Racing Around in Red

A cute and durable style for a mom and toddler on the go.

Here is a quick, working-mom style that I put into Baby’s hair a few weeks ago. I did the two cornrows near her temples, not too tight, and secured the ends with small rubber bands moistened with coconut oil. That pretty much left the rest of her hair in pre-parted sections. For the rest of the week, all I did was put twists or plaits into the large sections at night. In the mornings I swept them into ponytails with a Goody rubber-based styling brush. I secured them with ponytail holders, and changed the colors to match her outfit everyday. If we had extra time in the morning (often we didn’t) I twisted the ponytail ends and clipped them into little barrettes. Now I’ve accepted the fact that I have to twists the ends, otherwise they will frizz and split, maybe lead to breakage. So that means getting up 15 extra minutes in the morning to do everything right. Hey, I wanted a girl, and I sure got one! LOL.

Baby’s hair is coming along really well, as you can see. No more of the drastic shedding and thinning that used to drive Hubby and me nuts. Her hair type probably in the 3 range—although she is still very young—has adapted really well to the routine of shea butter and high-grade natural oils I started last year. I mainly use Curly Q products and Cantu’s daily shea butter moisturizing oil, but with a light hand.  I’ll detail my list of products in another post.

Now, that doesn’t mean I spend a lot of time styling her hair. I can’t. I have a demanding full-time job and a long commute just about every day. Baby’s styles have to be cute and quick. I focus more on putting small plaits (or platts, as Jamaicans say it), twists, or bantu knots (chiney bumps) into her hair to get a pretty curl the next day.



Come As You Are

On Monday evening, I did more research on maintaining natural hair. Once again, I popped by one of Naptural85’s YouTube channels. This vlogger is becoming my top favorite quickly, because I get a lot of ideas for managing Baby’s hair. It also makes excellent background research for when/if I take the natural plunge.

Last month, Naptural85 posted a personal video introducing her Brazilian husband, Filipe. Quite a charming pair, these two are. They acknowledge their interracial relationship, and do so in a really refreshing way. No angst, preaching or zealotry for Black women to—quick!—grow their hair natural and get a white guy! Just a couple of married younguns having fun together.

At one point, Naptural85 said it was her husband who prodded her to go natural. He agreed, explaining that women should work what they have instead of dousing—my word—their hair with so many chemicals that are really quite damaging, in the end. How nice it must be to live like a guy, and see the world in very simple ways!  LOL.

And yet, it reminded me of how Black women often fail to appreciate natural beauty in themselves and each other. We all know the colorful terms that Black folks toss around for natural hair—nappy, peasy—but white men and other guys who are not Black don’t see it that way.

Guys from outside my culture have complimented me on my short coils and twists and short textured styles far more than any other permed or pressed style I’ve ever worn, if at all. (As Hubby points out, textured styles can’t really be considered natural. To which I hotly retort: ‘Of course they can! What do you know about it, white man?’ Every time I want to trump him—it could be about the weather—I say that. He is a patient man.)

Black women have no idea, collectively, how attractive men of other cultures find them to be. And even in less social situations, they judge themselves much more harshly than those guys. I see it almost every day at work, and out and about. And no, we don’t have to dress like some trollop on BET or be bi-racial or very light-skinned. We are fine the way we are, and by fine, I mean fetching. Slowly, we are realizing that. And we’re realizing that we don’t have to totally banish our natural textures to have ‘good hair’.

A Little Help From Naptural85

Admittedly, I can be “all thumbs” when it comes to styling hair. That’s one downside to having a girl: You have to deal with the ups and downs of caring for Black and bi-racial hair—for two! Luckily, I can tap into the expertise of beauticians, friends, relatives—and the Internet if the ones I just mentioned are all busy—to bolster my hair-care know how. That brings me to this YouTube channel, which I stumbled across a couple of weeks ago.

Naptural85’s styles are really creative, ranging from sleek and elegant to sweet and adorable. I’ve already used the Bantu knot-out on Baby’s hair, with some terrific results. Big, soft curls that last the whole day, and if I take care of them properly, throughout the week. I have to chuckle when I use the term “Bantu knot,” because when I was growing up, we called them Chiney bumps. It’s just a Jamaican thing. I go with the multi-ethnic term on the blog, but in my house, we still call them Chiney bumps. And if Baby is upstairs kicking up a tantrum, after she calms down and I make my way downstairs, Hubby swivels around in his chair and asks me: “Chiney bumping?”

Here is a picture.

Baby's Bantu Knot Out, Day 2

It’s hard to get good shots of Baby’s hair without her scooting away after a toy or looking straight into the camera. (Hubby still strongly disapproves of putting her face on this page. *Sigh* Even though I’m proud of my little beauty and want to show her off, we have to maintain our daughter’s privacy.)

I’ll post another update on how I actually style Baby’s locks. Hint: Variations on themes and lots of “free & easy” days.

Product Review: Like—Don’t Love—Shea Moisture

Is there an unscented version?

I like this cream for from Shea Moisture, the Baby Head-to-Toe Ointment. I found it while strolling the aisles at Target for Pull-Ups and other Baby supplies for you-know-who.  😉  The cream is very rich, and when you do work it into little elbows, knees, heels and wintry eczema trouble spots, it does keep dry, ashy and scaly skin at bay. Moisture is very important for all skin types in the winter, not just on biracial and African-American kids.

I don’t love it, though, because I think the scent is too strong. Although Baby is all of 37 inches tall, it took more than a small amount to get it into her trouble spots, by the time I was finished applying it, she scent was almost overwhelming. I almost washed some off of her. And believe me, I didn’t slather it on her, either. Just a golden dollar piece sized amount, at the most. Also, even if I wanted to use more, I would be hard pressed. The cream itself is very thick, which is what you would expect from shea butter, and I just managed to wring a modest amount out of the tube as Baby skipped here and tottered there, waiting for me.

I wrote to the company, complimenting them on the product, and asking about an unscented version, but I got no reply. That was at least three weeks ago. Well, I went on their Web site, searching for an unscented alternative, and came up empty.  I did notice, after exploring their Web site, that Shea Moisture loads up almost all of its products with very richly scented exotic ingredients, like myrrh and frankincense. I didn’t do a thorough analysis, but I bet it’s safe to say that each product has no less than three very aromatic, pricey herbal ingredients.

Well, I need to keep Baby’s routine simple, for all of our sakes. She is a busy-body, two-year-old child who can’t sit still (I love it!) I have a demanding full-time job and long commute, and Hubby … he doesn’t care very much about this stuff. If I need to work late and leave Baby’s hair-and-skin care routine to him for the night, it needs to be simple, or it won’t get done. For now, I dilute the Shea Moisture Baby Head-to-Toe Ointment with an unscented baby cream from Aveeno. That combination works well, along with skipping a day or two of the Shea Moisture.

There you have it. I like it. I might try other Shea Moisture products, especially if commit to a strategy for going natural again, or at least texturizing.

Felicia and Her Prince

Here's our royal couple.

As the entire world, it seems, awaits Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding day on April 29, Felicia Morris married her very own prince when she tied the knot with Christopher Principe in New York. Hubby, who is almost perfectly fluent in Italian, tells me that the name Principe translates to “prince”. Therefore, I wouldn’t doubt that these two had a beautiful, storied courtship. Felicia took Christopher’s name, which is the traditional thing to do, but I think it also says he’s been a gentleman of the highest order to her. Don’t take my word for it, though. You can watch their story here for yourself.

I do hope that Felicia and Christopher enjoy a lovely life, happily ever after!

A Bad, Bad Start to a Hair Day

When I leave Baby at the local day care center, I do not expect them to style her hair. After what I saw the other day, I am going to insist that they never treat my daughter’s hair like that again. Just take a look at these photos, and you’ll see what I mean.

image

Which way is straight?

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How do I undo this?!

The carnage.

I got home late from work the day that this was done, after Baby had already been settled into bed. When I leaned into her crib and ran my hand over her puffs, I asked Hubby who did her hair and why, considering that I sent her to school in a presentable, pretty curly afro. There was no need to do her hair. Hubby is hair clueless, so he just shrugged and figured it saved him the trouble of  having to brush and untangle that night. Say what?!?! The next morning I saw this horror show in the full morning sun. I was hopping mad! My child’s hair was sectioned off in these CRAZY parts and bound up in … rubber bands. And they sent her outside like that!

Who does that?!?  When caring for Black and bi-racial children’s hair, the three key words are moisture, moisture, moisture.  If you’re going to put in ponytail holders, use scrunchies from Goody’s or little mini ones that are soaked in coconut oil or olive oil first. Common, dry rubber bands from Staples or who knows where DO NOT belong in a black baby’s hair.

It took me a few long minutes of trying to get these office supplies out of my daughter’s hair. Finally, I had to cut them out, because the rubber bands and her hair were so entangled. She was getting upset, impatient and I had to really be firm with her to get her to sit still and let me finish the job.

After I signed Baby in at day care the next day (Hubby and I had a couple of of other priorities to discuss with the teacher, so this waited a day), I asked the teacher about it. She explained that Baby and her best pal, a little boy, were roughhousing and she was afraid that the hair pulling would get out of control and that Baby would get hurt. OK, so we identified the good intentions that paved this road to hell. (I’m exaggerating, of course. But look at this mess!!) I explained that the rubber bands were a problem, because they were very dry, made her strands brittle, and caused some breakage when I removed and finally had to cut them out. She immediately apologized and said she would try to avoid that. So then I felt bad for wanting to read the woman her rights. Melanie is a young woman, about 23, sweet as pie and always is so warm and nurturing to Baby. How could I be mean when she apologized over and over?

When I was young, my mother, aunts, friends of my mother and other guardian women types would always tell me not to let other people touch my hair. My mother wasn’t super rigid about that, and neither am I. If the teacher had “good hands” and could fashion pretty cornrows or other things, I might not mind. But this? And from a Latina, who should know something about curly styles?  Oh no. As a compromise, I said I would leave scrunchies in Baby’s cubby hole or her bag so that if the ever get possessed with the same idea (I didn’t use those words), at least the equipment will be gentle on her hair. Maybe I’ll leave a multi-purpose comb in there too, and a hint: could you at least part it straight? Sigh.

As for Hubby, I obviously have some more training to do to get him through the basics of brushing and untangling at night!