Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Haircare Routine for My Ethiopian Daughter

I have really hesitated to write any sort of "how-to" related to my African daughter's hair because mostly I'm still far from an expert even 19 months into caring for her hair.  I've just barely learned enough to manage.  Also, there are far better resources than me on The Internet, and I am so thankful for them, one of my favorites being the awesome blog Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care.  She has wonderful tutorials on styles and in depth reviews of products.  For example, check out this entire post dedicated to sleep caps!

But, I do have friends in the adoption process or with kids newly home ask me what we do.  Recently, a friend who brought her daughter home around the same time we did our Little Girl asked me about managing the hair because her daughter was an infant when she came home and my friend has not had to do a whole lot to her hair yet, but now that the little girl is getting older she realizes she has to start doing more.  So, since I keep composing the same email to send out to friends with our basic hair routine, I thought I'd just post it here on the blog for easier reference.

Little Girl's fantastic curls that require an entirely different type of care than my super straight, oily hair:

Here's what I sent my friend a couple weeks ago when she asked for hair help:

Oh the hair!  It is such a learning process and I'm still learning!  But, here's what we do:

Wash with conditioner only (Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose - I buy it at once a week. I kinda scrub with the conditioner on then leave it on for about 10 minutes while she plays in the tub. Then I detangle her hair by combing through it with a wide-tooth comb (like this one). The detangling is pretty hard if she's had a free hair style (can take 20-25 minutes or so). If she's had braids or twists in then the detangling is pretty easy (more like 5 minutes). Wash with shampoo (Kinky Curly Brand) only about once a month and do that step before the conditioner. After detangling I rinse out the Aubrey Organics Conditioner and then pat dry her hair with an old t-shirt (towels make it more frizzy). Then I put on a leave in conditioner like Kinky Curly Knot Today Conditioner (you can buy this at Target or various places on the web) or if I'm going to do braids or twists I'll put on Shea Moisture brand Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner.

She sleeps in a sleep cap and on a satin pillowcase (probably overkill but I need all the help I can get to keep the hair nice!). And for swimming I typically convince her to wear a silicone swim cap. Also in an attempt to keep the styles nice, all the dress-up princess crowns have disappeared from our dress-up bin (a sad truth, but not as sad as snagging a style that took me over an hour to do).

If I do a style with lots of little braids, it can last several days (we've gone as long as 2 weeks before). I can even wash the hair with the braids in. I just rub conditioner on the scalp and then squeeze some through the braids with my hands and rinse. On non-wash days, if we have free hair, it takes a lot of adding moisture (like more leave-in conditioner or some oil) both at night and in the morning. I use coconut oil, sometimes, but jojoba oil seems to work best for us. For non-wash days when she has braids or twists in, I typically just have to put a little jojoba oil on the part lines once a day.

The braids and twists take a while to put in (for making part lines the pin tail comb is your friend) but they are much easier to maintain day to day. With free hair her hair gets so tangled and dry and also if she gets any sand or grass in it, then it is so hard to get out! With braids, the sand and grass and debris doesn't stick in her hair.

Here's a braid style:

And this is "free hair", otherwise known as an afro.:

That's all for now.  This topic is huge and could go on forever, but maybe if I can get to it sometime I'll post a how-to on some of our favorite styles.

Happy hair stylin'!

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