Before our girls came home I went through this website: http://www.chocolatehairvanillacare.com/ with a fine-toothed comb (hee hee) to come up with some sort of plan of what I was going to be doing! I studied her posts, made a binder of style instructions and photos and practiced techniques on Barbies and Jayla. Most of all, I needed lessons on the care and maintenance of African hair. Everything I have below I learned from this website.
Right now since Jennifer and Jasara’s hair is so short, my main job is keeping it moisturized and promoting growth….I won’t attempt any styles until it gets a bit longer. African hair is different from Caucasian hair in that theirs does not produce as much oil as mine does. That’s why I have to wash my hair every day so it doesn’t look greasy, and that’s why I have to add some form of oil [our African friends call it ‘grease’ :)] to their hair every day to combat the dryness. The first piece of success that I learned from this website was that African hair oil moisturizers/lotions ‘work’ (my determination for that is that they make the hair look good) by sealing in moisture….which means there has to be moisture there to seal in….moisture=WATER. Therefore, STEP 1 as soon as the girls head into the bathroom in the morning to get ready is to spray water onto their hair via a water bottle sprayer (since they bathe at nighttime this is the easiest way to get their hair wet in the morn). We do drape a towel over the girls' shoulders to catch run-off. Justice, who goes through the same hair routine when he wears his longer, prefers to just dunk his head under the bath faucet each morning to wet his hair (since he showers at nighttime).
Morning hair routine Step 1: Spray hair with water or somehow get it wet.here) and we tried it on his hair (which has a very strong/tightly coiled curl) it gave a lasting effect throughout the day. Since Jennifer’s hair is a similar texture to his, I went with the coconut oil for her moisturizer as well and it is working great for what we need it for right now. You actually get this coconut oil in the organic food aisle in your local grocery store!!! Don’t look in the hair aisle – you won’t find it there!
Morning hair routine Step 2: Add oil moisturizer. For Jennifer we use coconut oil.
Since Jasara was malnourished as a baby/toddler, one of the effects is that her hair didn’t grow. So, now that her hair is coming in it is ‘baby hair’ which has a very soft texture and loose curl. Her hair has also never been cut, which I am told by the Ghanaian mommas will help her to keep what they call ‘good hair’….the soft texture and loose curl that she has now….time will tell….it may just be a myth. For her hair, an oil lotion provides just the right amount of moisture to define her little curls and keep her hair from getting dry and frizzing out. The straight coconut oil that I use on Jennifer’s hair would be way too runny and ‘slick’ for her curls. So for Jasara, I just picked an oil lotion that they had in the ethnic aisle at Wal-mart….this is the one that I chose:
Here are the before and after snapshots for Jasara...BEFORE...
For Jasara we wash her hair on Saturdays with this baby head-to-toe wash:
One other thing to mention is that the website mostly recommends organic products which tend to be a bit pricier….for example the coconut oil is $12 per jar. HOWEVER, we are using such small amounts of these that these bottles are lasting a really long time! I am only about half through each of the products I've pictured in this post (other than the head-to-toe wash since we also use that for body wash), and the girls have been home almost 3 months.
Other than the difference in washing, I realized that the daily hair care routine I am doing for Jennifer and Jasara is actually very similar to what I have been doing with Jayla and her wavy curls. The only difference is that for Jayla right now I actually have one more step added in – DETANGLING! Eventually as Jennifer and Jasara’s hair gets longer this will be a big (and from what I’ve read, time-consuming) part of their hair care that will happen after washings and before putting in a style. Here is what I am using on Jayla right now in order from left to right…..water sprayed on, detangler, pick it out, curl defining lotion.
While I am on the subject of body care, just wanted to also mention what we use for skin care for our Ghana kids….once again, African skin needs a lot of moisture added back in….I cannot even explain how this Iowa air sucks their skin SO dry! When we were in the midst of Justice’s adoption one of my African mom-friends gave me a rundown on skin care products. She told me that you cannot go wrong with the Vaseline brand for African skin, so we went with it and it has worked great! This is what we use:
So that’s that! I hope to post more updates as things change in the hair department. I’ll leave you with what it looks like to paint 30 fingers and 30 toes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whew!