When you first get locked up, your locks are uniform and 'thin': I like to call them 'size zero' locs. However, as time passes, those babies will grow, some will get fat, some will sprout random frizzy hairs, some will bunch and bulge and do all kinda crazy things.. some may even fall off *gasp* - but through it all I want you to remember those lovely words from Maya Angelou "this too shall pass"... another year or two along and you will look back at these days and smile...
Hope you enjoy this post xx
A recent comment to one of my non-hair posts cheekily asked me about my hair and what it was like now *grin*; I had assumed that the xmas pics were good enough to tide y'all over - but clearly not lol, so here's an update.
1. Change No 1 - A New Fullness
When compared with my installation, my hair is looking much fuller. I believe this is a result of 9 months of continued growth (and retightening) and the fact that my hair is finally accepting and working within its locking pattern. Yay! After rocking full twistouts and big curly fros for a few years - I wasn't feeling the skinny 'locs' on my head.
I did however, like the pliability of the baby locs: I could fold them around a curler for even as little as an hour and I'd have a wicked set. Braid outs and bantu knots were also a doddle. I had so many options and had to be careful because (it seemed as though) my hair strands were abandoning my head by the thousands! My hairline - particularly at the temples was especially fragile.
2. I've sprouted some new Locs
Time, love and patience have allowed the fragile (baldy) bits (a legacy of post partum shedding after the birth of my son) to recover... and I now have a crop of 7 stubby locks (about 2 inches long?) on one side and a similar group on the other. Mostly these babies are kept hidden by creative styling *giggle*. (see below - clever eh?)
The main reason for me 'hiding' them is because they keep coming undone and it is a right pain to have a short curly afrobush chilling right in the middle of the other locs...
Twisting these stubby locs around eachother and then around more stable neighbouring locks has given them time to 'catch themselves' so they stay in their interlocked pattern and have a chance to grow (i.e. lock up).
3. Braiding (for repairs and new locs)
There was a while back (after this rant) that I plait all those baby locs in tiny braids just so they would stay - trust me, I was at the end of my tether with these guys. I really have to thank Nicole & Anthia-Ofo for recommending braiding. I was so convinced that having braided hair (plaits) amidst the locked hair was a 'no-no' and would somehow 'negate' my SLs, but at the end of the day, it's my hair. I paid for the installation and upkeep but ultimately it's attached to my head and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. So I did. Things turned around after that :)
I also found myself braiding the loose ends, (like the one on the left). Some locs had unravelled as much as 2/3rds of the way (journeying from end to root) and it annoyed me, so I plait them. I didn't do them all - I don't think I'm that anal, but some looked really crazy so they received a lil TLC. Bear in mind we're talking like 10 out of 454 locs here so in the grand scheme of things - hardly significant. I just wanted to mention it in case someone is reading who cannot get to a Consultant for a repair job and was wondering...
4. Matting, Bunching & Slipping
These have been my main bug bears throughout this journey. Well, that plus the dreaded post partum shedding lol!
You start out with perfectly uniform 'size 0' locs... and a few months later your head is full of mutants! Locs previously shaped like the number 1 turn into figure 8s or 'qs and bs'. Ends may unravel or mysterious holes may appear in the middle for seemingly no reason at all! (Look at this bunching below compared to a uniform loc next to it!!)
Ultimately, on this journey, you learn to take it all in stride. You can't micromanage your locs. You begin to realise that you can't control your hair journey any more than you can control the weather. "It will do what it do".
I used to really be in a panic about it - wondering if I was going to have a mix of skinny and thick locks, and I think SLers may worry a lil more than other lockers on account of the money we've invested in our heads - but I've decided that it'll all work out in the end. I'm not the first to experience bunching and from looking at the blogs and fotkis of those who've gone before - in the end, it'll be all good - so, no more stressing for me. Besides - there are plenty of techniques for resolving bunching so all is not lost.
5. Hair Care
Since my son likes to 'swing' on my locs (yes, he'll grab a fistful from each side of my head and lean back as far as he can go without falling!) I keep my hair covered as much as I can when I am at home (with HIM) and when I sleep. Mind you, that swing test is a good myth buster for all those out there who think SLs are too small and will just break your hair.
I'm still using my loc soc but this one is getting a lil loose (lil man likes to pull this too) so I don't style it out of the house anymore. I've considered satin pillow cases and bonnets but at the moment I am still far too lazy to be bothered. Why am I covering my hair - just to minimise the amount of lint/dust etc that can find its way into my locs. I also find that the soc helps my stubbies (baby locs) to lie flat - I really don't need to be walking around looking like a hedgehog.
6. Build Up - how to prevent it & how to get rid of it.
Not much of an issue anymore. I had that scenario where I found that dreaded white stuff stuck in a few locs mostly at the nape of my neck; for me this was not helped by the hairties I used when banding as tiny bits of fluff were coming off the bands when rinsing out of the shampoo etc; when you band make sure you DON'T use the woolly type!
I still braid before washing and I don't recommend that SLers stop braiding and banding before their consultants advise them to.
Here's a lint -free shot of the back of my head, the row closest to the nape of my neck had 3 or 4 locs with stuff in them.
When I saw Chi from Hair by Chi back in December, he soaked the offending locs in ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar ) and lovingly tended to my babies before styling. Ladies, this man is so tender with your locs you will not want to leave his chair! Plus the conversation is always either stimulating or hilarious (hahahah just thinking about it).
I've also learned that the key to avoiding/handling buildup is in the rinsing. Sure you can use clarifying shampoos if you like but I'm wary of using them (too much) because they really dry out the scalp and if you already have dry scalp you wanna avoid them like the plague. As regards rinsing, think of it this way. Imagine if you were not locked, you'd probably shampoo, rinse (once or twice) then repeat right? (Generally speaking). So in this case you wanna either dilute your shampoo or use smaller amounts - whatever you prefer (and I'm referring to co-washing with conditioners as well when I use the term 'shampoo').
Once you've lathered up, paying more attention to your scalp than the locs: if you're a faithful SLer or 'new age' traditional/braid lock rocker it's unlikely that you'll have much product in your hair so you don't need to slather the lather over the locs as much as you need to focus on cleaning your scalp. Fingertips (not fingernails) work just fine on your scalp to lift any muck off your head (remember to be gentle!) Gently squeeze, pat or smooth the lather down the length of your locs so they get their turn but try to avoid any scrubbing or vigorous rubbing motions - particularly if frizz is an issue for you.
When you've finished each braid or cluster of locs, rinse. Then rinse again. And again. And again. Basically you wanna rinse at least twice as much as you would have done with your previous hairstyle (i.e. permed, natural, whatever). If your hair can stand it, use the shower head and angle the jet appropriately so it gets to all the locs (especially the ones at the nape of the neck and all lower layers as the suds from the top locks are likely to be seeping into those underneath).
As much as this adds time to my hair washing routine, I can say without a doubt that it has been helping me keep the buildup at bay and so I'll be sticking with it. Let me know if it works for you.
Hmmm, this post is getting too long so I'm about to wrap up - however, I did mention that I miss the pliability of my freshly installed days when I could leave curling rods on for as little as an hour and still be curl-tastic. Well, this is no longer the case. The other day, I tried bantu knots overnight and I might as well have not bothered because one hour after taking them down in the morning, my hair was hanging straight again. It's a shame cos the curl had looked wicked! Same thing happened when I tried the flexi rods (wet set), the curls just aren't lasting. Thinking back - my last braidout style probably worked because I'd had my braids in for about 3 days before taking them down... Hmmmm. Maybe I need to start using a setting lotion...
With my temples recovering, I've become more adventurous with my hairstyles as well - substituting a lot more flat twists, buns and ponytails for the everyday straight looking 'freestyle'. I'll try to post pics of these in later posts but y'all know how reluctant HRH is to take hair shots, so it'll have to be when my daughter has time to help me.
A tout a l'heure.
Love from London
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