Monday, August 18, 2014

My Boys with Braids Matter to Me

This is not related to hair. But this is related to my boys. In the light of events over the past week, and events that occur all to frequently, I posted these on my other blog. I thought it would be appropriate to share the links here. These are my opinions and feelings as a White transracial adoptive mom to Black boys.

An Open Letter to my White Friends and Family

But I'm Not a Racist

Feel free to share these links with your family and friends.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Conditioning Oil

In my last post, I talked about some hair issues we had. We have also been dealing with skin issues. Both of the boys have eczema presenting in slightly different ways. The dry air and lack of sunlight on their skin during the winter are likely part of the problem. I did notice, however, that Scholar's skin tends to get worse after having a bath. It could be a number of things - the conditioner we use, the chemicals in the water or the cleaners used in the tub. To try to help his skin, we are eliminating the possible irritants that we can. We cannot do much about the water unless we get a water filter, but we can stop using the conditioner and the cleaners to see if either of them are the problem. For a few weeks we will not be using any products in the bath to see if that helps. We already do not use soap since we have seen that cause skin irritation. Now we are dropping the conditioner, at least for a short while.

So, what do I do with the boys' hair if I cannot use conditioner?
I made my own with oils that are not likely to irritate the skin. I used oils that we have used many times before, so I am fairly certain that they will not cause irritation.

I was surprised how well the oils worked for the boys' hair. (I decided to not use any products in the bath at all, not even on Explorer's hair, until we can determine what is causing Scholar's skin to react.) When I gave them a bath, I got their hair wet, used the ACV rinse, rinsed it out and then used the oils before detangling. Detangling was easier than I thought it would be and their hair is very moisturized. After bath we added the Babycakes hair and body butter as we normally do to their hair.

To make the conditioning oil, I combined some of my favorite oils, ones that have seemed to work well on the boys' hair.

Conditioning Oil Recipe

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp jojoba oil
1 Tbsp Jamaican black castor oil
1 tsp sweet almond oil
1 tsp argan oil

I got this amazing bottle from
Mountain Rose Herbs!

I mixed these oils together and stored them in a glass bottle. I applied the oil mixture to the hair just as I would a conditioner, before detangling, but did not rinse it out afterward. I also use this oil mixture combined with water and aloe for the daily spritz. About 3 oz filtered water, 3 oz aloe with about a tablespoon of oil makes a great daily refreshing spritz.

So far, this is working out great. The boys had two baths with free hair that needed to be detangled and one bath with their hair in cornrows since using this oil conditioner. There was no noticeable skin irritation after either bath. I will continue to use this for the next few baths and then try their conditioner again and hope it does not cause irritation.

What homemade products do you use for hair? Share in the comments!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Good Products Are Not Always the Right Products

I have been MIA for a while here. First we were getting through Christmas and then we were dealing with some hair issues. I took a little break to try to get back on track and here I am!

I was so excited a little while ago about Scholar's baby bald spot finally growing in. Then, he had a section or hair break off on the top of his head at the front from having eczema on his scalp. Both areas were growing in well, as well as his edges which had broken off at some point months ago. Then I tried a new conditioner. I loved it at first. It seemed to make the boys' hair softer and help to retain moisture longer. After using it for a while I noticed that the spots that had been growing in were no longer long enough to braid into the cornrows. The hair had actually gotten shorter.

Good Products Are Not Always the Right Products for Everyone's Hair

I was perplexed, but tried to keep the hair moisturized and healthy. It kept getting worse and the hair just would not get longer. I read somewhere that someone had had problems with the Shea Moisture line of products causing their hair to break off. That was the conditioner I had switched to! I immediately stopped using that conditioner on the boys' hair and within a few weeks, the growth in the trouble areas was noticeable. For some reason that conditioner does not agree with Scholar's hair. I did not notice any problems with Explorer's hair, in fact, it seemed to be very good for his hair. I use the shampoo on my own hair and absolutely love it! I do not think it is a bad product, just not right for Scholar's hair for some reason. Since switching back to Aubrey Organic GPB conditioner for both boys (it is easier to use the same products, if possible), Scholar's hair is growing back and is much healthier.

I wanted to help his hair grow better, so I started using Jamaican black castor oil on the short areas that need to grow in. I have read that this is a very good oil to help those thin areas and is good for growth. But a big bottle of oil and two toddlers just do not mix. I am constantly worried that they will spill it while I am trying to use it and it seemed a bit awkward to try to apply to wiggling little boys. I decided to make a wax out of it to prevent spilling and to make it easier to apply.

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Hair Wax

To make the wax, I used 1/2 cup Jamaican black castor oil and 1 tablespoon of beeswax granules. I mixed about half of the oil with the granules in an 8 oz mason jar and microwaved it for 30 seconds at a time until the beeswax was completely melted.

Then I poured in the rest of the oil and quickly mixed it together with a bamboo skewer while it began to set up. The JBCO wax is soft, but not runny. It is very easy to apply and hard to make a mess with it. The boys have tried putting their fingers into it and could make a huge mess if I let them, but so far we have not had a mess with this wax. I am excited to see if it will actually help the hair to grow in faster. At the least, it keeps the hair moisturized and makes it softer. I have been using it on the damaged spots every morning and night. I apply a small amount to the scalp and gently massage it into the skin.

Have you found any natural solutions for damaged hair? Please share in the comments!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cocoa Butter Lotion Bars

Quite accidentally, I came up with an amazing recipe for lotion bars. I was trying to make a lotion without coconut oil in it. I use coconut oil for almost everything, but Explorer has been complaining of being itchy after I use our normal lotion on him. Thinking it may be the coconut oil, I wanted to try a lotion without coconut oil. I also needed something to use on my hands as they were getting very dry from the weather and the constant hand washing.

Lotions and Potions
I went to my Lotions and Potions cabinet and perused my available ingredients. I decided to go with a base of cocoa butter and add ingredients that would promote skin health. The result was a hard lump of product that would be difficult to scoop out of a jar. I could either add more liquid oils, whip the mixture or make lotion bars. So I melted it back down and poured it into a mini brownie pan. Lotion bars! They worked very well and smelled delicious! But they tended to crumble when they got too warm in my hands.

I remade the lotion bars, this time adding beeswax and making a few other minor adjustments. VoilĂ ! Not only does the beeswax keep the bars from melting too quickly, it also makes the skin softer and keeps the moisture locked in longer it seems. This recipe has ingredients to help heal skin and keep it moisturized. A necessity for the cold, dry winters we have here, combined with the drying effect of washing hands throughout the day.

The small bars are ideal for keeping near the sink and using after every hand washing, but they were not working so well for applying to the boys when I needed to cover their whole bodies with lotion. I ordered a couple soap molds and got to work making larger sized lotion bars. The new bars are about the size of a small bar of soap. They are just right for using on the boys. The boys can even help put their own lotion on now.

To use the bars, I rub them between my hands until I have enough lotion and then rub it into my skin. It is a little oily for a minute or so, but soaks in quickly. With the larger bars, I can rub the bar directly on the boys' arms, legs and torsos and then massage it into their skin.

For the large lotion bars I used:
1/4 cup beeswax
3/4 cup cocoa butter
4 tsp olive oil
4 tsp sweet almond oil
2 tsp vitamin E oil
2 tsp argan oil
1 tsp tea tree oil (optional)
20 drops lavender essential oil (or peppermint essential oil)

This made 4 large bars. It would make about 10 small bars.

Click over to One Drop for the full instructions for making the lotion bars. The instructions and ingredients list there are for making 5 or 6 small bars (2 large bars). Use the amounts listed above to make 4 large bars or about 10 small bars.

Lotion Bars in new mold (purchased on Amzaon)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Winter Hair Routine

Enjoying one of the last warm days of the year.
The temperature has dropped in our neck of the woods and with it the humidity. Even though we keep a humidifier running in the boys' room during naps and at night (12-13 hours total per day), their hair has been much drier. We have had to adjust our hair routine.

Today was bath day. The perfect time to regain lost ground when it comes to moisturizing the hair. Explorer's hair is usually free in a fantastic fro, so it dries out very quickly. It also seems that his hair does not hold the moisture as well as Scholar's. When Scholar's hair is in cornrows, it is easier to keep it moisturized, but it has been free for over a week and was getting very dry.

In their bath, I wet their hair thoroughly and add conditioner. I have not tried many different conditioners, but we have found that Aubrey Organics works well for detangling their hair. I let the conditioner sit for a few minutes while they play and then comb out their hair with a wide tooth comb. After their hair has been detangled, I rinse it well.

I apply an ACV rinse. I keep a spray bottle of ACV and water (3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 2 cups water) in the bathroom to use on the boys' hair and on mine as well. I spray their scalps and work the ACV through their hair, being careful not to get it in their eyes. I hold a washcloth over their faces while I am spraying. Then I rinse their hair once again.

Today, after the ACV rinse, I applied more conditioner. This time it was Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner. This conditioner seems to keep their hair more moisturized, but does not work as well as a detangler for us. After a few minutes, I rinsed thoroughly again.

The key for keeping the boys' hair moisturized seems to be in using a lot of oil. I mix together a few different oils for their hair (keep reading for the recipe that I use). I use this oil mixture in our daily spray, but also use it in the winter directly on their hair after bath while the hair is still wet. I drizzle some oil in their hair and work it through with my fingers. Today I ran out of the oil mixture so I used the Healing Coconut Oil Lotion instead. It worked great!

You would think that this would make their hair oily and limp, but their hair just soaks up the oils, so they still need more after this! I let the oils soak in for a few minutes while I put lotion on their skin and then I scrunch in a healthy amount of Babycakes Hair and Body Butter. This product works very well for the boys' hair. I notice a big (and not so great) difference in their hair if I do not use it. It really does make their hair so much more healthy and keeps it moisturized longer.

At this point, the hair routine for bath day can be finished. Today, however, I had extra time and I put some coils into Scholar's hair using Babycakes Honey Butter. Though this is not really a protective style, it does allow me to make sure that all the hair is coated with product to seal in the moisture. It also helps to keep his hair from tangling as much and reduces the amount of lint and fuzz that gets stuck in his hair. Besides, it looks so cute!

Throughout the week, on days we do not have bath (baths are only twice a week), I use the spray bottle on their hair in the morning and scrunch in more Hair and Body Butter. This keeps their hair well moisturized.

Recipe for oil mixture:

1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp jojoba oil
4 tsp Jamaican black castor oil
4 tsp sweet almond oil
2 tsp vitamin E oil
1 tsp argan oil

This oil mixture can be applied directly to the hair and/or added to a bottle of water for freshening up in the morning. I typically add a tablespoon or two of the oil to a cup of filtered water (or filtered water and distilled aloe in equal proportions). This mixture is also handy when I need to keep the hair damp while cornrowing.

Do you experiences changes in weather that affect naturally curly hair? If so, how has your hair routine changed with the change in the weather? Are there things that you need to add to your routine or take out?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Healing Coconut Oil Lotion

Awhile ago I posted the recipe for my homemade lotion that I use for the boys. I like using this lotion in the summer because it does not melt easily. Having a lotion that turns to liquid in the summer is a very bad idea with two toddlers in the house. In reality, any kind of lotion is a bad idea with two toddlers, though it is necessary. (Yes, I had to clean up lotion from all over a bedroom. Not fun.)

In the winter months, when the temperature in the house is in the low 70s, I can use a lotion that has more coconut oil since it will not melt. The more coconut oil, the better, since we have had recurrent MRSA skin infections in the past. In fact, I sometimes use coconut oil by itself. Coconut oil has been working to prevent the infections and works well as a moisturizer, but I wanted to amp it up a little bit. So I added a few more ingredients to make it even better.

Tea tree oil helps boost the germ-fighting of this lotion. Use with caution, as swallowing tea tree oil can cause serious health problems. Also, using tea tree oil without mixing it properly with a carrier oil can cause skin irritation. Tea tree oil should be 5% or less of any mixture. This is just under half an ounce (0.4 ounces, to be more precise) of tea tree oil or less for every 8 ounces of carrier oil. In teaspoons, this is 2.5 teaspoons of tea tree oil for 8 ounces of carrier oil. This recipe uses much less, so should not cause irritation for most people. Tea tree oil is poisonous for animals in even small amounts (used internally or topically), so keep this away from your pets. Click the link to read more about tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is fine when used properly, but can be left out if you have concerns about using it.

Vitamin E and Jojoba oils are beneficial to the skin. These oils are safe to use on the skin full strength.

Argan oil helps the skin to heal. We have had good success with using argan oil to treat eczema even when other oils and lotions did not help. Argan oil can be used full strength on the skin.

Recipe for Healing Coconut Oil Lotion

12 ounces softened coconut oil
2 Tbsp olive oil (or sweet almond oil)
1 tsp jojoba oil
1/2 - 1 tsp vitamin E oil
1/2 - 1 tsp argan oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp tea tree oil

Soften the coconut oil over gentle heat if necessary.
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
Mixture can be whipped. I find it is easier to use if it is whipped, but works just as well if it is not.

We use this lotion once or twice a day, normally first thing in the morning and before bed.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Explorer's First Cornrows

I have been styling Scholar's hair for over a year, since just before he was a year old. I have done cornrows, box braids and coils. Until this week, I have never "done" anything with Explorer's hair. Of course, I take care of his hair, moisturize it, comb it, but I have never been able to style his hair.

Explorer's hair had no curl to it until he was 10 months old. At that point, it started to become wavy on the top. Over the last year, his hair has changed a lot. Now, he has coarse, wavy and straight hair on the top. The sides and back are soft and curly. His hair is still changing.

I can cornrow Scholar's hair even when it is only 2 inches long because it is so curly that it will hold even at that short length. I had to wait for Explorer's hair to grow out so that I could cornrow it and have a chance of it holding for more than a few hours. His hair is about 7 inches long now, so I gave it a try. I was not sure if it would stay in, or if he would leave it in, so I only did four rows (about half his hair) at first. When those survived the night, I decided to do the rest of his hair. He has been wearing the rows for 3 days and, though they are not as tidy as when I put them in, they are still in and holding very well.

I was concerned about how much the straight and wavy hair would pop out of the cornrows. Straight hair has a tendency to stick ... well ... straight out of the sides of braids. This has happened a little bit in some places, thus the less tidy look after a few days. Yet, overall, I have been impressed with how well they have held up.

The cornrows even survived bath day today. I made a conditioner rinse for his hair and then rinsed it out and used a mixture of oils to seal in the moisture. I did not want to agitate the hair at all because that could cause it to pop out even more. We successfully cleaned and conditioned his hair without causing the rows to come apart.

For the conditioner rinse, I mixed about a cup of warm water with the amount of conditioner I would normally use for his hair. I used Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner. I poured the mixture over his hair and gently patted it into his hair. After a few minutes, I rinsed it out.

After bath, while the hair was still wet, I sprayed it with a concoction of oils that I had made up to soothe an itchy scalp. It works to seal moisture into the hair, too.

4 Tbsp sweet almond oil
1/2 Tbsp vitamin E oil
4 tsp tea tree oil (stops itching and kills bacteria)
1 Tbsp aloe
10 drops lavender essential oil (soothes skin)

I put the oils and aloe in a spray bottle and shook it up to mix them all together. A little bit of this mixture goes a long way. A few sprays are enough for a whole head of hair.

So, now for pictures of Explorer's very first ever cornrows!

The first two rows

Look at all that hair!

Four rows complete.
You can notice a bit popping out at the side only a few minutes after completing the row.


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