Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hair Evolution: Genie Locs!

This is Kendi last week, with her beautiful soft and short natural curls. I just love her little curls. Her natural curl is a ringlet about the same width around as a thick toothpick. For her 3rd birthday, I thought it might be fun for her to experience having longer hair. Not sure how it would work out with some of her hair only being about 1/2 an inch long, and the longest strands about 2 inches long, we decided to try Genie Locs (aka yarn braids)! I started at 11:30am on Friday morning.

I didn't want to use basic black. I wanted it to be fun. So I used "Fiesta Black," which has little splashes of primary colors throughout. I figured this might hide fuzz well too! It does! [Don't forget to us acrylic yarn. Wool yarn will permanently loc into the hair!] By 3pm this is where we were at. We left at 4pm to go out of town for the weekend, so my plan was to do the hardest part of her head first. The sides and back hairs are extremely thin/sparse, and, in some places, basically bald. I had to try 3 or 4 times to get some of them to attach since her hair is so short.
TIP #1: I found shea butter worked WONDERFULLY to put on the hair before I wove the yarn in. It isn't slippery like lots of hair butters and creams. I needed the help of friction, since her hair was so short.

When we left for Wichita Kendi basically looked like she had the hair of a balding man! LOL! She had a ring of braids around the sides and bottom of her head, with her normal short hair on the top and back of her head. What to do? Thank goodness for hats! Nobody had a clue she was 1/4 braided as we traveled. ;-)
TIP #2: Have a strategy in place for how you will hide a half done head of hair, even if you plan to have it done in one sitting. You never know!
When we got to my mom's house I started braiding again as soon as I could. I got started at around 9pm. I was working with her longer hairs, so it wasn't quite as difficult as the first round, but it was still slow going. These would be so easy to do with hair about 4 inches long!
Our Process: Apply shea butter to hair section. Attach the yarn. Braid to desired length. Double knot at the end. Cut the excess. Singe the end with a candle-lighter. Immediately role the melted yarn to meld it together at the end. Start again. Over and over!
At 11:30 everybody else in the house went to sleep, except Kendi and I. At midnight Kendi finally fell asleep. I sat up and watched HGTV as I kept working, until 3am. This was not a fun three hours. Kendi was bothered each time I had to attach the yarn because it slightly pulled her hair. And the angles were VERY difficult, trying to working around her tossing and turning! Finally at 3am I decided I must wake her up. Poor baby! I enticed her with middle-of-the-night cartoons. At 3am I also went into plan B mode. It was simply taking too long to work each braid to the end and start new. Instead, I started attaching each yarn braid and braiding just to the point of the end of her hair (about 1.5 - 2 inches). Then I'd leave the rest hanging and move to the next braid. Attaching is the hard part (with such short thin hair), so I figured if I could just get done attaching all of the braids we could do the rest the next day.
Finally, at 4:30am I placed the last yarn braid. WHEW! I took Kendi into the bathroom to see. This was the first time she had seen her hair since she saw the bottom row completed before we went out of town.
Isn't her expression priceless?! LOL! She said, "Mommy! I have Dora hair!" Yes, Dora is the queen of her life at the moment. Of course it was a shock! PLUS she wasn't seeing the end result here. Just lots of "hair," most of which would be chopped off the next morning!
Here's what the back looked like before we went to bed. Sort of reminds me of a cabbage patch doll with all that loose yarn hanging down! Not exactly the natural look!
After a few horizontal hours I got up and finished the job. Braiding, knotting, and singeing the unfinished braids didn't take long the next morning. Then I added snaps to the end of each braid. I purposely layered the lengths because I wanted her braids to resemble natural locs. If her hair was really grown out to this length it would be shorter at the crown than at the base, if braided. To me, this look is more realistic for a brand new 3 year old. IF she had typical hair growth it might be this length by now. I'm not completely happy with some of the lengths. I should have made some of them a bit longer. But it is what it is!
You are looking at exactly 112 braids on a head that currently fits into 3/6 month size infant hats (she has a tiny head). If you've done yarn braids/Genie locs before please leave me a comment and let me know how many you usually end up with! I'm imagining that kids with thick hair could have many fewer braids to achieve a nice look.
We took bets on how long it would be until the first braid fell off. If you do this on longer hair you can get 6-8 weeks out of the style (I'm told). Kend's hair is very fine, very sparse, and very short. I don't imagine we'll get anywhere near that long with this style! My mom guessed the first braid would fall out at around 2pm. Eric guessed 4:30pm. I was hoping for 24 hours! We all lost! All braids stayed in all day, until she was falling asleep on my lap at about 10pm. One of the hearts got snagged on a pillow. When I repositioned her I ripped it right out! Darn it! LOL! But I can proudly say that none have just "fallen" out yet!
Here's my beautiful 3 year old from the front. Her hair was a big hit at her b-day party, and I'm sure it will always be a fond memory--our sitting up all night long so mommy could give her the feel of "long" braids for her 3rd birthday.
All in all, this took around 12 hours. From 11:30am on Friday until 4:30am on Saturday morning, I worked 10.5 hours. That's 10.5 out of 17 hours we were putting in the "locs!" And 7.5 of those hours Kendi was wide awake on my lap, not crying, not complaining. All of those 1-2 hour hair sessions with me have paid off! She was prepped and ready for her first time to really sit through a long hair session. I'm very proud of her.
Would I do it again? I'm sure I will, but not anytime soon! I already miss her real curls. She loves it, and that makes it worth it. She runs around like Bo Derrick, throwing her braids over her shoulder just like the diva she is. She jumps up and down to hear them click-clacking away. She is fully enamored to have hair the length of most other 3 year olds with African hair!
It will be fun to see all of the things we can do with these. Pigtails? Ponytails? Headbands will have a totally new look. I'll keep you updated on how long these last with a kiddo whose natural hair is so short!


Jen 11:18 PM  

Super Cute! Selina gets that excited too with her braids! I have done yard braids about four times now and have only had one come out on it's own. They can last months for me.

I put a few beads at the bottom and then knot them and cut below that so I don't think there is much of anything to get caught on something.

I also found that making them long enough to put in one pony helps make them last longer. It probably does not look as natural with them longer for a three year old but Selina loves the pony tail and it is super easy so we go with it!

112 in her hair is a lot..I am impressed. I do more than that but Selina has more hair. I can appreciate your staying up and trying to do it as she slept... I have done that a few times! It gets easier as you figure out what works for you, how long you like them and how to most efficiently get them in!

For all the work though, it is well worth it when it is done. By then, I am so sick of Dora I could scream!

Isn't it just so worth it to see how much joy it brings the girls?!

Congrats on being able to do yarn braids.. She looks beautiful with them!

Amanda 11:30 PM  

I am so impressed, Anita! i would have never guessed from the photos how short her hair really is. You are super talented!


Cheryl 11:40 PM  

That is awesome! I know how long it takes and how your fingers feel like they are bleeding by the third day. It looks SO cute! I love the fiesta black - we always just use black. What brand is it? Where did you get it? I've tried so many brands and types of yarn over the past year! Great job! :)

Mama D.'s Dozen 1:59 AM  

Adorable! Great job!

My 8 y.o. with thick hair usually ends up with 150+ braids. My 11 y.o. with much thinner/sparser hair usually ends up with 90-100 braids.

Our braids can last 3-4 months. Seriously. We've even had braids in for almost 6 months, and they still look good.

Yarn braids can actually be very good for the natural hair. They are known as a "protective style" that protects the natural hair.

I do as Jen does ... put a couple of beads on the end and then tie a knot. No need to burn the ends.

I would guess that you could teach Taevy to put the beads on. I use my "big girl" helper, and it's a fun project for us to do together. I braid down past the natural hair, determine how long I want the braids to be. I put about 5 in on one side of the head. Then, while I am doing 5 on the other side of the head, my big girl is putting beads on the first side. So, we switch back and forth. After all braids are in, and beads are on, then I go around and "clean up" the lengths before tying the final knots.

It gets faster. I use to take about 12 hours per girl (with my big girl helper, too). Now, we can do it in 7-8 hours. (And, this is for 150 braids that are down past the shoulder.)

Great job, Anita!!! She looks adorable!!!


Dawn 12:18 PM  

Wonderful and good job mama! I do not have any kids with African hair (darn)but this all looks so pretty and she loves it you can tell. Wow, I admire you!

A. Gillispie 12:25 PM  


For fun you could do one or two in a white child's hair! Taevy really wants a turquoise stripe in her hair when she gets older. When she saw these braids she asked if she could have a turquiose one in her hair. Why not? I put one in and it is very fun and cute! They wouldn't stay in with shorter "white kid" hair, but it's staying in fine with Taevy's longer hair.

Cora 3:03 PM  

She looks adorable and a little older with long hair. Great job!