Mekonen's Hair-Do!!

Wow. I keep resolving to write more on the blog, since I'm far off my usual posting schedule. But none the less, when some down time comes, I'm too tired to type out any thoughts! So thanks to all of you still reading even though my posting has been minimal this month!

I have had numerous people over the past several months ask me about Mekonen's hair and how I do it. Since I found myself writing the same things over and over, I figured a blog post was in order instead!
Hair-type is the biggest contributor to the kind of hair-styles you can do on your little one. Just because someone has black hair doesn't mean it can turn into any black hairstyle. Black people have just as many varying textures and kinds of hair as white people. I say all that because even if you follow certain black hair care routines you may get a different result than you were anticipating. This is where lots of reading, asking questions, and pure trial and error come into play before you find the right combo of products and hair-styles for your little one. We live in an all-black neighborhood and I have gleaned some great tips from some of my neighbors. Here's what I've learned over the last few years and through trial and error!

Texture/tightness of curl- Most of my black friends have very thick hair, tiny, tight spiral curls, and a more coarse texture. This kind of hair works best (they say) with more oil based products. I have tried several different black hair care products of that nature on Mekonen and they do not work at all. Mekonen's hair is way more soft than it is coarse and his curls are more loose. Because of this, his hair would not absorb the oil enough and it would almost drip off, or it would leave oil marks wherever he rested his head. Then I switched to a more lotion based oil product and that still wasn't working well.

I tried many products in the black hair care section, and some that were pretty expensive. After lots of trial and error, I found that an over the counter spray in detangler and Garnier Fructis Leave-in-Conditioner works great for Mekonen.

It is usually the case that most kids shouldn't have their hair washed more than once a week. When Mekonen doesn't wear his hair in twists, I need to wash it every two days to keep it fresh and not too frizzy. (I know, seems to be the opposite, but we've found that works best). But, if Mekonen wears his hair in twists, I wash it and twist it once every 1.5 to 2 weeks (sometimes more or less depending on how well he keeps his sleep cap on).

Okay, so now, on the the "how-to" of twists. This style, and the way I do it, can be done on all black hair textures and types, the "look" just might end up different depending on their hair. A black friend of mine came over and basically gave me the lo down.

1. Wash and pat their hair  "dry". Some say to comb it out with a wide toothed comb in the tub or after using detangler, but I've stopped that battle. It hurts his head too much and doesn't seems to make a difference, so why torture him? I do make sure that I scrub his scalp really well with my fingers when I wash it to prevent product build up though. Never rub their hair with the towel, or wrap it up in a towel. Gently squeeze it out, or pat dry.

2. Arm yourself with a good kid movie, a sippy cup, and some snacks. Our process with Mekonen's hair is about an hour long, and it holds for about 2 weeks.
3. Style as soon as possible If it starts drying out too much before you begin using the product and twisting it can create frizz.

4. Soak, I mean soak, their hair with the spray detangler. (The cheapest store brand kind has worked just fine for us).

This is where some things may vary depending on your child's hair texture and the prodcut you are using. This is just what I do.
5. Use a very generous amount of Garnier Fructis Leave-in-Conditioner. I fill almost my entire palm and massage it through his hair. Work the conditioner through for a good 3-5 minutes. Don't skimp on the time. Usually when his hair turns out frizzier than I want, I find it's because I didn't massage the conditioner in enough. Think of coating every single strand.

6. Twisting.
The more temporary style (1-2 weeks)
Start from the bottom and underneath. Take individual sections (however big or small you want) and begin twisting them. If you are using a lock cream you will want to put the lock cream on each twist before twisting. I haven't used lock cream yet and just use the same Garnier conditioner for the twisting, but I don't put more on every single twist. Just as needed. Make sure you twist the hair underneath first and work towards the top layer. Otherwise, you won't get every strand of hair in the twist and it will create a frizzy look.

The more "permanent" style
I have yet to twist in the more permanent way because I'm afraid I won't be able to get it out. The more "permanent"twist style can dread the hair and the only way to get a dread out is to cut it. However, my friends say that you can twist it in this permanent way and just take it out at 2 weeks like the other way, and it'll be fine. With this style of twisting (you mostly use the lock cream for this, although I don't see why you can't use the conditioner), you are creating a twist inside a twist. Again, start from the bottom and underneath, and work your way to the top. Take the section you are wanting to twist and divide it into 2 sections. Twist those 2 sections around each other all the way down. Then take the twist as one section and twist that.
(I have super bad lighting photography skills. So ignore that! )

7. Maintaining the style. The biggest reason this style is successful on Mekonen is because of the sleep cap. If Mekonen doesn't wear a sleep cap, the style will only look good for about 2 days. We use the adult size caps because of how much hair Mekonen has. The child size ones are too small to fit over his hair and cover his whole head. We have him wear a silk cap every nap and bedtime, and also put it under his snow hat. He does well keeping it on most of the time and he looks so darn cute! When you take the cap off the hair will be smashed down, just carefully and lightly "fluff" the twists out. Daily touch-ups can include twisting front pieces that might have frizzed by twisting them again with conditioner or whatever product you are using. If I have a hair serum, I often put a good amount of that in my hand and lightly finger it through his hair.

 The smashed down after sleep cap look. Haha. Just fluff it out and it's fine! 
8. Most black people I've talked to say not to permanently dread or lock your child's hair because it's unhealthy. They say only keep hairstyles for about 2 weeks, then take it down. If you are doing a tight hairstyle (like braids and such with a girl) that you should alternate between a tight style for 2 weeks and then a "free" style like leaving it big and curly with a headband or something for the next 2 weeks to let the hair "breathe" and the scalp recover.


Anonymous said...

Thank you! We are on the waitlist for Ethiopia and haircare is my biggest worry!

Carrie said...

Thanks for posting! I've been meaning to ask you what you did to his hair to make it look so cute. I do twists with my son's hair, but they don't look good for very long. Hopefully doing what you are doing will help. Where did you get the sleep cap? I usually only see them for girls, but his looks great for a boy!

urrutiafamily said...

I wanna know where you got his sleep cap too. I've only found the 1/2 wrap that you tie. His hair always looks great!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Such a great post!! You described it so well! I missed your posts and was so happy to see you were back!!!
Love, JO

Rebekah Zenn said...

He is so darn cute! Cuter every picture I see :) Thanks for posting this- very informational. I never realized it took so much effort to create those amazing black hairstyles!