Let's just be honest here and admit that this is one of the most intimidating aspects of transracial adoption. It's seems ridiculous that something as simple as hair could scare so many of us, but it's the truth. Most non-black adoptive parents spend many hours worrying over how they'll manage to take care of the hair on their black child. Am I right or am I right?
So I thought I'd post about black hair care to maybe ease your fears just a little. First, you have to understand that every black child's hair is different, duh, right? But you really do have to realize that. What works for my son's hair may not exactly work for your child's hair. That being said, here's what we do with E's lovely locks and our process to figuring this system out, which will hopefully help you figure out a system for your child.
1. Shampoo. I've read that African-American hair only needs to be actually washed once a week or even once every other week when not getting sweaty or dirty. We only wash E's hair every other week unless he's gotten particularly sweaty or sandy or crazy. When we do wash, we focus more on washing the scalp than the hair itself because it can be too drying. We also use real shampoo. You know, for babies there are all these "head-to-toe" body washes that you can use on hair, too? They're not for African-American hair. They're too drying. We just use Johnson Baby Shampoo and it works well.
2. Condition. After shampoo or just wetting the hair, we rub a really good conditioner in. We try to do this every single day. It has to be something for African-American hair. We like the Olive Oil brand. We've used a couple different conditioners from them and have been pleased. Now while the conditioner is in the hair, you've got to comb it out. This is the easiest time to comb and detangle. So use a wide-toothed comb, start at the ends and work toward the roots. Then we let the conditioner soak into his hair for a couple minutes.
3. Leave-In Conditioner. Rinse out the conditioner and put in some leave-in conditioner. This is how much moisture is needed. There's a leave-in conditioner from Olive Oil that works well for us and now we are using Lustre's Pink Hair Lotion. It's pretty thick so might not work if your child's hair is on the thinner side. We rub this in and comb through E's hair again. And of course, you leave in the leave-in!
And there you go. Now we aren't very good with E's hair once it gets a little longer so we keep it pretty short. Our cue to cut it is when he starts to complain when we comb through it because it hurts. I'd like to let his hair be longer eventually so I'll try to figure out how to comb through it without any pain. I'll be honest, caring for an African-American girl's hair still intimidates me, but I know I'll just learn and figure it out as I go if we have a black daughter.
I hope this helps. I read tips from a bunch of different sources and then experimented withe products and routines until we found what worked for E. And I think he looks pretty dang good! Don't you?