Category Archives: Hair

Newborn And Infant Hair Care

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My oldest daughter Taylor at three months of age. 

There’s nothing more natural than the hair of a newborn baby. Most, but not all, African American babies are born with a head full of hair. New mothers, including myself, are often full of questions when it comes to caring for the hair of a newborn baby. For African American mothers, the questions are usually How often should I wash their hair? What should I put in their hair after washing it? Do I put oil in their hair, and if so what do I use? Thankfully I was blessed to have my mother (who raised six kids) to help me through it all.

But what if you’re a white mother or father who adopted an African American baby? Not knowing what to do or where to begin with your child’s hair can be overwhelming, and I’m here to help. Now let me be clear (*disclaimer*), as a mother of four children, I’m speaking from my own experience as an African American woman and from what I know to be true or common when it comes to African American hair. Your experiences may not be the same as mine, so please feel free to make adjustments as you see fit.

Hair Textures & When to Wash

No two heads of hair are alike, and this is especially true for African American hair. That is why it is vital that you learn about the different hair textures that we have so you’ll know how to care for your babies hair. At birth your baby may have fine, soft, straight, or curly hair. However, around four or five months, your baby’s hair will go through “the change” where that fine baby hair changes into thick, coarse, soft or curly or wavy hair. Or it can be a combination of any of those textures. Because of our textured hair, it tends to be drier and can easily break off. So it is a must that you handle your babies hair with gentle care

While it is very common for other cultures to wash their hair once a day to remove excess oil from their hair, African American hair needs those natural oils. Frequently washing African American hair strips it of its natural oils and can leave our hair dry, brittle, and frizzy. When it comes to your baby, washing their hair once a week with a mild baby shampoo is perfectly fine. Because they have such sensitive scalps and a soft spot on their head, you should not wash their hair every day. Unless of course they have some kind of medical condition and are under doctors orders. Also, when washing your babies hair, there is no need to work up a lather when using shampoo. Just gently distribute the shampoo through their hair enough to clean it and rinse with lukewarm water.

After their hair is washed, add a small amount of baby oil to their hair and gently massage it in. Then you can comb it with a wide tooth comb (the teeth in baby combs are too small and tend to snag in curly, textured hair and can be painful to the baby) or brush with a fine bristled baby brush. Other oils that are mild and safe to use on your babies hair are extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, or organic coconut oil.

Texture Change 

As mentioned earlier, you may notice around four or five months that your babies hair texture is changing. Their hair may become thicker and longer with tighter coils or curls, which will require more care and attention. It is important to keep their hair detangled and moisturized as it will become even more prone to dryness. Continue to use a mild baby shampoo, but this is also a good time to use a mild conditioner as well. It is also a good time to use cream based products to keep their hair moisturized. Oil alone will not moisturize their hair. See the link at the end of the blog for suggestions of products to use on your baby’s hair after the texture change.

How to Detangle

Once your babies hair texture has changed, it is best to detangle your babies hair after it’s been washed or when it’s slightly damp. NEVER comb or detangle your babies hair while it’s dry. You will encounter a lot of tangles and knots that can snag in the comb. Again, this will hurt your babies sensitive scalp. To detangle, start at the ends and gently work your way up. If you notice knots or tangles, try to detangle with your fingers first with a little oil on our fingers. If it’s not time to wash their hair, you can take a wet washcloth (a soft one) and ring out the extra water and gently rub it over your babies hair just to dampen it. Then add a little oil (jojoba, coconut, or baby oil) and gently massage it through their hair and proceed to combing and detangling.

 

Sisters

                                    My daughters Taylor, age 2 and Talya, age 5 months wearing ponytails and curly afros.

Styling

Nothing makes new mothers happier than to be able to put pretty bows, headbands, and barrettes in their little girl’s hair, especially when they have enough hair to put into ponytails, plaits or braids. For some babies, it is a necessity to style their hair to cut back on tangles and the matting of the hair. This is especially true with African American babies. Depending on the length, a few ponytails with cloth rubber bands should suffice. If you have to force your babies hair into a ponytail with a lot of pulling, don’t do it. Leave their hair alone. Try to stay away from styles that require a lot of pulling of the hair, and avoid tight ponytails and braids. Two of my children were born with a ton of hair, and it only got longer and longer as they got older, so I had no choice but to put their hair in ponytails, plaits or braids to keep it from tangling or matting.

As time goes on, you will develop a hair care routine for your baby, and you will learn what works and what doesn’t for their hair. It’s nice to have a guide of what to expect as you experience your babies hair changes and growth. Did you find this information helpful? Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment and let me know!

For additional information on what products to use on your babies hair – African American or bi-racial, check out this website:

https://www.mom365.com/baby/baby-care/dry-hair-solutions-for-baby

 

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My Natural Hair Needs Braids To Grow

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Arnold shoulder shrug

As a little girl, through my tween years, my mother and older sisters kept my hair braided in various styles. When I say braided, I mean regular braids without the addition of synthetic hair. My hair always flourished this way. When it was time for my hair to be washed, the braids would come down, my mother would wash and deep condition my hair, give me a hot oil treatment complete with a scalp massage, and my hair would get braided up again.

Fast forward to today, and one of the most common ways to braid hair is with the addition of synthetic or human hair. This practice is by no means new. It has been done for centuries by African women all over the African continent. It allows for a myriad of styling and color options, and it adds to the longevity of the style. I know there are those who swear by the rule that you can grow your hair without the use of protective styles (mainly protective styles that require the use of synthetic or human hair via braids or wigs.)  by simply taking better care of your hair and following strict hair care routines. To that, I say no two heads of hair are alike.

Since being natural for five years now, I can honestly say that I have experienced the most growth when my hair was in braids. When my hair is simply left alone in a protective style, it thrives. I keep it moisturized, I keep my scalp and braids oiled with castor oil, and I simply let it be. I have learned how to minimize the shedding and breakage, and I don’t tug and pull on my braids because of trying to put them in cute buns or other styles.

I have decided that my girls and I will wear braids more this year. As long as our braids are not tight and we practice edge-saving techniques and healthy maintenance, we’ll all be fine, and our natural hair will love us for it.

I would love to hear from you! Does your hair fair better with or without braids? Hit the comment section and let me know!

Xoxo

Natural Hair In Review – 2017

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that's a wrap

Every year I learn something new. New techniques, new natural things to use on my hair such as herbs and oils. While I may not have tried them all, they’ve definitely been added to my “to-do” or “wish” lists.

Lessons Regarding My Hair

The first important thing I’ve learned is to let go of the bad ends. I neglected to clip my ends for quite some time, and I paid for it. My afros,while big, looked scraggly. When I finally got rid of those bad ends, my afro looked healthy. Let go of the dead weight people. Don’t hang on to bad ends for the sake of length. It will always hurt you more in the end with the amount of hair that you end up having to cut.

The second important thing I learned about my hair is that it grows better when it’s braided or in some type of protective style. For a good portion of 2017, I wore my hair in its natural state. I let my fro fly free. While I enjoyed rockin’ my big hair, it became a chore at times. I felt pressured to find and try new styles that weren’t always good for my hair.

For one, the temptation to twist my hair into two strand twists or plaits every night to have fresh curls in the morning was something I had to fight against. Also, the temptation to semi-straighten/stretch my hair more than I should (in the attempt to try new styles) was also there.  Both things can cause breakage when done in excess, and after finally clipping my bad ends, more breakage is the last thing I want. I also noticed that my hair growth seemed slower when not in a protective style. Having observed all of these things about my hair, it’s time to listen to what it needs. I will be more diligent about my protective styles to promote healthy hair growth.

Lessons From The Natural Hair Community 

We have a long way to go with education, acceptance, confidence, support towards one another, and respect. While I’m happy to see many women making the change from chemical relaxers to natural hair, many of them need to be educated on African American hair so they can better understand their own hair. They need to learn our history about hair braiding, head wraps, designs, and why certain negative terms and views that date back to slavery and beyond still have a vice grip on many of us today that prevent us from seeing the true beauty of our hair. Educating yourself is one of the most important steps in your natural hair journey.

It makes me happy to see that there are so many natural hair events all over the states that celebrate all types of African American hair, and I hope to attend a few of them that are close to my neck of the woods. I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding those events, and we need more like them.

I’m going to continue to do my part by encouraging hair-positive messages in the natural hair community through my blog. My focus will be on the positive stories in the natural hair community and less on the negative ones. And as usual, I will continue to strive to take better care of my natural hair.

Thank you all for supporting my blog, and here’s to healthier hair in 2018!

Celebrate

Sonya

 

 

The Erasure of Kinky Hair

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Purple and black fro

The erasure of kinky hair is a real issue, and I’ve been speaking on it since I started this blog and big chopped over four years ago. One glaring and utterly disturbing thing I noticed after becoming natural was black natural haired women’s obsession with having curly hair and all the bloggers, vloggers, and hair products that promote this trend. I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now. For many African American women, being natural isn’t pretty unless your hair is curly. I’m talking about those who aren’t happy with a simple twist out or braid out; they want that curly hair on a constant basis from using one or a bunch of products that will magically make their hair curl. What they fail to realize is that for many, despite the products they use, their hair still may not curl up the way they want it to – especially if they have kinky hair. I’ve even heard women say that they stopped being natural because their hair wouldn’t curl like the other naturally curly women (mixed race women or the bloggers who have 3b – 4a type hair).  I’ve also heard women say that they refuse to go natural because they know  their hair won’t curl up. All of these sentiments sadden me.

I always thought that the natural hair movement was about encouraging black women to embrace their hair as it grows out of their scalp and to learn to nourish it, take care of it and most importantly, love it. At least that’s what it means to me. But the constant barrage of images of women with curly hair due to their mixed heritage or whose hair type is simply naturally curlier than those with kinky hair has many black women seeking something that may never happen for them unless they become product junkies and buy a bunch of products. This, in turn, does not allow them to love and appreciate their hair for what it does naturally on its own and accept their hair for what it cannot do. In turn, they give up on their natural hair journey because of disappointment and unrealistic expectations.

I have nothing against curly girls. I love and appreciate them. But we cannot ignore the fact that there is still a lack of representation for those who have kinky hair. I place the bulk of the blame on the companies who market false hopes and misguided ideas of beauty to women with kinky hair that they too can have instant curly hair by using a cream, gel or shampoo. Curly hair is not what makes natural hair beautiful. Being natural and no longer poisoning your hair, scalp, and essentially your body with chemical relaxers is what is beautiful.  Caring for your hair with all natural oils and products is what is beautiful.

Making the decision to rock your natural hair is not something you should take lightly. It’s an emotional journey, it’s time-consuming, and it’s full of highs and lows. Sticking to that decision when experiencing the frustrating lows is even harder. But one of the worst things you can do is to go into your natural hair journey with unrealistic expectations. If you’re a kinky haired girl, learn to love your kinks and coils and don’t be ashamed to rock them. It is completely okay if your hair doesn’t curl up magically after putting a curling pudding on it. Don’t allow our kinky hair to be erased because society and hair care lines are catering to and promoting curly hair every time you go to the store, or look at a magazine or watch a TV commercial. Kinky hair is beautiful. Kinky hair needs representation. We are not the stepchild of the natural hair community. We will not be erased.

Glutton For Punishment

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Glutton For Punishment

Seriously. I don’t know why I insist on doing these spur of the moment, last minute things when it comes to my hair. This morning for an example, I decided at about 7 am to attempt the typical wash and go on my hair, not like the quick one I did two weeks ago. So I found a wash and go video on YouTube for a refresher and then tried to do it. I even went under the hooded dryer to dry my hair quicker versus letting it air dry.

Let me tell y’all…when I say my hair was a crunchy hot mess, I mean every word of that!! I’m laughing now as I remember how much of an epic FAIL my rushed, last minute wash and go was! First I co-washed. Then I used my leave in conditioner, a little oil, and gel. Normally that would work for your typical wash and go, right?

Here is the learning lesson: Before I attempted any of this, my hair was not pre-pooed, it was not well moisturized at all. It was very, very DRY. In order for your curls to pop and for a wash and go to work, you must keep your hair well moisturized. I had been quite lazy since my last wash. I semi-straightened my hair with the electric hair brush and have been wearing it that way ever since. I’ve been walking around with dry, stretched hair. Yes, I know better.

So, back to the sink I went to shampoo my hair after my failed wash and go attempt. With my hair soaking wet, I added my leave in, quickly oiled my scalp with my special oil blend, and put in my homemade whipped mango butter. I put my hair in a puff and got ready for work. My takeaway from all of this is I still have some work to do when it comes to getting my hair healthy and keeping it healthy. My laziness has once again come back to bite me in the butt. And we won’t even talk about the uneven hair I’ve noticed at the crown of my hair. Breakage. Again. This time I have a pretty good idea of what caused it. The head scarf I was using to tie my hair up at night. Sheesh…

Here is how I rolled in to work today. And it’s still wet. LOL! If you take nothing else from this, please let me be the lesson for what NOT to do! xoxo

SJ 8-16

 

 

Stretched & Straightened Hair

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This has been one of the most humid summers to date in my neck of the woods. I took down my micro braids in early June and it’s been a challenge finding ways to to style and protect my natural hair. The majority of the time I let my afro flow freely. However…I also found it more difficult to deal with my hair in it’s constant shrunken state. I would plait my hair, tie it up, and it would be stretched, but by the time I made it to work, some serious shrinkage have already taken place.

I’ve done heatless stretching on my hair by doing the banding method or braiding or plaiting my hair and it worked just fine…during the winter months without any humidity. It’s summer now and I wanted something that would take less time and last a little longer in this humid weather. As my family and I were preparing to go out of town a few weeks ago, I decided to straighten my hair with a straightening brush.

Straightening brush

Most straightening brushes look similar to this one pictured above, including mine. I only wanted to loosen my tight curls, not get it bone straight, so I only ran the brush through my hair twice at a 400 heat setting. I figured that after shrinkage took place, it still would be easier to deal with, and I was right. About two weeks later I used the brush again. At night I would plait up my hair in medium sized plaits and tie it up. In the morning I take them down and finger comb and go.

What also helps me in the stretching process is castor oil or Blue Magic hair grease. I have thick, coarse hair, so I need those heavier oils. The only thing is when using oil or grease, you need to be more diligent about washing your hair. Make sure you use a clarifying shampoo to help clear away any and all buildup.

In the photos below you see my hair after having used the brush, but significant shrinkage has also taken place. Despite the shrinkage, my hair has been more manageable. I know constant use of heat is not good for your hair, and I’m not going to use the straightening brush again for a while, but it’s a nice option to have when you want to do something different. Or when you’re simply trying to fight the heat and humidity. And since I hadn’t stretched or straightened my hair in quite some time, it was nice to see my growth progress.

stretched hair