I'm pretty much a once-a-week bath-giver. I could claim this is because I heard too much soap and water can dry out her skin and hair, but let's review my motto: above all, I'm lazy. And besides, the dog washes her on average twelve times a day.
I usually use Pantene for Women of Color conditioner. Occasionally I'll use a natural jojoba shampoo I got from Northern Essence (they also have great diaper rash cream safe for cloth diapers and an amazing orange cream lip butter) and/or an Herbal Essences conditioner for curly hair that some random lady in Target told me to get. I prefer the Pantene, though.
Here is her hair shortly after a bath. MUST. SQUEEZE. CURLS.
Here it is later the same day. As you can see, her afro is much bigger than her baby's.
I usually don't put in any leave-in conditioner because it seems like it would build up, although I have used natural oils. But would some product help keep her curls detangled and un-frizzed longer? I may try some Curly Qs hair milk as some of you recommended. But for now I usually let her go the day of her bath with her hair loose and by the time I comb it all out, it's tangled enough that we'd both prefer I not do that every day.
I usually do her hair in the morning when I'm doing a diaper change/getting her dressed. I have her sit on the changing pad facing away from me—it's on a semi-low chest thing so she's sitting around my waist level, looking out the window. I put about five thousand books and things up there for her to play with. They are never enough.
To wet her hair to comb through I have a spray bottle filled with water, light olive oil, a couple drops tea tree oil. I know the olive oil seems weird but it seems to work and be cheaper and less buildup than trying to wet all that hair with a product. It just sucks the moisture so I use a lot, so it seems like I'd go through a lot of detangler-type product—wouldn't I? What do you all use?
I have also used virgin unrefined coconut oil. It's nice because you can use it on hair, scalp, and skin and it's safe for cloth diapers. And it makes her smell like a macaroon.
Mmmmm . . . macaroons . . . What? Oh yes, hair.
Once I have her hair combed out with a wide-tooth comb I start parting with a finer comb and the rat-tail end of it. Be thankful this is not a video or you would fast-forward: I am slow. But getting better. It's actually easier with slightly longer hair. If necessary I'll use alligator clips to hold sections of hair until I get them in puffs/ponytails. I will sometimes spray a leave-in conditioner on the puffs and the part that's left free in back.
I know. I said I don't use a leave-in. Except when I do. I'm a rebel against my own cause.
By now she'll have launched all the books across the room, dropped the combs into the black hole behind the changing table, drooled all over the hair clips, and started shaking her head no no no no no no until she's dizzy—we're pretty much done. On the rare occasion she's up for a little more sitting, I may braid the puffs. Often I'll leave puffs for one day and the next day I just have to comb the back and redo the puffs, which makes it more likely she'll sit long enough for me to braid them.
This is the beauty of having her hair styled: it's much easier to spruce up quickly. Which helps me get out of the house with her in less than the 2.75 hours it seems to take these days. And I am fairly obsessive about her hair looking good in public—I don't want to be that mom with the unkempt child, especially an unkempt black child, and especially especially white mom with unkempt black child. We all have bad hair days, but I'm too aware of how much attention is paid to my child and how people might judge her if her hair looks out of control, unfortunately all the more so for a minority child.
Also, I have a raging ego that feels sad when I appear incompetent and happy when complimented. There, I said it. Now you confess something.
Please leave a comment with your hair product, styling, and maintenance tips! (Especially if you think I could clearly really, really use them . . .) As your reward for reading this ridiculously long post and its excruciating detail useful only for my husband's reference in case of my untimely death (I'll file it with the insurance policy, honey), here is a photo of Anna whining. Yes, Mom, she really does.
Nooooooo more hairdoing!