By Trizah Fay
One of the most interesting misconceptions about locs is that they are easy to maintain. If you consider that locs are just natural hair, you’ll see why this is a misconception. Taking care of your locs is like taking care of loose natural hair, except it comes with extra conditions attached.
Conditioner or no conditioner?
When you condition loose natural hair, the objective is to detangle it. But we are not detangling our locs, so you may argue that you do not need a conditioner. However, deep conditioning is very effective for moisturizing the hair strands. If you’re going to deep condition, choose the most natural conditioner you can find, but one that will not leave particles in your already locked hair. Also, if you have starter locs then do not condition until they are fully locked.
One thing that most people with locs have to worry about is build-up. Build-up is especially a menace if you use heavy waxes, oils and conditioners in your hair. These can be avoided by being selective with the kinds of products you use. Sulfate-free products are considered the best but it is even better to find and use whatever works for your hair. You can also get build up from exposing your hair to sweat and environmental debris in your day to day endeavors. If you already have visible build up, use a clarifying shampoo to deep cleanse your locs. Alternatively, you can use the apple cider vinegar and baking soda mixture. When washing your locs, be patient enough to ensure that you rinse it out well. Unlike loose natural hair, you’ll need to let clean water run through your locs for a little longer before it comes out clear.
Drying your locs
When you have locs, air drying is your best bet. This means that once you’re done washing the locs, you take a handful at a time and gently squeeze out the water. You can then use a cotton t-shirt or a microfiber towel to catch any remaining water and prevent it from dripping onto your clothes. Once the locs are no longer dripping, let them loose so that they can dry on their own.
Moisture is your friend
How to moisturize your locs is a discretionary practice since there are so many different opinions from loc enthusiasts across the world. You can use water and seal it with oil. Or stick to the LCO/LOC methods depending on what worked for your loose natural hair. Some people even use rose water or glycerin in their moisturizing routine. I like to incorporate a light leave in conditioner as well. The goal is to have well-moisturized locs since dry hair is brittle and can break easily. And we do not want that.
Don’t forget your scalp
The health of your scalp affects the health of your locs so when moisturizing the locs, remember to take care of your scalp as well. Moisturizing oils are good for the scalp so just find one that works best for you. Castor oil, coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and diluted tea tree oil are some of the loc community’s favorites. Be intentional with moisturizing your scalp, especially since you may not always get to it when you’re just moisturizing your loc strands.
Limit the retwists
Whether you crochet or palm roll your locs, you have to let your hair grow naturally without tightening it too much and too often. While it is understandable to prefer the neat look, loc growth is a part of the process and the sooner you embrace it, the more your hair will thrive. You can retwist once a month, at most. Ideally, skip a few months and let the growth go wild. Also, never retwist when the hair is dry.
Protect your hair
From lint and unnecessary friction that can cause frizz. Scarves, lined beanies and bonnets are all really great for protecting locs.
And even with all these tips, there will be days when your new loc journey will feel overwhelming. Be patient. You will eventually get to the length and thickness that you want. But first, learn your hair.