Loc’d and Loaded

I have had hair issues since I was young. I am so grateful now for my hair journey because it helped me appreciate where I am and how I take care of my daughter’s hair.

When I was a toddler, I had no hair. Ok, maybe I lied, I had a few square patches of hair. My braids typically looked like Coolio. As I grew older and prepared for kindergarten, my mom hooked me up. Not really. She gave me Jerry Curls. Lord have mercy. I bopped around kindergarten dripping everywhere. I didn’t know enough to be embarrassed, but I knew I didn’t like it.

My aunt Wendy and I in front of Burger King

When I got to first or second grade, my mom began putting in those box perms (relaxer). She didn’t use Just for Me or other kiddie perms, she used the actual grown women ones. It tore my hair up! My hair became dry and brittle. Part of the problem, looking back, is that my mom didn’t take care of my hair after putting those chemicals in my hair. She rarely moisturized or conditioned it. It was just dry from wash to wash. She never taught me how to take care of my hair.

Wednesday Bible Study

After years of anguish, I became a teenager. A friend of mine had a sister who did hair at the local mall. So, I spoke with her and she agreed that if I swept up periodically, she’d do my hair for a discounted rate. Best decision ever!! So, I got my Halle Berry cut and rocked it all through high school. My hair was the healthiest it’s ever been. The next problem was college.

Senior Year at OW

I went to college in a different city and didn’t know anyone. Before I left, I got braids done, hoping it would last long enough to find a hairstylist. Luckily, I was blessed. I met two great friends who hooked me up, Mikey and Krystal. By the way, Mikey is now a well renowned hair stylist. These two would do my hair for little to no payment, as we were broke college kids. I am forever grateful.

College of Charleston

Once I graduated and began my career, I went back down a familiar path. I resumed going to the hair salon. Now, I could actually afford to pay full price and not have to clean up. But, around this time (2008) something interesting happened. The movie “Good Hair” with Chris Rock came out. I watched the documentary and was dumbfounded. No one had ever explained how terrible hair chemicals were, especially to black women. Women had calcium build up on their skulls and were losing hair. I felt aghast. I knew I had to make some changes.

So, I immediately decided to go natural. I decided that my last relaxer was my last relaxer. I had to do a ton of research to figure out how to take care of my natural hair. There wasn’t much information out there since many black women hadn’t made this transition yet. I decided to do a slow transition as opposed to the big chop. I wasn’t ready for that. I slowly let my hair grow out, week by week. However, after a few weeks, I went ahead and chopped it off because having the straight ends on super curly hair looked crazy.

I rocked my fro for a few weeks before I became tired of caring for it. My stylist didn’t like caring for it either; she was old school. She was not very pleased that I was no longer paying a million dollars for a relaxer every 6 weeks. I began to take care of my own hair. I went on a spending spree buying all of these different products. My styles rarely turned out how I wanted them. I settled with rocking an afro. 

After a year, I became inspired by Lauryn Hill, Ledisi, and Lalah Hathaway. I decided to grow locs. Working in schools and having old school parents, this was not a popular decision. However, I knew it was right for me. I had no hair care experience and I needed something simple, easy, and adorable. I began my loc journey in 2009. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I began with small little twists. I used to wash my hair with a stocking cap on to prevent the twists from unraveling. It took nearly 3 months for my hair to bud. Budding is when your hair begins to form locs and grow together. At this point, you’re in the “ugly” phase. But I don’t look at it as ugly. I look at it as a time you grow to love yourself. You begin to understand your hair and accept who you are as a person.

Taking care of locs is simple. I wash my hair once every 3 weeks. My favorite hair care line is TPH by Taraji P. Henson. After washing it, I retwist it. This can take between two and four hours, depending on how distracted I am. Then, I either wear it straight, do braids for curls, or use pipe cleaners for wavy hair. Each day, I moisturize with a product that has biotin. It keeps my hair strong at the roots. My styles typically last until my next wash.

I have been growing my locs for nearly 12 years now. I am so glad I chose to do this. My only regret is not starting sooner.

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