This post is understandably close to my heart as I am Nigerian, born and partly raised there. My husband however is Welsh-born and raised. Living in London for most of my formative years there was such a wide blend of ethnicity that it never really crossed my mind that I could one day be in a place where I myself have questions about hair care.
My hair texture is quite soft when you consider that it’s a big ball of Afro-puff in its natural and unrelaxed state. Up to the age of 16 my mother wouldn’t let me chemically straighten my hair. She believed that a child’s hair should be left to grow naturally and be styled without use of strong chemicals. While I wasn’t happy with her decision I had to admit that many friends I knew who had chemically treated their hair from childhood had receding hair lines and over processed, tired locks by the time they got to their teenage years.
My mother wanted us to understand the importance of maintaining our own hair so we regularly had them braided, not with extensions but with just own hair. My hair could grow quite long (well that’s if you call long halfway down my back), with ease but it was a pain to wash, dry and style. Vidal Sassoon can’t have been referring to Afro hair when he coined the phrase ‘Wash and Go’. We needed all day on a Saturday to deal with our manes in my family.
Another thing my mother was cautious about was buying home relaxer kits to straighten or jerry-curl (chemically curl) our hair as the effects were frightening when done wrong. I knew young girls of between 14 and 18 with burnt scalps, patchy hair, brittle copper-coloured hair; they had often wondered into hair shops and purchased do-it yourself kits and had not consulted a hairdresser to understand how to use them correctly. My mother wanted me and my sisters to have the maturity to be able to look after our hair and felt that once we could have part-time jobs then we could also afford to look after our hair properly.
Where am I going with this? Well, I have spent 30 odd years or so practicing the art of taking care of my Afro hair and then I fall in love with a yummy red-headed Welsh man and we are both blessed with a beautiful biracial baby with hair that I know nothing about. Back to square one?
At birth, Pumpkinella’s hair was jet black and straight, almost resembling south-east asian type of hair. Midwives advised me to use olive oil to moisturize it. They said not to bother with getting an un-scented one buy from a chemist and just to use whatever was in the cupboard. I tried this for a short while but I didn’t particularly like the smell of good quality olive oil. Also, you know when you have brand new baby and they smell wondrous and powdery and sweet? Well, olive oil on her hair completely masked this amazing new baby smell and I wasn’t impressed.
I did a lot of research online to look for suitable alternatives and I came across coconut oil. In its purest organic form there are so many benefits for a baby.
1. Retains moisture and keeps hair moist and soft
2. Can be used to treat cradle cap if massaged into the scalp and left on to 20 minutes before rinsing and gently combing through to remove loose flakes.
3. Add a small amount to a baby’s dummy or teething toy to give a little more relief from the discomfort of teething.
4. Can soothe and gently treat baby acne when rubbed on the red areas
5. Can be rubbed around baby’s nose when sick and acts as a natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
I could go on and on about the wondrous properties of coconut oil but I would bore you senseless. Let’s just say it has countless applications not only for children but also for adults. I may well go into this in more detail in another instalment.
I loved the smell and the feel of my daughter’s hair when using coconut oil and I did manage to use it exclusively for 3 months to get a true idea of how good it was.
TOP 3 Coconut oil brands
Tiana – My favourite as it’s super pure and comes in larger bottles saving you more money overall. It can be quite expensive so it’s worth a look around on Amazon and eBay for deals on it.
Lucy Bee – Available in Waitress and Tesco (probably also in other supermarkets too). Fantastic ideas on things to do with coconut it in general on their website.
Fushi – Great quality and in convenient sizes. There are some offers on their website at the moment too.
this is the first of a series of posts I’ll be writing covering the things I love to use as part of my daughter’s care. If you have any specific questions or things you’d like to know more about let me know and I’ll cover those first.