Loc and Natural Hair Care & Maintenance
Caring for you Locs.
I have been growing my locs for about 8 years now. They have grown to reach the top of my gluteus maximus. During my journey, I have only lost 3 locs early on – due directly to my own ignorance in the proper maintenance and care for my locs. My 8 year journey has not only matured me, it has taught me how to properly care for and maintain a beautiful head full of long and lovely locs. This article aims to help you avoid some very common mistakes that can be very damaging to your locs and can also possibly slow their growth and hinder your journey.
First, believe the hype...
All natural hair needs all natural hair care products – products that have ingredients harvested from Mother Earth. Products that have ingredients that the average high school graduate can pronounce. If you cannot read the ingredients, do NOT put it in your hair. Locs need to breathe. They need not be weighed down. Chemically engineered products often cause layers of product lying on top of the hair shaft as opposed to penetrating it, thereby allowing the nutrients and oils to replenish and repair the hair. The moisturizing benefits of the product you use should be able to penetrate the hair shaft and provide direct relief to hair that has been stressed by styling and the damaging effects of outdoor elements – sun, wind, pollutants in the air, etc.
Don't become a product junkie!
Initially you may have to go through several all natural products before you find the one that works for you. What I suggest is starting off with one product/product line for natural hair – again ensuring that you can read the ingredients without a degree in chemical engineering – and then using that product for at least 30 days. Watch how your locs respond: Do they thrive? Do they shine? Do they look and feel healthy? Are they dry, or dry-looking? Are they happy? Are you happy with how they look? If the answers to these questions are positive (with the exception of them being dry/dry-looking), then you have found your product. If not, toss that product first and then move on to a different product/product line for 30 days, repeating the process until you have found the all natural product line that works for you.
Another option would be for you to make your own hair care products. It is simple to make these products and the ingredients are readily available in abundance. Making your own products gives you 100% control over what goes on your hair. You will know exactly what was put into the hair butter, shampoo, or other hair care product you decide to create. There is a wealth of information out on the Internet that will guide you through how to make all natural hair care products. Some sites even provide recipes and resources where the ingredients can be purchased. I recommend www.nappturality.com. This is one of the sites that I found during the beginning of my journey which offered a wealth of information. The members have always been very helpful if you post questions or concerns. I am not connected with Nappturality other than being one of the members of the message boards. I offer this resource only because it was tremendously helpful to me.
Water: Not only your body's best friend...
Everyone knows the adage “drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to keep your system flushed of toxins and hydrate your body.” Well guess what? Your locs need water too! In fact, they absolutely THRIVE when they are provided with an abundance of water. Wash your locs regularly, using all natural products that do not leave behind residue or build up. If your schedule permits, washing once a week and using a vinegar rinse twice a month will work wonders for your locs. Purchase a fine misting spray bottle and mist your locs daily. I like to mist them in the evening when I arrive home. We aren’t looking for saturation here…just a good dampening mist to help keep them well moisturized. I don’t recommend misting if you are going to immediately cover your locs with a wrap or other adornment. This may create unwanted situations such as odor because the locs were not able to “air dry” before being covered, causing mildew. Mist only when your locs will be free to take advantage of air drying.
Another key water therapy for locs is prolonged rinsing. Prolonged rinsing consists of rinsing for a minimum of 15 minutes. Most peoples locs become victim of product buildup simply because the person did not rinse thoroughly enough when washing the hair. Once you have washed and conditioned your locs and you have rinsed all of the shampoo/conditioner out of your hair to the point where you feel you are done rinsing, then that is when the prolonged rinsing BEGINS. At this point in your loc washing, rinse your hair for a minimum of 15 minutes with clear, luke warm water. You don’t want the water to be hot as this can dry out your locs like taking a hot shower will dry out your skin. The water also shouldn’t be cold; rather just warm enough that it is comfortable on your scalp – not cold or hot. While rinsing, be sure to massage your scalp. Not only does this help stimulate hair growth and circulation, it feels good too!
Oils...A hurt or a help?
Oils can be both a benefit and a detriment to your natural hair. They benefit the hair obviously by providing moisture and sheen. They can harm the hair if the improper oil or too much oil is used. Remember that fine misting water bottle I suggested in the last section? Adding oils to this misting bottle is a great way to oil your hair without using too much product. If you are using essential oils, you will only need a few drops for your misting bottle. The key here is that you want far more water than oil/essential oil, otherwise you will end up with product buildup and dull-looking locs. If you use oil in your water misting bottle, I recommend that you only mist once a day at most to help prevent build up.
Some oils that you should have in your arsenal include:
Sweet Almond Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Please be sure that you fully understand how to properly use essential oils (correct dilution, etc.) before using them. They can be harmful, as with any product, if used incorrectly.
So…you already have product buildup? Or, you are scared that you will get it. The best way to combat product buildup is through prolonged rinsing. The next best remedy is using an apple cider vinegar rinse. I recommend using this rinse at least once a month – twice for good measure. The recipe is easy: in a large bowl, mix one-part apple cider vinegar to three-parts luke warm water. The process is easy: After making your rinse, place another large bowl in the sink and dangle your head and locs over it. Pour the mixture over your locs, ensuring that all of your locs are drenched in the rinse. When the rinse stops running off your locs, take the now empty mixing bowl and place it in the sink, removing the bowl that has caught the run-off. Now pour the apple cider vinegar rinse through your locs again, repeating the process until there is no more rinse left. Dry and style as normal.
Other maintenance tips...
The last tip I want to offer for caring for your locs is to give your locs a monthly hot oil treatment. A hot oil treatment will help to replenish the natural oils that are lost each time we wash our hair. Using extra virgin olive oil, gently warm a generous enough amount to thoroughly saturate all of your locs from root to tip. Pour the warmed extra virgin olive oil over your hair and scalp, being careful to ensure that all of your locs are saturated. Next, wrap your saturated locs in a towel which has been heated and dampened with hot (or boiling – but be careful!) water. Sit under a hood dryer, set on medium heat setting, for 10-15 minutes. If you do not wrap your hair in a hot damp towel, do not sit under the dryer! The hot damp towel helps to protect your locs from the damage that can be caused by the hot dry air of a hair dryer. Finally, rinse thoroughly for a MINIMUM of 20 minutes (remember the prolonged rinsing I mentioned earlier?) to ensure that all of the excess olive oil has been removed from your hair.
Why olive oil you ask? Olive oil, especially the extra virgin type, is closes to the natural oils that the sebaceous glands in your scalp produce. Remember, the key ingredient in this entire article is “all natural.” You want to use natural products that naturally mimic your hair and scalp’s moisture and other needs.
The end result...
In the end you will have happy, healthy, vibrant hair that has a good sheen and no ashy buildup. You will love your locs and your locs will love you!
This article is a brief, high level overview of the care and maintenance of locs. The information provided can be applied to any natural hair style – loc’d or not. Check back soon for more articles and information on caring for the Natural You!
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