Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oh, What a Tangled Web!

This blog post is a direct response to a Facebook post. I'm responding here for two reasons: 1. I want to say more than I can fit in a Facebook comment box, and 2. I want to include pictures.

I said:
Which is more cruel: Subjecting Valerie to a tortuous detangling session every morning or chopping off all her hair?

You chimed in with many well-reasoned responses in defense of both alternatives. Here is a little bit more background.

  • I wanted to just let her hair grow until she was old enough to make a decision for herself, but it just got too damaged to leave it alone.

  • This is not styling damage. We hardly ever do pigtails anymore, and when we did, I was super-careful taking the rubber bands out. The problem is that Valerie used to rip fistfuls of hair out. I'm not sure why, I think it was out of frustration. Or maybe she just liked how it felt. As a result, most of her adorable curls are already gone, and the ends of her hair are all split and broken.

  • Her hair grows really slowly. Other than trimming her bangs a little bit when she was about one year old, she never had a haircut until she was two, and when she did get her hair cut, it was still not-very-long, fluffy, baby hair.

  • When she had her hair cut, I asked the hairdresser to cut away as many of the split ends as possible, but keep as many of the long curls as possible. She did her best, but without giving Valerie a mullet, she couldn't get all the split ends.

  • I do use a detangling spray. Copious amounts of it. It makes the brushing merely tortuous rather than murderous. I also brush her hair out after her tubby and it is generally dry before she goes to sleep. And yet, this is what it looks like in the morning:
    Side view:

  • As you can see in the side view, the front/sides aren't really affected, so I don't need to give her an all-out "boy" cut. I was thinking maybe something like a junior version of Kate Gosselin's haircut (which, for the record, I had before she did),

    or even a Chelsea.

    Okay, maybe not a Chelsea. But it would solve the messy back problem while leaving the front AND what's left of her curls at the bottom.

As you can probably guess, I'm leaning towards cutting it. Hair grows back, and hopefully, now that she no longer rips her hair out, once we get past the split ends, it can grow back healthy. And frankly, having one less battle to fight every day when I'm already constantly fighting the, "Don't hurt/wake/squeeze/hit the baby," battle is pretty appealing. I don't think she cares about her hair one way or the other, but she definitely hates it being brushed. I'll wait until after Christmas, though, so she can at least have what's left of her curls in the pictures. After that, we'll see.


Marianne said...

To get Maya's tangles out I put her in the shower and use a LOT (as in about a handful) of conditioner and comb it out in the shower. This works best if I'm in there with her and she is distracted by a toy, or by drawing pictures with shaving cream. It is virtually impossible to get her to let me brush or comb her hair outside of the shower, but she's ok with doing it in the shower. (She's now 3).

Also, our hair battles fixed themselves more or less when she decided last winter that she liked ponytails after all and wanted to wear her hair in a ponytail all the time, especially when sleeping (it's her security blanket .. she holds her ponytail when she's going to sleep. Before that she held a fistful of hair which led to tangles). Can you try that with Valerie? From the pics, its hard to tell if it would stay in when she sleeps, as it looks pretty fine. Also, you have to be confident that if she pulls out the elastic, she won't chew on it and choke. (For while we took Maya's out after she feel asleep.)

Otherwise, I'd go ahead and try some kind of cute pixie cut. You're right that hair grows back -- and it will likely start growing faster as she's a bit older, too. A pretty hair clip can give you a girly look with short hair for when you want to be a bit fancy.

Good luck!

Alana said...

I would cut it short, I think it would look cute. But if you decide not to, this is what I do to avoid my own hair being tangled in the morning. I wash my hair at night and braid it while it's wet. Much easier to brush out in the morning and it's usually mostly dry so I don't have to use a hairdryer.

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything wrong with cutting it. My parents kept my hair short my earliest years. And later I went to pigtails. I do well remember disliking that hair-brushing ritual. I was pretty happy with short hair in kindergarten too. I think maybe after that I started to grow it a little longer, though not much longer. I liked the short hair a lot and didn't care about long hair until later on anyway. Those tangles in Valerie's morning hair is just AWFUL! Wow, poor kid! Yeah and definitely agree that one less 'fight' for you to deal with is a very, very good thing.

PS headbands make short hair look awfully cute! :)

Anonymous said...

I guess Grandma should have a say! I still remember your first hair cut. Your hair was much like Valerie's, very thin but without the curls. It looked cute short and we kept that way for a couple of years, until you were old enough to put it into pig tails or braids. So I say, "cut it"!
Valerie will look cute no matter what you do!!

nivchek said...

The problem, I would guess, might be shampoo. The natural oils in hair are the best detanglers we have available. I have proved this out on myself. I no longer use shampoo, but just plain baking soda, and I rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. I would recommend you do not wash her hair for at least a week, to start with. Then oil it good one night with coconut oil and put her to bed with a stocking cap on. In the morning, wash her hair with only baking soda (google this, since there are several ways to go about that process). Rinse it with very dilute apple cider vinegar. Then ban shampoo and only use BS and ACV, and no more often than every other day, but probably less. My boys only have their hair washed if it looks or smells dirty, and I'll tell you, that is very rare... BECAUSE of the fact that they never use shampoo. Shampoo eliminates the balance that keeps hair shiny and clean by itself most of the time. Shampoo strips the natural oils and this is the root of the damage you are describing, IMO, and IME.

Love you and miss you all!

amy said...

I'm totally jumping on the "cut it" band waggon! Those morning knots are crazy and her hair isn't super long or anything, wow. She's going to be super cute regardless of the length of her hair :-)

Ashley said...

Whether you cut it or not, if the tangles continue, I agree to try out the "no-poo" method (no shampoo) and to combing it out with a wide-toothed comb, while it has conditioner on it. I have had to do this with Kori's thick bi-racial hair since she was a baby. She does it herself, now, though sometimes I have to help her because there's so much of it.

Also, you could get a leave-in conditioner, apply it to her hair after the bath, comb it then, and then squeeze/towel off the excess. The rest will naturally get soaked up. Good luck!