I can not go a day without having someone ask me about my hair: How long have been growing your locs? Can I touch them? With every inquiry, I make sure that I answer each question thoroughly, as if it’s my first time being asked. I’ve learned that whenever you have a hairstyle that is “out of the norm,” having people who are curious about you hair just comes with the territory. I actually love answering questions about my hair because it allows people the opportunity to be educated on the style and then share their new-found knowledge with others. Because of all of this, I decided that it was time to share my Loc Journey and answer all of your burning questions about my hair. Let’s get started!
“How long have you had your locs?”
I started my locs on December 26, 2008, so this year will make 6 years.
“Did you have to go through the ‘ugly phase’?”
First of all, there is no “ugly phase” with locs. Sure, there is a period where you feel overwhelmingly awkward and question why you ever decided to start them, but ugly… no. My hair was very short when I first started my locs and I found it challenging to find hairstyles that fit me. At the time, I was not familiar with YouTube, so most of the styles and maintenance regimes that I developed were all through trial and error. Being that I was in high school when I began locking my hair, the level of discomfort was heightened 10 times more, and truthfully, I didn’t come into my own with my hair until college. It was hard, but somehow, I made it!
“Why did you start your locs?”
When I was in 9th grade, my hair reached a point of no return. Growing up, I always had long, thick hair, but when my mother gave me a relaxer at the tender age of 8, my hair just never recovered. I kept braids throughout elementary and middle school, and at the start of 8th grade, I began getting relaxers more frequently. I could never get my wrap right; in the morning my hair would never fall or lay down smoothly, which made me turn to banana clips to make my ponytails. Boy, was that a mistake! Over time, the banana clips began to literally eat my hair; starting with my edges. By the second semester of my 9th grade year, my edges were virtually nonexistent and I knew I had to do something about it. I didn’t know what it meant to be natural; I just knew that relaxers were no longer an option. So, I stopped getting relaxers for a few months, and on the last day of school, I asked my step-mother, at the time, to cut off the relaxed ends of my hair. I didn’t know it at the time, but that would be my big chop. I got micro braids for the summer as I transitioned, and once those were out, I wore an afro until I was comfortable enough to start my locs. I was inspired by a girl from my old high school that had the most beautiful locs and seeing how she carried herself with the hairstyle, I knew that was the look for me.
“Do you wash your hair?”
Ummm… Do you? (lol) Of course! I wash, shampoo, and condition my hair just like you do.
”What kind of products do you use?”
I am, by no means, a product junkie. I stick with what I know and keep it simple. My shampoos and conditioners have changed a bit but I keep the same two brands in rotation; SheaMoistures Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo and Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Sulfate-Free Shampoo/Conditioner. As far as moisturizers, I use water, Shea butter, and jojoba oil. For retwisting, I started off with Jamaican Mango and Lime Retwisting Gel, but after using it for 5 years, my hair seemed to just reject it. Because of this, I started using Taliah Waajid’s Loc It Up Gel and it’s decent. My hair is pretty soft, so my retwist only looks fresh for about 5 days. I honestly haven’t found a retwisting gel that gets my hair snatched how I like it, so if you have any suggestions, let me know!
”Who does your hair?”
I do. I’ve gotten my hair done professionally once and to this day, I long to have my retwist as perfect as the salon got it. But as far as styling, maintenance, and everything else, I take care of it all.
“How do you get your hair curly/crinkly/straight?”
Curly: I use pipe cleaners; you know… the fuzzy bendable sticks that you used for arts and crafts when you were a kid.
To get them curly, I wash my locs, then wrap my hair around the pipe cleaner in a clockwise motion and fold the end of the pipe cleaner to ensure that the loc doesn’t unravel. After it dries, I take them down and my hair will turn out looking like this:
Crinkly: After I wash my hair, I simply divide my hair into medium sections, braid them, then secure the hair with a rubber band. After a couple of days of drying, I take them down and they end up looking like this:
Straight: I guess I wear my locs curly so much that when I actually wear my them straight, people think I’ve done something drastic. But really, all I’ve done is wash them and let them be:
“Can I touch your hair?”
Yes, but see what you did there… you asked! For some reason, people with natural hair have become victims of getting their hair touched without consent. Some people think it’s okay to reach for my hair with hands out stretched and just begin to caress my locs or they’re asking me if they can touch my hair as they’re touching it! (lol) Here’s my philosophy: if you would not want me to touch your hair after it’s silky smooth from the salon, why do you feel so free to touch my hair after I’ve gotten a fresh retwist? Let’s be fair. Simply put, just ask.
”Do you prefer locs or dreads?”
Locs please. There is nothing dreadful about my hair. 🙂
“Would you ever cut your locs or go back to relaxers?”
No; at least not as of now. If I ever go through a mid-life crisis, I’d probably cut my hair into a bob or something. But I would never go back to relaxers.
“How long do you want your locs to get?”
I’m actually surprised at just how long my hair has gotten since I started this whole journey, I never thought my hair would be as long and healthy as it is; and with edges to prove it (lol). I decided that I want my hair to get waist-length before I begin to cut and maintain the length.
“What if you don’t want them anymore? Can you take your locs down?”
Yes, people with locs have the ability to take them down. It’s a very time consuming process and can be done a couple of ways. There is one method where you use conditioner to soften the loc and starting at the tip of the loc, you begin to pick the hair free with a rat-tail comb. Although you may lose a lot of hair by taking them down this way, you retain more than if you were to just cut the loc off completely, which is the other option.
“I want locs. Do you have any advice for me?”
Don’t wait, just do it. The only regret I have about starting my locs is not doing it sooner. There is no secret to having perfect locs, you just have to patience and trust the process. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s, because your locs are yours and yours alone. Love them and they’ll love you back.
Bonus Question: “How do you feel about faux locs?”
*sigh* Okay, I’ve reframed from answering this question in effort to not offend anyone, but here’s my take on this trend:.
Don’t get me wrong; when they are done by the right stylist, they look beautiful. But my chagrin comes from people who say that they get faux locs to avoid the “ugly stage” of locs. The whole process of getting locs allows you to embrace yourself in your most raw and true form and there’s nothing “ugly” about that. Long locs don’t come over night, but one day you wake up and you can feel them resting on your neck, them on your collar bone, and before you know it, they’re swinging down your back. It’s a beautiful and crazy journey, but you have to embrace it. Now for those individuals who get faux locs just to try out the style; hey, do you boo. Ultimately, what you do with your hair is your business. But just because you have them does not mean that you can relate to the journey that people of the loc community had to endure to get to where they are today. I’m just being honest. 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it was insightful. I tried to answer as many question as I could, but if you have any additional ones that I may have not covered in this post, feel free to leave them in the comment section. Everything discussed in this post are based off my personal experience and opinions. And remember, opinions are just like bellybuttons; everyone has one. And I’d love to hear yours!
You’ve just been served.