I have learned that no two heads of African American hair, or even African hair are the same, then you add in the bi-racial or multi-racial aspect and it's a completely different ball game. What one helpful person says they do to their hair or their child's hair might be OK or even totally wrong for another person's hair. It really is a game of experimentation.
I've been reading a lot about "black" hair. by the way nappy is not considered a nice word kinky is preferred when describing hair texture. I had no idea all the trauma that is associated with African American hair through the decades. I've always thought it was just hair, some is curly, some is straight, some is black/brown/red/blonde/, some is dry and frizzy, some is smooth and supple; you wash it, dry it, comb it, style it. I had no idea. Lucky for Autumn I love her hair just as it is and now that we've got the dry part figured out she'll be able to love it all her life too. I'm not a big one for chemicals and products so this has been quite an adventure and learning experience for me.
In my never-ending search for hair products that are healthy for Autumn's hair and do what they are supposed to do and not be too greasy but keep her hair moisturized and protected I have gone through.....well I'm not going to count it for you, it'd be embarrassing, lets just say a LOT....I may have hit on the magic combination (at least for now). I joined a list filled with parents who are in similar situations and we pick each other's brains. Here's what I've learned: there are many many products out there that are all natural, designed for different textures and curl types, and cost an arm and a leg. There's Blended Cutie, Curly Q, Taliah Waajid, Carol's Daughters, Jamaican Mango and Lime, Pure Africa, Mixed Chicks, Blended Beauty, and so many more my head spins. I just can't bring myself to pay $15-$40 a bottle for one product much less the 3 or 4 that her hair needs! I can't bring myself to spend $5 a bottle on shampoo or conditioner for myself! I've learned that you can make your own blend of things and buy all the ingredients for about what one bottle from these companies cost. Don't get me wrong, those products are fabulous and I've tried samples and they are really great but still, in this economy it's NUTS.
So here's what we use: a detangling comb, then the fine toothed comb, then the denman brush (and here's why!! www.youtube.com/watch?v=J96d3VZHJ3w ). For "goop" as Autumn calls it we use Hawai'ian Silkey which is a spray creme detangler/moisturizer and is fantastic. To do a quick spruce up after a nap or if we need it looking fresh for a picture or outing or something I use a mixture of sweet almond oil and water to just spritz on. Of course when I'm braiding it's a whole different story and I have a spray specifically designed for braids that we use during the week to keep the hair moisturized while it's in the braids and her scalp moisturized so it doesn't get dried out and itchy.
Did you know that I only wash Autumn's hair once a month! I can't go two days without washing mine but the oils in her hair work much differently than my own. If we wash her hair too often it dries out and BREAKS OFF!! Holy cow, the things I have learned. Though I've had so much fun in the learning it hasn't really been stressful. I do use a conditioner in her hair like shampoo once a week in her bath though to keep the frizz under control.
I was told that she should be wearing a satin sleep cap at bedtime. Right, it doesn't stay on her head. So I solved that problem by making a couple of satin pillowcases. She can still have her favorite characters since I use that fabric on the cuff of the case. Much easier to make than the hat.
All over the head braids take a lot of time for a little girl who can't sit still. we tend to just braid the back and then do something fun with the front. I'm getting better at the parting thing, they are more straight and even now. We get a snack of chocolate cereal (puppy chow) and a movie and try to sit. I can now get the back of her head braided and beaded in under an hour, wahoooo. Heaven help me when she asks for cornrows, we may have to head to a salon for the first one so I can see what it entails. Thankfully she loves the beads so we'll stick with what we know for now.