I’ve been watching videos on loc maintenance. Apparently, dryness is the enemy of locs…
Sidenote, I’ve learned so many things since I started my loc journey. I was looking forward to getting rid of combs. Then I saw tons of videos on how to retwist locs, where combs were a requirement. Also, every time I get my hair done a comb is used. So I bought a comb.
The loctician who started my locs didn’t put them in neat rows, she believes box parts create permanent parts that lead to gaps on the scalp which causes alopecia. Sidenote: box parts are good for people who are going to die with their loc pattern. Constant parting and pulling tension on the scalp will eventually scar the scalp and stop hair from growing in the parts. Which is cool, because it makes twisting and separating locs easier and they can’t get too messy.
I am not sure I want to have locs the rest of my life. I will cut my hair if or when I choose another path. So I have circular parts and can’t do a twisting method where you comb all the locks in a row, gel them and twist straight across. I tried! It initially upset me… Now I guess, I feel free. I am not using a comb. I can twist my hair and watch television. I just feel the loc and because I do it at least once a month they aren’t too tangled to tell what hair goes where… If I get crazy busy and go awhile without retwisting, once I went almost three months, I let a professional do it. I also let someone else do it a few times a year. I’ve only had my locs 4 years, so I’m still learning.
There is so much to say. I started this blog wanting to talk about how great my hair feels after moisturizing it. Now that I’ve begun writing, I also want to discuss how much we as black people don’t know about our hair. Because I already had a perm when I was finally allowed to do my own hairstyles and maintenance. Not to mention, I grew up getting my hair pressed, so I’ve always had straight hair.
My own natural hair was foreign to me. It took a while to embrace it. At first, I felt like an adult child wearing all the different parted, braided, twists and knots. Then I got comfortable doing my hair and started loving how it framed my face. Adding hair or straightening it felt wrong spiritually. I became the queen of twist styles. I went from three hours to being able to twist my hair in about 45 minutes or less. I started to wear fros with flat twists.
Black hair is kind of amazing… The way it can stand up without teasing or product. The way it looks beautiful when it’s freshly done and how it gets better as it swells and fills out. Eventually, after wearing so many twist styles I thought it would be easier to have locs… I thought retwisting locs would be easier and less time consuming than completely twisting my whole head from root to tip… I still haven’t found this to be true.
When I first moved away from my loctician, it literally took me 16 hours to retwist my hair. I was trying to place the clips. I was missing hair and afraid I would marry locs that didn’t go together. I wish I’d thought to check Youtube back then. Since then I’ve gotten faster, but retwisting locs is not as fast or easy as two-strand twisting from root to tip. Even when a loctician or a hair stylist has done my hair it takes them about an hour. Now I’ve gotten to where I can twist my entire head in the span of a movie. It depends on how intense the retwist is… If I’m palm rolling and cleaning up the ends it can easily take about three hours. I don’t always palm roll because of time and I’ve grown to appreciate fatter fuller locs. I palm roll out of necessity rather than to make the locs perfect… It seals my ends.
Now that I’ve had locs, I’m learning the nappier the better your hair locs and the better it holds natural styles. When you weigh your hair based on your own culture it changes your perspective. It changes you as a person. I went through this period where I wanted my locs to be perfect all the time. When I first started my locs I went to the loctician so often she refused to see me and said I would do damage to my hair shaft. She wouldn’t see me under six weeks. By the time I’d had them a year and a half, I was going about every three weeks. What I’m realizing now is, I was trying to have my hair super neat because I felt some kind of way about having nappy hair… But my hair is naturally nappy.
I also realized that I was still copying straight hair styles with my locs. When hating your culture and race are so deeply ingrained it’s hard to see when you are manifesting destructive behaviors. I actually twisted my hair when my loctician wouldn’t, it took all day, I did it wrong and my scalp hurt. As a black woman, I learned the tighter the better. Actually, the tighter your hair is, the more you’re harming your scalp… Tight bumps usually bust, releasing puss and the hair-strand inside of it. Multiply that times years of black girl black woman hair rituals and then you see why women’s edges are missing. I’m thinking about pain as the cost of beauty that I’ve allowed and sought out. Sit with that.
Now I’ve arrived at a place where I’m not so overwhelmed with my hair being perfect. I’m finding a balance. I let my hair get fuller… I won’t say messy cause I think that word is negative. Most black hair swells and that’s beautiful, too. More importantly, it’s healthy to let your scalp fill in. It lets you know if your scalp is in good health and that your hair is still growing all over.
Anyway, I saw a video that said dryness is the enemy of locs. The woman gave some oil mixtures to use… I won’t go into that because I think it’s a personal choice. I would say don’t use castor oil during winter, but otherwise any oil would be great for the hair… Organic virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, argon oil…
I don’t usually use products on my hair between washes. I just wash and twist with gel.. then get on with my life. Whenever I’ve oiled my hair, my face has broken out… I would wake up with huge bumps on my checks and near my ears.
This woman with long locs said you aren’t suppose to oil your scalp. Who else knew that? My loctician said not to put actual grease on my scalp because it clogs the hair shaft which slows down the growth and could lead to breaking at the root. My loctician, who initially started my locs was a master cosmetologist who specialized in and preferred working with natural hair… She hated grease for the scalp in general. She had long hair and all of her clients did as well if they chose. Which she said was simply because they stopped greasing their scalps. So I would spray a light oil on my scalp if it started itching and massage it in. Usually if your scalp is itching it’s because it’s adjusting and/or not on a washing schedule…
Our scalps make their own oil. Not as much as people with straight hair, which is why other hair types have to wash their hair more frequently. Notice I didn’t say race, because people who have hair between nappy and straight have to figure out how oily their hair is and wash it accordingly. People with straight hair generally should not go more than three or four days without washing their hair or it looks like they’ve dry shampooed it with baby oil. People with tight naps should try to be around two and a half to three weeks.
When you first start your locs your scalp itches, especially if you were like me and used to wash your hair every week with the longest being every two weeks… And when I had my tiny afro I might wash it every other day, because I’d take a shower and just throw some shampoo in it. I didn’t have to do any other maintenance… In hindsight this wasn’t healthy for my scalp, which made it itch more. Me not knowing anything about my own scalp or hair would then wash it more frequently. At one point I was washing it every day which didn’t allow my scalp to create its own oil… If I had known better, I would have laid off the washing, endured the itching and got on a washing schedule.
Not being on a washing schedule throws the self lubricating our scalp does off. So if you wash your hair whenever you feel like it, instead of every three weeks or every two weeks, the scalp has to adjust which causes itching. If you wash your hair on a schedule the itching will eventually stop.
I said all this to say, you just need to oil the hanging locs. Our scalp, unless you have a scalp condition, oils itself and the hair about an inch and a half out from our roots. So you just need to oil the hanging hair or the hair beyond that inch.
Whenever oiling your hair, wet your hair first. You could use water in a spray bottle. I prefer a moisturizing leave-in condition. If the hair isn’t wet it doesn’t absorb the oil as well. You should be wetting your hair enough for it to air-dry in thirty minutes. You are just misting it, not soaking… It shouldn’t be dripping wet. Then you take your oil(s) of choice and rub your hair… You can feel when you’ve done it enough. My hair was so dry initially I just sprayed the oil directly on them and then put some in my hands and kept rubbing it through.
Though oil and water don’t mix, you don’t actually oil your hair. You are locking in the moisture. So you wet your hair and then use an oil to seal in the moisture.
In the past, before I knew to wet my hair before applying oil, the oil didn’t seem to soak in.. It would be on everything, my neck, clothes, scarf, pillow and unfortunately my face. Oiling my hair never seemed to actually moisturize it so I never really got into the habit of doing it. Now that I’ve wet my hair a little before applying oil, my locs are completely different. One, the oil stays in my locs and doesn’t rub off on everything. In fact, my locs are dry to the touch. However, they are darker and denser. My hair is also softer… I never cared about making my hair touchable or soft… So I’m amused that it is softer.
Oh and it goes without saying, if you go through all the trouble of moisturizing your hair… You might also want to sleep with a silk or satin head wrap. If you don’t like to cover your head, cover the top of your your bed and pillows with loc friendly satin or silk. I’m going to buy a huge piece of silk from the fabric store and cover where I lay my head… I hate wearing scarves.