Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a fuzzy wuzzy, nappy loving special day! Make some connections that matter, and notice every moment.

I DID finally get to do some hair...=) Mocha Baby is still being trained.....brushing is good for loose hair only...!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Card 2010 Photo Shoot!

View Video

Nappy Christmas Greetings!

Our relationship with nappy hair and fuzz can affect everything--even organizing the kids to take a picture in time to send out Christmas cards to our loved ones. I confess, I really struggled this year.

There's nothing wrong with wanting everyone to look their best, and a fresh style is beautiful. My problem is I've been swamped with seasonal activity. I've had no time to calmly sit and lovingly do hair. I certainly could have ripped through their strands to get the job done, but it just wasn't worth it to me. I don't believe in suffering to be beautiful.

I finally realized the cards would never go out if I waited for the day I could freshen up all the girls' styles--especially when a wash is necessary for them all.

One morning I woke up and noticed that my son was wearing red and white. A few minutes later MG3 came down the stairs in a red shirt. Her hair was fuzzy wuzzy to the max, but I knew right then that I needed to seize the moment. I rushed upstairs with Mocha Baby and dressed her in the gorgeous Christmas dress my mother bought her. HMG joined in the fun accessorizing to match everyone. A fifteen minute photo shoot ensued and voila! Christmas cards!

I realize that when I send out my cards, some people may say, "This picture would have been perfect if she had done something with the girls' hair!"

I'm OK with that, because I know this image is a better reflection of who we are and what we cherish. It is more important to be able to reach out to our loved ones, without letting things like fuzz, frizz and naps be a hindrance. I also appreciate the opportunity to give my girls another experience where their nappyness wasn't even a thought. I had plenty of thoughts running through my mind, but they'll never know it.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Building Relationship With Your Daughters

I know I usually come here to talk about hair, but my heart is so full right now I can't help but share. I had the most wonderful couple of hours with HMG. She's physically changing before my eyes. More and more I see the little girl fading away and the young woman emerging. She's still my little girl, but every now and then I catch a glimpse of who she's becoming. Sometimes I'm a little intimidated by the new demands her growth process are placing on me. I want to run back to story time and let me kiss that boo-boo for you and make it all better. These days HMG is navigating her way through so many issues, and sometimes when she comes to me I am humbled by the realization that I haven't mastered the situation yet myself. How do I lead her through? Inside I'm quaking. What if I make a mess of things? At times I've been afraid to be alone with her in these tough places. Today I took a leap.

I decided I would rather fumble if it means taking my chance to really know my daughter and to let her know me. For a couple of hours I decided to step outside my busy-ness, turn over the rest of the kids to their father and head to Dunkin Donuts with my oldest Mocha Princess. For five dollars and change I found myself to be so blessed by her animated conversation. It's like she was finally able to say all she'd been wanting to say and I was finally listening. I wasn't struck with the perfect answers, but I finally realized she just needed me there. Something about me--imperfections and all--was all she needed.

When I blog--making sure my wording and presentation is perfect, and when I edit my videos-- making sure not to include my moments of frustration, I realize it may come across like things are holding together really well all of the time. The truth is there muck in us all--I am so grateful that I don't have to be perfect to accomplish something good. I hope all of you out there are taking the time now to make authentic connections with your daughters. I'm realizing that God has purposed it so that especially my broken places--which tend to make me pull away-- are useful to share with them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mocha Baby's bald spot is gone!

Here's what I did:

1. I mainly kept her hair in a baby 99.9% of the time for almost the entire first year of her life. I used an occasional head band for special occasions, making sure it wasn't too tight around her head.

2. I washed her hair as needed with a mild SLS free shampoo and followed up with a moisturizing conditioner. Sometimes I rinsed her hair with plain water and followed up with a moisturizing conditioner. I allowed her hair to get wet as she splashed in her bath. Nappy hair loves water. While all the moisture will probably wreak fuzzy havoc on our carefully designed styles, the resulting suppleness means more growth retention.

3. When MB's fro got long enough in the back that it was constantly flattened whenever she rested her head on a surface, I began styling her hair in about 6 loose puffs. I used tiny rubber bands LOOSELY to secure the puff and removed them carefully with a seam ripper to wash and re-style. I braid up the puffs in the back because the hair in the back of MB's hair is drier and more fragile than the rest of her hair--so far. At first the hair at her bald spot was coming in like fuzz--I simply gathered the longer hair around it into a puff to cover it. This seems to have protected the area from drying more because it gradually started to fill in and grow out. It is still shorter than the rest of the hair but is coming in strong.

4. I spritzed MB's hair damp with water before sealing in the moisture with a light oil (castor oil, coconut oil OR jojoba oil). A little dime size dab is enough for her entire head. I only do this when I am putting in a style but allow the moisture from her daily baths to moisturize her hair until the next wash/style.

5. I style MB's hair once a week, and leave it alone for the rest of the week.

6. So far, I have not covered MB's hair at night. Through the summer, I thought it was too warm and these days she removes anything I put on her head. Eventually she will accept a small synthetic cap or stocking cap. I highly recommend it for toddlers if they will allow it. If not, clearly their hair grows anyway. I pay special attention to exposing her hair to water when I can--shower caps are taboo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday MG2!

You are so precious to us, and the change in your hair is proof that nappy hair is misunderstood more than anything.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter is coming, are you ready?

I once thought there was something special about Summer, because our nappy hair thrived so much more. I always expected my hair to grow more in the warmer months. I'm not sure our scalps do something special as the temperatures rise, but nappy hair loves moisture. It's like a rainforest, growing lush with all the rain, and steamy humidity. I think if we avoid frying our heads in the hot sun, our strands become supple and we may retain more length.

Winter is the exact opposite. As much as we love to douse our heads in the warmer months and run outside while it's still damp--we imagine we'll all catch our deaths if we do the same in Winter. We may, especially if our bodies aren't accustomed to it. We can generally be reluctant to wash our hair as much. I know I've told myself in the past that our hair wasn't as dirty because we weren't sweating as much. I'd wash less and expose our hair to less moisture. I wanted styles to last longer and was tempted to send my girls out into the cold without their hats--especially on a Sunday when they were dolled up for worship services.

I was very misguided. Here are some simple changes I made to help us enjoy beautiful Winter hair because:

1. We may not sweat as much but dust and grime is still attracted to the natural oils or sebum our scalps produce. We still need to cleanse it regularly. Not washing will result in dirty smelling hair that no amount of dry cleansing, and topical moisture products will fix entirely.

2. Artificial heat is often dry heat, resulting in dry hair.

3. Harsh temperatures in general may stress our hair. Too cold may be just as taxing as too hot.

Here's what I do:

I continue to wash our hair regularly. You'll find me regularly sniffing my girl's heads. If my nose wriggles--I've waited too long to wash. In a pinch I will wash their hair however it is already braided up and let them be fuzzy until I can find the time to style again. My primary concern is keeping their scalp healthy because a healthy scalp will foster beautiful hair. If you know us in real life you'll testify that we can all look quite fuzzy at times--I can live with that.

I plan ahead. I don't use heat on my girls' hair--this includes hooded dryers. This means it takes HOURS for their hair to dry completely. In the Winter we wash early in the day and stay inside. If we must leave the house I make sure I give their heads enough time to dry to dampness. I will follow up by covering their heads with hats before we go into the cold air.

We save the loose styles and puffs for spring and summer. My exception for this is Mocha Baby, whose hair is still too silky and curly for a full head of braids/twists. I take special care to expose her hair to water daily as she splashes in her bath.

Spritz baby spritz! I've seen all kinds of concoctions. Consider your climate. Many moisturizing sprays contain humectants. They draw moisture from things to themselves. Your environment matters. If you are in a moist environment, humectants are great. They will draw the moisture in the environment to your hair. If your environment is dry, humectants will suck the moisture right out of your hair. Instead, you may want to look for an oil and water mix or simply spritz with water and then lightly coat the strands with oil.

Run a humidifier. This works to keep our hair AND skin supple while soothing our nasal passages and lungs.

Sleep cap or scarf to cover hair for bed. I use the synthetic caps/scarves, durags, satin caps, stocking caps found in beauty supply stores. These won't make the hair moist but will prevent the bedding and dry heat from leeching moisture from your hair.

Conditioning. Look for moisturizing conditioners, but avoid things containing too many silicones and parabens which can build up and require more shampooing to remove. I like Suave Naturals, Trader Joe's Refresh, Tresemme Naturals, Giovanni Direct. I really don't deep condition the girl's hair often...though I've read it's important. I think we are successful anyway because we never use heat and chemicals and constantly expose our hair to water. I do an occasional protein treatment (Aubrey organics GPB) for MG3 because her fine hair demands it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Too many heads to do?

So I had a I just want to scream moment yesterday.

I had washed the middle two daughters' hair and instructed HMG to wash her braids for a new round of take down, detangling and styling. I expected it to take all day but was so distressed that it took ALL DAY.

My plan was to split the work over two days, but ran out of steam on Thursday after finishing up with MG3. I gave myself a break. After all, I was working after an intense school day and trying to be done in time for a committee meeting. I decided to throw in the towel and work on MG2 and HMG's hair the next day. I seldom schedule a serious take down (HMG's small braids) with a matted detangle (MG2's quick wash without detangling) on the SAME day.

The plan was to give them both a corn rowed style, but I found myself struggling to get through detangling MG2's hair. Mocha Baby threw a monkey wrench into the process. She's walking--ALL OVER. She picks up the smallest things and tries to put them in her mouth. If anyone approaches as if to pick her up, she screeches in protest. She wants to roam the entire house--at will. This situation alone is challenging when I'm doing hair, but matters were compounded by the fact that MB has been trying to shake off a bad cold for over a week.

She was particularly cranky, wanting to be held ONLY by me. We've started the weaning process, but suddenly she wanted to nurse ALL DAY. Am I whining yet?

I was so distressed!

The easy flowing rivers of nappy hair I usually relish playing with had become roaring rapids, and I felt like I was navigating my way without a raft. I couldn't seem to find a working spray bottle anywhere. I found myself doing stupid stuff like dipping my hands in water and trying to force it through MG2's very tangled and matted hair. FAIL. It all felt insurmountable.

Poor MG2. We were flash-backing to the days of her screaming, "Ow! That hurts!" with me insisting, "STOP fussing, it doesn't hurt that bad!"

Meanwhile, MB screamed by my chair wanting to be picked up. The true moment of madness revealed itself later as I struggled to removed one of HMG's small braids with one hand, while simultaneously trying to nurse and console MB, who was cradled in my other arm. My back was killing me and I was wishing to be anywhere else.

I really should have stopped.

I should have let the fuzz prevail a little longer. We were attending a couple of social functions that weekend, and I was pushing myself to give the girls a certain look. Ya'll know what I'm talking about.

In the end, I fashioned some quick styles for the girls and am allowing HMG to enjoy a braid out for the rest of the week. I can usually get a couple of weeks out of styles I invest more time into. We'll probably be styling again next week, but I plan to be smarter. It's just NOT worth it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Less is More

I'm as guilty as anyone of saturating my girls' strands with too much product when we style. I often aggravate matters by trying to force several styling sessions in before washing. This results in layer after layer of products weighing down their strands, attracting dust, and looking anything but pliable and supple.

We've decided to make a change and oddly I got my revelation from work on MY hair, not the girls. I've been using fewer and fewer products in my hair in an effort to deal with a flaky condition around my hairline, and was amazed by how soft my hair has become. The less I use, the more it thanks me.

I'm always writing about MG3's fine, fuzzy and fluffy hair. This hair type is particularly sensitive to product overload. Pictured above, I was able to give the appearance of a thick head of lush nappy hair, by using a dab of castor oil to damp hair while weaving her strands into loose braids. The effect is darling and MG3 is VERY pleased.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Mocha Baby!

She's such a blessing AND thank God for all I've learned to keep all this hair on her head!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Beads Are Back!

Once upon a time I was the beaded queen! Not for myself, but every style I gave my daughters included some beaded design. I gathered a nice collection of colors, shapes and sizes. I stopped using beads when I realized that the weight of my designs, coupled with the constant motion of the beads as the girls swung their braids around, were acting like razors to their ends. Their retention was stagnant and their ends looked terrible. I stopped using the beads but couldn't get myself to throw the collection away. I'm so glad I kept them because I think this new method of weaving a few beads through the length of the braids, while avoiding the ends will work much better for us.

I asked HMG if she wanted the same style as her sisters. You should have seen her face--LOL! It was was like, "Mom.....SERIOUSLY?" LOL! What can I say? She'll always be my baby!

We settled on this alternative.

HMG was very happy with the outcome. She picked out the beads and designed the pattern herself.

I think the beads keep their styles spiced. They work really well with the fuzz. I'm always happy to find some way to stretch a style. Their hair loves to be left alone and I am happy to oblige.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Confessions of a Busy Mocha Mom

I confess that I haven't done the girls' hair over yet, because they are going swimming this weekend.

I confess that I may be getting too comfortable with fuzz, and frizz, and almost never think twice about our hair when we leave the house.

I confess that I'm glad I can't guarantee the gender of my kids, or I'd only be enjoying one mocha girl right now and I love them all so much.

I confess that I don't always feel up to the task and am glad that God doesn't require that I never stumble, but is grooming me to position myself to let him catch me when I fall.

I confess that it's not easy teaching my babies lessons I haven't fully learned myself--thank God I'm not doing any of this in my own strength.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Birthday MG3!

Thanking God for my beautiful five year old! Her birthday is actually tomorrow, but I have to work for part of the day so we start celebrating today!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Are you enjoying your mocha princess?

I'm learning more and more that what my girls want from me the most is my time. In the past I've been stunted by trying to plan the perfect event. Either I didn't have the resources or imagined the more stuff I could offer my girls the better. I'm learning that doing something cheap, simple, and fun often results in some of the most precious memories.

My husband and son traveled for a father son camp experience, leaving us behind. The girls were looking to me for a special time at home, but I was exhausted from starting our homeschool, and the demands of chasing a baby on the brink of walking while trying to be available for quality individual interaction with four other children. My husband is very supportive, but my responsibilities demand a lot both physically and emotionally.

I tend to fake it it til I make it. We watched videos. Turned errands into a fun window shopping trip. Made french bread pizza. Worshipped together. All these things were fun, but the gem of the weekend happened spontaneously.

MG3 wanted to play make up. I had the girls wait for me in the kitchen while I rushed upstairs to clean things up in the master bathroom. My initial thought was to baby proof the floor space so that MB could crawl around. As I look around I noticed the unlit candles and a white folded gauzy floor length curtain. I decided right then to use what I had on hand to turn my bathroom into a Nappy Princess Spa. I lit the candles, put on some sweet music, and covered a chair from my son's room with the guazy curtain and secured it all with a silky scarf. I spread make-up and nail polish all around the counter. The girls gasped and squealed with glee when I finally brought them in.

I've been teaching my girls to relax about their appearance, and not to let a fear of messing up their hair prevent them from having fun. This is an important message, but I want to make sure my girls balance this relaxed attitude by knowing when to celebrate their femininity and glam it up! I'm no expert, but we sure had fun packing on the pretty colors and giggling. We took lots of pictures. The end result was silly, but I'm sure we'll smile every time we look at those shots.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

MB's Puffs!

I styled Mocha Baby's (MB) hair as she sat in the exersaucer pictured above. I used a spritzed bottle of plain water with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar as an acidifier to help lay down her shingles for detangling. It DOES smell strongly of vinegar but if you can stand it, the smell fades away completely once the hair is dry. I prefer using the Aloe acidifying mix I mention here, because it's odorless. I tried the ACV, because I'm out of aloe. I think it worked just as well.

I secured her puffs with small elastic rubber bands, found in any beauty supply store.
I wound the rubber band around 3 times for most of the puffs, making sure I could slide a finger easily under the rubber band to her scalp. I want to avoid pulling the hair tight enough to cause tiny bumps and breakage.

When it is time to take down the puffs in a couple of days, I will use scissors to carefully cut away the rubber bands.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trader Joe's Castille Soap Discontinued!

There's some controversy about the use of castille soap as a shampoo. For example, popular YouTuber Kim , of KimmayTube tested the ph of Bronner's Castille Soap and found it to be much higher than the recommended range for hair (between 4 and 5). You can watch her explain her findings.

She also did an informative series fraught with good visuals on understanding the effects of ph on hair.

That said, I've been using diluted castille soap successfully for YEARS, but I've never tried Bronner's Castille Soap.
I had a bottle of Trader Joe's Castille Soap.

Turns out Trader Joe's formula includes Aloe Vera --which has an acidic ph---probably bringing down the overall ph of the product--perhaps balancing it for hair. The manufacturer recommends it's use as a shampoo right on the bottle's label.

I did not get a chance to personally test the ph of my bottle, because by the time I noticed Aloe as an ingredient of my castille soap, the bottle was empty and I was on my way to Trader Joe's to buy a new one. I was very disappointed to learn they are no longer selling their brand and promoting Bronner's Castille Soap instead. My bottle lasted for years--a little bit diluted yielded a rich sudsy solution. I'm sorry to see the product go. The representative had no information about why they had stopped selling it.

I can't recommend Bronner's, because I've never tried it--but I've read that some people report success using it diluted as well. You may want to test it for yourself and see how you like it. Test the ph for yourself, and if it's not in a safe range for hair, I'd leave it alone.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aloe Vera Acidifying Mix for Detangling!

I took down HMGs re-twisted style for these big cornrow twists. I thought a lot of shed hair was trapped in her twists and wanted to remove them to avoid matting. I tried a new mix because she'd just washed her twists and I wanted to style her hair without having to wash it again.

I've been studying the effects of acidifying the hair shaft to a ph between 4 and 5. This causes the shingles on the hair shaft to lie down, creating a smooth surface for the strands to glide past each other. Open shingles snag and catch as the strands make contact. Detangling conditioners are designed to impact the hair shaft in a similar fashion, whether by chemically altering the behavior of the shingles or coating the strands to create a smooth surface. I like the idea of using aloe vera juice because of it's acidic ph and moisturizing properties. I've read testimonies that it leaves nappy hair soft and supple.

I didn't really measure, because I only had about a little more than a tablespoon of aloe vera left to work with--my husband drinks it as a supplement. I added it to about 8 oz of plain water. I had no ph strips to test whether the aloe I added to the water brought it to a range between 4 and 5, but I forged ahead anyway. If you try this, you may want to pick up some strips from your drug store and test the mix for yourself--they are very easy to read.

Oh my goodness!!!!!!! Here's our experience:

HMG took down her twists herself and I sat down to detangle her hair. Shed hair were wrapped around the loose sections of hair. I took my time trying to gently pull some of the shed hairs from her DRY hair first working from the ends. In some places I had to apply the end of my rat tail comb to gently pry the shed hair off. I should have spritz her hair with my aloe mixture from the beginning. I was VERY pleased with how easy it became to detangle her hair once I started spraying. My Denman was slipping through her hair in no time.

The aloe is odorless and left no residue on her hair. This morning her hair is soft and full of sheen. I am excited to try this on the other girls and report back our experiences.

I refrigerated what was left of my aloe mix--there are no preservatives in the aloe juice which is kept refrigerated.

I'm excited about the new big corn row twisted style we put in. HMG braided the twists before going to bed which gave them a curly crinkly look she really likes. She will also try to set them with her pipe cleaner curls for a different look. They also look great hanging down straight. I made the twists big, which should be easy for HMG, should she want to freshen them up herself in a week. It should go much more quickly for her. We got through detangling her hair and putting in this style in the time it took her to watch a regular feature length movie.

Monday, August 16, 2010

HMG Re-twists Like a Pro!

Here's an update on the video Am I am rushing my daughter to do her own hair too fast?

On the ride home from a trip to visit relatives, HMG shared her frustration living with fuzzy twists. I pointed out to her that if she re-twists herself, she can keep her twists as fresh as she likes. She's been practicing her twist technique on her nappy American Girl doll. I encouraged her to try re-twisting one of her twists as we sat talking on the drive. Her first attempt was too loose BUT after a few simple suggestions she refashioned the twist perfectly. We had no water and no products. I pointed out that we generally want to use both and finger detangle to remove shed hair. We had at least 3 hours left of our journey home and HMG managed to re-twist her entire head before we arrived.

She complained about how long it took, but now she knows she can re-twist her own hair whenever she likes. This is the first step to independence--I couldn't be happier for her. I will continue to put in her fresh set of twists until she is comfortable with doing the entire process herself.

Pipe Cleaner Curls
A week after re-twisting her hair AND swimming, HMG was complaining about the fuzz again. I handed her a set of pipe cleaner rods the younger Mocha Girls and I had fashioned. This morning she came into my office wanting to know how long she can expect her curls to last. She LOVED the way they refreshed her twists. Now she's got TWO tools in her arsenal for stretching the life of her twists in a way she enjoys.

I am so happy with HMG's progress. I think my hair story would have been so much easier if I could have made peace with my nappy hair at age 11.

Why did God give us this hair?

Someone FULL of years asked me this in such a mournful way. The following scripture made me think of her:

Surely you have things turned around!
Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;
For shall the thing made say of him who made it,
"He did not make me"?
Or shall the thing formed say of him
who formed it,
"He has no understanding?"

Isaiah 29:16

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pipe Cleaner Curls?

I been watching videos about pipe cleaner curls all over You Tube. Check out Chescaloc's tutorial.

Why not try these on braids/twists? Same concept as perm rods/ flexible rods at a fraction of the cost. They are much more comfortable to sleep on. While testing them first on myself, I barely felt them. As an extra safety measure, I folded the sharp ends over.

MG2 has twists and MG3 has braids. The pipe cleaners yield tight curls and ringlets. I don't recommend trying these on loose hair--the strands may get caught in the twisted pattern of the pipe cleaners.

I purchased my pipe cleaners for a little over $1 at Walmart and made sets for us all.

The results:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Twisted bangs and a Bun!

I've been hunting for a style gentle on MG3's edges. Generally, her edges slide right out of her style and feel brittle. I love this twisted bangs and bun combination.

I used Fantasia IC gel to twist and a small amount to smooth her bun. Her bun fuzzes up quickly but it works well with the twists.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

MG3's wash and go...take 2

Why am I here again?

MG3's hair is so soft and full and happy after being loose. I think her hair thrives better unhindered.

I'm still not up for styling every day but I've been experimenting with letting her wear a chunky shrunken fro, without all the curl defining products and manipulation. I washed her hair, added leave in conditioner, blotted away the excess water and finger combed it into an afro shape. I took a head band, doubled it around her head and pushed it into place to fashion the puff pictured above. At night I remove the band and let her sleep with her fro loose. In the morning I spritz her hair liberally with plain water and finger comb her sleep matted fro back into the shape I want and use the headband to fashion a new puff. No brushing, no gel and no extra products. When her hair feel dry I will do a conditioner wash and start over.

It's been super easy and her hair looks great.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wash and Go or No?

MG3's shrunken and sleep flattened fro!

MG3's hair LOVES water! If I wet her hair every single day and seal the moisture with a light oil it feels silky and elastic. MG3's nappy hair LOVES leave in conditioner. When I add leave in conditioner to her damp or wet hair, followed by a holding product like gel, her coils freeze in tiny coffee stirrer size coils. If I listen to her hair, it's telling me,
I want to wash and go.

Actually, many people will tell you their nappy hair loves water, and feels moist when they wet it often. Wash and go isn't just for nappy girls some folks describe as having "good hair" (I hate that terminology). The truth is we may find that most nappy hair feels good when we wash and go. The struggle may come later. Think tangles, and maintenance.

For me, I just don't have the time to follow my daughter into the shower every morning so she can douse her hair, shake, apply product, style and drip while being sure to never touch her hair until it's dry. We tried it just for fun the other day.

After shaping her fro perfectly I said, "OK MG3, now don't touch your hair again until snack time (2 hours later)."

Five minutes later MG3 buried her entire hand into the front left section of her fro and scratched vigorously!

I gasped, "What are you doing? I thought we agreed not to touch the fro until snack time?"

MG3 frowned and crossed her arms with a huff. "But it itches Mommy!"

You know how we adult women get itchy and pat our hair instead of scratching it to avoid scalp burns when our relaxer touch ups are near? No such reasoning in my four year old.
It itches so I scratch it--end of story! Personally, those relaxer touch up days are over for me----but I certainly remember.

MG3's hair fuzzed immediately. Fuzz doesn't generally bother me, but after all that work, I wasn't happy to see it. All plans of possibly following a curl defining wash and go routine with MG3 have been shelved. It would be too ridiculous to repeat such a process with her daily. I was further mortified to see her rolling all over the floor, and using her fro to effectively remove all the lint from the carpeting and my wood floors.

MG3's curl defining wash and go is a
no go for now. I think it's her age and maturity level. I think when she's older, and can manage it herself, MG3 will love her wash and gos.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flying pool fun is hair maintenance free!

Today my two oldest children have soccer camp, so I have 3 hours free to focus on my littles. My husband and I speculated on a special activity for them, including a quick trip to the children's museum or zoo. The girls amazed us, when they asked at breakfast, if they could run through the sprinklers and paint pictures.

Turns out it doesn't take as much as I expected to satisfy my little princesses. As a bonus I can simply dry their hair off. There's no chlorine to wash away. Win, win.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Celebrating my husband for all he is and all he does for our family--especially being our number one nappy support person.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Small Box Braid Tutorial

View Video

Choosing a nappy friendly style in a straight hair world

View Video

Mocha Baby's Hair Growth Spurt

Mocha baby's hair has just had a dramatic growth spurt--over the past week.

As you know, I've been twisting and coiling it to expose her scalp for coolness in the hot weather. The temperature dropped over the pass couple of days and I've returned to the fro. I can't believe how big her fro is now. My first thought was maybe the twists stretched her coils out--but I've been rinsing the fro daily and letting it do what it does. I fluff it out with my fingers as always.

I'm scratching my head.

In the past I've noticed growth once I started styling my babies' hair but I've experienced breakage too--with my too tight and over the top methods. The twists/coils were very gentle....I'm wondering if we're on to something here.....time will tell, and I will keep you posted.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Mocha Princess Pool/Beach Regimen

The following are things I've tried and learned from personal experience. I encourage you to adapt my methods to your situation.

I don't use swim caps because in my experience, they don't keep our hair perfectly dry if we like to dunk our heads under water. My girls stay under the water. Swim caps work best to keep
our hair out of the pool. I also find plastic/rubber swim caps to be extremely hot on our heads. I imagine my daughters' brains cooking under them on a hot day. I never use them when we're outside. I'd use them inside if the facility requires them.

Chlorine can be very drying to nappy hair. Your child's hair will be fine after repeated exposure to chlorine if you are careful to protect it from the chlorine before swimming AND take care to wash it away after. Never allow chlorine to stay in your child's hair indefinitely. I've been in situations where I didn't wash until the next day, and my girls' hair was fine, but I'd never just leave the chlorine in their hair.

Salt water from the ocean can also be drying to nappy hair. I take the same precautions when we go to the beach that we use at the pool.

Consider the following:

1. Saturate their hair with diluted conditioner. I fill up an 8 oz spritz bottle with about 1 oz of conditioner and the rest water and shake until the conditioner and water are well mixed. You may use any cheap moisturizing conditioner. I recommend the Suave, V05 lines because they are cheap and easy to find anywhere.

This works to minimize how much chlorine your child's hair will absorb. Like a sponge, hair will only absorb so much. If it is already full of conditioner, it will only take in a little bit of chlorine.

Massage the conditioner into your child's hair until it disappears.

2. In a pinch, you may saturate your child's hair with plain water before swimming. The above principle works just as well with plain water if you don't have conditioner with you. I like the conditioner because I like giving the hair a punch of moisture before exposing it to chlorine.

3. When my kids come out of the pool I spritz their hair with diluted shampoo (1 oz of shampoo to 8 oz water). I've been using a sulfate free shampoo from Trader Joe's with no problems. I watch their hair carefully. If their hair begins to look, feel and behave differently over time I may add a chelating shampoo, designed for swimmers to their routine. So far, I haven't had to. In fact, I've been pleased with the extra soft feel of their hair from all the moisture.

I send all of them into the shower by themselves to rinse away the shampoo as they bathe. It's wonderful that even my 4 year old can do this herself. I've trained her to stand with her back to the shower head, and to tilt her head back while looking at the ceiling so soap won't get in her eyes. In the beginning, she held a dry wash cloth over her eyes as she did this.

I encourage them all to rinse, rinse, rinse and when they are absolutely sure their hair is clean.....rinse some more!

4. Rub a light oil through your child's hair to trap in moisture as it dries. Castor oil isn't light, but I find it works really well on all our heads. Coconut oil is great too.

I find our routine to be so quick and easy that I enjoy taking my kids to the pool often.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mocha Baby's first Style

It's been so hot and Mocha Baby has been sweating profusely. Her hair is dense on top and my husband suggested trying a style to expose her scalp. I was reluctant to bother her fro, because I've been keeping myself on a tight leash as far as bothering her hair. See my post here for the details. Clearly the time has come to move in a different direction.

First, I tried finger coils, which I thought were very pretty but they rubbed right out any time she rested a portion of her hair somewhere. I'm not interested in using heavy product on her hair for hold at this time.
While playing around with one of the coils that came loose, I discovered that I could twist Mocha Baby's hair and it stayed much better. The twist kept curling over until they looked like little bantu knots--loved it!
To twist I spritzed her hair damp with water and topped it with a very small amount of my shea butter mix. I think plain castor oil, coconut or any oil your daughter's hair likes will work just as well.

I'm so glad to find a way to expose her scalp without putting strong tension on her roots. Mocha Baby's sweating is radically reduced. It's amazing how much heat we release from our heads. I will be searching for smooth and silky feeling pillow cases for all my girls this summer (except the baby she doesn't sleep on a pillow)--and letting them ditch the sleeping caps and scarves.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Styling: How I take one idea and spin it three different ways!

My first thought was to do a Cornrow Twist Hawk, but I know that this daughter likes to see her hair. She always complains when I position the bulk of her hair in the back so I shifted the cascade of hair to the side. She's also always asking to wear her hair down, but her hair is very fine. Sometimes I worry that her braided styles look sparse. To give her the illusion of having her hair down I designed a second cascade in the front. Now we're both happy. She gets to feel like her hair is "down" while I tuck it safely up. The cascaded twists also makes her hair look much fuller.

This daughter also likes to wear her hair down as much as possible. She's mature enough to be satisfied with twisting her head to see the cascade to the back as long as I give her a nice side bang to enjoy.
Head Mocha Girl is game to try new things, so I go all out by giving her a Swooped Cornrow Twist Hawk. She gets bored easily with her hair so I made the twists small enough for her to gather several different ways to change up her look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Rat Tail Comb of all Rat Tail Combs!

You know I would NEVER use the comb part of the rat tail comb to detangle nappy hair on the first pass. I have seen people use them on nappy hair once it's already been completely detangled. I've never tried it on my girls. I do, however, frequently use the tail end to make my parts. Up until now I've been using the comb on the left--which is completely made of plastic. It makes satisfactory parts. It's also good for prying apart moderately small to big braids. I'm always looking for a hair pin or some other sharp item to remove knots and tiny braids. No more! The metal tail is the TRUTH! Not only does it do a better job on unraveling the braid/twist stitch, it's excellent on those knots. It also makes great parts. My only concern is my tendency to absent mindedly rake the tail too hard across my daughters' scalp while making a part. I have to be super careful with that metal tip. I cringe at the ramifications of making a mistake. Can you imagine?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Managing Hair Time With a Young Child

Hair time can be a nightmare when we're working with really young babies and active children who'd prefer to be elsewhere. I was really overwhelmed with my first. Whenever I asked other mothers what worked for them, I was told to wait until my baby was sleeping to style their hair. Unfortunately my daughter always woke up the minute I started manipulating her hair, and if you're anything like me, you'll take a messy head over missed sleep any day.

I've used different methods at different ages. Below is a list of suggestions to consider while grooming your baby's hair, followed by older children. When picking a style always have a realistic expectation of how long your child is physically able to sit for the style. Expect some interruptions. You may have to break the styling session up into several segments. Try to avoid waiting until you have to be somewhere in a short amount of time before moving to style your child's hair. How much maintenance does the style require? Will you be touching it up in several hours or can it last a week or two? Also factor in the added time it takes to add beads, barrettes etc. to decorate the style, if you like. Personally, I've been relying more on part designs and colorful headbands to jazz up my daughters' looks. They are quick and easy to use and cause no damage to the ends of their hair. Once you've chosen a practical style you like, try the following:

Babies 12 months and under who aren't walking yet, and babies under 18 month who will accept being temporarily restrained
1. At this age your grooming session should take no longer than 20 minutes at a time--MAX. This means it may take you several sessions to get from removing a style, washing (if the hair is dirty), detangling and grooming your child's hair. You must plan for this in advance.
2. Once you've chosen a style you can finish in 20 minutes, have your child sit in a high chair or bumbo seat--so that they can't move away from you, but you are able to move all the way around their head. I'm assuming your child is able to sit well, because I don't do much styling beyond adding a barrette or head band to my babies before they are physically able to sit. See my post about leaving babies alone. Younger babies look fabulous with their natural fros left as is, or decorated with one or two clips or puffs. A head band to match an outfit is also a quick and easy choice, and easy to add while the baby is in your arms.
3. I offer my babies finger foods or crackers while I hurry to style their hair. I watch their tray carefully for any falling hairs. If you are uncomfortable with offering that, you can also offer one or two toys reserved strictly for styling. My babies have enjoyed measuring cups or spoons, rubber spatulas, wooden spoons, and an occassional "big kid toy" with no tiny parts like the rubix cube. I watch them carefully to make sure they don't stick anything sharp down their throats. Offer the toys/snacks one or two at a time. If you offer too many, your baby may be overwhelmed or become quickly bored--leaving you with nothing more to offer. Expect interruptions--try to keep your expectations low. Take this opportunity to laugh and get silly with your child. None of this has to be perfect.

At this age I do big corn rows--no more than a total of nine on their head. I do four to eight big afro puffs. I try to plan for a style that can go at least three to four days to a week.

Mobile children 18 months to 7 years
In my house we mainly watch television on the weekends. Occassionally we'll break this rule for sickness, a special treat or schedule event like the Olympics or March Madness. This means my kids are riveted when I do offer them a video. As a result, I have been able to turn our grooming sessions into something my daughters really look forward to. They especially love the fact that whoever's hair I'm styling gets to choose the video we watch. At about 18 months of age my babies will sit still for a video. This means I can get through taking down a style and putting a new one in at once. I still choose quick and simple styles though because children this age spend much of their time rolling around the floor in play. They muss up their styles with a plethora of costumes with head dresses. We don't want to be too concerned about them ruining a style we spent a long time to create.

Check out my styling session with MG3 and how I manage to keep Mocha Baby entertained.

If you don't want to offer videos, I've also been successful with coloring books, pop up books, play dough and cutting projects. Small children can sometimes entertain themselves for long stretches by cutting a sheet of paper into tiny pieces--if you don't mind the clean up.

Children 8 years and older
By the time my daughters are eight and older they are vested in the styling process. They will sit for as long as I like if they really want a style. Having gone through the different grooming stages from their infancy, they already know what to expect. They can read a book as well as enjoy a video to pass the time. They are also much more carefully about preserving their styles. At this age, I am happy to invest the time in doing small twists, braids, corn rows and combo styles.

With some practical planning and flexibility we can all stop dreading grooming sessions. Things usually fall apart when we're trying to do too much too soon with not enough time and resources. I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Please leave a comment if you have more suggestions to add.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cherish your daughter first...

...and the hair will follow.

We recently had a really hot day, and as I was helping my four year old tie her scarf to her head I stopped myself. We were both sweaty though she'd just had her bath. What was I doing?

"Are you done Mommy?"

"You don't have to wear your scarf tonight," I decided and leaned over to give her a kiss and a squeeze.

I encourage my girls to tie their heads at night to prevent their sheets from drying out their hair, and to help preserve what moisture I worked hard to put in. I try to make sure they keep their heads covered year round no matter the weather, but on this particular hot night my actions felt ridiculous. My baby was hot. We release much of our body heat from our heads, yet I was covering hers, to preserve her hair---but what about my baby?

Mocha Girl Three's hair is important to me, but she's more important than her hair. I know there have been many times in my life I denied myself pleasure, to preserve a hair style. For example, I can remember wasting half of a school trip to Six Flags, watching my friends go on the water rides while fretting over my press and curl. Thank God my best friend declared she'd rather deal with her nappy hair than miss all the fun. My hair was tightly shrunken when we left the park, but I had a goofy grin on my face, and a heart full of warm memories.

I want my girls to take good care of their hair. I like to make a style last as long as possible, because my time is limited, and I have so many heads to do. Yet I'm prepared to break all my nappy rules if my girls aren't enjoying their lives. My daughter came into the kitchen the other day and stood at the window watching her sisters squeal as they ran through the sprinklers.

"Aren't you going out there?" I asked.

"No," She muttered.

Something in her voice made me stop what I was doing and give her my complete attention. I stared intently into her eyes.

"I don't want my hair to shrink."

Suddenly, I was that little girl at Six Flags all over again. I wasn't remembering the experience, but I completely understood where my daughter was. Strong emotion stirred my heart.

"Get yourself out there," I said, while placing a hand on each of her shoulders and moving her towards the sliding doors. "So what if your hair shrinks? Who cares?"

My daughter looked uncertain as she turned back to face me. She hesitated another moment before her face broke into a smile. She rushed through the door with a squeal. I released a slow breath, and smiled.

I'm not saying we never do what's uncomfortable, but I pray for wisdom. I want my daughters to have a healthy relationship with their hair. It shouldn't be something that stresses them out. I don't want them to believe they have to suffer to be beautiful. In all things balance is important, and nappy hair care is no different.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tools of the Trade for Detangling Part 4

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Tools of the Trade for Detangling Part 3

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Tools of the Trade for Detangling Part 2

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Tools of the Trade for Detangling (Part 1 of 4) Video

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Maximizing a Style

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Maximizing Old Twists

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How often do I wash?

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Pep talk for the Mocha Mom

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Maximizing your cheap conditioners Video

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How to Make a Smooth Puff

To achieve this look:

Cold Weather Version (I seldom do puffs in cold weather, nappy hair needs protection from extreme temperatures)

1. Wash, detangle and moisturize the hair.
2. Braid in big box braids (about 7)--firmly stitched but leave slack at the roots. Cover with silky wrap/cap (leave the cap off so the hair can air dry until your daughter climbs into bed). Dry over night. The firm braids will stretch out the hair.
3. To style. Mist the hair with water (I try not to manipulate perfectly dry hair). Use your fingers first to gentle pull the strand into the shape of this style. Gently smooth with a natural boar's bristle brush and gather the hair into a pony puff using a pony tail holder (no metal parts).
4. Rub a light oil between your palms and smooth over the edges. You can also use gel if you choose--but you'll have to rinse it out before manipulating the hair into a different style.
5. Cover head with a scarf to set for 20-30 minutes.

Warm Weather Version

1. Wash, detangle and moisturize hair. Leave the hair soaking wet.
2. Using you fingers first, gently pull the soaking wet strands into the shape of this style. Take a paddle brush and smooth the hair into a pony puff with a pony tail holder (no metal parts).
3. Blot the loose hair (puff) gently with a towel/t-shirt. I squeeze the water out in my hand by covering my palm with the towel and opening and closing my fist.
4. Use your palms to smooth on oil and gel (if you want) to the smooth parts. You can gently brush the fly aways with a natural boars bristle brush.
5. Cover with a scarf that conforms to your daughters head--the goal is to hold the smooth part down as they dry so the hair can't shrink back up. Remove after at least 20-30 minutes or until you are ready to reveal the style. The loose hair will shrink as it dries. You can stretch it out some by braiding or twisting it as you set the smooth parts down with the scarf. Release the braid/twist when you remove the scarf.

Be careful with gel. Some gels can be very drying. Watch out for alcohol which can be drying, except for cetyl alcohol is a harmless fatty alcohol found in both hair and skin products.

I like Fantastia IC gel--and always use an oil as a barrier between it and the hair. I've heard good things about pure aloe vera gel (light hold), and Eco Styler Gel.

I use the gel or not. It's not absolutely necessary unless I'm really concerned about the girls fuzzing up the style. Oil and water alone helps the hair to lay down well.

Note: This style is a treat--meaning I wouldn't do it every day or for a month straight. It requires a lot of manipulation, which over time can be damaging to the hair.

I let my girls wear it for a week and maintain it by covering their hair with a scarf at night and spritzing the puff with water and reshaping it with my fingers in the morning.

I use water and more oil/gel and the scarf set method I described above if the smooth parts get messy. I never try to brush through stiff geled hair with a brush. My fingers are usually enough. If not, I take down the style.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quick Tip: Natural Product Pet Peeve

Just because something is natural does NOT automatically mean it's harmless.

How many of us have watched actors eat hair products marketed to be safe for our hair because it was safe to eat? Later, we were shocked to hear back reports that people were losing their hair to these same "safe" products. There's a definite science to the way nappy hair behaves. Know what you're putting in your daughter's hair.

A good way to investigate before trying something is to research other people's experiences with what you're thinking about using. The internet has made it so easy to track products. Consumers even video tape their experiences and make it available to the public for FREE on You Tube. When a product tempts me, I spend some time seeing what a range of people--with a similar hair type--are saying about the product. I especially scrutinize the negatives. If I'm satisfied, I may try it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quick Tip: Maximize Your Cheap Conditioner

Adding castor oil to your hair along with your cheap conditioner may give it more slip power (the ability to make the shingles on the hair shaft lie down so the strands will slide by each other and tangle less). There may be a definite method to making this trick work.

Spritz a tangled section of hair (no bigger than 3x3 inches) with water. Slather about a quarter size dollop of castor oil directly to the hair. Top that with the same amount of conditioner. Detangle the section starting from the ends.

I purchase my castor oil from Walmart (near the vitamins) OR a health food store.

For more details on this check out my video on Cherish My Daughter channel.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Travel Styling

Pictured above is a quick trip we took to see family. We were so care free!

Summer time is coming and that means many of us will be taking trips. Whether we're going far away or traveling by car to visit friends and family--nappy hair care can continue to be easy and rewarding for everyone. The trick is to plan well for what you'll be doing.

My girls are young and don't give their hair much thought when they are having fun. When I'm away on a trip the last thing I want to do is spend our limited time on long styling sessions. I expect my daughters' hair to become fuzzy quickly and choose styles that perform well over time with fuzz. I love box braids, twists, corn rows and combo variations. For trips that will involve swimming and constant washing, I prefer corn rows and braids which matte less when wet. Pictured below are some styles we've enjoyed in the past.
On the beach in Cancun
I was really big on beads once, but this many beads can be damaging to the ends over time.
MGM Studios
Magic Kingdom
When the style shrinks and fuzzes I don't let it bother me. We're on vacation to have fun and I think she looks very sweet here.

Magic Kingdom
Aztec Ruins
Below my daughter is dressed for a drill on a cruise ship.