Adjustments To The Plan

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So over the weekend I had a chance to really think some things over. I did some test coils over the weekend just to see how they’d stand up to the humidity, getting wet in the shower and my workouts. If I were grading them, the comb coils would probably receive a C+ for the semester. In theory they are a good way to start locs, that’s how my first set was started, but back then I wasn’t working out regularly like I am now, and I can’t lie, I was less concerned with my appearance back then.  Plus I don’t even think I knew there were other methods to start locs.

Things are different now, so I decided to rethink my starter method. I’ll still have to endure end of summer humidity for a few weeks in addition to my daily workouts as I try to continue to lose weight, so comb/finger coils would not be the best way to go.  So I considered two strand twists. Less unraveling than comb coils initially, but I’ve never been a huge fan of what I like to call the “Miss Celie Look.” At least that’s who I thought I looked like  after trying out two strand twists on myself a few months ago.  They just looked scalpy and scraggly and SO not me.  Now please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t like the look ON ME, I’m not speaking for anyone else. My hair was shorter when I first attempted the style though, and I definitely have more length now.  I do think that two strand twists can look good on other women, just not on me.

Then I remembered there is a variation of the two strand twist: the three strand method.  Three strand twists  are thicker than two strand twists, unravel less and can hide some of that initial scalpiness that comes with all that parting. The technique is a little difficult to master but I did a test twist after checking out this tutorial that does an excellent job at explaining the technique.

I’m pretty good with braiding and twisting, its just a knack I guess, so if I can master this technique and the partings, this is the method I’ll probably be using to start my new set of locs.

Experiments with color. Yes. Again.

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If you can’t tell I REALLY want to color my hair.  I had some experiments back in late October AND late November that didn’t go well, and I’ve left my hair alone since then, but I want to color my hair before I start locking just so I can have a “line” if you will that will show me how much my hair has grown since I put the color in.  This way I’d have an indicator anytime I’d think my hair wasn’t growing, especially since I probably won’t color it again until 6 months or more into the process.

In my previous post about experimenting with color, I discussed using the L’Oreal Excellence for Dark Hair in Sizzling Copper and how it didn’t take because I hadn’t used bleach on my hair beforehand.  I don’t know why I thought it would work this time around because my hair hasn’t changed at all since then, but I bought a tube AGAIN and did a test on a small section of my hair this evening.  And once again, the color didn’t take.  No surprise there.

I also bought a box color, Creme of Nature Intense Red and did a test on a different section of my hair.  Box colors usually come with 20 developer, but when I mixed up the sample, I used the 30 developer I had from back in October. The Creme of Nature color didn’t take either.

My hair is practically jet black, so apparently I’m living in a fantasy world if I think that I can lighten up my hair by several shades without using something to remove some of this jet black-ness.

I see such wonderful potential with the Sizzling Copper that I’m not willing to give up on it yet, but I’m afraid, I sooo don’t want my hair to fall out!  As of right now I’m 50% for and 50% against.  We’ll see how I feel when it comes closer to the 29th.  I love that the Sizzling Copper is red-ish but not the traditional red that I see on alot of Black women.  That burgundy red that I’ve never been all that fond of.  You know what I mean.  Anyway, the idea is to have the top half of my hair Sizzling Copper, and use a semi perm jet black for the back of my hair  (No need to use developer and all that if I don’t have to).  My hair is healthy and strong, so I don’t anticipate any problems.  In the meantime I won’t do anything without thoroughly researching it first.

As I was scouring YouTube for vids of folks coloring their hair red, I came across this cutie.  Yes, she’s  not “of color” but as a freelance video editor, I see the detail she put into editing her videos and absolutely love her personality…. AND her color.  She makes me wish I was 20 years old again without a care in the world and no corporate job so I’d be able to color my hair this gorgeous red.

In the meantime, back into yarn twists my hair goes until the Countdown To Lockdown clock ticks down to zero.  No matter if I color my hair or not, I’m still ready to loc and begin my new journey.  22 days to go!

The fun has returned to my natural hair!

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The awesome thing about deciding on a date for my loc journey is that I have a whole month (30 days as of today) to decide on some things.

What method will I use to start my locs?  How thick do I want my locs to be?  What products will I use to shampoo, condition and twist my locs?  Palm rolling or interlocking?  Will I color my hair beforehand?  I do have some answers to these questions, although things may change between now and August 29th.

As of right now I’m going with the comb/finger coil method to start my locs.  In the past I did say that I wanted to begin my locs with two strand twists, and that MAY be a possibility, but aesthetically I have never liked the TST look on me outside of the house.  Meaning that I’d do TST’s to prep for a style but was never comfortable leaving my house like that.  For me, TST’s look better when the hair has a bit of length to it.  Just my own personal opinion.  My hair is certainly longer than it was the last time I attempted to do TST’s which is why I say that it MAY be a possibility, but I doubt it.  Plus comb/finger coils are easier for me to do, and quicker.  The comb coil method is also how my first set was started by my loctician which ended up being a great starter method for my hair type.

I did want to use the Fauryn78 method of coils to loc my hair, which is how she loced her hair two different times, but I tried a test coil this morning and wasn’t too happy with how it turned out. I’m only testing this on one little section of hair, literally just took out a yarn twists, wet it, put a little loc pomade on it and tried to coil it up.  It looked…  like a teeny tiny coil, which isn’t really the look I’m going for.

I may try to practice it again and see if I can get it right, but if not I’ll save the style for when my locs are a little more mature.

I want my locs to be thicker than my last set.  I’ve always loved thick luscious locs and figured now is a great opportunity to get them, so I’ll be parting pretty big, using this method. (Start at 1:15).

I’m pretty good at parting my hair since I’ve done pretty much every set of kinky, puffy or yarn twists I’ve had in my hair for the past year and a half.  The bathroom is already rigged up with my mirrors and lighting and everything I will need.  Who knew that what I was doing all that time was just practicing for the big test, starting my own locs.

The reason I chose her method of starting locs is because she has locs that are the thickness that I’d eventually like my locs to be.  We also have similar hair types.  This is a video of her locs about a year later.  (You can FF to 2:39 and mute it cause her music is LOUD!)

Now.  Products.  There was a brief moment when I *thought* I was locking my hair back in March of 2010 when I had my loctician add kinky human hair to my own hair.  For 8 months I went on with that charade and during that time I developed an absolute LOVE for the Nubian Kinks Locing Pomade.  So much so that I bought three jars of the stuff because they tended to run out very quickly on their website.  When they DID have the pomade in stock it took them forever to send it out.  So, since I’m in NYC and they’re in Brooklyn,  I called to have the receptionist put three jars aside for me, and I went to pick them up one evening after work.

It was a short lived loc journey (fortunately) and once I realized it, I took down those “locs”, slapped some kinky twists in my hair, and the Nubian Kinks Loc Pomade took a place in the refrigerator to preserve since I wasn’t using them.  I bought three jars, and only ended up using maybe 3/4 of the first one before the hiatus.  The other two are patiently waiting for me in my fridge, preserved specifically for this new journey.

I haven’t used any of the super expensive Whole Foods type shampoos and conditioners I was using as a loose natural.  I am pretty sure I still have some of them on my Product Junkie shelf in my linen closet, but I’d have to check.  I’ve just been using cheapy Herbal Essences Hello Hydration to wash my kinky twists and yarn twists for the past few months.  I am very very lazy with my hair when it’s all kinky twisted up and thank goodness I have very strong hair that can survive just about anything.  I’ve washed maybe every three weeks or so?  Told you.  Lazy.  When I take the yarn twists out though, I’ll be sure to wash and deep condition my hair with something lush and fabulous and prep my hair very well for what’s to come.

Palm Rolling or Interlocking?  Palm rolling seems to be the way to go for now, and I may try interlocking when my locs are a bit more mature, and because I workout pretty consistently and interlocking, if I can get the hang of it, would be a great way to go since the locs wouldn’t unravel at the root.  I am not sure how I’ll handle my daily workouts with my locs until then, but I’ll make it work.

I’d love to color my hair before I start this set of locs, but I’m not sure if I”ll have time.  Ideally the smart thing to do would be to color my hair the weekend before I start my locs, then leave my hair out of kinky twists that week to give it a rest before I start my locs, but since I’m like 100% allergic to having my loose hair out for longer than a few hours between sets of kinky twists, I’m not sure how I’m going to do that.  I *could* color the same day I loc, but I want to make sure I’ve got all of those chemicals out of my hair since I won’t be able to wash my hair for a few weeks until my locs set. We’ll see what happens. I’ll probably just use one of the Textures and Tones or Dark and Lovely box colors, just to lighten up my hair a little.  No crazy experiments with professional hair color and developer and all of that nonsense.

So that’s where things stand right now.  Of course everything is subject to change.  Can you tell I’m excited?  I’ve been scouring youtube and rereading Lonnice Brittenum Bonner’s book which really helped me a great deal on my first loc journey, before the days of youtube and blogs.  I said earlier that the awesome thing about having a date for my loc journey is that I have a whole month to decide on some things.  The not so awesome thing about having a date for my loc journey is that I wanna loc NOW!  I’m itching to get started!  But I’ll wait because I really am NOT ready now.  This time, these 30 days, will be spent getting my mind and my environment ready for what’s to come.  This is a lifelong decision.  Seriously I am like 100000000% sure that I’ll NEVER take down another set of locs! EVER.  AGAIN.  EVER.  So I want to make sure I get this right, so I never have to do it again.

On a whim yesterday morning, I took down one of my yarn twists, just to see what I’d have to work with when the time came to loc.  Here’s a pic of a mini finger coil.  My hair is 6.5 inches stretched, probably the longest it’s been since I took down my first set of locs at the end of 2009 and got my hair trimmed to get rid of the damaged ends.  It really is a testament to  how leaving your hair alone will really facilitate growth.

Breakdows and Takedowns

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Last week I was in bed watching TV and playing with my locs/loc extensions and just kinda tugged at one.  That bad boy slid right off.  Then I tugged at another one.  That one slid right off too.  I kept tugging.  They kept sliding.  I wanted to CRY.  Not because they were slipping out, but because I realized that I was going to have to take out the loc extensions, take down my locs and start the locking process all over again.

I wasn’t happy.  I wasn’t happy with the hair my loctician used to begin my twists, especially since I know there is a more realistic hair out there that would have given me the look and the locs I was going for.  I wasn’t happy with the way he parted my locs, they were so small.  Even after combining I still wasn’t happy with the way my locs were forming.  I wasn’t happy with the loc extensions.  I thought they were FAKING THE FUNK, and I wasn’t happy with the dark color, the way they felt and looked and the dang things were so easy to tug at and they just came right out, after all the work I’d put into them, not to mention the money I paid for the hair.

**sigh** So I took my locs down and went back to my old standby – kinky twists with synthetic hair.  The entire process, the taking down, washing, conditioning, and twisting took about 5 days off and on.  I started the takedown on Wednesday evening after work, finished up on Thursday late night.  I washed my hair, conditioned and started the kinky twists on Friday afternoon, then finished up Christmas night/early Sunday morning around 2am and then did the curling with hot water on rods on Sunday morning.  I actually am surprised it was such a quick process, but then again I was on a mission because it all needed to be done before Tuesday.

For Christmas, since I wasn’t done twisting my hair, I wore the raspberry beret I got at the Prince concert I went to on Dec 18th.  So cute!

For the most part, my twists look just like these I did at the end of 2009.  I used the Modu Collection Marley Braid hair which is fabulous for these kinds of twists and is the only synthetic hair I like to use after trying out different brands in 2009.  I threw the packages away but this is what they looked like.

I used maybe 3 and a half packs of hair in #4.

I WILL loc again, this is for certain.  I honestly want to start the process with a bit of length because I want to use two strand twists to begin the process.  I’ve noticed that starting locs with two strand twists yields thicker fatter locs, and that’s the eventual look I’m going for. I’ll keep variations of twists in for the next 6 months, asses my hair at that time and decide from there. I am not a weave or wig person and there is no way in HELL I’ll be leaving this hair loose, so the kinky twists and other kinds of twists are a better option for me.

I’m really disappointed that I’m not gonna loc this year.  I really thought the “what the hell am I gonna do with my hair?” phase of my life was over but it wasn’t meant to be.  I’m okay with it tho, I mean what else can I do.  Maybe in six months.  Maybe in a year.  We’ll see.  I’ll continue to update the blog because I already know what twists I want to try when I take out the set I just did.

Itchy Scalp, Dry Locs

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Jesus take the wheel!  My scalp has been itching like crazy and my locs are dry dry dry.  I’m going to assume the dryness is a combination of the recent color AND the weather.  It’s been in the 20s and 30s here and although I do cover my locs when I go out into the cold, the dry weather is all around, outside in the cold, AND inside with the heat and absolutely NO moisture in the air at all.

I’ve been struggling since I colored my hair on Friday to find ways to bring moisture back to my hair and scalp.  I know that oils alone aren’t gonna get it, those aren’t really for moisture anyway, they are just sealants.  Instead I took a page out of LocRocker’s blog and picked up some Infusium 23 from my local beauty supply.  I remember using this before, WAAAYYY back in my relaxer days, and do know that some naturals love this product.  I think I hesitated to try it since it isn’t “all natural” but I figured hey, at this point, neither am I! (Yes, I still struggle with my decision to rock loc extensions.  It goes against many of the things I’ve always advocated, but I’m trying to tell myself that I have to do what I have to do to make myself happy… and I do love the look… but anyway, more on that at another time…)

I mixed the Infusium, some water and a touch of olive oil in a spray bottle, sprayed my locs, then used my Hollywood Beauty Olive Creme over that as a sealant, and did loose bantu knots all over my head before going to bed. I’ve found that bantu knots overnight are great for locking in moisture.  I can definitely feel and see a visible difference in my locs now.  My scalp is a bit itchy still, but now it’s a different kind of itchy.  I went from “dry scalp” itchy to “maybe too much product” itchy?  **sigh**  I’m thinking maybe just the Infusium and olive oil was enough, and maybe I overdid it with the Olive Creme? I really don’t know what I’m gonna do at this point.  I don’t wanna wash again this weekend because it’s quite time consuming.  I think I’m just gonna hold out, or at least try to hold out washing until the 26th, right before I go on vacation. In the meantime, I’ll probably just use the Infusium and olive oil spray as needed, since it’s okay to use daily, and wrap up my hair when I can for the next few days.

Crinkle Locs and Lessons Learned

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And so… here we are.

Let’s just get to it, shall we?

I had to color my hair again, the Jazzing was fading and that awful brass from the coloring mishap I had back in November was rearing it’s ugly head again.  I decided to just go on ahead and use a permanent color because I didn’t want to have to keep reapplying the Jazzing and sitting under the dryer every 6-8 weeks or so.  I’m like over this hair already, tired of messing with it. My natural hair has always been resilient as far as color goes. I am a little concerned about damage, but as long as I take care of my hair especially well in the next few weeks I should be fine.

After coloring I decided that instead of traditional conditioner, I was going to do a hot oil treatment, but after applying my castor/olive/jojoba oil mix, sitting under the  dryer using the technique I described in this post, and rinsing my hair, it still felt crunchy and dry and my scalp felt even worse, like I’d been walking in the desert for 6 months.  I attempted to fix the dry scalp issue by applying more olive oil to my scalp which did nothing but make a hot greasy mess, and my scalp was STILL dry.  It was so dry that when I put head to pillow to sleep that night, my scalp felt like someone was sticking it with a million pins because there was absolutely NO moisture on my scalp and the hair was rubbing up against it. Awful.

So I ended up having to wash my hair AGAIN to get rid of all of that oil and used Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa conditioner under the heating cap for about half an hour.  My hair thanked me. My scalp thanked me.  I also twisted and braided with the Nubian Kinks Locing Pomade.  God that stuff is FABULOUS, and really helped with the scalp dryness.  I’ll also be using the Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier nightly as a leave-in to bring the moisture back into my hair.

So the lesson I learned is that traditional conditioners work best for me.  I’ve heard different stories about using creamy conditioners on locs, especially on loc extensions, and honestly I used traditional creamy conditioners on my first set of locs and never had any issues with buildup.  The only time I ever used hot oil treatments was on rare occasions that I went to a salon to get my locs washed and they gave me a hot oil treatment under the steamer.  But for the time being, hot oil treatments aren’t gon get it, my hair disapproves.  This was my second attempt at one and I wasn’t pleased with the results either time, so I’m sticking with traditional conditioners from now on. I’ll add to them with oils like olive and castor, to thin them out, and especially because of the cold, dry winter weather, but using the oils by themselves is no bueno.  I can also use pure oils as a pre-poo, but not for conditioning. I do want to eventually purchase a hair steamer and MAY try another hot oil treatment at that time, but I’ll probably mostly use a traditional conditioner mixed with the oils instead.

So here are pics of the braids and the braid out.  My locs are not all the same length, so I used a tip from one of the Nubian Kinks youtube videos that suggests bending the ends of the locs that stick out, underneath the braid, then securing with the bands, so you don’t end up with straggly straight ends that ruin the look of the style. I think it worked out really well.

Decisions decisions…

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Last Sunday I was standing in my bathroom wondering WHAT I was going to do with my freshly washed hair for the coming week.  To me, it didn’t look right leaving it down, it was scalpy and unruly and straggly.  I just wasn’t feeling how they were looking…

There was no way I was going to be able to go to work with my locs looking like this and feeling good about myself.  I tried to style them but wasn’t happy with anything I did, AND my scalp just did not like the pins. I tried bantu knots and a flat twist style, and only kept both of these styles in for one day before putting my locs up in a bun for the remainder of the week.

This was the bantu knot experiment.  It came out okay but the curls were SOOO tight.  I just wasn’t feeling it and those clips on the sides started irritating my scalp at around 3:30 that afternoon.  I  think I took them out as I was walking out of work and used my circle scarf to cover my head until I got home.

You see the look on my face?  Pure unhappiness.  This last style was a last resort, I couldn’t think of anything else to do.  I actually really dislike loc styles like this, where the flat twists just kinda end at the side of the back of the head.  Those styles always look so unfinished to me.  Plus I know you peep the pins, all visible in the back.  Of course you know those pins irritated the hell outta my scalp.  I did get compliments on the style, but still was very unhappy with my hair in general. It was probably a combination of frustration with many things going on in my life right now, specifically my weight and my job.

So that evening, I did something I never EVER thought I’d do….

I installed my own loc extensions.

On Monday went on youtube and looked up tutorials on how to do loc extensions.  I’d already decided that spending upwards of 500 dollars to get them done in a salon was NOT going to happen.  I saw a few videos, all with different techniques and decided on a combination of techniques.  I went to a beauty supply store to get the hair, and on Monday night…  I began my loc extensions.

I stood in my bathroom for a few hours trying to find a technique that I thought would work well to get me the look I wanted and would ensure that the loc extensions stayed in place. Since I was no where NEAR finished on Monday night, in the morning I put my hair into a bun and went to work. It was completely unnoticeable.

I worked on them Monday night and Tuesday night when I got home from work, and finished them up late Wednesday night/Thursday morning at around 1am.

As you can see I didn’t start them directly at the roots, but maybe about halfway down my own locs. I didn’t want the roots to end up with that bulb of thickness on them as my hair grew out.  (I’ll tell you how I did them in an upcoming blog post).  Because the Jazzing semi-permanent color had faded quite a bit, I had to color the roots to match the locs.

(You see that smile on my face?  Yeah.)  The black is a bit dark, but it will fade a bit over time, I’m sure.

And now here’s the rub.

I grappled with doing this for some time, because I’ve NEVER really been a fan of loc extensions, I’ve always been one of those people who’s been a total and complete advocate of going through the journey.  I’d actually considered loc extensions when I started locking back in March, but opted for the kinky twists extensions instead, and ended up not completely happy with those either, because of the texture of the hair my loctician used.  I am not sure what was different with me this time around, but I just wasn’t able to stick out the so called “ugly phase”.  Perhaps it’s because I’m older now and my patience isn’t what it used to be.  Maybe it’s because I’m unhappy with other aspects of my life and didn’t want my locs to be one more thing to be unhappy and self conscious about.  Perhaps it’s because I am at a different level in my career than I was in 2000 when I started my first set of locs, and I didn’t think the teenage phase would serve me well for what I’m trying to accomplish in my career at this time.  I really don’t know.  But I just wasn’t happy with what was going on on top of my head, I was frustrated with the limited styling options, I was feeling self conscious at work, and just wanted the madness to end.

I hesitated to blog about this because there are many people who are against loc extensions under any circumstances.  Which is fine because I used to be one of those people.  But I also feel that because I HAVE been through the journey with my first set of locs, I’m fine with using a different “technique” so to speak, to get the look I want. I know a great deal about locs and about natural hair because I’m not new to the game AT ALL.  I think it’s important whether you have loc extensions or not, to educate yourself about locs… how they form, the process, how long it takes, upkeep, maintenance, history, etc.  All of those things are important and necessary.  It’s one thing to have a hairstyle/lifestyle like locs or to “go natural”,  but it’s another to know WHY you have locs, or the history of natural hair.  That way, whether you have loc extensions or not, locs are still a natural hairstyle as far as the rest of the world is concerned and you’re still representing the natural hair community.

That being said, I’m going to continue to blog about my journey with the loc extensions here, because I’m sure just like anyone with locs, I’ll have good days and bad days. Just today I had to wash my hair a second time after washing it last night, because my scalp was DRY DRY DRY, and I ended up making a greasy mess after trying to fix the problem with olive oil.  My locs are now braided up and will remain that way until Monday morning, when I’ll take the braids out for crinkle locs for the week.  I did notice some weak spots in some of the locs as I was braiding and will fix those when I take the braids out.  Since the extensions will be here indefinitely, I’m going to document here how I take care of them, wash them, condition them and any mishaps or lessons I learn along the way.

I am kinda proud that I was able to do them myself and not spend 500 plus dollars going to a salon to get them done. I’ve always been DIY with my hair care and maintenance, and this way they are the length I wanted and the thickness I wanted them to be. I’m good with my decision.  Now I can focus on other things in my life like my career and my health. (To find out about that, go to the About Me post, there is a link to my other non-hair related blog there).

Any questions?  Ask me.