If you've already read Our Styling Routine: Age 2, then much of this will seem repetitive, but you will get a chance to see the minor adjustments that have occurred to our routine over the last year. The best way that I can serve my daughter's hair needs is to make sure that I adjust our routine to suit her hair, not myself. The process is a journey, and as her hair (and my talents) have grown and changed, so has our styling routine.
We still remove Boo's style after her nap in the afternoon, although depending on the style sometimes we can wait until after dinner to do so if it's not going to take too long. I have to plan accordingly. If she has a head full of itty-bitty braids, that could take much longer than if I'm just removing four twists.
Add Oil Only When Necessary
These days I've been styling her hair every week or two, and as such she is getting a pretty good dose of deep conditioning every time I add moisturizing products to her hair. We've generally eliminated the addition of coconut oil to our regular routine of last year. It turns out that her hair just doesn't need it if being styled weekly. When she was younger I left her hair in styles for longer periods of time, mostly just to encourage growth and to not fuss with it too much. So by the time the style came out, depending on the style, often it was in need of some deep conditioning. As she's getting older, she's playing harder, and her styles are getting removed more frequently, thus there isn't as great a need to do the deep conditioning that was necessary for her hair last year. It doesn't mean that we don't use oil anymore, it just means that we don't use it the way that we used to.
After dinner Boo gets a bath and her hair washed. Last year a wash may or may not have used shampoo. This year we have not used shampoo at all. In fact, we only co-wash (conditioner-only) or, if she needs a really good cleaning, we will wash with apple cider vinegar. That's it. No shampoo necessary on a regular basis. This doesn't mean that I won't use shampoo, it just means that it is not part of our regular routine.
Washing still includes sectioning the hair off and washing on section at a time. This year, however, we will sometimes wash her scalp and rinse her hair before taking a style out, depending on the style and what her scalp needs.
Detangling used to happen in the bathtub right after washing her hair. As Boo is getting bigger, and her hair is getting longer, we have had to move her out of the bathtub and into her styling chair for detangling. Daddy still does a large part of the washing/detangling routine; it's their bonding time.
Part and Either Plait or Style Hair
After detangling is my decision point. I have to decide whether or not I'm going to set her style on Friday night before bedtime, or wait until Saturday morning. This is dependent on quite a few factors: Does the style I want to do require the hair to be stretched beforehand? What time is it, is it too late to do much more than part hair? Does the style involve cornrows? If so, I can't see them very well due to the lighting in my place right now and I just have a preference to do them in natural light, on top of the fact that I find them easier to do when the hair has been stretched. What mood is Boo in? Can she sit for me to get through the whole style?
The big turning point in deciding whether or not to style at night or the following morning comes down to me: I am much faster at doing many of our favourite styles and feel that if it's no longer necessary to drag the process out over two days, for both Boo's sake, and my own.
If I'm just parting and plaiting the hair, I will just do rough parts for the style I want to set and then do rope twists (very loosely) and leave them at that. It is a great way to preserve the efforts of detangling, as well stretch the hair a bit before styling the following day. I will cover with a sleep cap (as always) and let her sleep on it until the following day.
If not already done the night before, I will style hair first thing after breakfast on Saturday morning. This is usually Boo's best time of the day emotionally, so if I really need the best behavior from her (e.g., lots of patience and cooperation), then I will make sure to style the hair during this time.
Not much has changed from last year, other than I probably check her hair more than once a day, in large part because she attends preschool now and her hair may leave looking one way in the morning, and come home looking completely different.
On addition to our daily routine is probably the addition of jojoba oil to her part lines. I will almost daily add some jojoba oil to styles that involve cornrows, flat twists, or box braids. I think it's almost counter-intuitive, but Boo's hair stays nicely moisturized for being 4a/4b, but her scalp will dry out like nobody's business! I suppose I have her hair products to thank for how well her hair is maintaining moisture, and so I have to make sure to daily include attention to her scalp, as well, to make sure that it stays equally as moisturized.
SITTING FOR HAIR
I didn't really talk about this last time, but it is part of our routine. We have Boo sit in a booster seat on an old piano bench for styling. This puts her at the perfect height for me to do her hair, and allows me access to her hair from all different angles. It's not the most comfortable thing in the world for her, but since it's what she's always sat in, it's all she knows so she doesn't complain. With frequent breaks to stretch her legs, it works out great for us. However, I'm expecting this to change sometime this year. She's getting taller, so much so that it won't be long before I will have to put her somewhere else in order to do the top of her head. I will cross that bridge when we come to it, and will take her requests into consideration as best as we can
I get asked over and over again how I get Boo to sit for up to 10 hours to get her hair done. The answer in this household is simple: Television. Well, not just any television, strictly movies or educational programming pre-screened by us. As a rule we don't have the television when Boo is awake. We listen to the news on the radio and such, but we don't even have satellite or cable. The opportunity to watch anything on television is a huge treat for Boo and so she will do just about anything for it, including sitting for long periods of time or holding her head this way or that. In fact, she will even ask if we can make every night "hair night" so that she can watch "a little something" on the television. Thankfully that won't be happening, but by making television a treat for her we have managed to have something that she really looks forward to when doing hair. And because she hasn't seen everything 100+ times, she's willing to sit for a long time if it means she gets to watch two movies instead of one.