Yesterday, I overheard Mary Grace exclaim, “Alright, it’s hair day up in here! Let’s get some Elmo on!” I laughed because she’s caught on that the days I do Elizabeth’s hair have indeed become an event. (I also laughed at her use of “up in here”. She’s obviously heard her mother sing (rap?) that classic “y’all gonna make me lose my mind, up in here up in here” line a time or two. Don’t judge.)
But yes, yesterday was Hair Day in the Allison house. And in the spirit of hair days (up in here), I thought I’d answer a few questions that some of you have had recently about my hair routine with Elizabeth. HUGE CAVEAT though: I’ve only been at this natural hair thing for a year. I’m so far from an expert that it’s not even funny. BUT I have learned a ton. And continue to learn. This is just what works for us…
So, for starters, Elizabeth has beautiful, thick hair with very tight curls. As her hair has grown over the past year (her hair had just been shaved when I brought her home last December), I quickly had to learn to (1) keep her hair moisturized and (2) keep her hair detangled. This is typical for her hair type and initially seemed like an impossible task to my novice self; however, with time (and lots of instruction), I have found that it’s not nearly as challenging as I had thought.
Simply put, I’m using the Liquid-Oil-Cream (L.O.C.) method with Elizabeth’s hair to keep her hair best hydrated. Really guys, this sounds far more complicated than it is. I use a liquid first (water! remember, her hair loves and needs lots of moisture!)… then an oil to lock in the moisture (I was previously using coconut oil but have found that argan oil seems to work better for her hair)… and then I seal it with a cream. I go back and forth on creams, but I remain a big fan of Shea Moisture products. Their Curl Enhancing Smoothie works great in Elizabeth’s hair, though I sometimes alternate it with Shea Moisture’s lighter Curl and Style Milk. All of the Shea Moisture products can be easily purchased at Target and, as far as natural hair products go, they’re super affordable.
Detangling: I only detangle Elizabeth’s hair when it’s super wet. I use Kinky-Curly Knot Today leave-in along with a wide-tooth comb or my Tangle Teaser to gently work through Elizabeth’s hair. If she’s been rocking “free hair” for a few days, this process takes far longer than if we’re coming right out of twists…
…which provides an excellent segue to protective styling. Everything changed when Elizabeth’s hair became long enough for twists. I swear, her hair began to grow faster and looks and feels so much healthier. While I don’t know how to cornrow yet, Elizabeth’s hair holds flat twists well. A morning of washing/detangling/styling (in twists) Elizabeth’s hair typically takes 2-2.5 hours. While this is a bit of a time commitment up-front, they can last about 1.5-2 weeks and are essentially maintenance-free once in. As far as products go, I have recently been introduced to Babycakes Honey Butter which I love. I had been on a hunt for a while for a product that would help hold her twists, and this does the trick beautifully (and the business is run by a fellow adoptive mom. I sell out to big-box stores way too often and love supporting small “mom businesses” when I can.) I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention this website on here. If you haven’t read Rory’s posts on all things hair, then what are you doing reading MY advice on here?? Get off of here stat and go have your mind blown over at Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care.
I have so many people ask how in the heck I keep a two year old still for hours of hair styling. Really, we just do what it takes on hair days. Hence, Mary Grace’s aforementioned excitement over this week’s Big Hair Event. Endless TV shows and snacks abound. To a kid who typically has limited screentime, an entire morning of iPads and TV is like a day at Disney. Plus, Elizabeth is just awesome. She stays (relatively) still, rarely complains, and makes the process way easier than it ever should be for a kid her age.
Two more essentials to any post on natural hair: (1) sleep caps and (2) satin pillowcases. Both are mega important to protect styles and decrease frizz. Get some.
Aaaand that’s where I’ll end. Because I’ve already bounced all over the place in this post and have probably raised more questions than provided answers. If anything, though, maybe I can at least encourage you that if I can get the hang of this whole hair gig, anyone can. For real.
Addendum: Washing! Whoops, I completely failed to mention how/when/how often we wash Elizabeth’s hair. This was a huge adjustment to my entire framework of thinking about hair, as I’m accustomed to washing my hair daily. However, Elizabeth’s hair just doesn’t need to be washed that frequently, and, in fact, it harms it if we do. We don’t wash her hair when it’s in twists, so we’re talking once every 1.5-2 weeks… and when I do take the twists out, I’ll often wash her hair with just conditioner (aka “co-washing”). I have used half of a smallish bottle of (Shea Moisture) shampoo on her hair in a year. That’s not much. About once a month, I will use shampoo followed by conditioner. Without fail, however, her hair always seems dry after using a shampoo, so I try to avoid it if at all possible. If I feel a lot of product build-up in her hair, I’ll sometimes do a rinse with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to help clarify before I use conditioner. But again, whatever we use to wash, the key here is to lock in the moisture afterwards. Are you catching onto a theme here? Moisture. Moisture. Moisture. Okay, addendum complete. The end.