I am a moderator on the Lovinlocs © yahoo e-group message board. I get lots of questions related to product usage and natural hair maintainence. Here are some from the archive…
Q: “Is Loc-Butter/Shea Butter okay though??
I love the smell of it and have used it on my two-strand twist, but haven’t used it on my locks yet.”
A: I like that product for loose natural hair (only) because it conditions the hair and can be washed right back out again. In locked hair, this product gets caught in the crevices along the lock-strand and collects there…building up. Over time this buildup causes the locks to look ashen, which provokes more usage of this product (which perpetuates a viscious cycle). Any product used on locked hair (specifically) should be water soluble. If two-thirds of its mass doesn’t remove in a water rinse, then this product may have a fat level too high for locked hair.
Q: “Ive been locking my own hair for 4 months now. Do I wash weekly as a routine or on an as-needed basis”
A: For beginners, I usually suggest washing/retwisting about every 10-14 days. Its frequent enough to be consistent and regular enough that you accustomed to the retwisting processs. For those who aren’t retwisting newgrowth, an average of about every 2-3 weeks (please! Nothing past a month or the dust/dirt accumulation can get out of control). Remember to separate your locks from each other after every wash (this way they wont turn into wrist-width bongo locks before youre ready for them to do that).
Q: “When im retwisting my own hair, do I retwist the newgrowth or the entire lock, itself?”
A: When retwisting, pay the most attention to the newgrowth (rootbed).
Q: “Moisturizing. Help!! Normally I spray oil spritz on my hair and go. Is this enough? Is this even considered moisturizing my hair? Or am I simply giving it a nice sheen/gloss/shine?”
A: True moisture comes from water and water only! All of the (lock) moisturizing products out there simply act as glossing or conditioning agents to seal water in. Your best products will be lightweight (any kind of oil, spritz or pomade-like oil should break down IMMEDIATELY upon contact with your skin and body heat). Any product that sits on your skin that takes more than a minute or two to break down…is likely too thick for your locked hair. Lots of people loose moisture from covering their natural hair/locks with the wrong fabric (or nothing at all). I frequently suggest those satin bonnets or satin pillowcases because cotton is an organic fiber that draws moisture AWAY from whatever it comes into contact with. Its best if your locks/natural hair has no direct contact with cotton, whatsoever.
Q: “My locks have been able to survive shampoos without unraveling. I think Im ready for conditioner. How often should this be done? Should I be using a leave-in conditioner on my locks? What about Hot Oil treatments?”
A: Locks that are mature enough for conditioner can handle two shampoos (in a row) without unraveling. Conditioning should only be done immediately following a shampoo. Basic conditioners are PH balancers to shampoos. Conditioners are acidics that bring the alkalinity from a shampoo back down to something closer to neutral, relaxing the cuticle layer of the hair strands and coating it gently. Leave in conditioners are good for loose natural hair, but can build up on locked hair. If the locks are conditioned properly after the shampoo, there isn’t a need to use a leave-in conditioner product. Hot oil treatments are good to do seasonally, especially for those grades of hair that are particularly sensitive to dry heat or cold in season changes.
Q: “Is it okay to use a clarifying shampoo once a week?
A: Clarifyers strip dirt, oil, product residue AND can strip your scalps natural lubricant (called: Sebum). Its important to only use clarifying shampoos on a need-to-use basis (i.e. your locks are jammed with wax/shea butter) or on a once-monthly deep cleaning and deep conditioning basis. Id suggest moisturizing shampoos and conditioners for any other shampoos outside of the aforementioned.
Q: “What are the effects of salt water on locks? Will it lighten or fade your locks”
A: Chemically, salt water as the same effect on hair that shampoo does (i.e. frizzy, cuticles raised on the hair strands). Fading haircolor on locks looks cool, but technically it’s a sign of subtle damage. The cuticle layer of the strand has sat open and the exposed cortex has been damaged.