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#1 of 7 Old 07-14-2008, 03:07 AM - Thread Starter
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DS9, who is AA, has a head full of wonderful tiny spiral curls. It's strong, and thick and just beautiful. Last fall he decided that he likes how it looks long and has only gotten it cut twice since then. He wants an Afro -- no braids or plaits, no twists or locs (he'd look fantastic with locs but it's not my hair). It's now about 4 inches long if pulled straight, but obviously much less than that when allowed to curl up.

This summer he's attending a camp where he runs arounds and sweats all day, swims in a pool twice a day, and goes kayaking (including rolling the kayak) in a muddy seaweedy lake. He also crams his head into a rock climbing helmet every week day. Oh, and he leans against the back of the seat on the bus. On the weekends he plays ice hockey which involves another helmet and sometimes goes to the beach.

If he slathers his hair with conditioner, combs it and then rinses it out in the shower, he can pick it out and it actually looks decent, not perfect because he wants to do it himself, but decent -- however by the time he gets off the bus, or out of the ocean, or off the hockey rink, he looks like the poster child for ending transracial adoption, and stays that way until he gets another shower and no-poo hairwash. If we go grocery shopping or something after camp I cringe because I imagine that every single person who sees him thinks I'm a terrible mother, but I can't imagine saying "I know you love hockey and rock climbing and kayaking, but I want you to go to art camp instead because it'll be good for your hair".

In addition, his hair is getting dryer over time so even with all the conditioning (we don't actually do it every day, about 1/2 the time I just let him go to camp with it matted, because after all, it'll be messed up before anyone sees him anyway).

I think what I need is some kind of leave in conditioner that I can use to spruce him up, and that will keep it moisturized. Any suggestions? Neither of us can tolerate fragrances, so Carol's Daughter is out. I used to have this wonderful (probably completely chemical) spray in detangler for him, that worked like a charm, but I can't find it any more -- it was called something like "Soft-'n'-free-'n'-pretty".
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#2 of 7 Old 07-15-2008, 11:50 AM
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don't know and trying to think of something. but one question comes up for me. during his activities, is there something he could cover his hair with to avoid debris and excessive drying. that could lead to breakage.

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#3 of 7 Old 07-15-2008, 11:12 PM
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I'm afraid I don't have a lot of advice... DS is too little to have much of an opinion about his hair. so, we keep it really short in the summer (approx 2 with the clippers) and just a little longer than that in the winter.
Partially it's about keeping his hair looking good, partially it's about establishing a relationship with the black men in the barbershop for him.

Right now, I'm happy with coconut oil for his hair, with a little sunscreen on top to keep it from burning when I think about it. Before this, I was happy with Indian Hemp Oil. I seem to like a product for just longer than 1 jar/bottle. I become unhappy with the result shortly after I buy and start using the second jar.

Good luck! I'm eager to hear what others suggest!
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#4 of 7 Old 07-16-2008, 02:52 AM
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Your "posterchild against transracial adoptions" crack made me laugh! If we ever meet in the checkout line, I promise not to judge you for your DS's wacky 'fro, if you promise not to judge me for my DD's mullet from hell. I spent half of junior high school wishing for hair like DD's, but grew up to be glad that that wish wasn't granted. (I'm waiting for a curl to show up on her head, though, so I'll know what to do with it.)

Like BMJ, I've been trying to think of something to suggest, esp. re leave ins. For me, oil, oil, oil is the key.

As his hair gets longer, the ends are older, drier, more porous and fragile. That may be the cause of some of the new dryness that you're seeing. The chlorine/pondwater/sweat/sun combo from camp, and the picking out of the resulting mats would only make his hair more fragile, porous and dry. Is he rinsing his hair well after he gets out of the pool/pond? That would help.

I tell ya, though, my mind keeps coming back to the thought that his hair really needs to be braided (or twisted maybe?) if he's going to keep it on the longer side, considering all of his activities. I'm sorry, I know that your DS doesn't want to wear braids, so this is post isn't really helpful, and accordingly, it will self destruct in 60 seconds. While the clock is counting down, though, please forgive me for being blunt -- AA hair loose and free at camp ain't easy; heck, in my case it wasn't possible at all. Your DS may have to realize that keeping his longer hair healthy and presentable is going to require more effort (to keep the length) and/or compromise (by cutting it or braiding it).

Have more thoughts, but am too tired to force them into coherent sentences. Will post or pm later with them, if you'd like.
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#5 of 7 Old 07-24-2008, 07:09 PM
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Kudos to you for encouraging your son to wear his hair the way he wants to; That's a difficult step for many parents, especially those who have very different hair than their children.

In that situation, I think I'd empower my son to do more toward his own haircare. Clearly he has an opinion and he wants to make it look a certain way, so I'd talk to someone who *does* wear an afro, for instance, and ask for advice. My thought is that he probably needs to be putting some kind of moisturizer in his hair, and wearing a swim cap... but I really can't say with absolute certainty as I'm not looking at his head. Have you tried a natural oil moisturizer, something with little/no fragrance (i.e. olive oil)?

He may also just have to come to terms with the fact that if he wants to let his hair grow out in the long term, for the short term cornrows may be the best option for him. If you put it in terms of, "Having to wash and comb your hair constantly is so damaging that your hair will probably not grow as well or stay as healthy if you choose not to braid it over the summer," it might be more palatable to him.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#6 of 7 Old 07-27-2008, 12:28 AM
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What about him using some olive oil, just thinking out loud, would it spritz out of a bottle like hairpray? I haven't tried that yet, but it might work. Or some detangler/conditioner, even if he doesn't pick it out it would help with the dryness. And a really cool hat, maybe something like a rasta style (could even get him to like the idea of dreads, since you like that too.)
What I don't recommend is having him slather an entire tub of dread wax and moisturizer on his head, like my 2yo DD did yesterday while I cooked dinner. It would keep the tangles from happening, but from personal experience, not even Dawn dishsoap will get it out. I figure it will last about 10 days.
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#7 of 7 Old 07-27-2008, 02:57 AM
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::groan:: Two year olds do the most amazing things to themselves, don't they? I hope you at least took pictures for blackmail purposes later in life. (Note: It's a joke! I neither endorse nor condone the blackmailing of children.)

Olive oil does not spray weill out of regular spray bottles, but any store that sells kitchen gadgets should have a spray bottle designed especially for olive oil. It certainly would cut down on the time factor.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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