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How to Dread Hair
My Loc Updo
Not a Dreadful Experience
Knowing how to dread hair can be cosidered an art form to some or perhaps repulsive to others. As for me, my nearly nine year loc journey has no resemblance whatsoever of dread! To qualify my experience in order to express my views, please understand that I am an African American female possessing locs and can only write from this perspective!
Two-Strand Twist Example
Successful locs are generally begun when the natural state of hair is predominant with little to no relaxer- straightened hair present. I personally had to cut off about an inch of relaxer-straightened hair when I had my starter locs.
I wore weave sew-ins, box braids, twists, afros, and more while returing to my "au naturale" state from having had a relaxer. This process of growing out my relaxer took about a year.
Starter Locs- Initially I had two strand twists which consisted of two strands of hair crossed over each other to form a rope-like pattern. Expertise and ending appearance varies by stylist. ( NOTE: Starter locs can include your hair in braids, coil twists or comb twists, or just freestyling it and letting the natural, relaxer-free hair loc on its own accord overtime.)
Hair Product- The hair product used to ensure my hair would stay in place and not easily unravel was Mango & Lime Locking Gel. Though it may contain some beeswax in it, I chose this product as it claims not to allow build up and I must say that it does not! I have never used natural beeswax and cannot say for sure wether or not it promotes attraction of lint, dirt, and other particles in the hair.
Maintaining Locs- Having had a relaxer for over ten years I had to convince my husband that after the beginning stages of locs my hair styles would improve! He was used to seeing me with straight styles, curls, braids, pony tails, updos, but had a hard time dealing with even my wearing natural styles previously described, not to mention locs.
With much research I chose "latching" as my style of loc maintainence. Latching is the method by which I tame newgrowth by looping the ends of the loc through newgrowth at the root in a repeated north, south, and east, and westward direction. This can be done using fingers only or with the use of a latching craft hook.
After two weeks of having the initial, starter two-strand twist styled in my hair I had my first latching!
- Watch video below for a latching demonstration:
Latching Locs "Dreadlocks"
Latching- As stated my preferred means of maintaining my locs was latching. This method was chosen as it interlocks the hair making it difficult to undo. Individuals who use latching instead of twisting to maintain locs usually remove thier locs by cutting them off rather than unravelling or untwisting as it is a more permanent upkeep process).
Furthermore, this process really makes small knots in the hair each time you latch. It is not really detectible to the eye unless through close inspection and by feel. My locs are absolutely beautiful in my opinion despite that fact. This may be a con to consider, however, again latching is a more securer way to maintain locs. Especially after first establishing starter locs, latching ensures that after washing the locs will not unwind. Twisting, discussed below, lends to a more smoother look to the entire loc.
Twisting- Another way of upkeeping locs is by twising each loc starting at the root and continuing the twisting motion down the shaft of the loc. This is a method of choice for many who sport locs. I have friends and family who chose this upkeep method and upon deciding to take out their locs were able to actually untwist their locs. That is not to say twisting it not a secure way to maintain locs, but it does not involve interlocking as does latching.
Palm Rolling- Palm rolling is similar to twisting maintainence and it involves using the palm of the hands to rotate the locs continuosly from the root to the end of the loc shaft.
Free Form Locs- This loc style knows no boundaries or limitations. Once the locking begins the locs are allowed to cultivate, shape, and flourish as they may with no interference.
Many are puzzled as to why individuals with locs can grow their hair to great lengths in no time. I have no explaination other than my understanding of that the shedding of hair takes place within the shaft as opposed to free single strands of hair shedding individually. Feel free to weigh in on this!
According to Ebony Magazine locs grow differently for everybody and the thickness of hair is a factor. My hair is course with a thickness. I found that my locs began to cement and bond in the middle and the locking process continued downward and upward. This process is often referred to as "budding" on natural hair forums.
My goal is to grow my locs down to my bottom, steering clear of candles. My hair is currently down to the small of my back and is different lengths.
I credit my success to locticians over the years for latching, washing, and moisturizing my hair. My scalp condition was bleak before locs and continues to be an ongoing challenge.
The wind blowing my hair, flowing curls, or beautiful and elegant updos are all my motivation for having locs and further supports my assertion that having locs is not undesirable!
How to know you have dreaded your hair is by the evidence of your hair gathered in bunches of threads to form one segment. This is the "budding" I referred to previously. Budding does not usually take place throughout the entire loc, but starts at some point and spreads throught the entirety of the loc.
Once you see a change from the starter locs to having these "puffy pockets" that feel like cotton to the squeeze, the locking process is underway! It is a joyful thing to know your hair is healthy and going to grow long with proper handling, maintainence, shampooing, and moisturization.