27 March 2012

Our Styling Routine: Age 4 (and How To Wash Hair with a Style In)

Wow, looking back on all of our different routines it's amazing how much things have changed over time! These days our routine includes the hair care basics, but with one big difference: We very often (although not always) wash hair with the style in. This is usually the case for times when Boo has been wearing a protective hairstyle for several weeks. The majority of dirt and build-up is usually on the scalp, not on the hair itself (because the hair has been nicely tucked away in cornrows or flat rope twists). I have found that taking the style out and then trying to cleanse the scalp was getting too complicated, for no other reason that Boo's hair is so long and often gets in the way. Washing with the style in gives me the opportunity to more easily clean the parts of the scalp that were most exposed to dirt and conditioning sprays throughout the weeks.

Washing with a style in is very easy. The emphasis of cleansing is on the part lines, not on the rows of hair, itself. The steps outlined below will work both for a regular wash before detangling and styling, as well as a co-wash while keeping the style in.

The first thing we do is wet the hair. We have a massage shower nozzle that I like to use in the tub, both because I can pinpoint where I want the water as well as change the setting to get a really strong stream to penetrate the rows of styled hair.

In the style that we're washing below, Boo had flat rope twists all around and regular box twists on the top of her head. For the loose twists I make sure I squeeze water through them to get them thoroughly saturated.

Boo had worn this style for almost four weeks, so it was necessary to make sure her scalp was cleaned well. I used a clarifying shampoo (Kinky-Curly Come Clean in this case) and applied it to the hands, and then gently to the part lines, using on the fingertips. The hair was gently massaged, making sure not to put too much stress on the new hairs growing in. The purpose of this is to clean the scalp of any product build-up and/or dirt so that the pores will not get clogged.

For the loose  twists, I just squeeze the shampoo through the strands.

And then rinse, paying careful attention to making sure that all of the soap is removed.

Again, I change the stream settings to give strong pulse of water to push the dirty and grime out of the hair that is still within the protective style. Rubbing the hair is not necessary; the flow of water, coupled with the clarifying shampoo, will be enough to loosen dirt and release any product build-up in my daughter's hair.

Next I condition the hair. When washing with a style in, I like to let the conditioner sit on the hair under a shower cap while Boo plays and gets the rest of her body cleaned. That gives the conditioner a chance to penetrate through the hairstyle.

The conditioner is then rinsed out completely, just like the shampoo.

If you're planning on wearing the style after the wash you would apply your favourite spray or conditioner to the hair. But for her styling routine, this is when I remove the style and detangle. I add a leave-in conditioner with lots of slip (we're currently using Kinky-Curly Knot Today), and then remove the style and detangle each section.

The detangled sections are either clipped aside for immediate styling, plaited for styling the next day, or banded for styling, depending on what our plans are.

Like all of our posted styling routines, this is what works best for us. It may or may not work best for you and your family. Your styling routine should fit best with your child's individual hair needs. Some people (like us) can get away with washing with a style in because, although Boo's hair is very long, it's not very thick so the water will penetrate nicely and will rinse thoroughly. This might not be possible for everyone. If you want to test how washing with a style in will work, try co-washing and then check the hair when removing the style to see if there is any conditioner left in the hair. That way you will easily be able to rinse it out easily without worrying about soap drying in your child's hair.