This year, August 2016, I celebrated three years of being loc’d and loving it. Hands down best hair, life decision ever and you can read more about that in my Locs of Freedom post.
Not only did I loc my hair, my daughter’s hair is also loc’d so over the last three to four years, I have learned a lot about what it takes to maintain your locs. Let me start by saying all locs are not created equally. Everybody’s hair is a different texture(s). Their hair grows at different rates and due to these and other factors, each individuals hair tends to behave differently. For example, my daughter’s hair loc’d much faster than mine did. Now she has these perfectly uniform, mature locs and I feel like I’m permanently stuck in the teenage stage, which I love and hate. Given the texture of my hair, I’m not so sure how mature my locs may ever look. 😕
Types and Techniques
There are mainly two different types of locs: traditional and micro. Freedom locs, think of Bob Marley, are traditional locs. Sisterlocs, which I have fall under micro locs. The main difference between Sisterlocs and regular micro locs which my daughter has is that Sisterlocs use a special grid pattern, cost a lot more to install, and also the term Sisterlocs is trademarked. That’s pretty much it. It’s and “exclusive” style of locs.
There are two main techniques used to achieve locs. They are the twisting/handrolling technique which many people who know locs are familiar with and the interlocking technique usually achieved by a special crochet tool. There are several on the market.
In the twisting technique, there is either comb twist or two strand twist. Both fall under the twist technique though.
I’ll tell you now, I don’t do much to maintain my locs which is why I decided to get them in the first place. And once again, your texture, length, growth rate, thickness, etcétera will all play a part in what you would need to do to maintain your locs. Right now, my hair is about collar bone length, teenage stage, and super thick. So let’s jump straight into this shall we. .
In the beginning
When I first got my locs installed, my hair was maybe two inches long. I left the washing to my loctian just cause my hair would often come undone and she could handle that better that I could. However, if some of my locs came undone between appointments, I’d tie a black rubber band around it to keep it separate from the others. Locs at any stage may have a tendency to grow into one another. With sisterlocs, you definitely want to maintain your grid.
After gaining some length, I did something that we in the world of sisterlocs call banding. When washing your hair, you section it off and tie rubber bands around each section to prevent them from joining and tangling with the locs next to them. This keeps you from having to pull them apart once your hair dries *OUCH*. Which brings me to my next maintenance topic. . .
I wash by hair bi-weekly. You can do more or less. This is as often as I want to deal with my hair. I always use a clarifying shampoo. Most well-known brands carry this type of shampoo that might also be called a purifying or cleansing shampoo. These shampoos are especially formulated for hair that attracts a lot of dirt and oil thus making it perfect for locs 😄. Now if your locs are colored, this is not the shampoo you want to use. If your hair is fragile or easily prone to damage, you may also not want to use it. Clarifying shampoos are known to strip the hair of dirt, oil, color, and anything else that might be lurking. My hair was built Ford tough so I love the stuff. It helps keep the lint at bay. Speaking of lint. . .
Like other things this also depends on you hair type and texture. My daughter has virtually no issues with lint, I on the other hand could not be so fortunate.
There isn’t much you can do to prevent it. Lint is indeed a fact of locs. The best you can do is minimize it. I’ve read that some people dye their locs to hide it. This would not be my personal option but to each its own. Like I mentioned before, washing regularly with clarifying shampoo helps. I would also recommend use of those oversized satin bonnets that make your head look like a giant popcorn and satin pillows. Also, when drying your hair, use an old t-shirt instead of a towel. All of these are excellent preventative measures.
Once the lint is in there, your best bet for removal would probably be tweezers. To make the removal easier, get a good lather going with the clarifying shampoo, cover with a disposable shower cap, and sit under the hair dryer for about 15 minutes, tweeze, and rinse. This loosens the lint quite a bit.That’s all I got for you when it comes to lint.
Oh and I do not recommend conditioning your locs with commercial conditioner. This contributes to product build-up which leads to lint build-up.
Peppermint oil is like Mike’s Redhot sauce, I put that sh!t on everything. I kid you not. I love the smell of peppermint just cause it reminds me of my late Big Daddy. So if you do not love the scent, I do not recommend any of what I am about to tell you.
My scalp is prone to the type of dandruff and itch that cause you to scratch scabs in your head during the night. It’s too serious. I’ve had this issue when my hair was relaxed, loose natural, and when I got locs, it did get better however the issue still persists. 😑 Peppermint oil does wonders for me. I mix about 10 drops per ounce of carrier oil in a small glass spray bottle. You can use less but i would not recommend more. I like to use grapeseed oil as a carrier just cause it feels lighter and seems to absorb better on my skin.
The menthol makes my scalp feel all cool and tingly as it soothes away the itch and moisturizes my scalp. I absolutely love it. In addition, peppermint oil is a natural antibacterial. This means that it not only soothes and moisturizes the scalp but also keeps it clean and healthy in between washes. What a wonderful bonus!
You can purchase the oil and the glass spray vile at Whole Foods if you need it now. However, it’s much more affordable if you’re willing to wait and purchase online from Amazon or Ebay.
Tea tree oil works as well but I prefer the minty aroma to the medicinal smell.
Other uses that have nothing to do with locs.
I also use peppermint oil to soothe my cycle cramps. I mix about 4 drops with a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it on my midriff area. This may not work for severe cramping.
Same for minor body aches. . .I pretty much use various essential oils for most anything. I do not ingest them. It’s not really recommended.
Lice in locs
Dun, dun, dun! The dreaded lice. Yes, black people can get lice. Don’t believe the lies and unfortunately my daughter got them last year in December. Thank heavens that part of my life is over. I was super creeped out. I immediately went into what felt like a raging fit. Especially when I found out the school knew about the exposure and failed to notify parents. Anyway, that’s over now. I was having a brief flashback.
In the battle against lice in locs this is what you will need:
- Lice shampoo
- Rubbing alcohol
- Clarifying shampoo
- Tea tree oil (mixed in carrier oil)
- Lots of plastic bags or disposable shower caps
- Disposable gloves
- Blow dryer
- Well ventilated area
First thing is, I read a few sites that do not recommend using lice shampoo in locs because of the pesticides but I’m gonna tell you right now that that is the furthest thing from your mind when you’re dealing with the situation directly. So of course, lice shampoo was the first line of action. I let that sit for about 15 minutes. After I rinsed that, I mixed the bleach and rubbing alcohol 1 part bleach to 2 parts alcohol and sprayed it all over, covered with a shower cap, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
I recommend doing this outdoors with a face mask for all parties involved because the fumes are quite toxic. 😷 Use latex gloves as well. Afterwards, I rinsed then shampood with clarifying shampoo. I let this sit for another 15 minutes to wash out the toxic mixture and any pesticides. Then came my favorite part. . .picking out dead bugs. Although I was happy about them having been dead!
After all of this, cause it’s still not over, I mixed olive and tea tree oil with water, and sprayed it all over her hair, covered it with a shower cap and sat her under the hair dryer. The oil was acting as a conditioner to combat all the chemicals I had subjected her hair to as well as kill off any lingering pest. Ewww!
Then after I was completely done, I blow dried her hair on high heat to kill any eggs or larva that may have remained beyond that point. They were literally toast. But just to make sure, three days out I did the bleach and alcohol spray, followed with the clarifying shampoo, and tea tree oil conditioning. As you can imagine, we ain’t had no mo’ issues with lice. And may we never have them again.
Love your locs and it will show. Touch them. Style them. Talk to them. Stay away from heavy grease, wax, creams, and other oils. Use caution when coloring; don’t do it too prematurely. Join a locs group; watch and listen to others love on their locs. Do what you feel is best for your hair.
Don’t over moisturize during the installation stage. It hinders the locking process.
I had large bulbs at the ends of my locs that caused me a lot of pain during retie time. I cut them. I also had a lot of lint build-up just cause when I first started I wasn’t really aware of lint. I cut those out as well which were mainly on the ends of my locs at the very back.
Don’t let anyone define your locs. They are yours. I’ve had plenty of people try and tell me what my locs are and what they look like. Bottom line. . .I love them. They’re gorgeous; they’re healthy. What else matters?
Got questions? Ask and I’ll give you my best answer.