Friday, August 27, 2010

Katie's Limited Knowledge On Curly Boy's Hair...

I never claimed to be an expert at hair.  I have not gone to cosmetology school or wherever it is that people go to learn how to cut and style hair.  Turns out for my girls hair needs, that hasn't been at all necessary.  Everything I have wanted to do with their hair I have been perfectly capable of figuring out how to do on my own.  And have felt confident enough in my skills and knowledge to share what I have learned with others.

I can't say the same is true for boys hair.  I have had no formal training and I don't feel even slightly qualified to share with others how to care for boys hair.  That being said, I do take care of Young Man C's hair myself.  He hasn't been to a barber shop in several years.  So I will share with you my experiences, and you can take it or leave it!

On our last day in Liberia we went to pick the kids up from the foster home and just like the girls had beautiful new cornrow styles, C had a fresh, new haircut!  I am pretty sure they did it with a razor blade, because there was nothing left!

Also, just like with the girls, I didn't give much thought to C's hair for the first several months that we were home.  But when it came time for the kids baptisim I realized it was probably time for our first trip to the barber shop!  I have to admit I was pretty intimidated by this.  I had never been to a barber shop, I had no idea what to ask them to do with his hair, I didn't know any of the terminology!  We found a place in the phone book and went for it.  C did not want to cut it very short, if I remember correctly he just got a bit of a trim and lined up around the edges.

Those first couple of years we pretty much just kept going through the cycle of going to the barber shop, getting it cut pretty short, letting it grow out until we couldn't take it anymore, and then back to the barber!  As I have mentioned, we have a very limited income, so frequent haircuts just don't fit in our budget.  Although I have to admit that when C's hair would get long it looked pretty bad!  He didn't like to take the time to pic it out and keep it looking nice, so it was often a mess.  This is a pic of it when he was in need of a cut:
I did try to take advantage of that length once and gave C some cool twists.  They looked pretty good and it was a fun style for his soccer game that day, but they didn't last long.  He even wore something on his head to sleep that night, but the twists around the sides of his head all came out. I think I did touch ups on him for a couple days, but we were only able to keep them in for 3 or 4 days.  I am pretty sure I used gel to put them in too.  It took me a couple hours to put in, so I really didn't want to do that again if they weren't going to last more than a few days.

I am pretty sure I made the twists with two strands.  That seems silly to me now, I should have done finger coils it would have been faster.  I also made really straight parts.  They weren't in a perfect grid pattern or anything, but I made the parts with a comb.  I think they would have looked better if they were more random.

So FINALLY, one Christmas, Camera Guy got a nice set of clippers as a gift.  I was pretty scared to cut C's hair since I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  I watched a bunch of stuff on youtube and found a few good pointers, but most of the videos weren't helpful at all.  So we went to the barber shop one last time and I watched very closely to how they cut his hair.  I finally got the courage to try it myself and this was the outcome:

I have yet to attempt to give him a fade - so for now we just cut it to all one length with the #1.  Then I take that trimmer tool and clean up the edges.  I think this is the important part that gives it that, fresh from the barber shop look!  It really isn't as hard as I thought.  In the back you make a nice straight line across the neck and then some straight lines up the sides to the ears.  Next I make a straight line across his forehead and then straight lines down the sides of his forehead.  I make curving lines from the temples to the sideburn area.  I cut a straight line across the bottom of his sideburns and then make them taper off a bit.  Ya know, exactly how it looks in the pictures!  

The hardest part is getting the forehead straight.  I just work a little bit at a time.  

The only tips I can give you about cutting boys hair are:  1) make sure the hair is picked out when you start.  2) when shaving off the length all over the head, go at the hair from every direction.  Those curls can be tricky!  3) move slowly and don't be afraid to go over the same spots again and again from different directions.  4) once you think you got it all, run a comb through the hair again and then go back with the clippers and get all the spots that you might have missed!

I actually have mixed feelings about me doing C's hair.  I liked the idea of taking him to the barber shop. As far as I can tell, the barber shop is kind of a big part of African American culture.  Our children are not in as diverse of a community as I would like, so I appreciated those trips to the barber where I was the minority and he was surrounded by people who looked like him.  Unfortunately, on our income, I have to find every little way to save money that I can, and fortunately, I can give him a decent haircut myself for FREE!  

Last summer C decided that he wanted to grow his hair out and have me cornrow it.  This took FOREVER.  I tired at least twice while it was growing out and I just couldn't do it with the short length. I was so frustrated about the way that I do cornrows.  If you have been watching my braiding videos you know that I don't cornrow the traditional way with the fingertips.  I use my whole hand.  This means that a decent length of hair is necessary to get a good grip.  I think C's hair was at least 2 inches or longer when I finally got his whole head into rows.  It was the most finger cramping hair braiding I have ever done trying to get his short hair to cooperate with me!  And I was using lots of gel to make sure they would hold, but this made things very slippery.  Here was the finished product:

You can see they aren't perfect by any means, but they looked good from a distance!  The only thing was that I did this one weekend before he went away with his soccer team to a tournament.  This particular tournament Camera Guy and I didn't go with him.  We have been told that he got to the tournament and went in the bathroom and immediately started taking them out!  WHAT!?!?!?  Remember the finger cramps and hours I spent trying to get those stinkin' things in?  I was not a happy mama!  I guess cornrows are something you have to get used to slowly because he said they were giving him a really bad headache.  The way that I do cornrows doesn't make for super tight cornrows, so I know it isn't because I braided them to tight.  I think he just needed to get used to it.  But, I wasn't about to try them again.  We cut his hair off as soon as he got home!  

That is pretty much it!  I am currently cutting C's hair about once a month, although it probably could be done every 2 or 3 weeks, I just don't get around to doing it that often.  He has been begging me to put designs in the side of his head, but I am not sure I want to go there!  I am so EXCITED to inform you that I have recently received a NUDRED kit and I am now waiting for C's hair to grow out a bit more so I can try it out and make a video review on it!  So stay tuned for that one, it will be coming in a few weeks!

What are your experiences with boy hair?



  1. My boy hair is pretty similar to your hair journey. My 14 y/o has hair that looks a lot like Mr. C's except that it kind of grows down over his forehead. So I really need to keep that part cleaned up even if he is doing a short afro as he does from time to time. I do have a problem w/ him taking care of it and so it is usually done almost exactly like your son's. Like you we got really good clippers and do it ourselves. My 6 y/o his less tight curls and a very high forehead. So his haircuts can go longer and still not look messy. But his big kid cut (I swear he looks older w/ his hair trimmed) is a bit longer than your Mr. C's and then I put conditioner on it and brush it gently brush it around his head in a circular pattern. he gets a really smooth look doing this.

  2. We did our son, David's hair, once. At the time, he was two. Things might go better now... but the experience was so awful, we found a barber. He gets a bald fade.

    One day, we were at the store and he saw an adult, black male with a design shaved into his hair. He went home, found scissors and cut a "lightening bolt" into his head. Emergency haircut number one. The area he cut was so short that the barber was forced to shave him bald. I told him I would let the barber give him a lightening bolt on the next hair cut. But, like you, I tend to let his hair grow out until it I can't stand it. My level of tolerance, apparently, is greater than his. I wasn't anywhere near ready for his haircut when he cut another "light'ning bulb" into the side of his hair. Emergency haircut number tow. So, now we just get his haircut every 6 weeks. He still technically has a bald fade, but the fade starts lower on his scalp to accommodate his lightening bolt. I have to pay a dollar extra. You can see it for about 3 days before the hair growth obliterates it.

    David is now 5... and if he wanted to grow out his hair, I would try to talk him out of it. He can't sit still for 2 minutes. Detangling, combing and styling would frustrate him and annoy me.

    We did learn that there is at least one barber who just can't do his hair. My husband took him along to one of his haircuts. David came home looking beyond silly. I think I had him back to his regular barber in less than three weeks.

  3. i know this have nothing to do with hair but, did you keep the outfits they came home in?

  4. We have 3 boys - my husband has clippers and he cuts all the boys hair very similar to your last cut. Although, he leaves the top slightly longer. For my Liberian son, I rub him over with Blue Magic or another oil after his bath and every morning.

    Debbie G.

  5. My son is only 18 months old but was born with a head full of thick hair! Although his hair is more of a looser curl he is (african,native american and white mix) @ about a year old his head was full of curls and when the curls were pulled straight, was down past his shoulders! SO i attempted braiding rows but he was just too little to tolerate that and at that time I really had no idea what i was doing! So i just stuck with box parts all over his head or random pony tails that were braided,he seemed to tolerate that. I decided after a while he needed a trim and I was also a bit intimidated to go to a barber shop,so I just went to great clips.. I should of went with my gut/past experience on that one! A trim I didnt get but more like layers instead..and I couldnt do much with that, so his dad just gave him a buzz cut with his clippers and my son did not like that! And now that his hair is growing back in it feels more coarse and not as curly really more wavy.. So as of now I am trying to let it grow out to see what it will look like and then go from there but now he looks more like a boy with his short hair cut :)

  6. I am really wanting to do cornrows in my son's hair (about1-3 in. length wise) but I cannot get it. I just stick to twisting his hair with the flat boar hair brush. They hold longer each day.

    I have the Nudred. It worked really well for about 3 months then started to break into tiny bits. It left the bits mixed into his hair. I then started doing the brush and it looks just as nice.

    I also found the Nudred potion to be greasy for E's hair but smelled great! I just used coconut oil instead and worked fine.

  7. @Anonymous - Yes we did! I really should have the shirts framed or something to make art out of them :) The girls skirts were both destroyed by the time we made it home. They were not the best quality clothes, unfortunately. Although the kids grew so fast they probably wouldn't have gotten much use out of those clothes anyway! I would SO LOVE to get them so real Liberian clothing in the sizes they wear now in a quality that would hold up!

  8. @The Googeg's - When C's hair has some length he sprays it with the Taliah Waajid spray daily, but when it is super short he doesn't even bother. You know boys! They don't really care about grooming themselves at this age!

  9. @Becky Ryder - Thanks for the input on the NUDRED, I am eager to try it, but I was wondering how long it would hold up. If you didn't use it regularly it would be probably be fine, but if you want twists every day, maybe it isn't a good option?

  10. love your site! I just ran across it yesterday as I was par oozing the interweb looking for style ideas for my little one (she is 2). We are African American and I have been braiding hair since I was a teen so I have the braiding part down. It is the creativity portion I struggle with from time to time and you help with that tremendously.
    Well I wanted to give a tip to anyone attempting to braid short hair. Add a strip of yarn to the top of the braid with one of the 3 pieces of hair and it helps with gripping the hair and keeps the style neat. It blends and no one is really the wiser. I use this technique all the time.
    Again thank you for sharing your lovely family with all of us.


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