Several years ago, the mere thought of trying to teach Syd to care for her own hair was overwhelming. She has so much hair on her head, and it can even take me a long time to wash, detangle, and style it. How would she ever be able to do this herself?
Then she got a little older (9, maybe?) and I knew it was time to really start teaching her to help care for her own hair. I can't do it for her forever. I figured I'd teach her in steps, starting in the beginning...washing. I wanted to share some methods we've tried, problems we've encountered, and solutions we've come up with in this rather lengthy (sorry!) post.
When she first tried washing her own hair, she had a lot of trouble getting the shampoo all the way to her scalp where her hair is thickest. So then I had to get creative. We got an applicator bottle with a nozzle - I actually used a picnic-style squeezable ketchup bottle for a while - and filled it with a 50-50 mix of shampoo and water. This thinned the shampoo out a little and she was able to stick the nozzle of the bottle right where she needed it on her scalp. It worked like a charm! There wasn't a thick mass of curls to come between the shampoo and the scalp. She has since been able to move on from using that bottle and has become a pro at shampooing her scalp.
We tried many times to have her wash her hair while it was in 6 loose braids, which was something I did from time to time to prevent tangling back when I was still shampooing her hair. I found that she wasn't always able to rinse the shampoo completely from the braids, so we scrapped that idea and moved on to the routine we are currently using. Here is what our ever-changing routine looks like at the moment:
1) I remove a style, lightly detangling and removing shed hair as I go.
2) Syd separates her hair into a right half and a left half, no straight part required. She loosely braids each half without using anything to secure the ends. It's ok if the braid isn't perfect or if it unravels a little...the purpose of the braid is just to prevent as much tangling.
3) Syd washes her hair in the shower. She unravels the braid on one side, shampoos and rinses, then rebraids it and repeats the process on the other side.
4) She goes back to the first side, removes the braid, adds conditioner, uses a shower comb with very wide teeth to gently comb it through her hair, starting at the ends and moving up. She rebraids with the conditioner still in her hair and repeats the process on the other side.
*The unbraiding and rebraiding might seem to be a bit redundant. We tried having her condition each side right after she washed it, but found that most of the conditioner from side 1 would be rinsed away when she was rinsing the shampoo out of side 2. So the longer, more drawn out process seems to work best for us - for now, anyway.
5) After her shower, she still has 2 braids and a fully loaded head of conditioner. We divide each half into 3 or 4 sections and work together to detangle each small section, putting each one in a loose braid when we are done with it. By the time we are finished, we have 6-8 loose braids that are detangled and ready to be rinsed.
6) We then rinse the conditioner from her hair while it is still in the braids and she's ready for styling. It's ok if a bit of conditioner is still there after rinsing...we think of it as a little extra leave-in!
This process, when written out, seems like it would take forever but it really doesn't take much longer than when I was doing it all myself. The more she gets used to doing her part, and the better she gets at preventing tangling as she washes, the faster it goes. And if we're short on time, she just shampoos, rebraids, and gets out of the shower. I'll add a leave-in as I detangle and then do a quick style. Nothing is ever set in stone at my house!
Syd can also do her own 2-strand twists, although I do the back part because she can't see what she's doing and she tends to leave a few random strands out as she goes. She'll get there. She also has mastered the art of gently removing braids and twists for braid outs and twist outs.
Here is what her current style looks like now. She took the twists out this morning so she could have a curly ponytail.
|Notice the short sleeves...come on Spring! :)|