Maintaining Your Locked Hair
STAGES OF GROWTH
* Pattern setting/training (day one–month 2), * Tangling/Matting Internally (month 2-month 7),
* Tangling/Matting Externally (months 7-12)
The initial period in the locking process when the method you use to lock your hair is set in place. Your grade of hair will determine the shortness or length of this period, as curlier grades will take more readily and more loosely curled grades may put up somewhat of a resistance. It last from the day you start you locks until your first (through) wet shampoo. (product usage in this time should be kept at an extreme minimum because of the lack of or infrequency of shampooing. Overuse of thick, gummy products in this period will result in caked up residue on the twists). The Pattern one chooses is dependent on personal aesthetic, length of hair, and grade of hair. This can range from any one of the following:
- Comb twist
- Two-strand twist
- Organic/Free Form
Comb twists are done by taking a rat-tail comb and rotating it through small bunches of hair. These are often done in intricate square or diamond patterns throughout the head. Two-Strand Twist is done by taking one small section of hair, breaking it into two parts and twining them around each other (for these first two methods, thoroughly wetting hair in a shampoo is not a good idea. Regularly and thoroughly cleansing the scalp with an antiseptic/antibacterial lotion is advised).
Braidlocs are done by parting and braiding multiple sections of hair into tiny braids. Latchooking, as I know it, is done by taking the tip end of the section of hair and looping it through the area of hair closest to the scalp above it…repetitively repeating this process until a tight series of micro-knots form. Organic/Free Form locking is a matter of using ones hands to break the Afro into unorganized sections and periodically manipulating them until the matted cylinders form on their own. (These last three methods can be washed more readily than the first two. Although you still want to be gentle in the massaging action of the shampoo).
Shedded hairs that did not escape the head have started to matt, internally, with hairs that are still attached to the head. The hair, in whatever pattern you initially set it in, will start off as a soft fluffy cylinder and progressively stiffen over these next few months. This is also the time when shampooing (gently, yet as thoroughly as possible) is reintroduced.
You will begin to notice (visually) changes and slight distinctions in your forming locks. As water/shampoo are reintroduced, the “fuzzies” (as we affectionately refer to them in Lovinlocs ©) are more apparent. People often panic at this stage, because it appears their hair is dry.
The light is refracting off of thousands of tiny strands of hair, diffusing the light in a “halo.” Be advised that this is an optical illusion. Please keep your wits about you.
Products in this period of time should be lightweight (move as easily as water) and translucent (nothing completely opaque, as it will likely be too thick for use in locked hair). Product usage is to be kept light because this is the period of time in which the locks are forming. Anything too thick, too gummy or too opaque may get jammed inside your newly forming locks and attract dust and lint to them…which will be hard to remove as you progress into the next stage of growth and lock maturity.
The more tightly curled textures of hair will often become firm enough to hold their form for the use of conditioner about midway thru this five-month period. The more loosely curled textures may not be ready until the end of this period, sometimes well into the next. The key to knowing when your hair is conditioner ready is to take an account of how firm the cylinder is becoming (internally). This is often the longest period in the process. Please be patient with your baby locks.
After the locks have locked internally, the outermost layer will begin to compact into an increasingly tighter cylinder. The locks, themselves, are increasing in tensile strength and maturity. They are stronger and more able to take the vigor of shampoo and conditioner without too much, or any unraveling or “fuzziness.” They will look increasingly “lock-like” as the pattern you initially set in months ago, will be indeterminable. You’ll find the hair more apt to respond appropriately product application (of course, still keeping it light!).
For the loosely curled textures, this is a period of maturity that can extend well over a year (into 15+ months or more!). If you have this grade of hair, please don’t panic and definitely don’t give up. Your “season” is coming and your mature locks are going to be wonderful!
GENERAL HAIR CARE TIPS FOR LOCK WEARERS
- Keep your product usage lightweight and moisture-retention formulated. Unless it’s a conditioner to be rinsed back out again, please keep completely opaque products OUT of your locked hair. I don’t care what it promises to do…the best source of moisture is water itself.
- Avoid any and all direct contact with cotton. Cotton is an organic fiber that draws moisture away from anything it comes into contact with. Grocery, Drug Stores and Beauty supply stores are good resources to find silk/satin bonnets, scarves and pillowcases.
- Those little balls that form on the tips if your locks…leave them alone, please. That is a sign that your ends are trying to seal. Do your absolute best to let them fall off on their own. If you cut them (or any part of that area) prematurely, it will stay fuzzy until those hairballs are allowed to collect there.
COLORING LOCKED HAIR
My first advice is to always seek an experienced professional on the matters of coloring hair. Water based semi permanents can be done at home, but the coloring an entire head of locked hair, permanently, is quite a task.
For the means of mildly tinting gray hair, I like water based semi permanents. They’re good for just adding a smooth gold or red tone to otherwise white or silver hair. (if your natural color is very dark brown, that semi permanents (water based, no ammonia) aren’t going to make much of a difference in your overall hair color). I’m not a fan of henna. Henna (used over time) can coat the strands to the point of making them resistant to other kinds of hair color (water based semi permanent and low level but long lasting semi permanents as well).
To get any kind of noticeable lightening effects on locked hair, you’re going to have to (eventually) resort to permanent coloring.
Over the years, I’ve heard plenty of stories about lemon juice and the like. If you live in an area of constant sun, yes…lemon juice produces strikingly noticeable results. Yet, there are some things that just shouldn’t be attempted or done without the aid of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing, and permanently coloring locks is one of them.
The most damage I’ve seen done to locked hair (besides over-manipulation of new growth) is the misapplication of permanent color …followed by improper post-color conditioning. Please understand that permanent color is a chemical process that affects the hair molecularly. Any molecular change is going to alter the behavior of the hair. Locked hair (that is not properly PH balanced/conditioned afterwards) usually responds with stiffness, an inability to retain its moisture, and a straw-like texture. Locked hair that has been permanently colored MUST BE properly conditioned, regularly, for up to 6 weeks after the process. Immediate deep conditioning after the product has been rinsed followed by PH balancing conditioning post-shampoo.
If I’m describing your permanently colored locked hair, please consult with me via e-mail.