Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Afro: Washing and Styling for Loose Curls

With all of the major life changes we're undertaking -- moving from one city to another, from suburbia to a midtown area, from working mom to stay at home, from five day school to homeschool -- one major one I've failed to mention is that I am now in charge of Amelia's hair.

I've been so spoiled.  Amelia's saint of a preschool teacher (who is also armed with a beauty license) kept our girls' hair properly combed, styled, and moisturized.

Moisturized, moisturized, moisturized.

I have some learning to do.  Look how dry my baby's hair was yesterday, just one week since Amelia last had the help of her angel teacher:

The hair along her hairline threatened to roll into parched balls.

Amelia's been home with a head FULL of long hair for over a year, yet I've fixed it myself less than twenty times.  It's time for me to learn my baby's hair. 

You can watch as I fall all over myself learning.

Feel free to offer some advice.

The first thing I do when taking out Amelia's old 'do is this:

I carefully run scissors underneath each hair rubber band and snip it, careful not to cut hair.  Cutting the bands off avoids breakage.

Then, section by section, I detangle her hair using only my fingers.  Sometimes I add moisturizer to help detangle as I go, but this time, I didn't have to.

You can see white hair product buildup in her hair in the picture above, higher than where I am finger detangling.  This needs to be washed out!

See the white film that had been hiding inside of her braids?

Time for a bath!


...and shampoo!  (Those tears are ironic. I used tear-free shampoo!  I guess tears caused by your big sister can't be avoided by shampoo choice.)

I don't shampoo Amelia's hair often. I usually conditioner-wash.  When I do shampoo, it's because she swam, or got into a mess, or has severe product build up.

I use the same kids' tear-free shampoo that I use on Caroline's silky hair. 

But at Target, I saw a tear free organic shampoo made by a brand called Mixed Chicks. Anyone know if this is worth trying?  Should I buy it? It was maybe $12 for a small-medium sized bottle.

When I shampoo Amelia's hair, I don't scrub in the wild way I scrub mine or Caroline's.  Detangling Amelia's hair is hard work, and she got into the bath fairly detangled.  Crazy shampooing might tangle it.  So a do a lot of squishing and gentle rubbing to get a lather.

This conditioner smells amazing. I bought it for Amelia, but I also use it on Caroline's soft silky curls.  It's incredible stuff that it can multitask between their very different hair.

I used the amount shown twice, rinsing much better the first time. The second time, I purposely left most of it in her hair.  (I'd never leave it in Caroline's!)

Next, I (somewhat) brush Amelia's wet, conditioned hair with the OH-SO-AMAZING Tangle Teezer brush. It's the most life-changing invention of my lifetime.  
You must have one. Must, must, must.

I was nervous to use this styling cream in case it left not-so-organic loads of buildup in Amelia's hair. I'd never used it before.  So I applied it lightly while she was still in the tub, then poured on cup of water over her hair to dilute it some.

It's the chicken-out way.

All clean!

I do not towel-dry Amelia's hair.  The fuzz from the towels sticks to her curls.

Instead, she laughs as she shakes her head wildly.
(Yes, like Fido. Sue me. It works.)

And her hair then looks like this:

In need of some help, but precious anyway!
So I add some styling product.  

I loved this Curling Souffle.  It's like runny hair gel in a tub.  I just rub it through my hands and then scrunch it on Amelia's hair to help define her part and shape any wild areas.  

The container says that the wetter the hair is that you apply it to, the wilder the curls.  Applying it to barely damp hair creates curls more loose.

Amelia just isn't going to have loose curls, so I add it early and get the job finished.

Before I know it, I have a rock star.

How precious is the finished product!?

Tips for upkeep.
(I'll keep her hair loose for several days.)

  1. Use a sleep cap to avoid crazy fuzz and things finding their way into the curls. (Or, errr... pantyhose on the head!)
  2. Spray in moisture after every nap/bedtime, and any other time the hair starts feeling dry.  Much more moisture is needed on loose hair.  

The Kinky Curly Spiral Spritz is great for second day curls.  Spray it into your hands first. It's somewhat thick and will shoot out in a straight line.  Rub it into your hands, then scrunch onto the curls.

Cheap and simple olive oil spray is a must have.  I use this on loose or braided/styled hair, ideally at least once a day.

(Notice that I said ideally. Meaning it doesn't happen at my house.)

This Cantu pomade is great for smoothing fly-aways into braided or fixed styles, but it also helps smooth down parts of loose hair.  For example, I may use some of this to tuck the front of Amelia's afro into clips or behind her ears.

Okay, so how did I do?
I'm sure some of you are laughing at all I did wrong. Please, give me your tips and tricks!


Toni Patrick said...

She looks so cute! I love the Afro.


Toni Patrick said...

She looks so cute! I love the Afro.


Dawson said...

She looks adorable! (as always!) I haven't tried any of those products but have seen them mentioned (or at target!) thanks! My go to fav's are Honeysuckle rose conditioner from Aubrey organics (for cowashing) and the Beautiful curls leave in conditioner for babies and up (both sold at earth fare) My fav styling cream rt now is curly q's Milkshake, at target, but I'm constantly trying new things! Are you friends with chocolate hair/vanilla care on Facebook? Love it!

RACHEL said...

Thanks Toni!!!

RACHEL said...

Betsy, you are the MASTER of gorgeous, well-conditioned, loose curls. Addison always looks amazing. I'll have to try some of your product suggestions. Most of the little I know is from Happy Hair Girl's website, but I've heard I need to check out Chocolate Hair/ Vanilla Care. I will, now that I'm actually doing hair!!!

The Kirks said...

Wow! That looks really complicated! I love the little afro though! I know that she always looks gorgeous!

RACHEL said...

Thanks, Heather!

Sara Caldwell said...

oh my goodness! I am loving that fro, seriously, loving it! If I had hair like her's I would fro it as big as humanly possible, no lie!

RACHEL said...

Sara, I would LOVE to see you with an fro!!! Makes my day just thinking about it. ;)

Alexis said...

You need to use Shea Moisture for Thick, Curly Hair shampoo. You can find/buy it at TARGET. It works well for hair like your daughter's and it's created by a lady from Sierra Leone in Africa.

If all else fails, take her to a really good professional Black stylist at a Black salon-- they're the best at working with all types of Black hair natural and chemically treated.

Hope this helps! :)