahara’s hair future by getting someone to actually offer it some real TLC. I’m not hating on Angie hard for this decision, because having a child of a different background then your own probably will cause you to have some missteps when it comes to dealing with hair, keeping them in touch with their own culture, and more. However, this look is just a little much at six. But what do you think?

*Feature photo courtesy of

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  • Pam

    I think the extensions are fine. I put them in my daughters hair. It doesn’t make her feel bad about herself. She knows it makes her look great. Her hair is very slow to grow. At nine, it’s only 7 inches all over. Nothing has worked to help it grow but extensions.

  • kali

    Im a black female with what you would call good hair. As a child my grandmother had my hair done in braids extensions plats ect. I feel this has nothing to do with insecurity although the braids could have been much shorter i think it is cute especially since i kno Angie wouldnt know what to do with black hair anyway as long as her hair isnt done too tight to where its pulling at the scalp and if she do not keep them in long to where it tangles and dreads i think little Z will be just fine.. lay off with the hate its just hair.. it can always grow back!

  • crystal

    really wear braid in weave and wearing a full head of extensions are 2 different things.

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  • khadija

    Im Senegalese and when I was 6 I did have the occasional extension braids because I have several aunties that can braid hair … i had the plether from extension to natural and now im 20 with waist leangth locks i dont believe braids in any shape or form can really damage the self esteem of the baby and as much as we talk about it.. the child is 6 she probably doesnt even notice

  • FromUR2UB

    One thing I do agree with when whites raise black children, is that they should take girls to a salon that specializes in the care of natural black hair (if they live near one), or a boy to a barber who knows how to cut black hair.  They should also have someone teach them basic care of the child’s hair.  It’s just as important to nurture the child’s emotional development and self-esteem, as it is to clothe, feed and shelter her.  Self-esteem is influenced by personal appearance.  A black child who grows up in a white household is going to have some hangups about his/her hair anyway, because it requires more care than other kids in the household.  Their differences are magnified when the hair looks unkempt due to improper care, or they try to wear hairstyles that aren’t suited for the texture.  Contrary to belief – even among some black people – our natural hair is like a fine fabric; it requires gentle care.  You can’t rip through it when combing or treat it harshly in any way.  People who think of natural black hair as “bad” hair, will almost always overdo any treatment to the point of damage. 

  • FromUR2UB

    I’ve seen people put extensions on little girl’s hair as young as three…hanging down the back extensions.  I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, because a child’s hair tends to be fragile, and tons of heavy weave hanging off it can put stress on the roots.  Heavy weaves are hard on the hair of adult women who have fine, wispy hair.  That’s why alopecia has become so prevalent since the emergence of weaves.  I’d hate for a little girl to lose her natural hair so early in her life, because the loss is often permanent.

  • Jqueen60

    She is not the only person doing it. I have seen many mothers put extensions in their little girls hair and nothing came out of it. So ppl just need relax and calm down.

  • straightandnarrow04

    they need to stop trying to put Angelina on blast like that…this is a white woman who I’m sure has no idea of what to do with ethnic hair…that being said, I’m sure she was doing what she thought was best…she probably figured that all the other blacks wear their hair that way so it must be okay…she just needs to take a few lessons on how to style her hair in a way that befits young black girls…and yes, I do agree that most of our sisters could stand to take a few lessons on how to manage natural hair with their own daughters because some of the things I have seen women do to their girls hair as far as combing and styling, no wonder they have self esteem issues!!!

  • thedoggonetruth

    I’ve said this before, never in my life have I seen so many little girls with  hair extensions or weave in their hair or their natural hair is standing all over their head, uncombed, but their mother’s hair is done! I just don’t see the love and attention that I used to see with little girls and their hair.

  • Mjb

    I want to scream and yell at all those whining about this beautiful girl’s braids to shut the hell up. Where were you all when she was in an African orphanage? Has anyone of you contributed to her daily living? She’s getting love, attention, fed and provided for and all you can do is criticize her mother? There are many Blacks out there who are abusing their children right now and your focus is on a perfectly healthy and happy child’s braids? Get a freaking life and do something purposeful with your lives instead of this nonsense. Braids are not going to hurt a child this age. They’re probably soft braids or I’m sure she would have complained to her mother. 

  • Guest

    It’s no worse than relaxing or straightening it weekly. Actually if done correctly, it maybe better. I wish my mom had went that route vs straightening my hair weekly at that age. I still flinch when i think of a staightening comb. And to be honest, if I had a daughter I wouldn’t straighten her hair nor put extensions in it. She would probably be rocking a fro, some kind of knot/ twist outs or 1-2 pig tails.

  • January

    What are y’all talking about its NOT A SEW IN WEAVE ITS BRAIDS !!!! I had braids like that as a kid and my hair is perfectly fine if the person who did the braids know what they are doing then this childs hair will be okay if your edges are falling out from some braids then you need to not do them so tight and only use 1 pack of braiding hair yes one pack thats all you need I mean look at willow smiths hair y’all should be on will and jada head cause that mess on willows head aint cute not one bit leave angie alone let her raise HER KIDS in peace.

  • Fghjkl

    Waste of an article. Some people are always looking for something to complain about. Most black girls have braids from the moment their hair is long enough. GTFOH

  • ChocoChika

    Hmmm If y’all think Zahara is to young, you need go take a look in some African communities..Sometimes i see lil girls not older than 2yrs with braids and sometimes even weaves on their heads…SMH..I blame it on lazy-ness..Moms take note,its not a cute look at alllll

  • Trini’s Mom

    My daughter is 6 and I just put in her first set of “box braids” just like Zahara’s but my duaghters has 4 beads at the end of each braid. It looks super cute on both of them. Im not into putting full weaves in the kids’ hair. But small old school braids are fine for little black girls.


      Also, when your a busy mother the braids help sooooooo much with getting out of the house in the mornings. It allows me to have more time to cook a soild breakfast for my kids. Im just sayin…

  • Compare this to the rachet mothers who put lace front wigs on their daughters this is tame. 

    • straightandnarrow04


  • Zahara is being LOVED by a REAL mother.  Why worry about any psychological fallout from looking absolutely darling? Forget that Afro American is getting old and lame!

  • Tilly_hughes2007

    Worry about your own kids .  Angie is probably doing the best she can. You don’t want braids in your child’s hair, don’t put them in there.

  • moi

    I don’t think she’s too young to have braids. Maybe Angelina got tired of combing her little girls hair JUST LIKE A LOT OF BLACK MOTHERS DO. So we throw braids on em. Come on people.

  • guest2day

    In the case of wearing braids, I have no problem with it. I doubt Angelina knows how to braid her daughter’s hair on a daily basis, nor has the time. Aren’t braids a part of African culture??!! It is not a misstep to vary the hair style options of her daughter by choosing to have braids added. I prefer this option than the horrible choice that many mother’s make by putting relaxers in their daughter’s hair at a ridiculously early age. I also think putting a weave in their daughter’s hair is ridiculous as well. I am sure Angelina tries her best to keep her daughter well educated; gives positive reinforcement; and exposes her in many ways to her African roots (ie: trips to her native country in Africa and more). All these examples are more important than braids being put in her hair (an idea that she could easily have gotten as demonstrated by many African American woman on their own daughters).

    • guest2day

      In addition, many African American women are still learning how to care for their own naturally textured hair after many years of trial and error. Don’t expect Angelina to be an expert in black haircare overnight.

  • I think folks are way to hard on Angelina. Walk into a mall anywhere and you will see children younger than Zahara with braids in their hair. Little girls like ponytails they can shake. I am sure her hair is maintained by a professional versus some of us that take our daughters to our “friend” to get it braided so give Angelina a break.

  • Lonzization

    It is really not that big of a deal and I am unsure of the little girls actual hair length but when mine was shorter and I would wear braids I had no choice but to add extensions for my hair to be gripped better. Extensions also make the braids last much longer because it doesnt come a loose as fast as natural hair does and get all frizzy. I dont agree with the length of the extensions that were used but it is not that huge of a deal for the extensions itself. Yall acting like the girl got a full had sew in or something. Braids dont usually tend to damage black hair if anything it strengthens it and helps it to grow if it is done well and not too tight. 

  • I’m not a fan of extensions or perms for children.  It does cause damage to their hair in the future. 

    Honestly, I think I’m more bothered about how sloppy the braids look. 

    Zahara may be African but the texture of her hair is softer than the average African/African American so it’s way easier to manage.  There’s really no reason to have her hair looking like a mess.

  • Guest

    With three girls of my own I know how hard it is to keep all of their hair done. Looking at Zahara’s hair it loks like it is curly so if you braid her hair with out the extentions it would be frizzy in two days so maybe thats the reason Angilina put the extentions in it anyway. I’m just saying think before you judge.

    • Debs

      Yours so smart…preach it….people are always judging…based on WHAT!!!…they just want to talk. It really makes me mad hearing people talk like this…It sounds like bull. Is she really too young for extensions??? If they’re done right, they WON’T break off her hair. She’s like 6 for goodness sake..(or however old) she doesn’t care about how her hair looks compared to other people…(at least I doubt it). Some black people don’t know how to take care of their hair…even some white…So honestly Angelina should be giving some props for taking care of someone out of her culture. It’s her kid…if she wants extensions, let it be..IDC….Zahara’s is Angelina’s kid…NOT PEANUT OR POOKIE OR ANYONE ELSE WHO IS COMMENTING ON THIS WEBSITE…so please let it be..people really don’t know what they are talking about nowadays.

  • D. Williamson

    I agree, she is too young for extentions. Just get someone who knows black hair to do Zahara’s hair!! It’s that simple!!     

  • D. Williamson

    I agree, ahe is too young for extentions. Just get someone who knows black hair to do Zahara’s hair!! It’s that simple!!

  • Live_in_LDN

    It is her kid and if she wishes to put extensions in her hair then so be it. Who gives a flying ‘f’……

  • Zahara is too young for extension braids – I agree that she should just braid the hair Zahara has and teach her instead to love what she has naturally. If Angie is concerned about the health of her daughter’s hair, or her inability to style Zahara’s hair, better to teach her that taking care of her hair with a professional (and helping Zahara take SOME responsibility for her hair, even at this age) would be better. Angie is known for not submitting to society’s rules about how SHE should look (as evidenced by her many tattoos, her wardrobe, etc) so why not give her daughter that same level of self-assuredness and freedom. There are tons of simple styles that she can learn to do, and even let Zahara help with, that will give more opportunity for Angie to instill a healthy level of self-esteem in her daughter.


    Why are we putting perms and extensions in children’s hair in the first place? May as well slap a wig on top.

  • Angie doesn’t know WHAT to do with that child’S hair. At least its not a perm. 

  • Guest

    Keeping her in touch with her own culture?  Didn’t MN just run an article discussing how the women in Africa are suffering from the same hair identity drama that African-American women have been degraded for in the past?  Find something REALLY worth discussing like where’d the millions of dollars donated to Haiti go and why those people are still living in tents?

  • Mrsindependent

    To all those people who are complaining about angelina and the braids on her daughter, r u claiming u have never seen young children zahara’s age with braids. The original person complaining has nothing better to do. If u want something to complain why not complain about relaxers at a young age, or better yet black folks not adopting children… so to all those complaining …mind your own damn business!

  • Sofie212

    GIVE IT A REST. No good deed goes unbashed.  From the original writer to the instigators, which one of you would go down to an Ethiopian orphanage and adopt a baby girl??? 

    The number of black families who adopt are so few & far in between. Until those stats go up, I would highly recommend that you put a sock in it. 

  • Hampton

    Angelina rescued that little girl from poverty if she wants to put braids in her hair and little Z like them that is her business…Ya’ll really need to get a life. Just because she puts braids in her hair doesn’t mean that Z is going to feel less beautiful, where do you think those braided styles came from. I think she is doing a good thing by not having her walking around looking all crazy with her hair all over head.

    • NVAdamzz

      That’s what I was thinking. The least of this little girl’s problems is her hair being that she was saved from having to spend her life in poverty and struggling. However, I do think Angelina Jolie should have done a little bit of research before she just goes around adopting every culture and trying to raise them like they’re white. If she doesn’t want to learn how to deal with the baby’s hair, she needs to find someone who knows. She doesn’t know about putting a child in a figure four leg lock so you can run a comb through their hair. She doesn’t know how cute it looks when she has two huge afro puffs on either side of her head, or when she has intricately designed braids in her hair that hang heavy with beads and barretts to match whatever shirt, outfit, or pair of shoes she has on that day. As far as I know, she hasn’t had any extended relationships with any Black person besides Zahara so she just doesn’t know. 

      • Ok…I was with you for your first 2 sentences….then you lost me. How is she raising her children ‘white’?  That is the stupidest statement I have ever heard.  Then “… intricately designed braids in her hair that hang heavy with beads and
        barretts to match whatever shirt, outfit, or pair of shoes she has on
        that day.”  Seriously.  Beads and barrettes to match outfit or shoes??? Altogether, can we say ghetto.

  • Caribbean in the house

    well how young is too young for an afro-american little girls in the hood for their ghetto moms to help them dress in a prerogative way at an early age so when the grow up they already have 10 babies by different men. she gets it from mamma.

    • *Provocative*

      • Caribbean in the house

        you see, you ho’s do know that word lol lol lol

        • Sugar_Spice

          Actually Barbara was correcting you

  • Guess

    As a teacher, I see girls as young as 4,5,6,7+ with extensions and perms all day everyday. Is the hair expert, DaRico Jackson, is exerting her insecurities on Zahara? And it may be the case that Zahara asked for them. Yes, she is too young to have so much strain on her hair. But this goes for many women young and old (perms, hair dye, braids, etc.). Why is she sweating Angelina Jolie?

    • Nina

      Should we NOT be concerned because its Angelina Jolie? You do know that baby can lose her hair with this type of hairstyle right? Last I checked, caring for any baby means TOTAL care NOT just “Be grateful she’s not homeless, so lets do the bear minimum care.” Some of ya’ll are just…….SMH.

      • Guess

        Yes, we SHOULDN’T be concerned with Angelina Jolie.  She is not mistreating Zahara.  Many mothers are lacking in many areas waayyy beyond hair maintenance. When I was younger my mother used pink lotion on my hair almost daily.  Did I die? Most likely you will be with your family in two days for Christmas, what are you going to say to your family members concerning their parenting shortcomings (Im sure there are some in your family who are not adequate parents) ? Are you going to call them out?

        • Mjb

          Great response!

      • Masood

        We should be concerned if the little one loses her hair and nothing is done to improve it. Hair maintenance is trial and error.  Let’s not burn Angelina at the stake for giving her daughter a hairstyle many others have.

      • Ebonydiva82

        I don’t think we should be concerned simply because it’s Angeina Jolie. No one at this time knows the true reason behind Angelina allowing Zahara to wear extensions. Maybe Zahara also saw a friend with extensions and wanted the same thing. 

    • Ebonydiva82

      I second that: I see small children all the time with braids and extensions almost everwhere I go. I even see little girls witg perms too and the damage done to their hair is clearly visible.