Some updated advice for those who are newly locked.
An excerpt from, “The Secret to Luscious Locs”
(Second Edition. Currently available on Amazon.com)
One of the reasons hair straightening became so mainstream in the black community is because even after slavery ended, internal colorism remained. Many black women still believed in European features being superior and that being closer to white meant more opportunities and better treatment from both races.
There became an obsession with “good hair” and light skin. Hair straightening and skin bleaching thus became popular.
Is there a double-standard when it comes to black men, black women, and natural hair?
From the seventies onwards, Black men have rock their afro-textured hair without qualms because, as men, society does not go out of their way to make them feel bad about it. Also, nowadays, when it comes to black men, darker skin is even viewed as more attractive than lighter skin.
When it comes to black women, however, some black men have a preference for light-skinned “exotic-looking” women with wavy or curly hair (a.k.a “good hair). Recently, some have been glorifying this preference publicly (e.g. J. Cole, Kodak Black, and Kevin Hart), getting backlash for it, and continuing to do it.
It goes back to European beauty standards. They may find other black women attractive, but this mixed or exotic-type of female is the ultimate trophy. When these black men see black women with “nappy” hair rockin’ their natural hair PROUDLY, it makes them uneasy because they see hair that is not so-called “good hair” as unacceptable. They think to themselves, “Why would a woman choose to rock their hair that way?” while praising women with wavy or curly hair who rock their hair naturally. I feel like physical preferences are a personal thing. They do not need to be vocalized and you definitely should not be putting someone else down to make your point.
A woman with afro-textured hair may choose to wear her hair straight, not because she has self-esteem or self-hatred issues but because she wishes to assimilate into what the rest of society is doing. No blame there.
I came across a statement on Twitter a few years back, “Over 85% of Women Who Transition to Natural Hair Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Their Lives” and it still bothers me. Right away, I know that this man is inferring that only black women with noticeably wavy or curly-textured hair (the 15%) should be rockin’ their hair natural.
Going natural does not mean that men will not be attracted to you. Some naturals notice that they attract a certain type of man (more earthy, artistic, afro-centric), while others, like me, see no change in the type of men they attract but may get noticed more often because they simply stand out more, and are sometimes approached in a different manner as well.
Do not let anyone — black, white, or other — deter you from doing what you know is right for you. If you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful (and I mean inside and out). What you choose to do with your hair does not alter that.
The “natural hair revolution” that began several years back showed that black hair in its natural state was not something unmanageable and could be worn in a variety of beautiful styles.
Many naturalistas took to the internet to demonstrate how to create these styles so that many women at home could do the same.
It’s now common place to see women rocking afros, braided styles, twists, twist-outs, bantu knots, and locs on a regular basis.
When it comes to locs, depending on who you are and what your locs look like, you could garner a lot of – sometimes unwanted – attention. I consider myself a bit of an introvert and it took me literally years to accept that people were going to look at and comment on my hair almost every time I left the house.
As my 4 Year Loc Anniversary approaches, I’ve been reminiscing on my loc journey so far, and want to share some of the things that I regret doing along the way.
I purchased this product at a natural hair store when seeking a water-based leave-in conditioner for my locs. It retails for about $20 CAD.
This product contains water, apple cider vinegar, and a host of Ayurvedic herbs. I was excited to hear that this product can be used as a leave-in conditioner or pre-shampoo / scalp treatment. In theory, it has the ability to treat the scalp, help remove build up, and moisturize hair.
Unfortunately, I could not get over the smell! The smell of vinegar is unpleasant (at least in my opinion) and very hard to mask, making it ill-fitted as a leave-in conditioner or after workout spritz.
I resigned to using this product as treatment (apple cider vinegar helps treat dandruff as well as remove build up from the hair). I haven’t gotten around to that yet because I’d rather use pure apple cider vinegar, which is much less expensive.
In my opinion, this is not a horrible product per se, but maybe not as multi-purpose as totted to be. I would definitely not repurchase.
Jamaican Mango & Lime may be very popular, but it’s not a product I would use myself. Here’s why…
First, I had an allergic reaction to the creme wax early during my loc journey. I have sensitive skin, so it burned my scalp and I had to wash my hair really well (soaking it in apple cidar vinegar and baking soda beforehand) to get it out. It was also really waxy. Some of their products contain wax and petroleum, which will coat your locs and be hard to wash out.
You don’t want buildup in your locs, discoloration, lint, wax, anything that’s going to make your locs look dirty or unattractive, so that’s why I stay away from Jamaican Mango & Lime.
I know it smells really good (it smells like candy), I know it’s popular, I know it’s affordable. But a lot of the black hair care products, they’re affordable or cheap because they are mass produced and they contain cheap ingredients like mineral oil and petroleum that just aren’t good for your hair.
So I stick to the more natural, lighter products.
If you do use it and it works for you, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But to each their own.
I just believe that lighter products are better for your hair in the long run so that you can keep your hair clean and open to retaining moisture, instead of putting something on your hair that’s going to coat it and repel moisture.
Some of my favourite retwist products include:
Taliah Waajid Lock It Up
Murray’s Loc-Lock Gel
and even ORS Twist and Loc Gel
The latter two aren’t as natural as the Taliah Waajid line (which conists of mostly aloe vera, herbs, and essential oils) but are very light and will keep your locs residue free.
The term “semi freeforming”, not a lot of people accept it. Some people frown down upon it. I think one of the major reasons is that there are people that have organic locs. They started without twisting. They just let their locs kind of lock up on their own, do what they wanted to do, as thick as they wanted to be and joint where they wanted to join. Those are organic locs. So for people to say that they’re semi freeforming, freeforming is organic. It’s completely different from someone that manipulated their hair, twisted their hair, crotcheted, did whatever they needed to do to start their locs.
And a lot of people refer to locs even like mine as “fashion locs” because I manipulated them to start them. So even if I go 6 months without retwisting my hair, and my hair is fuller and thicker, I didn’t start my locs organically so the term semi-freeforming for someone who didn’t freeform to start with doesn’t make sense to some people.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the reasons people will go long periods of time without retwisting their locs and end up calling it semi freeforming.
For me, it was a break from the constant tension on my locs. I actually had my locs retwisted just a few days a go and before that I went over 6 months without retwisting my locs. So all this, I still have my hairline, but if I were to twist my hair or have my hair twisted this tightly every 4 to 6 weeks or 8 weeks or whatever, that would put more tension on my hair and I wouldn’t feel that I was maintaining my hairline, that I was letting it get thick and grow. I wouldn’t want the tension on my hair continuously, the pulling and the twisting. It’s just to preserve my locs, the roots, keep them full, and my hairline as well.
Another thing is the fuller look. When I don’t retwist, as you can see in all my other videos, my hair is bigger and fluffier. And when I do retwist, my hair is kind of like calmer and it feels like braids or braid extensions. And I have nothing against braid extensions, I used to wear them a lot as a loose natural, but I miss my locs sometimes after a retwist. So that full fluffy look is something that other people love for themselves as well. So sometimes they’ll go longer between retwists just go keep their hair full.
Especially if they have fine hair or they hate seeing their scalp and their partings, they’ll go without retwisting to just keep their hair nice and full looking and thick looking.
Another reason is loc maintenance. One common misconception is that people who have locs don’t do anything to their hair and it’s inexpensive and it’s low maintenance. And that really isn’t the case. If you retwist your hair on a regular basis and you go to someone else to get it retwisted, the average loctition — not even a high end salon or whatever — the average loctition here in Toronto will charge between $70 and $100 for a retwist. So that means if you’re going to get your hair twisted every 4 to 6 weeks, that’s how much you’re spending. You’re spending as much as someone who is touching their hair up with a relaxer or a colour or any type of high maintenance salon service.
And on top of that, it’s something that’s not high maintenance alone in cost, but actually the work that goes into it. It takes a lot of time to wash locs, shampoo locs, properly. It takes a lot of time to twist locs or interlock or however you maintain them. So it is high maintenance financially and on a physical level. And a lot of people don’t realize that. So sometimes you do want a break from the money that have to invest. And the actual work that goes into maintaining your locs. So that’s another reason people sometimes choose to stretch or semi freeform.
A lot of YouTubers have been posting tips recently to people just starting out in the loc community, people just starting their locs, people that have starter locs, baby locs. And there are 3 pieces of advice that I would love to give as well to people with locs. I think that these are the 3 most important, in my opinion…
The first one would be to be patient. Some people realize that their hair is taking a long time to lock or they get to this phase where they think their hair looks ugly. And when that happens, a lot of them take their locs out, and that’s when you see that people have 3, 4 sets of locs and they keep starting them over. Because they’re just not happy or they’re just not patient enough to see it through. So I would just encourage you to just stick it out and see what happens instead of removing your locs out of frustration.
Also, don’t fall into — I don’t want to say “cheating” – but into a crutch. Interlocking is something that you can do to your roots to make the retwist last longer, to keep your hair from unraveling, but that’s not really good for the health of your hair if you don’t intend on doing that permanently in the long run. It does create little weak spots in your hair. So I wouldn’t recommend it.
I, like many people who have alternated between palm rolling, interlocking, and freeforming, have come to find that the freeformed areas of my locs are soft and spongy, the palmrolled areas are cylindrical and uniform, and the interlocked areas are thinner and hard/compact.
And I wouldn’t recommend wrapping your hair with string or anything kind of crazy to keep it from unraveling. Just stick it out and eventually your hair will begin to lock on its own. It will be better for you in the long run rather than trying to manipulate it too much.
My second tip is to use natural-based products. Stay away from Ecostyler Gel and wax and brown gel. Jamaican Mango and Lime, I know a lot of people like that — but any product that has petroleum in it or wax or anything heavy. Because if you start your locs with that and your hair starts to matte, you’re going to have the product trapped in your locs if you’re not able to remove it. And you don’t want to permanently have residue in your locs.
It’s better to use things that are natural-based that don’t have mineral oil or petroleum, especially things that are aloe vera based just because they can be washed out easily and they’re not going to coat your hair or leave a residue in your hair. So just think about the long-term effects of products. Yes, it might make your hair stay longer, look neater, if it’s a little bit of a stronger product like a heavy gel, but in the long run, you don’t want that stuck in your hair. So stick with the lighter more natural products.
And the last tip I have is not to compare yourself so much to other people. It’s really easy to get discouraged if you compare yourself to how thick someone else’s hair is or how sparse and neat and tidy looking someone else’s hair is, how fast someone else’s hair grows, or how someone else styles their hair because they have this naturally creative side to them where they know what looks right and they can’t experiment a little bit better. Just do what’s right for you.
I personally have been approached a few times and found that people don’t always like my locs. I do get compliments but once in a while someone will point out “I don’t really want my locs to be uneven or whatever. I prefer rope-like perfect locs” and I’m not offended by that. What works for someone might not work for someone else.
For me personally, I explained this in one video, I grew to love my locs. Especially when I thickened them and combined them, as I have a very small frame, very small face, very small personality, and I just think that this is a nice contrast for me and I learned to love it. So embrace how your hair turns out. Everyone’s locs look different and everyone’s locs are beautiful!
The tip I want to stress the most is to be patient and to hang in there. You have a HUGE community on YouTube and on Facebook and on Instagram to share your journey with and ask for encouragement and advice, and that’s a great great thing to take advantage of.
I’ve had people who are just starting their locs ask me how often they should be washing their hair, and I’ve had people who have had their locs a while ask me how often they should be washing their hair.
With the starter loc people, it’s more like they want guidance. The people who have locs already, they kind of just want your 2 cents and they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing regardless. So I always think that’s kind of funny.
But for me, I always just say wash your hair as much as you want to. I’m the type of person that, when I wash my hair, I have to do it a certain way. If I wash other people’s hair and they have natural hair, like curly or kinky hair or locs, I will not rub their hair in a circle and get their roots all tangly and whatnot. But if I’m washing it like that at home on myself, it feels good so I wouldn’t want to wash my hair any other way.
So I’m just going to start off by saying that the more you wash your hair when you have starter locs, the faster your hair’s going to lock. And that’s because your hairs inside of your locs are being meshed together and forming.
You’re keeping your hair clean as well. So it’s also a good way to make sure that build-up or lint or dirt isn’t going to get trapped in your locs when they actually form. It’s very good to wash your hair often when you’re starting your locs.
The only downside to washing your hair often when you have a full set of locs is if you have high density locs or your locs are thick, and you know from personal experience that it’s going to take your hair more than 24 hours to dry completely, then you’re pretty much opening yourself up to getting mould trapped in your locs or — you know that laundry, slightly damp smell — and nobody wants that for their hair!
So if you know that you’re only going to airdry your locs and you want to wash your hair often and leave it wet, that’s not a good idea. You might want to cut down on that. Use a cotton t-shirt, microfiber towel, hooded dryer, or blowdryer on a low setting to remove some of the extra moisture from your hair. My loctition never lets me leave until my hair is completely dry but I’ve come to find that many locheads hate being under the hooded dryer for a long time.
But my overall opinion is: the most you can wash your hair, the best. It’s just a way of keeping your hair clean and it’s also a way of making your hair lock faster.
Personally, I wash my hair about once or twice a week right now. It’s summer and I work out quite often. But if I do have a retwist and I want to keep my hair looking neat, I will sometimes stretch between washes just to keep my hair looking neat longer.
If it’s winter time and I know that my skin is getting dryer and my hair is getting dryer, that I’m just more prone to dryness in general, I won’t bother washing my hair as often because I’m not going to be producing as much oil on my scalp, my hair’s not going to get dirty as fast. And if I do wash my hair and airdry my hair, it’s not going to dry as easily in the cold.
Just wash your hair as often as you’re able to but be aware that if you are airdrying, you don’t want to walk around with hair that’s not completely dry too often.
Natural henna powder has many benefits. When used correctly, it acts as a protein treatment, adds shine, softness, and leaves a shimmering reddish tint behind.
It’s also very affordable as it can be found at your local ethnic (South Asian) grocery store for under $5 bucks, “Nupur Henna” being one of the most popular brands. You can mix it with your favourite tea to alter the shade of red it leaves behind, you can add yogurt, honey, or olive oil for extra shine and softnesss…it’s versatile. The reddish tint is permanent. It grows out as opposed to washes out.
One just has to make sure they are using pure henna powder without any chemical additives, as the chemicals added to some “color-in-the-box”-type brands may have an adverse effect on dry/damaged or previously colored hair.
Henna indigo is a process that people use when they don’t want the reddish tint that comes with using henna alone, especially since it turns gray hairs light copper. They may want to darken their light hair (eg. from medium brown to dark brown) or cover their grays.
For darkening hair, indigo powder can simply be added to henna powder and applied the same way you would normally do your henna treatment – mix the paste, let sit for a few hours, apply, leave in for a few hours, and rinse out.
To effectively cover grays, however , the process is a little more tedious. You mix the henna paste, let it sit for a few hours, apply, leave in for a few hours, rinse, make a paste out of indigo (without letting it sit), apply, leave in for a few more hours, and rinse. It may take a day or so for you to see your final results as the indigo needs time to oxidize.
I’ve had marvelous results with henna treatments while relaxed and natural. It makes my hair feel stronger as well as makes it super shiny.
(Yes, the packaging looks a little old school)
In case you’re having trouble getting your hands on henna indigo, “Light Mountain – Color the Gray (black)” can be found online for under $10. Iherb.com is one of the places that sells it. It contains nothing but henna powder and indigo powder, in seperate packages, with easy-to-follow instructions.
Want $5 off your iherb.com purchase? Use my referral code: ENI555 (no minimum required).
Source: “Curly Girl – The Handbook” – Lorraine Massey w/ Michele Bender
1. Fill a large pot with water.
2. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil on high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 hour to get rid of impurities. (Check occasionally to make sure the water isn’t boiling away.)
3. Remove the water from the heat, add the lavender oil, stir to blend, and replace the lid.
4.Let the lavender water steep until cool then pour it into spray bottles.
5. Store extra lavender spray in a cool place.