Book Review: Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care: A Parent’s Guide to Beginning Natural Hair Styling by Rory Mullen

Black hair styling techniques for children.

Shannon Hicks January 10, 2015
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After styling my daughter’s hair for almost four years now (with a LOT of help from my friends—and the internet), I feel like I have mastered many African American hair care basics. But when I got the book Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care for Christmas, I devoured it in one day.

Hair is a big deal.

As a transracial adoptive mama, hair is a really big deal. This book is a great place to start.

Pros of this book:

*The photographs! Rory has been photographing her families’ hair adventures for her blog for several years. This book is full of photographs that demonstrate specific styling techniques step-by-step. It also includes many photographs showing ways that these basic techniques can be combined to create more complex styles.

*Each basic technique (coils, twists, braids, flat twists, cornrows) is broken down into a very detailed set of instructions accompanied by photographs. This easy-to-follow format inspired me to try out a new technique on my daughter’s hair this weekend.

*It is about more than technique. Throughout the book, Rory emphasizes the importance of hair health, enjoying childhood and creating a hair routine that works for your family. As a transracial adoptive mama, I sometimes make hair a bigger deal than I should because I want my daughter to look good (and I want everyone to see that I can take care of her well—including her hair!). This book gives me permission to breathe. And to adjust expectations when being a kid is more important than having a perfect hairstyle (which is pretty much always!)

Cons of this book:

*It is a beginner’s guide. If you follow Rory’s blog, you know that she has created some impressively elaborate styles with her daughter’s hair. No advanced techniques are addressed in this book. If you already know how to twist, braid and cornrow, you may find this book unnecessary.

*Pretty much all of this information is available for free on the internet (much of it on the Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care blog). Personally, I love being able to have it in book form, but some others may disagree.

I love this book and know that I will refer back to it many times. It is the perfect gift for new parents who are adopting transracially, or anyone who wants to master the basics of caring for naturally curly hair.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, you can search for Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care: A Parent’s Guide to Beginning Natural Hair Styling by Rory Mullen, copyright 2014.

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Shannon Hicks

Shannon is mom to two amazing kids who joined her family through foster care adoption. She is passionate about advocating for children through her writing and her job as a kindergarten teacher. You can read more from her at Adoption, Grace and Life.


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