Natural Hair And Locs What To Know
If you're looking to perfect your natural hair and locs journey, I'm here to help. My name is Joanna. I'm a hair, beauty, and lifestyle blogger based in Ghana. Continue reading for my easy-to-follow tips, and don't forget to follow my Facebook page, where I share more hair, beauty, and lifestyle tips.
To have a fruitful natural hair and locs journey, you must first understand exactly what the term natural hair and locs really means. There are many different definitions of the term. The definitions provided below are the most common definitions for both terms.
What Is Natural Hair?
Natural hair is relaxer-free hair that hasn’t been chemically straightened with a relaxer (sometimes loosely called a perm). When you have natural hair, you’re wearing your hair in its natural state. It is also defined as hair that has not been changed by chemical straighteners, which include relaxers and texturizers.
Hair that is pressed may still be considered natural because, once washed, the texture most often returns to its unaltered state as long as no heat damage has occurred. Natural hair, also known as afro-textured hair or kinky hair, is the hair texture of Africa’s populace. Each strand of this hair type grows in a tiny, angle-like helix shape.
The overall effect of this hair type is such that, in contrast with straight, wavy, or curly hair, afro-textured hair looks denser. You’ll often hear people, especially women, talk about going natural within the black or natural hair community. That process of going natural refers to black people (or African American women) changing from relaxed hair to their natural hair.
Some women choose to cut their entire hair when they go natural; this process is usually called a big chop. Over the years, more and more natural hair has gained popularity. This rising trend is commonly referred to as the natural hair movement today or the afro hair culture by those often not connected to the movement.
It’s important to understand that natural hair is different from chemical-free hair. Natural black hair (i.e., African American hair) is sometimes labeled as kinky hair that needs to be corrected by a relaxer (i.e., having the hair straightened with chemicals). There have been situations where women have been discriminated against in the workplace due to natural hairstyles (textured hair), deemed unprofessional by some employers.
Different genetic groups have noticeable hair structure, density, and growth rate differences. With regard to structure, all human hair has the same basic chemical composition in terms of keratin protein content. Classical afro-textured hair is not as densely concentrated on the scalp as other follicle types.
Specifically, the average density of afro-textured hair was estimated to be around 192 hairs per square centimeter. This was crucially lower than that of European hair, which, on average, has been estimated to be 227 hairs per square centimeter. Hair type is primarily based on hair’s curl pattern. The amount of curl in your hair is determined by your hair follicle.
The shape of the follicle of the hair determines whether your hair is: straight, wavy, curly, or coily. The more asymmetrical the hair follicle is, the curlier your hair will be. The hair type is determined by the genetic makeup as well as some phenotype of individuals. Alterations can be made to the curl pattern of hair with heat or chemicals, and the curl pattern can be changed somewhat by hormones or medications, but the basic curl pattern is in the DNA.
Regarding natural Black hair, there's no one-size-fits-all regarding texture and growth patterns. Still, in general, natural Black hair usually ranges from wavy to kinky-coily, with a wide range of differentiation between the two. The fun fact is not all black people have this hair type. Differences in texture exist not only in families, including siblings but even on the same head of hair.
Generally, Black hair types tend to be: drier to the touch than other hair textures, difficult to over-condition, and sometimes fragile. Natural hair can look strong, but this is a delicate texture and needs to be handled. This means frequent conditioning, moisturizing, and as little direct heat as possible to maintain optimum health.
One of the best facets of natural hair is enjoying various styles. Some of these hairdos take off chemically straightened hair, but many are unique to having no texture-altering chemicals on your hair. Hairstyles that work efficiently with afro textures include Braids and cornrows, various twists, Afro or Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA), Bantu Knots updos, and all the buns.
There are three main categories of color, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and permanent. Choose a color that fits your hair care regimen to maintain the integrity of the hair from semi-permanent to permanent. Semi-permanent colors last six to eight weeks based on a weekly shampoo and conditioner.
These colors can enhance your hair color and give you fun color options from black to bright shades without damaging the hair. The semi-permanent colors are mixed with a low-volume developer and last up to 12 weeks. These color formulations can give your hair a gentle lift. Since semi-permanent colors can lift your natural hair color, following up with a weekly deep conditioner is essential.
Have you considered getting dreadlocks? Formerly worn only by nonconformists, dreads are growing in popularity.
The History of Locs
The origins of the term dreadlocks still aren’t clear. Still, scholars presume it comes from British soldiers who expressed feelings of dread and dismay upon coming into contact with the intimidating Mau Mau tribal warriors in East African, then-British-ruled Kenya. The tribesmen wore long dreadlocks that the British soldiers had never seen before, and their battles were bloody.
Although the topic of who should wear locs constantly comes up for debate, the style hasn't historically only been worn by people of African descent. It is speculated that locs have a long history dating back to at least as far as ancient Greece. They have been worn by people of various tribes, religions, and cultures, including Hindus and prehistoric Israelites.
Nonetheless, that doesn't mean it is apt for people of all cultures to wear locs, particularly without respect to the more recent style history. When the trans-Atlantic slave trade was in full operation during the 1600-the 1800s, Africans brought to America and other places around the world could not carry out their normal hair grooming practices and therefore arrived with scruffy looks.
They traveled for several months on ships with no hygiene available. Hence it's unsurprising that their hair appeared knotted and locked. It's said that slave owners referred to the appearance of the captives as “dreadful,” thus the term "dreadlocks." Dreadlocks, also referred to as dreads or locs, are tangled sections of hair “locked” into place.
Dreadlocks are usually done in small sections to create a look that is almost the same as hanging braids. Also, for ages, the term "dreadlocks" has been used to describe the hairstyle in which hair falls into rope-like strands, which is made when the hair locks into itself. The term is quite problematic as the root of the word, "dread," certainly doesn't help, but the style remains one with cultural and historic importance.
Locs also have a gorgeous look, though one that's not always easy to create or maintain, for that matter. In the locking process, hair tangles, which causes the hair strands to coil around each other into connected units. Some people simply stop combing through their hair to form "freeform" locs, which tend to differ greatly in size.
Many people also prefer a more cultivated look, with neat and even partings throughout and a constant size to each unit. However, they're formed, and there's an art to ensuring they stay strong and healthy. Dreadlocks can form uneven, flat, matted sections that can be large and thin, typical of freeform dreads, or cylindrical, rope-like sections that are rounded and somewhat uniform, which is usually of finger coil or similar-style locs.
Dreads can form naturally when hair isn’t brushed or detangled for a while. You will notice knotted, dreadlocked sections in your hair within a year of no brushing. Most people that get dreadlocks have them styled and formed on purpose. Cultivated locs can be commenced by coiling, braiding, twisting, or palm-rolling hair.
Locs go through a series of stages. They can be made physically with two-strand twists, interlocking, or the coil method. Typically, the quicker hair will lock when the natural curl pattern is tighter. People with tightly curled hair may start their locs with simple palm rolling, while someone with a loose texture may have to braid their hair to begin locs.
It takes several months for locs to grow from the baby stage to the more rooted teen stage, by which point they're established. Locs allow for various styling possibilities, including playing around with color. They can be made in braids, twists, cut into shorter lengths, set on rollers, put into updos, and more.
Loc-wearers can be amazingly creative and artistic, combining hair jewelry and shells into their styles as well. The most common question people ask about locs tends to be: Do you have to cut your hair off afterward? It is a pearl of conventional wisdom that locs are too tightly intertwined to undo. This is definitely the easier path, although combing the locs out is possible.
The unlocking process will take anywhere from hours to days, and for a hair that has been in a locked state for a very long time, say, decades, it just may be quite impossible. A lot of hair shedding should be expected if you choose to unlock. However, because most of the hair that normally falls daily is captured in the locs, you may have several years of shed hairs to deal with.
If you're ready to unlock your hair, invest in a dustpan, broom, or vacuum cleaner.
One truth is while dreads aren’t as maintenance-heavy as other hairstyles, you still have to make time to maintain and take care of them if you want them to look, feel, and smell their best. This starts with having the right depot of products, maintenance methods, and care tips. The greatest way to maintain locs is to ensure they have a strong foundation.
It is suggested by stylists to grow out your hair naturally versus using a perm, which can compromise the hair. In the beginning, you’ll often hear advice about not putting water on your locs for the first two weeks after they’re installed; however, depending on which method you used, you could use water sooner rather than later.
To moisturize your locs use leave-in conditioner spray or light oils; heavy products can cause build-up and odor. It will be time to retwist your locs after a month or two after installing. You also need a few basic products to keep your dreads looking great. You’ll need the following products to properly maintain and care for your dreads.
Non-Residue Shampoo: Residue-free shampoo is important for keeping locs clean. Formulas that don’t contain silicones leave no residue and buildup in the hair. You’ll need a clarifying shampoo that leaves your hair spotless.
Dread Tightener: Also called a locking accelerator, a good dread tightening spray is key to forming and maintaining nice locs. This product forces your hair’s outermost cuticle layer to burst open, making the surface rougher to increase friction and accelerate knotting and locking.
Dread Cream: Moisturizing dread creams are essential to keep dreadlocks hydrated and flexible while avoiding breakage and frizz. These products coat the locs in a moisturizing cream that delivers nutrients and hydration deep into your dread roots. A wax-free dread cream is highly recommended.
The downside of locs is that they are heavy and can hurt. Locs weigh a lot, when it’s bound up into tangled sections that hold onto naturally-shed hair, buildup, and (if improperly dried) water. Locs also tug on small sections of your scalp at the roots, which can be very unpleasant and cause headaches. This is important to note before you get dreads.
It takes time for perfection. No matter your method, you won’t have perfect locs in one day. Locs are a study in progress. You’ll have to carefully maintain and continue shaping your locs over time to get the desired results. Locs are a huge commitment and investment. You won’t be able to snap your fingers and make them go away.
They’re matted and “locked” sections of hair that are not easy to remove. This is a big commitment if you’re used to being able to change your hairstyle on impulse. Low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance. Maintaining locs is less work than it is to style and maintaining long hair, but maintenance is still involved.
Everything from shampooing and drying them to keeping them properly shaped and locked in place requires your care and time. Knowing this ahead of time is equally important.
In conclusion, here is all you need to know about natural hair and locs.