When it comes to locking hair, I am strong believer in technique and not relying heavily on product. Many people want quick results in eager anticipation of wearing their lovely locked styles and are willing to try almost anything. Stylists want to give those quick results and they end up doing what I call “plastering the hair together” rather than letting it lock naturally as it will eventually do anyway. I compare it “plastering” because of the dependence of the product to lock the hair rather than maintenance techniques.
Why you don’t need tons of product. A majority of the clients who sit in my chair for locs will have some sort of curl or wave pattern (I will discuss locking straighter and resistant hair textures in another post). This type of hair naturally forms some type of helix. The job of the stylist is the aid the matting process of the cylindrically formed tendrils. The hair is going to lock! What you don’t want is the remaining buildup of the waxy, sticky products that have been repeatedly in your newly formed and maturing locs.
Where the trouble begins. The most common method I see many stylists use to start locs is the coil or comb twist method with a locking product. It is best done on wet or damp hair and product is used to smooth and reinforce the coil. Many are convinced that they have to go the 6 week to almost even 9 months without cleansing their hair for it to lock!!! I’ve seen people attempt to go longer, don’t do this!!! This is where the initial trouble begins.
How the problem becomes worse. Along with the product being trapped in your hair with no release, you are also trapping your personal debris (scalp flakes, sweat, natural oils etc), environmental debris and everything else in your hair. The pH of your scalp is now changing to help battle some of this growing amount of debris being left of the scalp. This for some causes increased irritation and can lead to some infections of the scalp that could even become chronic. I have had to clarify so many heads of locked hair that have come my way due to these tactics. I have started locks of all hair textures and sizes while still cleansing the hair regularly with water and cleanser.
You didn’t listen now look what happened. In my opinion, some natural things are fine to use in the hair as long as the hair is being cleansed regularly. Keep in mind that even with regular cleansing, due to the meshing of the hair, you may not be able to remove all traces of product. Also, you want to consider the lifestyle and scalp condition of the person that you are using these products on especially if you are suggesting that they do not cleanse the hair with water and cleanser. I have had clients that have had their locs started with everything from honey, shea butter, beeswax/wax (I despise it) along with a combination of locking products that eventually cause what I like to call “loc sludge”. Loc sludge can affect the health, color, smell, weight, manageability, etc of your locs. This sludge can be found my wringing the locs once they have become saturated with warm water and a little bit of clarifier. It’s not a pretty sight.
An alternative to water? The dry shampooing is a good option also, but in my opinion, only to an extent. Yes, the scalp is clean but what about the debris collected in the loc itself? It will only find its way right back to the scalp and it will continue to collect more buildup with continued application of product during maintenance and grooming.
What should be used then, know it all? When it comes to loc maintenance, I like to go for more natural options such as aloe, oils, light butters, and even some light, alcohol-free gels. I prefer products that rinse clean from the hair and are safe to be absorbed by the body. I keep the products used in the hair as simple as possible because the client should be carrying positive energy in their locs, not sludge!!
Below is a picture of one of the gels that I recommend and is a favorite of mine for locs.
Questions and comments are welcomed! Thank you for stopping by The Hair Garden!