Keeping the ‘Do

Now that Baby’s hair is long enough to style almost every day, I feel like I should make an effort to send her out-of-doors putting her best foot forward. A few weeks ago, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with brushing and parting her hair every morning. Hubby and I both have jobs with frequent writing deadlines, so minutes in the morning are precious.

I decided to do one style a week. I part Baby hair in the way that I want the night before, then brush in shea butter and a small dab of coconut oil onto each section. Then I plait (platt, if you are Jamaican) each section. Baby’s ends are sometimes too slick to simply roll into place and tuck under the braid itself to secure it, so I double the braid over and secure it with a small Goody Ouchless band. In the morning, I let down the sections and put a light amount of Curly Q milkshake on each section, then brush it and put it into a ponytail holder. Each section is already neatly parted, so it saves me about 5 to 10 minutes. I’m sure that’s a trick every Black mom has used since forever, but hey. It’s my first time, so I thought I’d share my results. Here are a few shots with Baby’s hair in pretty much the same sections on different days. I changed the ponytail holders to match her outfits.


Parting and "platting" the sections to prep for the morning.















It's a pink day.














Looking preppy in her white polo shirt and blue ponytail holders.






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.

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.


Which way is straight?


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!

Fertile Ground

She let me style it this morning.

Oh boy, dear readers. Look at this mane of hair! This morning I managed—just barely—to style Baby’s hair in a way that shows off her adorable face, and I did it without provoking an all-out battle. How does it look?

I can only show the top, because her dad is uneasy about her images being on the Internet. I think this shot shows just how lush and ample her new head of hair is, and how much work is ahead of me!

I tried and tried to get a 3/4 view shot from the back that would show off the twists (nicely done, if I might add), but which would conceal her face. I got one, but for whatever reason my computer keeps rotating the image. One would have to do neck contortions to see the photo, and I don’t think it’s worth it.

Although Baby has a beautiful head of hair, she wasn’t blessed with a mother who can pull off creative, intricate hair styles. Just enough to be presentable and neat. My strengths are reading children’s books in animated ways, coming up with cultural activities and devising art projects. Every now and then, though, the mood will hit and we’ll come up with something cute and neat. And I’ll share what I can without making her Dad irate with me!  😉

But Is It Manageable?

After Easter, a fresh start.

Believe me readers, I meant no harm when I cut Baby’s hair last year. The idea was to even out the length and start afresh, after the front and sides had thinned out dramatically.

Now I have a feeling that Raven Locks and I are on the cusp of trauma, drama and melodrama on her journey with her hair. Since last Easter, my daughter has grown an afro so thick and black, that I can’t even see her scalp anymore. Now I have to employ several tactics if I want to get through a washing or styling session sans the all-out chase around our house—French Connection style—ending in a wrestling match, with her limbs swinging everywhere! I lay out some toys and books while detangling and combing, or put a dab of product into Baby’s chubby palm and let her rub it into her hair herself. Sometimes, I set her up to brush her teeth—she now has about 16—while I stand behind her and gently comb or brush the coils into smooth shiny loops.

Months ago, I thought I could resume putting in ponytail holders. Not so. She’s at the age where she knows how to remove them, and she has taken to putting them into her mouth. I suppose I really will have to wait until she is three years old to safely use them in her hair again without them posing a potential choking hazard. But waiting just delays the inevitable. At some point, I’ll have to figure out a way to manage her mane as it gets longer. And fuller.

It's almost as warm as a winter hat!

The upshot to all of this is that I didn’t have to do much to Baby’s hair while it grew back, and I expect future maintenance to be fairly easy. I used products from Curly Q specifically the Curlie Cutie Cleansing Cream, Coconut Dream Conditioner, Moist Curls Moisturizer and Curly Q Custard. I started with the sample kit and loved them all so much that I ordered all the full-sized components. At nights, I kept her hair moist and largely tangle-free with a light shea butter moisturizer cream from Cantu. I still maintain that routine these days, brushing or coming a dime-size amount into her hair before reading her a story and settling her into bed.

As I listen at her door as she drifts off, I know it’s just the calm before the storm in the morning when I’ll have to brush her hair again.

The Trouble with Tresses

Normally, Hubby and I disagree about the amount of effort that should go into styling Baby’s hair. I think it’s essential for her to look cute and presentable at all times, and as you can tell from the photo of her hair supplies, I take this responsibility at least halfway seriously. This will pretty much be the extent of what I can manage, although it’s nothing compared to the system that Nikki over at Beads, Braids & Beyond has come up with.

Hubby is not as interested in styling Baby’s hair as I am. On the few occasions when I’ve left the house early for work and left her morning grooming to him, I’ve come home to look at her outfit and hair and wonder, ‘Why does Baby look like a hobo?’

But we do agree on one thing: Baby’s hair has failed to recover from the rapid thinning that I discussed a few weeks ago, and something should be done about it. Hubby was holding Baby the other day before settling her in her crib when he looked at her head and asked me when we were going to cut her hair. I muttered something that sounded like, “After Easter. I want her to have some hair for Easter pictures.” You heard me right. I am considering cutting off all my daughter’s hair and giving it a fresh start. Her receded hairline is not responding to her new regimen. I lightly brush shea butter and judicious amount of infant and toddler hair care products through her hair. I rub it onto her scalp. I’ve cut back on washing it, and I avoid over styling it. I leave it loose at times, just putting clips in the front or a headband, and sometimes I let it fly free with no ornaments at all. Those are Afro days, and I try to dress her in an earthy-looking outfit to match. But her hair is still very thin on both sides of her head from the front right up to her ears.

I know what you all must be thinking. Black women cherish their hair and want it to grow. Why in the world would I cut off my daughter’s locks? It’s a big deal for me, too. When Hubby first suggested it, I thought he was totally clueless and I think I told him to go soak his head! But I’ve been asking around about this, and what I’ve found is that several women from various cultures swear by it. There is the African-American hair dresser who did it to her daughter, a Dominican salon owner who heard it from an Argentine and then shaved her baby girl’s head, and an Indian woman who said her mother, apparently following a Brahmin Hindu tradition, cut her hair. In all cases, she little girls were between one and two years old, just like Baby, and their hair began to grow back quickly and thicker than it had started out.

The African-American hairdresser told me that her daughter, who is not biracial, had sparse, thin hair for a while, despite her efforts to cultivate it and get it to grow. After she shaved her head, it grew back long and thick, and she showed me before and after photos of her darling girl. The Dominican hair dresser said it corrected her daughter’s receding hairline. The Indian woman said it is customary for those girls to have their heads shaved shortly after they turn one.

So women all over the world do this, it seems. But only Black women have been skeptical about it. Most of them tell me not to worry, to give Baby’s hair time to transition and recover naturally. One friend from church said to forget those other women, because it only worked for them. When Hubby and I had friends over for dinner on St. Valentine’s Day and I brought it up, Little Sister and her friend Selena shook their heads. Selena was a little wide-eyed and said if I cut Baby’s hair, it might grow in weaker and thinner. Little Sister flat out says ‘Don’t do it!’

But I’m at the point where I’m tired of seeing strands come out in Baby’s wide-toothed comb. In the tub. On my clothes. On her clothes. Her hair is not falling out in clumps, but I still hate to see it everywhere. I feel like breaking a cultural taboo and trying what women all over the globe have done for their daughters—start afresh. And if those tales of thick, wavy new growth are true, I might just have to get more hair ornaments for Baby’s new mane!

Hair-Raising Issues

Every morning and evening a minor skirmish erupts between Baby and me over whether I should style her hair or not.  Baby is now 15 months, and she has never been cool with it, even though her hair is very soft and generally easy to comb. In the past, she would try to squiggle out of my lap, crying incessantly as I tried to part her hair and twist the sections into what I grew up calling ‘Chinie bumps’. (These days, people call them Bantu knots.) Although Baby is biracial, and her hair texture is fine and downy—still very babylike—managing her mane is not a snap. If I don’t twist it or spray some detangler on it occasionally, it will become very knotty.

Hubby didn’t always make it easy. Sometimes he would come into the nursery or our bedroom, just to see ‘what the ruckus’ was all about. Baby can be a real Daddy’s Girl sometimes, so she would occasionally look up at him, pout and squeeze out a huge teardrop or two. And once or twice, she reached her chubby arms up to him, awaiting rescue. He would make comments that made hair combing sound like an ordeal. ‘Oh! Here comes the comb!’ or ‘It’s almost over.’ I would patiently explain that if I didn’t twist her hair at night, then come morning her hair would be twice as knotty and the real battle would ensue!  Despite her protests, and Hubby’s remarks, I kept working on her hair. I began to use a moisturizer from Just for Me, just a dab at night to make twisting it easier or so her brush wouldn’t get snagged in her hair in the morning.

The other day she did the funniest thing on the changing table just before bedtime. After I had lotioned her up, diapered her and tucked her into her pajamas, she rubbed her palms together and ran her hands through her hair! Could it be that she was imitating the moisturizing ritual? Too cute.

Now something has happened to make me worry: her edges are thinning out. At first, I hoped that she was passing through a phase where her hair was changing from slick and downy to thick and wavy. But it’s hard not to notice the change, especially in photos like these.

How long would this hair loss continue? Hubby took up arms against the “chemicals” in Just for Me, going online to research the ingredients and asking me over and over if putting “that stuff” in her hair was necessary. As it turns out, the information he found verified that Just for Me is safe for kids. But I wanted to halt the thinning (and hopefully grow a thick head of hair like her mom), so I went looking for answers. Her pediatrician said she might be passing through a phase, but that we could consult a dermatologist if we were really worried. Another black mom told me that her daughters also had delicate edges, and that sometimes using hair bands and wool hats in the winter also tugging and shedding on that delicate area. I also found an article on the Naturally Curly Web site about common mistakes that women make while managing biracial childrens’ hair. Some of my missteps were in that article, like washing Baby’s hair too often and using mineral oil (initially to clear up her cradle cap) for too long. I re-read the “Just for Me” product labels and sure enough, the moisturizer contains mineral oil. So, I’m now on the hunt for hair care products infused with avocado, olive and jojoba oils, which are also formulated especially for babies and toddlers. I’ll probably end up using Curly Qs’ products, because I’ve seen good reviews about them in a couple of different places. Hubby, bless his heart, remains wary about commercial hair care products for babies. He would probably be just as happy if I let her hair lock up if doing so would ensure peaceful bedtime and morning hair rituals. The only problem with that is—we are not Rastafarians!

And anyway, I think Baby and I have come to a nice understanding on this issue. The other night, after I got her into her p.j.’s, I lay her on her tummy and began to twist her hair. She didn’t try to scramble away or howl for the whole neighborhood to hear. She just lay there quietly while I talked to her, working as quickly and gingerly as I could, until I patted the last twist into place. Then I picked her up, gave her a final squeeze for the day and set her in her crib. She smiled up at me before I walked away and turned off the light. Part of me gloated, saying ‘Ha! Take that skeptical Hubby!’ But the bigger part of me simply enjoyed the ceasefire.

* Quick note: There is a new Web site in the blog roll, called Beads, Braids & Beyond. It follows a mom of two biracial daughters (and I think the mom herself is biracial) as she manages their hair. She is a hairstyling artisan and comes up with quite a few creative looks. (I mourn for my daughter at times. The best I can do at the moment is pigtails, because I’m all thumbs when it comes to cornrows!)