Y’all know the phrase. “Oooh, you got that good hair,” says many a black woman who might not always enjoy her own beautiful hair. It’s been said since the ’60s, especially by beauticians, referring to any woman of color whose hair seems easy to comb through.
We mixed gals get it a lot, too. At least, those of us who are mixed with black and caucasian. It is often a privilege to have the hair that we do, as it can sometimes seem a little easier to care for. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have complications of its own!
Speaking from my own standpoint, I have my father’s Italian/Irish curls but my mother’s African-American texture. So it’s always a bit confusing to a new hairdresser. (I’m very pale for someone who’s half black. So they don’t expect that density when they start trying to pull a comb through it!)
Maintenance is also tricky. “Black hair” often requires a hefty amount of oil to be spread on the scalp throughout the week. My scalp certainly does. But for a lot of mixed girls with more Caucasian traits, while their scalp needs frequent oil, the texture of the hair suffers from excessive oil because the hair texture is often lighter and thinner. In other words, the hair has difficulty deciding what race it is.
So it can be hard to find the right products. Or even the right hair care routine. It literally took me until this past year! We ain’t gonna talk about it. 😛 BUTTT now that I sort of have a decent sense of what I’m doing, I thought I’d share a few tips! Again, this is only from my own experience. I know the same products/tips won’t apply to all mixed girls, of course– but I just wanted to share my own thoughts and you can take from it what you will! 🙂
IN THE SHOWER
Shampoo and conditioner have always been difficult for me. I would go back and forth between products alllll the time. But this past year, I discovered L.U.S. (Love-Ur-Self). It’s a brand designed specifically for blended women– and designed smartly, too. They know that there is way more than just one type of “mixed”. When ordering, you go to their website and are given the option to choose either “Wavy”, “Curly”, or “Kinky-Coily” hair. Then they match you up with the right shampoo, conditioner and even an all-in-one product that’s supposed to keep your hair light and healthy. And my hair definitely does feel much healthier after use! I, personally, don’t use the all-in-one post-conditioner because it makes my hair dry and my scalp flakes really easily from it. But to each their own!
So first, I use the L.U.S. Shampoo. I’ve found that shampoo, in general, dries my hair out if used on my scalp too long, and interestingly, have heard the same from other mixed friends of mine. So I lather it up and then rinse it out thoroughly.
The conditioner I use is also from L.U.S. The instructions say to do the following but I like doing this with any conditioner I use: Use this step as a full conditioning treatment! Instead of just lathering, scrubbing and then rinsing it out, let the conditioner sit for about 5 minutes. Do whatever else you may need to do in the meantime– wash yourself, shave, give yourself a facial mask– and then comb through your hair with a wide-tooth comb to spread the conditioner through evenly. Then, BAM– you have a full head of healthy-feeling hair ready for rinsing.
OUT OF THE SHOWER
Once I dry off, I go for the product that I’ve used for about 7 years now and that I swear by. “Mixed Chicks” Leave-In Conditioner is my life-saver. They have shampoos and regular conditioners, as well, which I have yet to try but would love to in the future. I take the leave-in and squirt a generous amount into my palm. Then I separate my hair into two parts and condition the first side. Most people would use a comb to distribute but I use my fingers. I find that a comb just rips my hair out, and the warmth of the fingers helps distribute everything a little more evenly. Then squirt some more into your palm and condition the other side. Some people like to scrunch the ends with leave-ins; Mixed Chicks I find works best if you give just the tiniest little scrunch, and no more.
Then it’s time to dry. And therein lies the big question: To air dry, or not to air dry?
Maaaany mixed girls I know use diffusers. It gives our curls so much volume and definition! So if that’s what you usually use, by all means, do you gurl. I, personally, only use a diffuser if I have to go somewhere, or if I’m in a hurry. Air drying can be a pain BUT it makes my hair feel so light and weightless, and the curls look so natural. (Diffusers also make my scalp FLAKE like crazy!)
For air drying: If you air dry and like the natural shape, make sure to flip your hair upside down for a second, to give your hair a little more volume. This also keeps your hair from getting too tangled underneath. If you air dry and like the more defined shape, I suggest braiding! I’ve done this ever since I can remember and only in recent years have stopped, so that my hair can dry “naturally”.
For braiding: Take your hair (while still wet with your leave-in or any product you may use after showering) and separate it into two parts. Then braid both, so that you have pigtail braids. Make sure to squeeze out as much water as you can, as you go. Then take the two braids and twist them up into a bun, to keep out of your way and to keep your clothes from getting wet! Again, this does usually take quite a bit of time to dry. Expect it to take a few hours, maybe even an afternoon or evening to fully dry. However, the resulting product gives your hair a beautiful curl with perfect definition, perfect shape– and if you use Mixed Chicks, a pretty color, as well! The Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner brings out any natural highlights in your hair! So when you braid it and let it all soak in for the afternoon, the finished product is bouncy, light and looks like it has a great deal of depth. 🙂
And of course, a good work-through of moisturizing oil/cream throughout the week is a must! I use the plain old Eboline Coconut Oil with the red lid that we’ve all used at one point in our lives. But there are plenty of other options to choose from. 🙂
And that’s it! At least for now. There are tons of AMAZING products out there made for–and made by– black and mixed women and I have yet to try them all! (I just bought the Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Oil Shine and Hold Mist and I can’t wait to try it!) But the beauty industry is full of up and coming companies that are creating more products for blended women, and that’s a super exciting thing.
If you have any haircare products or tips that you swear by, please feel free to share!! I’d love to know your haircare routine, and any struggles/successes that other mixed sisters have experienced! So, by all means, contact me on my contact page, or leave a comment here! I’m always down to hear others’ Mixed Experience. 🙂
In the meantime, speaking of black and mixed businesses, I hope we’ve all been out there supporting black businesses, black art, black lives during this amazing and overdue BLM Movement. I know we’ve all been donating, sharing resources on social media, demanding justice on the phone and through letters– and so I wanted to share some of the black businesses I’ve been supporting recently. I think I’ll do this to close out each post. ❤ Until next time, stay beautiful, stay full of light and #ownyourrainbow.
BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES I’VE BEEN SUPPORTING THIS WEEK
VelvetRose Essentials: Cosmetic company run by my cousin! She sells all-natural, homemade body butter, lip balm, sugar scrub and bath bomb. (Her body butter is my favorite!) All-natural ingredients, feels great on the skin– especially if it’s sensitive like mine– and smells subtle and delicious. Less is more!
LUS Brands: I know I mentioned it in this article already but I’m gonna mention it again. LUS stands for “Love-Ur-Self” and is a hair brand for curly hair of all types. The founder and CEO, Saidi Sahar, found that there were not nearly enough hair products for women with curly hair, especially for women of color and mixed women. LUS Brands caters to this and offers different products for several different types of curly hair. It’s the best!
Frugal Bookstore: For my fellow book lovers– a bookstore in Boston that sells mostly books by black authors. Online orders are available!
Brooklyn Tea: For fellow tea drinkers in NYC, Brooklyn Tea has a lovely modern atmosphere perfect for taking tea– but since COVID happened, dining in is obviously risky, if even possible. For now, they have tea pots, kettles, spoons and even clothing for sale online!