During the time I had locs, I learned so many useful lessons along the way. And yes, I even learned from my mistakes. Lucky for you, you can learn from mine too! After reading this and applying the principles you can experience a loc journey that is healthy for your hair. You will be able to enjoy your locs with all the benefits! No issues or reason for repair. And you won't get so frustrated that you're tempted to chop them all off!!
So let's get into it!
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse
Obviously locs aren't loose hair. And with that, it gets difficult to get them as squeaky clean as loose natural hair. So a little extra help is necessary to get it as clear and clean as possible.
The use of apple cider vinegar, especially used with baking soda is a scientific method that causes a reaction that basically dissolves, and removes dirt and build up from your hair. It's a simple acid - alkali (neutralisation) reaction, if you remember that stuff from science class. Similar reactions (using stronger chemicals) are used to unblock drains. However we aren't trying to go that hard with your locs. Apple cider vinegar has many overall health properties for the body internally and externally. The benefits regarding hair come from the alpha-hydroxy acid in apple cider vinegar which exfoliates the skin on the scalp. Its also anti-inflammatory, which helps prevent dandruff. Using apple cider vinegar will give your hair a vitamin boost, whilst applying baking soda to your locs before applying diluted apple cider vinegar will cleanse your hair due to the reaction!
Incorporate this into your routine to deep clean your locs, maybe once a month (every other wash), keep them smelling fresh and keeping their natural colour. If your locs were black and are gradually turning brown, they're actually just getting dirtier, and the washes you have been doing probably aren't sufficient. An apple cider rinse is probably overdue!
Not Too Tight
If you didn't know already. This is the most common cause of hair loss issues when it comes to black women. It's not just corn rows, weaves, ponytails and braids that can pull your hair right out from the root. When re-twisting or interlocking your locs it's important not to do it too tightly. Excessive tension on the hair can cause breakage and hair loss. This will lead to locs becoming thinner. That 'hanging on by a thread' look is not on trend. Never will be.
When it comes to partings anyway. The parting sizes you choose determines the diameter of your locs. Obviously before starting locs, this is something you would consider just based on aesthetic preferences. How thick or thin you want your locs is completely up to you. The real attention is required when re-twisting/interlocking. Usually this is a time when you or your loctician neatens up the partings. Deviating from the original partings can change the size of your locs. This, over time makes quite a significant difference. The last thing you want is locs that are inconsistent in size, fluctuating in diameter as you go down the length of the loc. Try to stay as close to the original partings as possible. It's normal that partings change gradually but significant changes will affect the width of the locs. Inconsistencies cause weaknesses along the length of the locs. This can be a point of fragility for snapping, especially when coupled with excessive dryness or bleach damage.
Do I need to moisturise my locs?
Yes! Locs can still get brittle and break. So they still need caring for. When wearing locs it's easy to get into the habit of neglecting your hair. You already don't need to comb it, you can literally leave the house without giving it a second thought. There's also the point of not noticing the health of your hair because it's not loose. It's nicely tucked away within itself. You may not notice split ends, or even hair loss immediately. However moisture is still essential for the overall health of your hair. That said, you don't want a situation where you have product build up intertwined within your locs. That can get unhygienic. You can't treat your locked hair the same as loose hair. I would advise using only light oils on your locs. Oils that can easily be washed out and cleansed when the time comes.
Oils that are thick or tend to be solid in cold conditions should be avoided
Oils to avoid:
Jamaican black castor oil
Butters (shea butter/mango butter etc)
To condition or not to condition?
It us usually advised by locticians not to use conditioner on locs. Now, I'm just going to give you the main reason for and against, and leave it for you to decide. I'll be objective about this.
Not to condition -
The reason why it is advised not to condition your hair is simply because it's a lot more difficult to wash conditioner out of locked hair. Conditioner can make a home inside your locs and this can be a problem because it can act as an adhesive for lint (fluff) and dead skin cells to become stuck inside your locs. Yh, problem.
To condition -
The reason some locked sisters and brothers still condition, is simply to have that soft conditioned feeling. Locs feel more pliable, moisturised and nourished. Obviously going this route will mean that you would have to incorporate that ACV rinse a little more often, take more care as to ensuring to cover your hair at night with a satin bonnet to reduce lint build up and taking other precautionary measures to prevent particles sticking to your hair.
I hope this has been insightful and serves as a helping hand as you continue your locked journey!
Let me know what you think!