'Do you grow dreads?' a dark shop owner asked when I was there with my 1-year-old daughter. Oh dear! That was a definite hint. The underlying message was clear: 'do something about that hair!' And I was still so proud of myself that, as a white mother, I could twist my daughter's frizzy hair. Only it had been in there for about 5 weeks and the twists started to look suspiciously like dreads.
We are now almost 7 years later and I have become wiser in the field of frizzy hair through damage and shame. In this blog I share my bloopers. I have two goals in mind:
1. Save white mothers with dark children from the same bloopers
2. Dark mothers call for a little more understanding and patience with mothers like me ;-)
As with all new things, I started my frizzy hair adventure with all kinds of assumptions about how it works with frizzy hair. Naturally, I started reading about frizzy hair and trying out different products. But I was really a rookie. And to make matters even more confusing, I quickly noticed that everyone has their own science when it comes to frizzy hair. So I got all kinds of conflicting advice.
I share with you the main misunderstandings and assumptions.
Misunderstanding 1. You don't have to comb frizzy hair every day
When Anna was handed over from the social worker in South Africa, she impressed upon us that we should comb her hair every day. Then Anna would get used to pulling her hair. I promised her.
But I didn't find that so easy. I had no idea what I was getting into.. I stand in front of the mirror for my hair for 1 minute every day and I combed it through in 15 seconds. This was different cake. Anna often cried when combing at first. This is one of the reasons why I 'forgot' to comb it regularly. And above all, I had no idea how to comb it properly without it hurting so much.
That it should not be necessary every day (if it is worn loosely) is a big misconception. Yes, it takes a lot of time.. But if you don't comb it daily, the hair will become brittle and brittle because it gets tangled. The effect is that it does not grow evenly. In addition, it will not look nice and unkempt if it is not combed. If you don't comb it for a long time, those tangles will also come in.
Misunderstanding 2. You can't comb through frizzy hair
That's what I thought. I mainly combed the top with an afro comb. Until I read in a book how it really had to be. I learned to divide the hair into quarters or eights and to comb them out section by section. From bottom to top. It took me fifteen minutes a day. Pfff... I didn't have that time in the morning. It was time for me to learn to braid. Tip: comb it through before your child goes to sleep. Divide it into eight parts and comb it all the way through, section by section. When you're done with a part, twist it and wrap a rubber band around it. Then a scarf around it to prevent it from fluffing.
Misconception 3. You can leave braided or twisted hair for a few months
Well, I'm cured of that too. Partly because of the not too subtle hint from the store owner, but mainly because the hair becomes dry, brittle and dirty if you leave it in too long. That makes it a disaster to pull off. I now also see that the hair looks much more beautiful and well-groomed if you do not leave haircuts in place for too long. Sounds really stupid, but I didn't see it that way in the beginning. Over the years I have become more and more critical. Apparently that needs to grow. I leave a twist haircut for about two weeks. Braided hair 3 to 4 weeks.
Misunderstanding 4. You can put endless amounts of fat, oil or shea butter in frizzy hair
In the beginning I stuffed Anna's hair with grease. The more, the better I thought, because it was very dry. If you notice that the hair remains dry, then you apparently do not have a good product. It makes no sense to add more than that. So look for a product that works better and use that product in moderation. With too much oil or grease, you suffocate the hair and scalp. The effect is that it actually becomes less healthy and grows less well. Also pay close attention to what you put in the hair. Make sure you don't use cheap fats that contain, for example, vaseline or perfume. I am a big fan of Mireilles products myself. Anna's hair is very beautiful. The Silky Shea is perfect for keeping the hair soft, supple and healthy and the No More Knots to comb out the hair easily.
Misunderstanding 4. If you have braided frizzy hair, you don't have to take care of it anymore
wrong. The scalp still needs care. You often also see small white spots on the scalp. Use a spray rather than a cream to care for the scalp. Let your child sleep at night with a silk or satin scarf. Then the haircut will remain beautiful and without fluff for the longest. You can buy these at the store or order them online. Don't use pantyhose, as many people do. It can actually damage her. The Scalp Conditioning Spray works wonders against the dry spots and flakes on the scalp.
Misunderstanding 5. Frizzy hair hairdressers all know a lot about frizzy hair
The first time I had Anna's hair braided (when I couldn't do it myself) was at a salon in South Africa. I didn't know what normal was, so I thought the pulling and crying was part of it. I felt like a terrible mother because I watched my 1,5 year old daughter cry all the time. The hair was beautiful. But then the trouble started. Because it was pulling at her scalp so much, Anna started pulling at her hair. Even if your child does not pull, bald spots often occur at the hairline on the forehead when the hairdresser has braided too tightly. So don't let it happen. Furthermore, I often hear of hairdressers using a hot straightener to make it easier to comb and braid. Not necessary so I wouldn't let it happen as the heat damages the hair.
Misconception 6. Frizzy hair stays healthier if you wear it loose
If I leave Anna's hair in an afro for more than four days, it gets drier and more brittle. If I have braided or twisted it, and I take it out after two or three weeks, it feels wonderfully soft and cared for. The hair remains better protected.
Well, they were.. My bloopers. I hope there are some instructive ones for you.
Finally, I have a request for experienced 'frizzy-haired mothers': if you see a child with neglected frizzy hair and a white mother is walking next to it, have a little compassion. Simply address the mother in question and give her a friendly tip, rather than just a disapproving look. She won't learn from that look. I've gotten few tips over the years. Fortunately, I am assertive enough to ask questions. Every now and then I got disapproving looks and patronizing. During the frizzy hair festival in the Bijlmer, a few ladies showed me how to do it. They took Anna from me and did a haircut on her. Very kindly meant, but I could do that myself. Moreover, I would rather have received new advice. Then I would have learned something from it.
So here's the invitation to give me advice about the hairstyles that I show in this blog. And maybe you want to add a few more misunderstandings?! This is how we all become wiser.