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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Biggest. Compliment. Ever.

It was a good day. My mother-in-law stopped by. Grandma P was looking elegant and ravishing as always. She is a very classy, well-groomed lady.  Suddenly, she said (completely unsolicited) "Man, you take good care of JJ's hair". Biggest. Compliment. Ever.

Or so I thought. Until she said to me: "Could you do MY hair like that?". That's an even bigger compliment.

JJ's hair *was* looking pretty good if I do say so myself- I'd taken out all those fuzzy front flat twists and replaced with about 60 new regular two-strand twists and added beads. The back twists were still fine, so I left them (more on this style later, but here is a picture):

Cute, even if a little fuzzy from playing...
Snaps from Snapaholics arrived - yay!

I could not believe my ears. At that moment Grandma P's hair was in a style I hadn't seen before; short, black, and straight with red highlights. Honestly, I can rarely keep up with what she's doing with her hair. She changes it often (wigs, relaxers, braid extensions, weaves), and we see her once or twice a month, so it's almost always something new.

I knew enough to know her current style was a wig, and I was ***dying*** to see her natural hair because I so rarely get to see it. So I just came out and asked "How long is your hair now?". She whipped off her wig and shook out her hair. It was almost shoulder-length when stretched. I was so excited to see her natural hair. She told me she'd taken a break (since November) from relaxing and she'd experienced some good growth (including her hairline which had taken some abuse from the braid extensions she had in before her most recent weave). It was the first time we've ever talked about "natural hair" together.

She ran to the bathroom and co-washed. Well, she didn't call it that, but that's what she did.... I felt nervous about approaching detangling so I offered her my widest comb and she did a quick comb-through. Her hair felt wonderful and soft. It has a great curl pattern - beautiful small round coils. I could not contain my excitement about how nice and healthy it felt and made sure to tell her so.

We set to work together to speed up the impromptu styling session; she did two-strand twists in the front and I did the back. I was kind of relieved that she took responsibility for the hairline as I wasn't sure exactly what direction to twist to frame her face. She ended up twisting towards the front to create bangs. We made fairly small twists - about 120 altogether. It took an hour. We were both very pleased.

I don't think Grandma P would ever give me permission to put up a picture of her face on the internet (!!!) but here is the back of her twisted hair.

Sorry, this pic is a little out of focus. It looked fine in the tiny camera display...
Anyway it was a **huge** moment for me! 

I feel like an invisible wall has come down between us. We've always gotten along, it's not that, but for her to ask me to do her hair was incredibly empowering for me and has definitely brought us even closer. And JJ was so excited to see Grandma with hair just like hers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Really different curl patterns on one little head - what to do?

Here is little brother K just after his last hair cut (November 2010):

It was a real barbershop haircut. He cried a bit and we fed him 6 little boxes of raisins to distract him. Daddy D and I were both a bit overwhelmed. Daddy said a firm no to "marking" (I think that's what it's called - when the barber cuts the hair very close to look super neat around the forehead). Anyway it wasn't awful but it wasn't the happiest experience either. 

Daddy D has locs and would like K to have locs too.  Daddy D's family doesn't love Daddy D's locs and they have definitely expressed their disapproval of locs on a 2-year old.  What to do? We could keep his hair short. But since I am learning so much about caring for longer hair I figure why not try longer hair for him too? We live in a very diverse city and boys we see have a wide range of hair styles including braids, twists, afros and locs along with shorter hair. 

My challenge right now is that K's hair is getting longer, but looks, well, **messy**. 

See the different curl patterns? Don't worry, it's a plastic drill.
A slightly different angle...
His hair LOOKS like it's all different lengths. It's really not though, it's just that his hair ranges from 4b-type springy coils to large curls on the top of his head that are almost....straight!?!?!?

What to do?

99 (give or take) freestyle twists

JJ's last style (cornrows and box braids) stayed in longer than expected due to other life events, so her hair has had a bit of a styling break. A good thing, but I was eager to take on something ambitious this weekend.

I started with clean hair, slightly stretched from a night in banded ponytails. The complete style evolved over a few hair sessions over the weekend. This is how I did it:

1.  Starting at the back, I gathered a small section of hair, spritzed with water and a little detangler, and finger detangled (her hair was thoroughly detangled before putting the banded ponytails in so this wasn't difficult). I made two-strand twists that were smaller than usual - about 1/2 cm in diameter (about 1/5 inch). I continued, 1 small section at a time until the back was done. There were about 75 total twists in the back. I used a lovely shea/aloe/coconut oil mix that I made using a recipe from Naturally Leslie (see this post.)

2. I thought about continuing with regular two strand twists for the front of her hair but:
a) I wanted her hair to be out of her face without needing barrettes or elastics, and
b) I'm a little artsy and felt like departing from straight parts.

So I did curved flat two-strand twists kind of all over the place with my main goal being to keep her hair out of her face.
Started the flat twists at the front, but took a
break by adding in a knotted ponytail 
Later continuing the flat twists in the front
(same PJs, different day)

Look! JJ's dressed!!
(but see PJs in background?)
All done!
In the end, I feel okay with it, but think that cornrows would have looked much neater and less fuzzy than the flat twists at the front. I may take them out and re-do with cornrows.
Later in the week -pigtails
The flat twists are getting pretty fuzzy (day 4).

Tools: water, detangler, comb, shea/aloe/coconut oil mix (see link, above)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Evolving Styles

Some weeks, especially when life gets super-busy, JJ's styles kind of evolve over the course of the week; with a little hair time every few days instead of one big sit-down.

The starting point: Last week's cornrows and twists:

Later on in the week I added more cornrows and turned the braided pigtails into bantu knots:

The next day I added more cornrows and twists:

A few days later (forgot to take a picture) - the twists became twist-outs.

And then - the twist-outs in the back turned into box braids. I tried the half moon parts I read about at Beads, Braids & Beyond.  I did my half moons upside down, but it had relatively the same effect (mmm, slept-on hair, braids have curled up, but you get the idea). JJ wanted lots of barrettes, as you can see. 

It's been another busy weekend and I think the box braids (back) and cornrows (front) will stay for a bit. I'm going to add some beads to the box braids to get them hanging down a bit better.

Which reminds me - my snaps and beads from Snapaholics should arrive any day now - I'll post some updated pictures as this style continues to evolve...