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Locking Your Hair - Starting Locs

Starting the Loc Journey.

To grow real locs is a hair journey. No matter how you decide to start your locs, there are many phases and you need to be prepared for what is to come.

Natural Hair: Are you really ready for locs?

We all love a beautiful head of full, long locs. But are you prepared to put in what it takes to start, nurture and grow your hair to a set of mature locs? Find out before making that choice. You are going to have to learn to embrace your hair at every stage, from the budding baby locs to the rebellious teenage locs and beyond. Your hair will take on many different looks along the way and you may feel like giving up at times. It is a journey that will reward you with every step, if you are committed.

Locking your hair requires -

Commitment - be prepared to commit to a long process
Patience - be prepared to confront your patience issues
Perseverance - you will need to break through hurdles to get to the other side
Self-confidence - society is not always kind to loc-wearers, carry yourself with pride
Acceptance -you are about to discover your hair has a life of it's own. Accept the fact that at times during your loc journey, you may feel the need to wear a hat or scarf

You must have a degree of all 5 character traits in order to successfully loc your hair from baby to mature. This is not always an easy road and like transitioning from relaxed hair, the beginning is often the most difficult. Some people choose to start with extensions which can avoid that awkward stage, but if you do that you will miss out on the process of nurturing your baby locs from the beginning and watching them grow, which is a very valuable journey to experience.

Loc Products - Must Haves

No matter what method you choose, there are some products that benefit all locs.

  • A quality deep cleansing shampoo
  • Essential oil(s) of your choice - rosemary, lavender, sage
  • A light oil such as jojoba or sweet almond for moisture
  • Satin cap, scarf or hat to sleep in
  • Loc Products - Specially formulated loc products, but ensure there is no beeswax in them.
  • In addition to the above, following are the essentials you should have in your stash when you decide to cultivate loc your hair.
  • A light, natural gel such as aloe gel. Please no beeswax or brown gel.
  • Latch hook if desired, for re-tightening (Latch Hook Method)

Methods for starting locs

The first step is to choose your method of locking. Our Loc Forum goes into each method in detail and I encourage you to go there and browse the forum, do a search and learn as much as you can about the process to decide which  method is best for you. Make sure your sections are not too, too small, or the weight of the too-thin loc may eventually cause it to break at the base, especially if you twist the base to retighten. Locs will thicken up to more than twice their width in some cases, so you will need to keep this in mind when you begin your starter locs. If your locs are too thin you can always marry two together to make one thick loc. A good rule to follow is that the size of your parts will equal the size of your mature locs.

Comb Twists
Single Twists
Two Strand Twists
Loc Extensions

Tips and Suggestions

  • Do not use conditioner in this early stage. It will soften your hair, causing it to unravel. It may also cause buildup.
  • Never use leave-ins when starting locs.
  • When budding from twists, try not to wash your hair every day too roughly or you will have to retwist.
  • You can go longer between washings if you clean your scalp weekly using a solution such as Seabreeze.
  • Wash your hair either with a stocking cap over your head or for longer hair, try sectioning off and braiding your twists/coils into 4 sections and gently squeezing shampoo through your hair.
  • Do not abrasively rub your scalp or twists when you wash your hair. Use a gentle circular massaging motion.
  • Ensure your hair dries completely. Constantly damp hair and scalp can encourage mold in your hair.
  • Use a natural gel to twist the base.
  • Don't re-twist your hair too often - this will cause breakage.
  • Investigate the latch hook method for retightning your locs.
  • Always sleep in a satin cap/hat/scarf.
  • Try using herbal rinses to cleanse your scalp between washings. 
  • Avoid using any products that could cause buildup such as beeswax.
  • Itchy scalp can be beaten! Visit our homemade recipes forum for more info.
  • Witch hazel or Seabreeze on a cotton swab soothes scalp itchies.
  • Apple cider vinegar rinsing also soothes itchy scalp.
  • Shower without a cap. Steam soothes a dry scalp and adds moisture between washings/rinsings.
  • Visit Nappturality forums for support and know-how.

What Stage Am I In?
Your complete loc journey will take 5 stages. The stages are starter locs, budding/baby, teenage, mature, rooted.

Stage 1 - Starter Locs

You have done your twists or braids and have just started the locking process. People will see your hair as just a regular twist or braid style and it won't look any different, yet. For organic and freeform lockers, depending on the length of your hair, it may just look piecey. How you start your locs will make a difference in the time it takes to loc - it is just as important to consider your hairtype. A looser hairtyp will take longer to loc than a tighter hairtype.

Stage 2 - Budding/Baby Locs

You haven't re-done your hair in awhile. People are starting to wonder what's going on with your hair. The twists are becoming fuzzy looking and they aren't neat and tidy like they used to be. You may not have the re-twisting the base procedure down yet so there may be some base puff going on. The itchies start as your scalp learns to adjust to this new routine. Baby locs are cute at this stage and it's a lot of fun.

If you are freeforming. this is your first definitive stage. You may notice hair starting to mesh toegher in places. Your hair will look like you haven't combed it in awhile and depending on the length, this may mean you will be covering it up at this stage to prevent disturbance as the buds form.

Stage 3 - Teenage Locs

They are now locking but they now have a mind of their own. As they grow older, they have stiffened up and aren't 'laying' anymore. You'll wonder why do they seem like they're getting shorter? Some days your teenagers stand straight out and go every which way but down. You're learning to re-tighten the base better so they look neat but now some of them have balls forming on the ends and may look strange and bendy. They've gotten fuzzy as they begin to show some form. Welcome to the teenage years. Buy a hat if you must, but exercise your patience. Many people turn back at this point but persevere and you will break through the Teenage barrier and make it through to...

Stage 4 - Mature Locs

You've made it through the teenage stage to find your locs are thickening up and are finally laying down. They don't need as much re-twisting anymore and have settled in. You are noticing length now. You may need to join 2 locs together in places where locs have formed too thin.

Stage 5 - Rooted Locs

Congratulations! It's taken years, but you've finally made it! Your locs don't need frequent re-twisting because your hair is mostly now growing from the base directly into the loc. By this stage, your locs are strong, thick and healthy.

Basic Loc Care

Washing your locs

Your locs need washing just llike every other part of your body. It is a myth that locs do not need washing. Depending on the style of locs you have, the stage you are in and your hair texture, washing frequency will vary. Do not listen to people who tell you not to wash your hair for 2 months. Not only is this unhygenic, it can have devastating effects on your hair with dirt, mold and lint buildup.

Always give your locs time to dry thoroughly so you do not end up with damp loc syndrome. Mold can grow deep in your locs if they are not allowed to dry out completely between washings.

Sleep with a satin cap or stocking cap to keep your locs from fraying too much. The smoother you keep them the better they will sit and the less breakage you will have.

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 November 2017 05:35
Patricia Gaines

Patricia Gaines aka Deecoily is the founder and creator of Nappturality in 2002, the beginning of the natural hair movement. Since 2000 she has been blogging on all things natural hair, Black culture and politics.

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