Bantu knots and the hair bully

After a four-month teacher strike, our two girls went back to public school for the first time last week. As per our usual autumn routine, we took their hair out of extensions and styled it into some cute hairstyles.

I have been working extra hours lately, as we just opened a new business, so I opted for hairstyles that could be done in 30 to 40 minutes. One daughter got wide, flat twists, while the other looked up from her movie to see that I had done Bantu knots in her hair.

“Oh no!” my daughter with the knots all over her head exclaimed. “I can’t wear this to school! Kids will make fun of me!”

I was, of course, devastated. Not only had I put in the time to do her hair, but I wanted her to feel comfortable and confident with her hairstyle. My daughters are lovely little girls, and have always felt good about the way they look. Hearing her nervous about her hairstyle made me nervous. Would kids truly make fun of her? And who were these kids anyway? Some kind of hair bullies?

I sent her to bed with a towel rolled under her neck and some melatonin to sleep through that first uncomfortable night of Bantu knots. I promised that we would take it out in the morning if she still felt uncomfortable.

In the morning, she told us at the breakfast table that she was scared about the neighborhood boys giving her a hard time about her hair.

My husband’s advice? To quip back “Well, I can change my hair, but you can’t change your face. “

I thought this was a ridiculous thing to say.

I gave her a pep talk about feeling confident and proud of her hair, culture, etc. I also reminded her that her friends love her hair, and more people would like it that would not like it.

So I walked my daughter to school, Bantu knots and all.

After the day was done, I asked her about how it went.

She looked at me and smiled.

“I got lots of compliments on my hair.” She said. “One of the boys did make fun of my hair, though, until the teacher told him to leave me alone.

Then at lunchtime, he came to bug me about my hair on the playground.

I told him that I can change my hair, but he can’t change his face. He didn’t know what to say!”

I sighed.

“Daddy had a good idea!” She grinned ear to ear. “The boy just didn’t know what to say.”

Well it wasn’t my parenting method, but the result was my intention. For the last week, she’s worn her hair to school and not had anything but compliments. The annoying boy was apparently put into his place with her witty retort.

And most importantly, my daughter is wearing, with pride, an extremely avant-garde cultural hairdo that keeps her hair free from tangles and shows off the gorgeous shape of her head.

Take that, hair bully.

Africa Sleeps: Tub Time Challenge! Win conditioner and curl definition

I admit, sometimes I just don’t have two or three hours to set aside and do my daughter’s hair! So we have perfected the art of the super quick style done while my girls lay in the bathtub. That’s right… Fifteen minutes, that’s all I get!

This is one super quick style we did last week. I just picked her hair out with Sweet Orange Cardamom Moisturizing Conditioner, cornrowed big sections of her hair and pulled them back into a puff. A little Mixed Citrus Curl Definition tapped into her curls to finish, and voila! Simple, but super cute.

I would love to see some of your super quick styles… Please feel post your pics on our Facebook page! Let’s show the world what we can do with 15 minutes!

The best picture posted before October 31, 2013, gets 4oz bottles of the two products I mentioned above. How about them oranges?


Hair styles: two stranded twists


One of my favourite “quick” styles to do on my girls is two stranded twists. Of course, it’s only quick if you do big loopy twists with lists of hair! Smaller sections of hair take longer. But I love the soft looks of my daughter’s hair in this style.


Spring Has Sprung!

We just got a huge batch of sleep caps in.. check out these gorgeous floral styles and more! Please check it out!

If you are new to this blog or Africa Sleeps, here’s a little about our store:

  1. Sleep caps are your best tool to keep braids fresh and hair untangled when you little one sleeps.
  2. Our sleep caps store is our adoption fundriaser! So 95% of the store’s revenue goes to our travel fund.
  3. 5% of revenues (ok, so it’s a little more than that!) are donated to Vulnerable Children Society. We actually sponsor an extra child each onth, which is more than 5% of the revenue, but what the heck! It’s a wonderful cuase!!

Magic Hair Elixir


I have received so many requests for this recipe since our old blog went off-line – so here it is. Since I posted the recipe in 2010, it’s become a community staple product!

I created this hair elixir for my girls African hair as a gel replacement, so I could get a grip while doing their braids, and to keep their tresses tidy when styled. It keeps my girls’ hair is gorgeous condition, protecting their hair in braids. I apply a little at the base of each braid as I style their hair.

You can make it more as a conditioning product or as a holding product – the ingredient to add or subtract is beeswax. If you have more wax, it will hold braids longer and protect them better from the elements, but the product becomes stiff and needs to be warmed before use. You also need to periodically strip their hair with apple cider vinegar if you use more beeswax than my recipe. BUT, if you make it with my ratios, you should have a malleable product at room temperature, and your child’s hair shouldn’t need more than a good shampoo between styles. If you simply want a conditioning product without any hold, you could leave out the beeswax all together.


Have fun making your own Magic Hair Elixir!

My Magic Hair Elixir

You can make any amount of this product – if you make it in a jar, for example, then the “1/4” measure is a 1/4 of a jar.

  • 1/4 beeswax
    I get mine at the farmer’s market or local organic honey farm. It smells so heavenly, and is very inexpensive.
  • 1/4 coconut or shea butter
    Both work great. 100% butters are available at your local health food and most grocery stores. I buy the organic coconut butter most often. Who needs pesticides on coconuts? Note that shea butter hardens more than coconut, so you might need to adjust your ratios or warm up before use.
  • 1/2 oil (olive or sweet almond are good)
    The trick is you can’t use any oil that needs to be stored in the fridge after opening. I use organic sweet almond oil that comes in large bottles from the health food store.

Melt all the 3 ingredients together in a jar over water, or in the microwave. The wax will melt last – careful not to burn yourself with the oil! As it cools, stir several times so it doesn’t separate. Store at room temperature so it is ready to use. If it is too hard, then warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave before use… or use more almond oil next time!