The Misconception(s) of Locs

by Angela of WiseCurls.com

I had a "Mr. Brown" moment a few days ago. I said "self", myself said "huh?” “Why don't you do a Yahoo search for WiseCurls to see what pops up?” So, being the curious person that I am, I did just that! For the most part, I was pleased, as nothing too out of the ordinary arrived on the search engine. That was until I clicked on the second page and found this question proposed by a curious girl: "Would you date a girl with dreadlocks?"

Most of the answers were negative (hence why I will not place any shine on them within this post. But if interested, please visit this link to see some of the responses). The overall consensus of those that participated in this question was that dreadlocks (or locs) looked dirty. Another participant stated that "(dreadlocks) just weren't their thing, but twists, afros and other natural styles are nice."

My first reaction was: "WOW - Oh NO they didn't!” But after about 5 minutes, I pulled myself (and my thoughts) together and thought about the bigger picture: The Misconception(s) of Locs. Then I thought, wow, for anyone considering embarking on a loc journey, what direction could something like the answers to this question steer him or her in? So below are some things I've learned along the way to address this misconception.

WiseCurls Truth:
  • Having locs requires one to wash their hair (shocker, I know!). I recommend using a shampoo that has a great lather and leaves your hair feeling squeaky clean without stripping oils and luster from your tresses. Click here for a review of my favorite shampoo.
  • Having locs or being a loc wearer does not make one dirty NOR does it mean that your hair is dirty. Like with any (natural) hair style, having locs requires maintenance and time. During the re-twisting session, I recommend using an alcohol-free gel or light pomade to keep locs moisturized. My absolute favorite is Taliah Waajid's Loc it up gel.
  • As with many natural hair styles, having a night time routine is essential for preservation. I recommend covering your locs with a satin bonnet. This will ensure that locs are kept lint free.
  • Help keep locs moisturized in between re-twisting sessions by spraying your tresses with a vegetable based mist. Oyin Handmade's Juices & Berries is great for keeping locs looking fresh.
  • Finally, keep scalp moisturized by using a light hair oil. Taaliah Waajid's African Healing Oyl is AWESOME for the scalp.
So if you're thinking about embarking on a loc journey, remember that it does require time and maintenance like it does with having loose & natural tresses. There is nothing "dirty" about having locs and is simply just another way to rock our hair in a Naturally Brilliant way.

14 Weigh in!:
Jeannette said...

I think that locs are soooo pretty! Although I'm not interested in locking my hair (I switch up my styles too often to loc it) I do like the look and am currently wearing yarn braids, which look like locs. It's also a personal experiment to see how people really take to locs. So far, I've had very positive reactions. I am truly a natural sistah and will only associate with those who accept my natural hair at any style. Therefore, the style I'm wearing shows how people accept natural hair at all styles. No matter what, I'm gonna wear what I want.

Braelynn said...

I like locs as well! Any style is great as long as you properly maintain it.

LaMaraVilla said...

Well I don't believe that the lack of washing is necessarily a misconception. When you first lock, unless you use sister locks or something similar, if you wash the hair will begin to unravel, no? You have to wait for the hair to actually lock up before you can resume washing right?

Angela said...

@LaMaravilla It's recommended to wait at least 3-4 weeks when you have loc started. A net is usually placed over the hair prior to shampooing to prevent the hair from unraveling. Conditioner is not usually used until the hair reaches a more mature/loc'ed level.

Anonymous said...

I've never had locs, but my daughter did. And there is a certain amount of time that you DON'T wash your hair so that they can loc properly. Even on more mature locs, when you have them re-twisted you should wait a couple of weeks before washing or the twisting at the root unravels. I don't think it's the worst thing in the world, but if you have a naturally oily scalp or you tend towards dandruff or a scalp condition the waiting period can end up with an unpleasant smell and look no matter what you spray on your actual locs. Also, I've seen more bros & sis's with stuff(flakes, lint, etc.) stuck in their roots above their locs than without. It just seems to be the nature of things when you can't brush out your hair or have to go for periods of time without washing. My daughter took her locs down after about 3 years because the stretches in washing after being re-twisted kept her scalp from being able to clear up and she always had dandruff in between. By the time it cleared up from regular washing in between, it was time to re-twist and stop washing again. She's loose now and washes her hair weekly and her scalp is 100% happy. :-)

That being said, I didn't find the responses to the question that bad. Loced hair isn't for everybody. Not everybody is going to like it and there are a LOT of guys who really like playing in a woman's hair. If your hair is in locs, then he has to play with the locs. This isn't the same as feeling hair in between your fingers or being able to play in an afro or grab a handful of coils. Braids and twists aren't as worrisome to guys because they know you can take your hair out of them at some point. But locs are on the more permanent side although they can be taken down with a lot of help and patience.

I think with any hair style choice, you have to be prepared that not eveybody is gonna love it or find it sexy. Some might even find it gross. So do you, and be happy.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:41pm Well said. "Do you and be happy".

Lisa said...

I have to admit that I was once in the group that thought that people with locs simply didn't wash their hair...and well, yes, I found that gross. It's only after learning to take care of my own hair that I found out about all of the misconceptions that come with natural styling. I will say though, that I tend to see a lot more unkempt (and sometimes really dirty) locs than I do well kept ones. When a person takes care of their locs, it is such a beautiful style, however, the few that don't tend to spread the many misconceptions that are floating around.

Honey said...

I agree with a lot of the comment above, growing up, I never like locs on anyone, I remember as a child being terrified of people with locs. At the same time, I remember seeing a loc of people with beautiful locs and I always thought there were two categories of people with locs, those who take care of it and it looks nice and suits them and those who let their locs free and get all matted up. After starting my natural hair journey, I have come to learn that those are free formers. At the same time I do think that amongst the natural hair styles, locs do get a bad rap. I bet there are people with locs that do not wash their hair or take care of it just like there are people with straight, relaxed, curly, wavy, kinky, coily hair that do not take care of their hair as well and vice versa.

beautiful me said...

It really depends on preference and lifestyle. I have had my locs for 9 months now, and I wash them when I feel like it, retwist or not! I do not retwist every time, I will just braid or set my locs on rollers. My hair is never dirty, never has lint stuck in it, and pretty much looks great majority of the time. My bf thinks they are beautiful, and I still gain alot of compliments from my look. I agree with Honey, Locs do get a bad rap! Even my mom thought that ppl with locs do not wash their hair. There are some who wash their hair hair and some who simply don't, locs or not!

Serenity Love Sincere Peace Earth said...

Everything ain't for everybody. If you don't like locs, keep it moving

Shuwanna said...

Hi Nikki I have a question; I was reading your post on henna a few days ago and I'm definitely interested in doing for myself. The only thing is when I tried looking for the product I couldn't find anything recent. So could you give me the link that you use currently because when I used the one posted on the henna page and I couldnl't find anything. Help please!!!

Thanks a million!

Anonymous said...

If anyone understands the felting process, they would know that it is akin to locking the hair. It requires suds. The author is right. I had locs for 8 years, and shampooed weekly. I had no issues with scalp build up. I am also glad that there weren't all of these forums around for me to "check in" with the patriarchy to see if my aesthetic was in alignment with their agenda. Sometimes you just are better off trusting in what is right for you.

Minna K.

Anonymous said...

When I was dating and married to my ex husband, I started and maintained his locs. (I do not, and I never have worn locs.) After the passing of his father, he decided not to cut his hair any longer. It was sort of our "thing" as a couple. We would light the fireplace, put on a movie and drink some wine and I would retwist his hair and nourish it. Sometimes he would even fall asleep because he loved to have me playing in his hair. When our relationship ended, he would go to a salon to have it done. He said that the lady didn't know what she was doing, and she just wanted to get him out of her chair so she could get back to doing perms all day. He eventually learned to take care of his own hair. I just said all this to say that I personally find locs to be amazing! It is one of the few styles that can mean an awful LOT to those who wear them. His locs were his way of learning to cope with the loss of his father, and they were also a great bonding tool for our relationship. I deeply respect those who commit to the journey, and I don't care how often they wash their hair or not. Sometimes it's not about vanity.

Beth said...

@Shuwanna, You might want to repost your question in the forums: http://www.curlynikkiforums.com/henna-hair/

Others can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Nikki is a Jamila BAQ (body art quality) brand henna user for life ;o) She's tried other brands, but that seems where she always goes back to. You can buy it online at a number of places, and it is occasionally available in stores (not to be mixed up with Jamila's "Henna for hair," which isn't as finely sifted as their BAQ henna. You should also look for henna that isn't more than a few years old. More specifically, you can find it at these places:
http://www.ayurnaturalbeauty.com/products/Jamila-Henna.html (currently on sale in preparation for the summer 2011 crop)
http://www.butters-n-bars.com/henna4hair.html
http://www.hennasooq.com/usa-store/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=8
The above store also has Jamila BAQ henna from 2008 on sale: http://www.hennasooq.com/usa-store/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=224

Hope this helps.

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