Let’s talk about suki

a.k.a hair

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Odette’s hair, or suki (sue key) as she refers to it, intimidated me before I even laid my eyes on it.  In my years of reading transracial family blogs I learned that hair care is VERY important for new parents to learn.  It is a cultural thing that should be honored and respected. This momma was scared. I read a lot and tried to soak it all in.  Little did I know that a bald headed beauty would be placed in my arms.  I had carefully noted all of her hair styles and tried to examine the pictures to determine her hair type.  I bought beads, and bands, and creams, and detanglers, and oils, and headbands, and barrettes, and ballies.  I bought it all.  Then surprise…Odette was more clean shaven than her daddy on her gotcha day.

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I was so disappointed.  She looked nothing like the little girl that I stared at for months.  She looked like all the ‘others’ not like mine. No hair coupled with no smile and I wasn’t sure I was being given the right kid. (joking)  Instead of experimenting on her hair during our first few days, she put the barrettes in mine.

We weren’t even home yet, when Jeff pointed out that Odette’s head being shaved was probably a blessing in disguise.  I didn’t agree then, but now I will.  It was a blessing in disguise.  It allowed us to learn to care for her and bond with her.  We didn’t have painful detangling sessions, fluffing, twisting, or braiding (most likely would have been knotting).  We also had the chance to learn much more about her hair as we’ve watched it grow.  It gave us a fresh start to a healthy and fun hair routine.

Since you’ve asked, I will share what works for us.  Each child’s hair is different and what works for Odette might not work for your child and vice a versa.  Everything that I know I learned on Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care.  I should point out that we are keeping a natural hair care routine for Odette.  If you don’t have a chocolate love you will probably be very surprised at what is (or isn’t) involved.

First of all, I never shampoo Odette’s hair.  I co-wash, which means I wash it with conditioner.  The natural conditioner that I picked up is Gud by Bert’s Bees.  (Because her hair is so short we don’t really need a detangling conditioner or leave in conditioner yet.  I do have Kinky Curly Knot Today for when that time comes)

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I soak her head really well before applying the conditioner.

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I slather it on and work up a tiny suds.

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Then stick a shower cap on her head and let her play away in the tub.

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I use the hand shower to rinse it well.

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Then I barely pat it dry to catch the drips.  Water = moisture.  I seal the moisture in with an oil.  After baths I use organic unrefined virgin coconut oil.   We store it in the refrigerator so it doesn’t spoil, but that means chipping it out with a spoon.

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It melts with a quick rub of the hands.

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It doesn’t take much coconut oil to cover all of her hair and get it looking silky smooth.  I like the light scent of coconut oil and that it doesn’t leave her hair overly greasy feeling.  It is absorbed pretty quickly.  (Look at those tight ringlets!)

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In our house bath time is followed by bedtime. So we plop her sleep cap on her head and call it done for the night.  (This photo was actually taken at nap time.  I was in the process of putting clean sheets on her bed and the goofy kid asked to sleep on the pile on the floor.)

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Here is another shot of her in her new cap.   She was so excited about it that she wore it around for hours.  The cap is made out of swimsuit material.  It prevents her hair from rubbing on her sheets (she also has satin pillowcases for this reason) and helps to keep the hair from breaking.  The cap ideally is worn over the ears, but I haven’t convinced Odette of that yet.

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Again, because Odette’s hair is so short, our routine is quick and easy.  It will change drastically as her hair grows.  In the morning it takes less than 5 minutes and we are ready to scoot out the door.

When she wakes up her hair is a bit frizzy like this.

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We wrap a towel around her to protect her clothes and to catch the drips.

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Then I spray her hair with a mixture of distilled water and organic grapeseed oil. It is mostly water, probably 5/6.  Be sure to give it a good shake to mix the oil and water.

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Rub it in. Remember water = moisture and oil to seal.

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Next I add some product to help define her curls and prevent it from frizzing.

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I rub the product all throughout the hair.  I add a little extra around her hairline where her hair likes to frizz.

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The final step is to brush it.  I use a Denman brush for this.

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I like the way it separates the curls.

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Without brushing it would look more like this.

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Lastly, smile and show off your beautiful suki.

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I talk a lot with Odette about her hair.  I want her to grow up proud of her hair in its natural curls.  I am looking forward to being able to style it in all sorts of fun ways.

Here are a few more shots of the products we use.  The oils are from Whole Foods in the cooking oil section.  I think I am going to try adding jojoba oil and some argon oil to our spray bottle next.  I tried olive oil, but didn’t care for it because it left oil marks on clothes. We are now using the Kinky Curly Curling Custard on Odette’s hair.  We started with the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, but I noticed some bumps (like clogged pores) on Odette’s scalp so we switched.

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So there you go.  That is what we are doing for Odette’s hair.  I think it is working.  Her hair is growing like crazy.

Oh, and before swimming in a chlorinated pool I soak her hair, apply coconut oil, and put on her swim cap.  The hair will absorb the water and oil and not absorb the chlorine.  Actually, if the swim cap does its job, the hair shouldn’t even be exposed to the water.

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So what about you?  What is the routine for the chocolate hair in your life?  What surprised you the most about what we do?   I love hearing from you.

Sarah Signature

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2 thoughts on “Let’s talk about suki

  1. Thanks for this post, Sarah! I’ve been wondering about your hair care routine as Odette’s hair is growing in. I just bought a crud load of hair products this weekend (many of them that you mentioned in your post!) to be ready for when C comes home. One question I have for you: What is your rationale for changing oils in your spray? Will you put some of each (grape seed, jojoba, argon, coconut) or just the jojoba/argon combo? I’m just wondering. My plan is to use jojoba and maybe olive oil, but I was thinking of grape seed or almond oil. It really does look like Odette’s hair is doing great!

  2. O, what am I going to do without you when you’re done blogging? I’ll have to find a new fav flava, AND start researching stuff myself : ) So exciting that her hair is growing back so nicely. My friends from Africa keep telling me to shave Little H’s head while still in Congo because of all the benifits to starting fresh. I keep going back and forth, I will absolutely if she has lice, poor baby would be even more terrified if she had to sit for hours while I washed, conditioned and tugged on her sweet head looking for bugs.

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