Last month, all of my “tackles” involved preparing my son Michael for preschool. This month, they will all be about preparing me for the fall.
A couple of weeks ago in church, I had my hair down in curls and I was wearing a cute little white sheath dress. A single friend of mine’s said, “Wow! You look great. You look like you used to look before you were married.” “Excuse me?!” I thought. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she said “since before you had kids” (I don’t usually wear my hair down with the boys – they like to pull it and I definitely haven’t worn all white being the baby/toddler carrier that I am.)
In any event, I decided then and there to let more of the “old Kim” shine through even when I’m with my kids. (I still usually “clean up” pretty well for work/away-from-the-kids events.) This week/my first “tackle” is my hair. I had my hair cut after my second son, but it’s still long enough to play around with. So, for the fall, I’m going to have some (more) longish layers cut in and I vow (to myself) to wear my hair down more. I enlisted the expertise of my personal hair stylist, Shanelle Thomas of “Hair by Shanelle” to provide some hair care tips. A graduate of the Aveda Institute New York and past employee of the renowned Ted Gibson Salon, Shanelle’s motto is “finding beauty in simplicity”. (Since I’m Black, the tips are specific to African-American hair textures, but the principles are “universal”.)
-Moisturize hair on a regular basis. The best time to add moisture to the hair is right after shampooing. When the hair is wet, it is better able to absorb the essential oils in the conditioner. Along with choosing a conditioner especially created to add moisture to the hair, add natural oils to the conditioner. Aveda’s Energizing Oil is a good pick because it is specifically formulated to add moisture to the hair. After applying the mixture of oil and conditioner place a plastic cap over the hair for at least 20 minutes. The natural heat from the scalp opens the pores and allows the oil to absorb into the hair shaft.
-For relaxed hair, protein treatments are recommended along with the above-mentioned conditioning treatment. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. When using any sort of strong chemicals on the hair (such as relaxers and/or permanent color), the bonds of the hair are broken down and re-formed. This makes the hair weaker and less elastic. The conditioning treatment with oils is great at adding moisture which improves the hair’s elasticity and the protein treatment helps to improve the strength of the hair. A good protein treatment is Affirm 5 in 1 Reconstructor. It can be used every other time the hair is washed. Apply it along with the conditioner. (First, apply the conditioner and then apply the reconstructor over the conditioner. Place a plastic cap over the hair and let it sit for about 20 minutes — if possible, sit under a drier set at medium heat.)
-Protect your hair. If the hair is being blown dry or flat ironed, it is very important to use a thermal protectant to minimize damage done to the hair. Silken Seal by KeraCare and Smooth Infusion by Aveda are two highly recommended products.
-Sleep with a silk scarf or bonnet at night in order to protect the hair and to maintain the style longer. (Cotton dries the hair out, so if you don’t like sleeping with something on your head, sleep on a silk pillowcase.)
-Limit heat styling. When possible, air-dry as much of the moisture out of the hair first and then blow-dry it to expose it to heat for the least amount of time (or skip the heat altogether and let the hair air dry).
Shanelle’ Information / Reputable Black Hair Salons
-Shanelle of “Hair by Shanelle”: She cares for and styles both natural and relaxed hair for clients of all ages. Phone: (347) 262-1724
-To find other highly regarded salons that specialize in Black hair, you can visit the Salon Network by Essence online.
(To see what other moms around the web are “tackling” today visit Tackle it Tuesday).