Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Nappy Princess Spa Tutorial Videos

I'm excited to introduce The Nappy Princess Spa, my tutorial videos in helping apply everything you're learning here. You can view the five part Hair Washing Series on our YouTube channel now. I'm working on more series to add, including styling.

I know many of us need more than pictures to pick up a new skill. I hope you find my tutorials helpful.

Your feedback is welcomed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

One Mocha Mom's Inner Struggle

400 years without a comb

Watching the above video brought up so many emotions for me. I graduated from Cornell University just three credits shy of attaining a minor in African American Studies. I took my first course as an elective, and was so amazed by the information I was learning for the first time despite attending some of the best schools in my state. In college, I kept asking "how and why" the experience of African Americans in this country could have been so horrific. It was incomprehensible to me that anyone exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ could tolerate the institution of slavery, and the continued racism we still struggle with today. I suffered conflicting emotions of horror, disbelief and rage. At times I walked around campus with a huge chip on my shoulder. I needed somebody to confront, but my Caucasian peers were so far removed from the historical connection I was feeliing, it seemed I was making mountains out of mole hills. I was often asked why I couldn't just let it all go. Those events, having happened so long ago, have no effect on us today. I've had friends tell me, had they lived in those days, they would have been abolitionists.

I wanted to know what could be done about the sense of self I've inherited from my forefathers because of the legacy of slavery. The methods of hair care displayed in the video seem crude and rudimentary, but how far have we truly come from the mentality being portrayed? We like to insist we make the choices we do today for fashion and convenience. We say we don't want to take the issue too deep, and
it's just hair. Watching this video, I ask myself, how can it ever just be about hair?

I was especially moved by the segment where the mother was soothing her baby and murmuring about her beautiful silky hair, and how she hoped it would stay that way. While I've never said those words to any of my daughters, I remember having similar feelings. I had one daughter whose hair
turned faster than all of the others. I remember feelings of frustration, thinking I was doing something wrong to encourage a premature transformation. While I understood their hair would change, on a level beneath the surface, I dreaded it.

My son had big fat silky curls as a baby. His features were so pretty, people often mistook him for a girl no matter what he was wearing. As his hair grew I braided it up to keep him cool. When he was ten months old I decided to give him his first hair cut. One family member was outraged. To this day, she mentions it almost
every time she visits. She insists his hair would still be loosely curled today, had I not cut it.

As a young mother, I've been encouraged to
shape my baby's nose. I've been praised for birthing pretty babies that get lighter every time. One could infer this to be a great feat considering my dark skin. I've had a family member praise my efforts in sharing my knowledge about nappy hair care while in the next breath moaning, "why were we given this hair"? Her ambivalence is understandable considering the implications of the video we've been discussing.

My purpose in posting this discussion is to actively take the position that I want this madness to stop with me. God has blessed me with four daughters and a son who deserve to embrace who they are.
I believe that while the above video was done in a caricature style, so many of the scenarios are being played out in our lives today. I'm sometimes amazed by the things I say, and the jokes we make. My challenge is to be ever cognizant that little ears are listening. Also, my actions say so much more than my words ever will.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What about our boys?

Everything we discuss here about caring for our daughter's nappy hair may be applied to our sons, especially if our boys have hair longer than two to three inches. Managing boy's hair can be easier, because we expect to see our sons in short hair cuts. Their hair dries quickly, and may be soaked daily (our girls may enjoy the same--but our son's experience it every day already). Spritzing with plain water or a mix containing conditioner and oils, makes grooming easy.

While short nappy hair probably tangles less than longer hair, we should remain mindful that tight curls may still intertwine enough to cause resistance to combing. Most boys don't like to stand still as we fuss over them, but your son's screams as you groom his hair may indicate pain. By following the steps below we can eliminate most discomfort.

1. Start by having your son's hair cut in a good shape. My husband and I find it easy to cut our son's hair at home by using clippers with guards. However, a trip to a good barber shop is often quick and affordable.

2. Wet the hair daily. Lorraine Massey, author of
Curly Girl, revolutionized our thinking about cleansing hair when she introduced her no-poo regimen. She teaches that basic conditioner contains enough cleansing agents to replace shampoo for curly heads. Her system keeps the hair moist and minimizes frizz. If you want to try this, be sure to choose simple moisture rich conditioners without cones. For more info read my post on selecting conditioners. An occasional wash with shampoo may be necessary for some heads. Pay attention to the health of the hair and scalp to determine what works best for your situation. For example, a persistent flakey scalp is often a sign that something is wrong somewhere.

3. Spritz with conditioner mix before picking or manipulating the hair. Again, we can sometimes rip through our son's hair while ignoring the crackling snap of their strands. We may even attribute our son's protest to rebellion when in fact our ministrations hurt. Please be mindful to apply the same principals when detangling short hair as we would with long hair.

Many of us marvel at how much healthier our son's hair can appear when compared to our daughter's hair. I attribute this to the fact that we generally leave our son's hair alone. I believe we should keep their regimen as simple as possible and respect their input. My son doesn't enjoy having his hair combed, but he doesn't mind brushing. We've chosen to maintain a low cut.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mocha Girl Nappy Princess Day

They are getting their hair washed tomorrow, so today is a Nappy Princess Day. Notice, we've left the baby alone.

Looking at these pictures one would think these girls have the same texture. Their hair actually behaves very differently. The only similarity I've noticed in hair is between Mocha Girl One and I. We often share products and her hair would probably thrive under my regimen.

I've learned to be careful when assuming I have the same texture as someone else because our hair looks similar to mine in photographs. If possible, I investigate to see if our hair also responds the same to products, and grooming regimens, before following their recommendations.


Keep it simple Sister.

Sometimes when we're exposed to so much information about hair care, we think we need to do it all right away. I experienced this after spending a lot of time on the internet researching deep conditioning treatments for my own hair. I found everything from expensive salon grade products, to exotic international concoctions, to do it yourself mixtures made from ingredients from the ordinary kitchen pantry. I got great results using some of these on my hair, and imagined it would work the same way for my daughters.

One day I decided to treat us all to a
home spa day. We all changed into our bathrobes, and got in line for a special mud treatment. I had used bentonite clay on my hair several weeks previously, and loved the resulting softness and sheen. I imagined we'd have a special time pampering ourselves, and gain gloriously conditioned hair.

The girls watched with interest as I grabbed a ceramic bowl while explaining something about the composition of bentonite clay, and how we should avoid mixing it with anything metal. They crinkled their noses as I poured enough apple cider vinegar over a cup of bentonite clay to render the mix the consistency of creamy yogurt.

"It stinks Mommy!" Declared Mocha Girl Three.

I promised her that it would work wonders for her hair despite its foul stench. I was accustomed to the strong odor of apple cider vinegar, because I diluted it to rinse my hair daily in warm weather. It restores the ph balance of our nappy strands and gives good sheen. I practically rubbed my two hands together in gleeful anticipation of how great our hair would look after the treatment.

I plastered the bentonite clay on everyone, and had enough to spare to give us facial masks.

"This is mud." I told the girls proudly.

The littles giggled, but Mocha Girl One shook her head and smirked. She thought it was very foolish to spend money on something we could dig up easily in the back yard. I made her promise not to put that kind of mud in her hair.

Finally I rinsed their hair repeatedly. Everyone's hair looks perfectly clean. Mocha Girl Two and Three's hair felt a little funny to me, but I had great expectations. I put everyone's hair in big fat braids to dry and prepared for a long session of twisting.

I usually go from quickest head to most time consuming head, because I feel a sense of accomplishment with each head I finish. Mocha Girl Three's fuzzy naps were up first. I frowned as I felt her tacky strands. They weren't sticky, but adjacent strands resisted as I tried to separate them. It reminded me of what we experience after spraying our hair with holding product. Her hair looked a little chalky too. She had lots of clay left in her hair despite all that rinsing and its clean appearance while wet. I had to march her right back to the sink. After rinsing again profusely, I put her hair back in big braids and planned to do her hair the next day.

I had a similar experience with Mocha Girl Two. Mocha Girl One's hair looked great. I was done twisting three quarters of her head, before encountering a chalky section. I walked her to the sink, awkwardly trying to rinse only the chalky section, while keeping the already twisted hair dry. Some twists slipped my grasp anyway. Frustration grew as I rinsed repeatedly, but the area continued to look chalky, like a stain. I finally decided to just finish twisting her hair soaking wet. She ended up with some of her twists being much more shrunken than others.

It took many weeks to completely rinse, and brush all of the bentonite clay from my girls coily strands. I continued to marvel at the random patches I found later on. I was very perplexed by the experience. I had none of these problems when using it on my own head. After much thought, I have concluded that my method of rinsing their hair in the kitchen sink, must not be as forceful as what I experience while rinsing my hair in the shower. Who knows?

I still use bentonite clay for myself, in fact, I highly recommend it. I never plan to put it in my daughters' hair again. When they are ready to treat their own hair I may offer it. I also realized they don't need all the special treatments I give myself. I stress my hair much more when creating intricate adult styles. Their hair mainly remains protected.

My girls' hair was fine before I decided they needed extra pampering. I was especially drawn to the detoxification properties of bentonite clay. I've learned if their hair looks good, and is performing well, I should leave it alone. Sometimes I want to experiment because I'm bored. Boredom sometimes gives way to frustration when I create new problems with something that fails. K.I.S.S. makes our grooming sessions easier, because I know what to expect. As obvious as this is, I've learned that using methods that work consistently will consistently yield healthy nappy hair.