Meet Ava, she’s four and fabulous. I am certain she knows how to navigate through TikTok and Instagram better than we ever can and I promise you her personality is as big as her hair. Like a lot of the next generation, Ava has the pleasure of being bi-racial. Her mom, the famous Sharon Braga.
AKA @Yogacolourist. Her dad, photographer extraordinaire, Danny Braga AKA @iambraga – hence the reason she was so good in front of the camera. Ava is a perfect mix of Portuguese and Zimbabwean, giving her 3B, 3C and 4A hair textures. That’s a lot of texture for one little person.
Regardless, nothing stood out more for me than how she openly asked Instagram for help managing her daughter Ava’s hair. Once a week it would be both stress and tears on wash day. For me personally, I remember being four, and hair day was hell. It was long and it hurt. There were three of us, and whether you went first or last it sucked.
So, we reached out to Sharon to see if we could both help and share her experience as a mom with a child that doesn’t have hair like hers. Many assume that as black women/stylists we all know how to work on black women. But I want to reiterate that every head of curly hair has multiple textures and is rarely the same. And like all things in beauty, we require adequate training for superior results. It is not a secret that hair with texture takes time to perfect. You have to consider everything before starting any service. However here are the top four:
Porosity – The hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. The porosity of your hair determines how well moisture (i.e. oils and water) travel in and out of the cuticle layers of your hair.
Elasticity – Elasticity is the hair’s ability to stretch and return to its original shape. Healthy hairs are made up of an equal balance of protein and moisture, this balance determines the elasticity of your hair.
Texture – Textured hair is where strands create shape, curves, spirals, zig zags or waves; hair is kinky, coily, curly or wavy. Identifying hair textures allows you to properly address the hair type and set your expectations of what can be achieved with it.
Strength – The hair cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. Formed from dead cells, overlapping in layers, this form scales that strengthen and protect the hair shaft.
Once we identified Ava’s hair texture, we began our two-hour process and Ava was perfect. One of the things Sharon expressed to us was the lack of professional hair products that catered to her daughter’s hair type. As a stylist she has access to a world of product but none that knowingly address the needs of Ava’s hair. Why is this so important? Because beautiful Ava is our future, along with many little girls and boys that will also have her hair type. So as an industry professional, the need to not only understand all hair types but to also have the diverse product knowledge is a skill that should be at the forefront of our minds.
The key here is control. Getting her hair to do what I want it to do. Her predominant curl pattern is 3C. Very soft and manageable. However, because she has areas of the hair that are a 4A, cuticle layers are going to cross causing hair to tangle and matte if not well hydrated. We shampooed first with All about Curls lo lather cleanser. This is great for hydration but also has a low PH, keeping the cuticle as smooth as possible. This also eliminated me having to use conditioner. Knowing I was using an oil (Orofluido), and leave in conditioner (Uniq One) and a curl cream (Moroccan Oil Curl Cream).
Once her hair was well hydrated, we brushed through with a paddle brush from ends to root in small sections. We used full resistance on each section to eliminate pulling her hair.
We sectioned the hair into 14 equal parts, creating 14 two-strand braids. This technique is used to create a new curl pattern for Ava’s hair. As we wrap each section, we pull gently, stretching each strand of hair, smoothing the cuticle, creating a larger curl pattern. As always, hair only sets when dry.
After hair is completely dried, either naturally, with a diffuser, or a hood dryer, you carefully unravel each curl revealing a new curl pattern. Continue separating hair until you have created your desired fullness and style.
If needed, lightly apply oil or oil sheen to hair for additional shine.
I would say the afternoon with Ava was a great success. Absolutely no tears. And she absolutely loved her hair.