The mere thought of putting a comb through your child’s hair and having her go through that much pain is heartbreaking for any parent. But, hairdressing doesn’t have to be traumatic.
As a young girl, I DREADED going to the hair dresser’s. The old ladies combed my hair like it wasn’t attached to a human head and they pulled the braids so tight that I couldn’t raise my eyebrows,let alone smile, without wincing in pain. Don’t even get me started on the smell ( the origin of which I shall not disclose) that I had to contend with week in, week out. Happy days! Relief ,however,came at the age of 10 in the form of chemicals that I used to “relax” my very “uptight” hair.
As a new mom to a little girl, I intend to keep her hair in its natural curly state for as long as I can because we all know hair-relaxers only offer a temporary solution with a promise of permanent damage in the long run (my opinion). Although I haven’t plucked up the courage to eliminate relaxers from my life permanently, I have higher hopes for my little girl.
That said, here are a few pointers for caring for African hair
1. Always Moisturize: There are so many types on the market, but, the only one that works for us in our household is a mixture of good quality extra virgin olive oil and some water. This mixture provides the right amount of moisture without feeling too cloying. I always put this on my daughter’s hair before I comb it. This ensures a pain-free grooming experience every time. If you want to have a go at making this yourself, I would advise you get a spritz/spray bottle like this
2. Keep in braids or plaits as often as possible : The natural African hair is very sensitive to the elements and I personally feel that the easiest and most effective way to protect it from harsh weather is by braiding or plaiting it. Too much humidity in tropical regions will cause it to go frizzy and dry,cold air in temperate regions will leave it bone-dry and brittle. Plaiting or covering the hair when going out protects the hair form these elements
3. Wash regularly: The watch word here is ‘regularly’. This is a no-brainer because you obviously need to eliminate all the build-up of products, oil and dirt that has accumulated on the hair. What you don’t want to do, however, is to wash it so often that you strip your scalp of all the natural oils that it produces. I would advise wash every 12 days or so and condition every week.
4. Condition often, to keep it soft : Like I mentioned above, conditioning and intense scalp treatment are the most important management methods for African hair. Soft hair equals pain-free combing and less kinks. Or peppercorns as some would say.
5. Never comb when bone dry: This is a rule I stick to religiously. I never comb my daughter’s hair when it is dry. The pain is unbearable and frankly,unnecessary. I always spray her hair with the oil&water mixture before I put a comb or brush in it.
6. Love your hair!: This should go without saying but seeing how rampant the issue of self-hate is within the African community, I feel obliged to mention it. It is undisputed that our hair can be a bit high-maintenance,but if you love something, you will do whatever you can to make it work.