Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bath Day

On bath day, we have a routine we follow for hair and skin care. This routine will occasionally change depending on the season (winter is much drier than summer and requires a slightly different routine) or the hair and skin needs of each of the boys.

This routine is by no means the best or only option. Each person has different hair and skin needs and will need to find what works for them. This is simply what works for us, for now. I have included links for the products we use so that you can check them out.

Our family chooses to use natural products, avoiding many synthetic and man-made ingredients whenever possible. You will see this reflected in the product links below. Our rule of thumb is to put on our bodies only what we would put in our mouths. We are not there 100% yet, but we are slowly exchanging products with synthetic ingredients for products with natural, more healthy ingredients. We have been mindful of what we use on the boys' from the beginning and have successfully avoided many harmful ingredients in their hair and skin products so far.

I have learned most about caring for the boys' hair and skin from the Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care blog and from the Facebook fan page for CHVC, as well as other websites and blogs. CHVC is an excellent resource for anyone looking to learn more about caring for chocolate skin and hair. The Facebook page is a wonderful community of (mostly) moms helping and encouraging one another in caring for their children's hair and skin. I encourage you to check out the blog here and the Facebook page here.

Now, on to more interesting things... Pictures of the boys!


Scholar's hair was in coils for the past few days. This is a simple style that I sometimes use instead of braids or cornrows. It will not last very long and does not protect the hair as well, but it is quick to put in when I'm in a rush. I put the coils in his hair on Saturday and they held up alright until Monday, when I gave the boys a bath.

You can find instructional videos for doing finger coils or comb coils on YouTube.

This is the coil at the front. It stretches all the way to the tip of his nose! His hair is getting so long. We trimmed the sides and back short for summer so that it would be easier to care for during the warm months. Also, his bald spot (from sleeping on his back for the first 6 months) has not grown in completely, and the hair remains very short. Now that his hair is trimmed, all the hair around the sides and back of his head are the same length with no awkward short patches. We still have long hair on the top for styling.



So, now for our routine!


Add Moisture

On bath day, the first step in our routine is to wet the hair. I use a children's watering can to shower their hair. They think it is great! This has worked much better than pouring water over their heads, even with one of the special cups you can buy for rinsing kids' hair. I am able to direct the shower of water more easily and avoid getting it in their eyes as long as they keep their chins tipped up. When they forget to tip their chins and water runs into their eyes, you can be sure to hear, "Eyes! Eyes!" until their eyes are wiped dry with a clean, dry washcloth.

Condition

After thoroughly wetting their hair, I use Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner. This conditioner was a lifesaver for us. It has made their hair so much easier to detangle and has made a big difference in keeping it moisturized. I have not used any other conditioners on their hair, so I am not able to compare this to other conditioners. I know that we love this conditioner for the boys' hair. I have recently begun using it on my own hair as well and wow! My hair is so soft and silky.

I apply the conditioner liberally to their hair and allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes. While the conditioner is sitting, the boys play and I wash them up. Currently, I use only water to wash their skin most times since their skin is sensitive to many soaps and body washes. I've also found that, for now, shampoo is not necessary for their hair. Warm water is sufficient to remove the oils from the past few days and any dirt or fuzz that may have collected in their hair.

Detangle

When the conditioner has had some time to sit on their hair, I detangle. In this case, since Scholar's hair was in coils and not braids or cornrows, I used a boar bristle brush to brush out the coils and then used a wide tooth comb to make sure there were no tangles hiding. If his hair had been in braids or cornrows, and it was a day that I planned to restyle his hair, I would have used a pintail comb to undo all the braids and then combed through with a wide tooth comb.

When Scholar's hair is in braids, lint gets caught at the roots, where the braids begin, or at the root on the last stitch of the cornrows. It is usually necessary to use a brush or fine tooth comb to loosen lint and oils from near the roots of his hair. 

On some bath days, I do not remove the style, but proceed without detangling. Some styles have lasted 10 -14 days.

For Explorer's hair, I comb through with the wide tooth comb, being careful in the back where his hair is more curly, since it tends to tangle more. His head seems to be more sensitive than Scholar's. This could be because his hair was straight for so long and his scalp hasn't gotten used to his hair being combed and manipulated.


ACV Rinse

After detangling and completely rinsing the conditioner out of the hair, I apply an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse. I mix 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of ACV in a spray bottle. (A stronger solution of 1 cup water to 2 tablespoons ACV could also be used.)

I use the ACV rinse on my own hair as well. It leaves the hair soft, shiny and also relieves itchy scalps.

To apply the rinse, I cover the boys' eyes with a washcloth and have them tip their chins up to keep it from running into their eyes. Then, with the nozzle of the sprayer turned to "stream", I spray the solution on their scalps. I work it through their hair with my fingers and allow it to sit for a few minutes while they play some more.

The ACV restores the hair to a more natural pH and also closes the cuticles on the hair shaft leaving it smoother, sometimes looking shinier, and better able to retain moisture. ACV also kills bacteria, viruses and fungi, that may be lurking on the scalp causing flaking and/or itching.

I use Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar for the ACV rinse. It is organic, raw and unfiltered. Some people believe that this is more beneficial than a more processed and refined ACV. I have only used the Bragg ACV, so I cannot make a comparison to other, more refined, ACVs.

Rinse with Fresh Water

After a few minutes, I rinse their hair thoroughly with fresh water, using my fingers to gently massage their scalps to make sure no conditioner or ACV has been left on their scalps. By this time, the bath water is filled with conditioner, ACV and the oils that have washed off of their skin, so fresh water is best for rinsing their hair.



Seal in Moisture

If the boys' hair seems to be more dried out or needing a little extra oil, I will apply some oils to their hair before taking them out of the bath. I mix olive, jojoba, argan, Jamaican black castor and vitamin E oils together and apply about 2 teaspoons to each of their scalps with a medicine dropper. I gently work the oils through their hair with my fingers.

At the end of bath, I wrap the boys in their towels and take them out of the tub without drying their hair. I will cover their hair with a towel and pat their skin so that the water is not dripping, but I do not dry their hair or skin. I never rub their hair or skin with a towel. Rubbing the hair could cause it to break off, or at the least, become frizzy. Rubbing their skin with a towel will remove too much moisture. The goal is to keep as much moisture in their skin and hair as we can and then lock it in with oils.

I apply a coconut oil lotion to their skin, from head to toe, to seal the moisture into their skin. I mix coconut, olive and vitamin E oil for this lotion and sometimes add other oils.

Now it's time for the hair! I use Babycakes Hair and Body Butter on their hair to seal in the moisture and then apply Babycakes' Curlicious Cream to define the curls. I only use this on Scholar's hair if he will be having a free-hair day or two and will not have his hair braided or cornrowed, as in the picture above (left). Explorer always has free-hair (above, right), so we use the cream on his hair almost every time. I have found that it is quite excellent for defining his curls and keeping them looking fresh for several days. Without the cream, his hair becomes frizzy and the curls lose their definition by the next day.

To refresh the curls and keep the hair moisturized, I spray their hair every morning with a spray bottle (water, aloe and a bit of various oils, such as are used at the end of bath). I do this for free-hair and also for hair that is in a style. I sometimes add coconut oil to the hair with my hands after spraying if the hair looks dry.


Style

At this point, I may style Scholar's hair with braids, cornrows or coils. If I do not have the time to do his hair right after bath, I will style it a few hours later, or even the next day. I will wet his hair with a spray bottle, use a brush or comb to remove any tangles and use Babycakes' Honey Butter as I style his hair. The Honey Butter holds the braids and cornrows longer and also holds moisture in the hair.

The goal in styling the hair is to protect the hair. Styling helps the hair to hold the moisture and not dry out. It also keeps the hair from being damaged and broken off.


Summary

Our routine sounds complex, but it is rather simple. The basic things we want to do are:
Add Moisture
Condition
Detangle (if not being kept in a style)
Rinse
Seal in Moisture
Style

Finding the right products and routine for the hair can make all the difference in hair health and can make taking care of natural hair a lot easier.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Twin Tornados

The Twin Tornados at 22 months
There are differing opinions on whether or not boys should wear braids. Just as opinions differ on the length a boy's hair "should" be. I'm not here to discuss those opinions. My purpose is to show the fun styles that can be done with boys' hair.

There are various reasons why people choose to keep their boy's hair long or to braid it. I know that many people may be curious, so I will explain why I've chosen to do so.


First of all, I have two boys, The Twin Tornados. They are almost 2 years old and keep me on the alert at all times. There's never a dull moment at our house!

The boys have very different hair types.

The Explorer - always looking for new and exciting adventures. 






The Explorer has hair that was straight until he was 10 months old. At that point, it began to get wavy. Over the past 12 months, his hair has changed significantly. Now, his hair is very curly in the back and wavy/curly on top. I believe it is still changing and may be curly all over before it's all said and done. I do not currently braid his hair. If his hair should become more curly, braiding may be an option - if I can get him to sit still for more than 2 seconds in a row. For now, just getting him to stay still long enough to comb through his hair every few days is a struggle.


The Scholar - wanting to know how everything works.











The Scholar has had curly hair since he was less than a month old. And he's always had a lot of it! I do fun cornrow and braid styles in his hair because I can. My options for his hair are to keep it very short or to use braids and cornrows to keep it healthy and keep it from becoming one great big tangle.



I love my boys' curls and I choose not to keep their hair short for now. When they are older, they may choose to have short hair, but for now, I can choose for them and I choose to enjoy their curls. This means that braids and cornrows are necessary for Scholar's hair most days. But, besides being necessary, they are fun and attractive!