Mothers and daughters should spend special time together working on their natural hair

Mother-Daughter Natural Rituals

Since the beginning of time, people have enjoyed the benefits of rituals. Africans, in particular have combined herbs and rituals such as relaxing head massage. Today, Indian head massage (Malish) is enjoying attention in the United States.

I grew up as a “tender headed” child. I, like many people with thick, tightly curled, easily tangled, long hair, readily feel pain and am not shy about letting everyone know about it. The word 'ouch,' followed by a flood of tears, was synonymous with hair-washing time and with being tender-headed.

Today, as an herbalist and aromatherapist, I have discovered numerous ways of easing pain naturally. Mother (or other caretaker) and child benefit from these suggestions; bonding, trust, affection and sharing are inspired. The simple rituals shared in this article, paired with herbal remedies, encourage gentle hair care. Ingredients listed are useful for African- descended children with tightly curled, kinky or nappy hair.

Soothing Ritual

1) Put on a melodic CD. Try: Bobby McFarrin, Sweet Honey and the Rock or Ladysmith Black Mamboza on “African Lullaby” by Music for Little People.

2) Warm sweet almond, jojoba, avocado oil or shea butter/

3) Have child sit on a Zafu or Zabuton (Zen meditation pillow; see suppliers. These types work especially well, though any pillow will do.

4) Retrieve oil from microwave or stovetop. Add 3 drops lavender, sandalwood or chamomile essential oil or 1 drop rose otto to accentuate the relaxing nature of the oil. Situate yourself so that your child is between your knees on her pillow. Dip fingers into the oil and gently massage the entire scalp

5) Put on plastic cap or wrap hair in cellophane. Wrap again in large towel. Have child lie down on pillow and listen to relaxing music for 20 minutes

6) Light Nag Champa incense; place in censor or fireproof holder

7) Shampoo hair using a high-quality detangling shampoo, such as Cream of Nature; towel dry

8) Put a clean dry towel around her neck; mist hair with No More Tangles.

9) Mist her face and hair again, this time using lavender or rose water. (Mist your face as well). Repeat as you encounter snarls

10) Separate wet hair with an Afro pick; mist as needed. Style, using the widest comb available


Gentle Styling Ideas

The blessing of kinky and curly hair is the numerous styling options. Mom can allow her creativity to shine. Each style becomes a makeover and an adventure. Here are a few options that are easy for you, gentle to children’s scalps and well-suited to African hair.1) A soft headband or colorful scarf (folded down to headband size). Put hair into a softly sculpted puff by shaping it with your hands.


Further Reading

Fragrant Herbal: Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness, Bulfinch Press, 1998The Art of Indian Head Massage by Mary Atkinson, Carlton Books, 2002

Welcoming Spirit Home: Ancient African Teachings to Celebrate Children and Community by Sobonfu E. Some, Eagle Brooke Medicine, New World Library, 1999

Supplies

Liberty Natural Products, Inc. 8120 SE Stark St. Portland, OR 97215 PH: 503-256-1227. (Essential oils, floral waters, rose otto, aloe gel, oils)

Scents of Earth, PO Box 859, Sun City CA 92586, toll free: 800-323-8159
(Yoga pillows, choice sandalwood other relaxing oils)

Wild Weeds 707-839-4101.(Sells floral waters and essential oils among other herbal supplies.)

Shopping

Cream of Nature Shampoo, No More Tangles, Aloe Gel and Silk Head Scarf: Sally’s Beauty Supplies, Wal-Mart, Walgreens or Target

Celestial Seasonings Teas: Supermarket and Health Food Stores

Nag Champa Incense: Chinatown, Asian Grocers, Health food stores

Silk or Satin Pillowcase: Linens and Things; Marshall Fields

Headbands and scrunchies: Claires

2) Part hair in the middle and make two Afro puffs if hair is long enough. Use a scrunchie. For added fun, make a zigzag part.

3) For a longer-lasting hairstyle, try a double-strand twist.

  • Divide hair into four sections.
  • Clip or braid three sections to contain the hair.
  • Part hair into 3/4” boxes; twist (using two strands).
  • Apply aloe vera gel to hair to hold ends, or, if necessary, use matching rubber bands.
  • Take breaks. Massage her shoulders. Mist hair and apply aloe as needed. Continue until the entire head is styled. Should last at least 4 weeks, especially a silk scarf is worn to bed (or if silk or satin pillowcases are used).

Fait a Compli

Complete the ritual with cup of peppermint or chamomile tea:
Boil two cups water; add 1 Celestial Seasons (peppermint or chamomile) tea bag to each cup; pour water over tea bags, filling cup. Sweeten with honey; flavor with lemon or milk if desired.

By now, the two of you should be relaxed and eagerly looking forward to next month’s ritual. In the interim, have fun shopping for interesting oils, incense, herbs and floral waters for the next Mother and Daughter Hair Ritual.


Herbs

Chamomile Roman:(Anthemis nobilis, (Chamaemelum nobile)German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomile),(Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile reduces aches, pain, strain and arthritis; calms, cools and tranquilizes. Chamomile tea makes a wonderful hair rinse, for light hair.
Lavender (Lavendula officinalis)
Lavender is a relaxing herb. It pampers skin and hair. Lavender is calming and replenishing to the weary. Spray on hair, face and body for energy and inspiration.
Nag Champa
This heavenly incense from India is one of the world’s most popular types of incenses. Traditionally used by the Hindi and Buddhists for meditation and temple rites, Nag Champa is relaxing, inexpensive and widely available.

Peppermint (Mentha piperata)
Peppermint was once considered a cure-all, for just about every known discomfort. Putting a couple of tea bags inside a washcloth works as a compress to relieve headache and body pains. Peppermint soothes the nerves and is enjoyed by children.

Rose Otto (Rosa damascena)
Whatever you need, calm, balance, stimulation, cooling off after an argument, rose otto or attar of roses can help. Bulgarian damask roses are usually prepared as rose water. The water is a nourishing treat for the hair and skin; it is also cooling. Rose otto is very expensive but it is also very powerful—a few drops are all that is needed.

Sandalwood (Santalum album )
Sandalwood builds self-confidence and generates well-being within the environment.

Further Reading

Fragrant Herbal: Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness, Bulfinch Press, 1998
The Art of Indian Head Massage by Mary Atkinson, Carlton Books, 2002

Welcoming Spirit Home: Ancient African Teachings to Celebrate Children and Community by Sobonfu E. Some, Eagle Brooke Medicine, New World Library, 1999

Supplies

Liberty Natural Products, Inc. 8120 SE Stark St. Portland, OR 97215 PH: 503-256-1227. (Essential oils, floral waters, rose otto, aloe gel, oils)

Scents of Earth, PO Box 859, Sun City CA 92586, toll free: 800-323-8159
(Yoga pillows, choice sandalwood other relaxing oils)

Wild Weeds 707-839-4101.(Sells floral waters and essential oils among other herbal supplies.)
Shopping

Cream of Nature Shampoo, No More Tangles, Aloe Gel and Silk Head Scarf: Sally’s Beauty Supplies, Wal-Mart, Walgreens or Target

Celestial Seasonings Teas: Supermarket and Health Food Stores

Nag Champa Incense: Chinatown, Asian Grocers, Health food stores

Silk or Satin Pillowcase: Linens and Things; Marshall Fields

Headbands and scrunchies: Claires