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Leva
08-07-2008, 09:55 PM
See: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2630223 for a bit of the back story.

Short version -- my teenage MC's mother was black and her father was white. She has black hair. (Probably not real nappy, but enough that she likes to use relaxers on it to tame it.)

Unexpectedly, with the death of her mother, she's been thrust into her father's family. One of the points of friction that I'd like to set up is that (white) stepmother buys bargain-basement cheap $.99 a bottle dollar store shampoo. She feels that the MC can use this shampoo just like everyone else in the family and she's being a "spoiled princess" when she says it won't work for her. And the stepmother (who really resents the kid) does passive-aggressive things like agreeing to pick up African-American hair care products at the grocery store after the kid gives her money, and then "forgetting" or, when the kid gets some from a friend, "accidentally" tipping the bottle over so it runs down the drain in the shower.

The MC is not entirely prissy, but she's definitely a girl, she likes looking good, and this -- and her father's refusal to let her wear makeup when her late mother encouraged it -- are points of friction occasionally escalating into situations where the girl gets punished.

(Off the top of my head -- she sells a piece of jewelry for money to buy the hair care products she wants, then skips the last hour of class to go to the drug store to get them before the school bus comes; she asks her former foster mother for the brand of conditioner she wants and the stepmother sees this as implying that they're not taking care of her and punishes her for it; she gets in trouble for using stinky relaxer just before guests come over and making the house smell bad; etc.)

(1) What effect would really cheap shampoo and excess washing have on her hair? (The stepmother's going to insist the kid wash her hair every day, and will refuse to listen that this is a bad idea -- step mom sees it as a hygiene issue. Step mom keeps sniffing her hair to see if she washed with the cheap strawberry scented shampoo, which really pisses the girl off.)

(2) Could she deal with the problem of damage to her hair by putting her hair in braids? (I know putting braids in takes forever; I see a situation where the kid and her friend are braiding her hair and the mother interrupts her and sends her off on an errand with her hair half done.)

(3) Can anyone give me some names of hair-care products that she'd be asking for? (Story is set in Arizona.)

Anyway -- help? I'm not totally clueless, but this is something I want to get right. (And this is a YA novel -- I know I can remember battles with my own mother over my appearance! I suspect the YA crowd will identify with a heroine with this sort of problem. She wants to look good; her parents just don't see it as important!)

Higgins
08-07-2008, 10:35 PM
See: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2630223 for a bit of the back story.



(1) What effect would really cheap shampoo and excess washing have on her hair? (The stepmother's going to insist the kid wash her hair every day, and will refuse to listen that this is a bad idea -- step mom sees it as a hygiene issue. Step mom keeps sniffing her hair to see if she washed with the cheap strawberry scented shampoo, which really pisses the girl off.)

(2) Could she deal with the problem of damage to her hair by putting her hair in braids? (I know putting braids in takes forever; I see a situation where the kid and her friend are braiding her hair and the mother interrupts her and sends her off on an errand with her hair half done.)

(3) Can anyone give me some names of hair-care products that she'd be asking for? (Story is set in Arizona.)

Anyway -- help? I'm not totally clueless, but this is something I want to get right. (And this is a YA novel -- I know I can remember battles with my own mother over my appearance! I suspect the YA crowd will identify with a heroine with this sort of problem. She wants to look good; her parents just don't see it as important!)

The Aussie haircare stuff seems to work. Actually girls with black/white hair can end up with some quite intriguing/complex hair problems. For example, the hair may be super fine all over, but super kinky in the middle (top of the head) and not kinky at all on the edges (side of the head). A crucial thing would be a comb with long, well-spaced tines. It seems the girl could put on enough icky shampoo for a sniff test and hide a comb somewhere to comb it out.

Weirdly enough...in some black/white mixes the hair is so superfine that if it gets wet it just becomes a thin layer stuck to the skin and sort of visually vanishes. Good combing discipline is crucial, but if it works the hair can be extra-ordinarly beautiful with little trouble: long, shimmering, full of bounce and body and unbelievable natural highlights.
A good comb is probably more important than anything else.

http://www.aussie.com/us/collections/sydney_smooth/index.jsp

Kitty Pryde
08-07-2008, 11:37 PM
See: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2630223 for a bit of the back story.

Short version -- my teenage MC's mother was black and her father was white. She has black hair. (Probably not real nappy, but enough that she likes to use relaxers on it to tame it.)

Unexpectedly, with the death of her mother, she's been thrust into her father's family. One of the points of friction that I'd like to set up is that (white) stepmother buys bargain-basement cheap $.99 a bottle dollar store shampoo. She feels that the MC can use this shampoo just like everyone else in the family and she's being a "spoiled princess" when she says it won't work for her. And the stepmother (who really resents the kid) does passive-aggressive things like agreeing to pick up African-American hair care products at the grocery store after the kid gives her money, and then "forgetting" or, when the kid gets some from a friend, "accidentally" tipping the bottle over so it runs down the drain in the shower.

The MC is not entirely prissy, but she's definitely a girl, she likes looking good, and this -- and her father's refusal to let her wear makeup when her late mother encouraged it -- are points of friction occasionally escalating into situations where the girl gets punished.

(Off the top of my head -- she sells a piece of jewelry for money to buy the hair care products she wants, then skips the last hour of class to go to the drug store to get them before the school bus comes; she asks her former foster mother for the brand of conditioner she wants and the stepmother sees this as implying that they're not taking care of her and punishes her for it; she gets in trouble for using stinky relaxer just before guests come over and making the house smell bad; etc.)

(1) What effect would really cheap shampoo and excess washing have on her hair? (The stepmother's going to insist the kid wash her hair every day, and will refuse to listen that this is a bad idea -- step mom sees it as a hygiene issue. Step mom keeps sniffing her hair to see if she washed with the cheap strawberry scented shampoo, which really pisses the girl off.)

(2) Could she deal with the problem of damage to her hair by putting her hair in braids? (I know putting braids in takes forever; I see a situation where the kid and her friend are braiding her hair and the mother interrupts her and sends her off on an errand with her hair half done.)

(3) Can anyone give me some names of hair-care products that she'd be asking for? (Story is set in Arizona.)

Anyway -- help? I'm not totally clueless, but this is something I want to get right. (And this is a YA novel -- I know I can remember battles with my own mother over my appearance! I suspect the YA crowd will identify with a heroine with this sort of problem. She wants to look good; her parents just don't see it as important!)

I had a couple of thoughts which you can feel free to take or leave:)

1. Relaxers damage your hair by actually breaking chemical bonds within the structure of the hair and reform them-that can make your hair brittle and likely to break. shampooing every day can make your hair really dry and rough and tangly. doing both would be highly likely to cause major hair damage and hair loss, which is of course extremely tragic for a teenager girl! braiding it wouldn't help the damage much, and would be hard to do with damaged hair and no hair products. Plus you can't really shampoo braided hair, so I guess she would be in more trouble over that!

2. If your MC's hair versus the hair in the rest of her stepfamily is getting to be a major point of contention or a microcosm of their overall conflict, I almost think she would prefer a natural style over a straightened style, like a teen rebellion thing to further separate herself from them, so maybe she wouldn't be relaxing her hair at all.

3. besides the right shampoo for one's hair type (I know folks who use the aussie stuff, also that mane & tail stuff, and creme of nature), she would use some type of moisturizer i would think--leave in conditioner, something like an oil, or some goopy stuff out of a pot (like tcb scalp conditioner or some brand of 'creme') to moisturize and also help style her hair.

Tsu Dho Nimh
08-08-2008, 05:35 PM
Daily shampooing can absolutely WRECK that kind of hair. It gets brittle, breaks and has the tactile qualities of either an Airdale or steel wool. Corn-rowing helps because it keeps the hair close to the scalp where the oil is. "Relaxers" and the straightening combs are really bad if over used.

She'll need at least weekly conditioning with the "grease-pack" variety. Using hot oil ... grapeseed works.

Buying the cheap strawberry conditioner to match the shampoo might work.

The hair care products available all over the USA are the same, and any Walmart has them, if only a small selection. Just look for the black people on the labels.

On braiding, I remember a student whose cousins had spent the entire weekend doing her hair in a beautifully symmetrically Celtic design with cornrows ... thye were upset to find that the design they found in a book on African textiles was also used by us white folk.

******************
You can shampoo braided hair. Just pour diluted shampoo on the scalp and gently rub between the braids, rinse well. A good cornrowing job lasts at least a month, and the braids can be tightened without redoing the whole thing. (remembering girls at lunch, sitting in a circle, "doin' the braids")

L M Ashton
08-08-2008, 06:14 PM
You'll find even more information from the people at Naturally Curly (http://www.naturallycurly.com/) and the Long Hair Community (http://forums.longhaircommunity.com) (even though it says "long hair", it's really for anyone of any hair length interested in learning other, better ways of taking care of their hair).

Many people with curly hair - at the Long Hair Community, anyway - advocate using oils like virgin coconut oil on their hair to help prevent the hair from drying out and for maintaining hair health. If your MC HAD to wash her hair every day, she could use oils or leave in conditioners after the stepmother does her smelling deed.

spike
08-09-2008, 04:57 PM
I'm the parent of a bi-racial child, with no inlaws to help with the hair.

As stated before, you can not wash the hair everyday. This can be a major point of contention. My daughter washes it once/twice a week. I wash my hair (caucasian) once/twice a day.

It needs to have lotion applied to the hair/scalp. We like pink lotion, but in a pinch, I've used body lotion or regular condition and just combed it through.

Relaxing can damage the hair, much like too many perms can do on a caucasian person.

Corn rows, if done correctly, can promote hair growth. If done incorrectly can break the hair.

If relaxed, it needs to be straightened after washing. Either with a straighten iron or with huge rollers and a bonet hair drier.

If I think of more I'll let you know.