Thinking bout locking it down?

Yesterday March 27, 2016 marked 7 weeks since the birth of my starter locs, almost 2 months. This has been a great journey that I told myself I needed to talk about on my blog because I always wanted to get locs but I was always scared of the commitment of them. I also didn’t know how to start and when to start. I had always seen people start their locs the traditional way and I knew that wasn’t for me. So I started them on my own because I felt that since it was my head, I wanted to control the outcome, that all future liability of the results was mine.

Therefore, I started off my loc journey with tons and tons of research using YouTube and blogs authored by seasoned locticians as sources for my knowledge. The internet can be a beautiful thang.  I came to the conclusion  that because of my differing hair textures near the nape of my neck, on the crown of my head, and the super soft hair that lined my edges, I didn’t want to start my locs the “traditional” way with either just braid, twist or single coils. I decided that for things to be more interesting, I would start my locs with hybrid braids at the root and finger coils half way down at the tips. Obviously, this way isn’t for everyone because for the first month, they definitely had a funky look to them, but I believe that my hair loc’d faster using this method unique to me than had I started with just finger coils. The top of my head has hair that is so straight, it didn’t even want to coil (this straightness is naturally how my hair grows not as a result of any sort of heat damage), so using braids here was SUPER helpful.  Side note: I believe my hair is growing faster than when it was loose because I have had about an inch of new growth in these past 7 weeks.

When it comes to size, my locs are all different shapes and sizes. The last row at the back of my head harbors my smallest locs being about a centimeter wide, while all over I have some locs that are twice to two and a half times the size of my smallest locs. My goal wasn’t uniformity with my locs—if it were I would have had someone section each part meticulously—instead I elected to section my hair blindly so that I could get locs that looked more organic.

 

 

As of right now my hair is super frizzy but it is matting up well. The bottom third of my head in the back is fully loc’d, but I account this to the nature of the small size of the locs in this back section. I mentioned frizz which early in my journey really bothered me but I’ve kind of let go of that need to look “neat and frizz free”, whatever that really is to any locer who has soft hair like mine. Frizz is going to happen and all you can really do is accept it or palm roll it. When it comes to my hair, I am very low maintenance. I’ve retwisted my hair only once and really didn’t like the scalp-y look, so I think about 3 days later I rinsed my hair to get rid of the parts. I would consider myself a freeformer simply because I don’t like the look of manicure locs on me. My personality is captured by my hair doing what it wants whether that be sticking up or sticking together. Two of my locs are really wanting to join together and I hope I can get to a place soon to allow them to grow as one—I’m honestly just not there yet.

When I first got my locs, I waited a few days, maybe three, and then I rinsed my hair. I rinsed my hair on a daily basis with warm water to help my hair matte and to help with my dry scalp. My scalp and hair love water and I think rinsing frequently was super beneficial in my locs’ earliest stages. However, as my locs’ matrix begins to tighten and expand at the same time, I am noticing drying times are longer so I try not to wet my hair to a soaking wet state nearly as often —maybe twice per week. I wash my hair once a week usually on Sundays, that way I have time to do a hot oil treatment under a plastic cap to give my locs the extra moisture they need. For my washes, I use Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo which is a residue-free shampoo that I used before I even had locs because I have a dry scalp. The tar in this product helps soothe my scalp, while removing any build up, dandruff, and oil; and my scalp feels super squeaky clean after each wash. To avoid my hair drying out, I always apply either coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil to my scalp, massaging gently with my finger tips.

My daily care routine is fairly simple. At night, I tie it down with a satin scarf or I throw a silk bonnet over my hair. In the morning, I usually sprits a 1 to 3 olive oil/ water mixture on my locs focusing on the roots. I usually wear a cotton headscarf during the day for class (I figured out how to include photos so some of my head scarf looks are in my photo gallery). I must admit sometimes I’m running late and don’t wear a satin under-scarf to protect my locs but I haven’t noticed any real damage. I recommend that you always wear a silk scarf under your head wraps to protect your hair from any friction that can and will occur between the material and your hair strands.

I honestly don’t really remember saying to myself “okay, Des let’s loc your hair.” I just sat up one Sunday afternoon and started on them. I kind of rationalized that I had always seen myself as someone who would look beautiful with them and what was I waiting for? For years I would whenever I saw someone with locs give them the highest compliments of how nice they looked. I knew putting my hair into locs wouldn’t be a decision that I would regret because I had spent years since high school thinking about one day getting them. The day I decided to install my own freeform locs was the day I realized that “one day” never comes. One day is the day that you wake up and decide to make changes that are going to make you happier and more confident.

I want to leave you with a few closing thoughts/ suggestions to anyone that thinks locs may not be for them, or maybe considering getting locs.

  1. Hair isn’t just hair. Some say it is but hair is all over your body outside of just your scalp as a layer of protection. So, what you do with your hair is your choice. Carefully consider locs and do tons of research so that you won’t feel like you jumped into an important decision before you were ready.
  2. Stop letting people lie to you and tell you that locs are boring and you “can’t do anything with them.” Locs offer tons of versatility, if not more than loose natural hair. You can do mostly all the same things that you did with your fro or curls and kinks, with your locs.
  3. Also locs can be for everyone. The size, thickness, and total number count of your locs can be fitted with every personality there is. Some people will have thick locs, others will have thin locs. One person will have a number in the 300s, another will have less than 50. It really just depends on what you want your locs to look like. I myself have 86 locs of varying sizes but I know that this set of locs is unique to me and is for me.
  4. There is so much stigma that need to be erased about locs, from their association with smoking marijuana to the misconception that they are dirty and do not require washing. While I’m sure some people with locs, just like anyone with the next hair style, do not maintain clean hair, these people are not a glowing reflection of the majority of locers. How you take care of your locs is your choice, so be mindful that if you choose the #locdlife people may make assumptions about you based on your hair. This comes with the territory.
  5. When you finally do get locs you will wish you had started sooner!

 

Feel free to leave any question or comments below.

Enjoy the journey.

God is God. And God is Good.

Peace and Blessing Kings & Queens,

Des4Pres

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Let Gro. Let Go. Repeat.

On March 15, 2014, I shaved my head bald for kids with cancer through the St. Baldrick’s foundation. I sacrificed my hair just as kids with cancer do because of the affects of chemotherapy and radiation on their hair growth. I raised over 625 dollars in the few weeks before I would go through with my decision. Deciding to do something and sticking to it made me feel good about how my ability to hold myself accountable had grown throughout high school. It was odd because many people didn’t want me to, especially my grandmother. In fact she offered to pay me not to shave my head. My peers within my senior class of 2014 were for the most part encouraging but only after bombarding me with question about why I would cut my hair.  While it was quite cumbersome this question is not unreasonable because after all we live in a society where women “should” have hair, where a woman’s natural drive in the sphere of her gender expression is to want to have long flowing locks but now after having grown my hair back out to a good length of 5 inches, I can say that my desire for long hair is unnatural for me and I feel myself wanting to go bald again.

Okay, I must admit: I wrote that previous paragraph at the end of my freshman year of college. I wanted to shave my head a second time because growing my hair out had made me feel for a lack of a better word basic but now after thinking about it, I realize that immediately after shaving my head I felt fairly unique. I really didn’t enjoy subscribing to gender roles or even conforming to societal standards in general. The fresh feeling of the spring air breezing over my scalp was a sensation unlike any other. I was free. I was 18 and cutting my hair was my most “adulty” thing I had done. When my hair grew back I felt quite like the Old Des, the Des who was unique not because of any hair atop my head but her originality could be explained by everything that made her up, whether it be her long winded sentences, her speech pattern, or inflections, her own energized animation while telling a spicy story, or maybe her thrifted on-the-go mom aesthetic that made this woman the grandmother of her friend group. Growing my hair out was a journey that called me back to being a woman onto myself not a woman despite her lack of hair.

I find it funny how things change. I distinctly remember  jamming out to India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” and what it did for me at the beginning of my first hair journey when I first big chopped (cutting off all my relaxed ends). The next day, the fateful walk into my 8th grade class was terrifying in 2009, in the heyday of the natural hair movement for womyn, but let’s not forget I was only about 13, not quite a woman. We were at the brink of a revolution in the natural world but most of my classmates weren’t ready or willing to ride that wave with me quite yet. I walked into my class of around 18 students at my private school and received a variety of laughters, stares, and even curled up lips due to superiority complexes. Who was I to cut my hair? I was already “not that cute” if you were to ask my classmates. The confidence that I have now is something wholesome that I only wish I could give my past myself, but hey I had to go through it to do it and use it. I eventually let go of their opinions on my own time.

Here I am, 7 years later having gone through 2 big chops, the first in order to achieve healthy hair, and the second for a good moral cause. I’ve rocked close to every style except maybe a few that seemed slightly kooky even for me. Over these years in my young life, I realize that change is so necessary and the image of living my truth has evolved in ways that I have grown to accept. I am stronger and more wise on the meaning of having hair on my head and for it to be mine. I own it and in every way I try to take care of it to reflect the person I am becoming and even the person I am not but hope to be. Most recently I have begun my loc journey and just in a short six weeks, I have seen an improvement in my happiness and overall health. Such a hair journey is definitely a spiritual one marked by good hair days, and bad ones too. To my protest, my hair does what it wants cause it’s popping and I’m learning to let go in one of the hardest ways possible. These lessons are even being applied outside the scope of my hair care routines and choices.

Around 2 weeks ago, around the end of February, my mother called me with news that no one wants to hear. The kind of news that can tear you down and cause denial. My grandmother, the same grandmother who literally volunteered to pay me  not to shave my head now had cancer herself. In a divine way, two years ago I shaved my head for her. I sacrificed my hair for a peace of mind that I can honestly say I hold gracefully in my heart. I can’t say I didn’t cry about the situation, her having stage 4 cancer in her lungs making it difficult to talk and basically breathe. I can’t say that my faith was not shaken or that I wasn’t at all upset, because I was but I’m glad I had a faith in my heart that could sustain that shake. I’m joyful that doubt didn’t enter my mind and even when it tries to creep in now I cast it out quickly and cancel out fear. I have let go of my hair many a times in numerous ways and in learning to let go of something as small as hair, I have managed to prepare myself to let go of fear and grab hold to healing which has allowed me the gift of hope and faith to take the wheel in my life.

 

 

God is God. And God is Good.

Peace and Blessing Kings & Queens,

Des4Pres