I've learned that African hair is fragile and brittle and dries out easily. For that reason, we shampoo Marguerite's hair very infrequently, but we condition it often, every day if possible. A wash with conditioner-only is known as a co-wash and should be done much more frequently than a shampoo.
I've also learned that different products work for different hair textures--and among Africans there is quite a wide range of hair textures, as there is among Caucasians. I've also made mistakes along the way, trying to find the right products for Marguerite.
One thing I've certainly found is that the natural products are not only better for Marguerite's hair and scalp, but they really do work better (maintaining her curls and style) too.
Using YouTube as my guide, especially the excellent hair how-to videos by Natural85, I've come up with a recipe that works well for us. I buy the natural products in bulk, rather than buying the natural products already in ready-to-use mixtures. I've been experimenting with a combination of raw unrefined shea butter (from Africa), jojoba oil, olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, castor oil, and vitamin E. I make the mixture nice and thin (less shea butter) for an everyday leave-in conditioner. I make it much thicker for a pomade which I will use to tame the frizzies and provide some control as I braid her hair. (I'm still working on braiding. We may do another braiding experiment this weekend.)
Photographed below are the products I am currently using to make our homemade mixes for Marguerite's hair. It is a pricey bunch of ingredients, but it does save us money over buying the all-natural conditioners and pomades already-mixed.
Oh, and with hair length increasing and curls becoming more defined, I've finally figured out (I think) that Marguerite has 4a hair. (Didn't know there were defined hair categories? Right. Neither did I until Marguerite entered the picture. :)
|Kathleen helps amass the ingredients for our first run at homemade hair products.|
|This is what the shea butter looks like at room temperature.|
It's not hard as rock, but it's not soft like butter either. It takes some effort to mix it.
|The thin every-day leave-in conditioner is on the left.|
The pomade (for styling) is on the right.
The leave-in conditioner (in the tall water bottle) and the pomade (in the little container on the right) will be stored in our bathroom and used for many a hair-styling adventure for Miss Marguerite.