1 Year(ish)!

Ok, well almost one year. But close enough. Wow, time really flew and I haven’t posted in a minute, but life had me real busy. In the last few months, I finished grad school, moved back to Boston and found a place with my girlfriend, looked for jobs, had a temp job back at MIT, found a new job to start my career and have been working for three months with some long hours, and adopted a cat. And I’m loving life.

But enough about why I haven’t posted and more about why I am posting. Truthfully things haven’t really changed all that much with my hair from day to day. But looking back at where I was, I realize how much things have changed overall.

So here are a few pictures I’ve taken over the past few months. Not really sure where my digital camera is and don’t have the same good angles in the new bathroom, so these are mostly taken with my phone.

In Spetmeber.

First day of work.

First time latching.

Most recent picture.

An update on my hair care and maintenance process. My girlfriend does my hair now (we enjoy the quality time spent together and we enjoy the saved money for some evenings out). She’s getting pretty good at it and you can’t beat the convenience of having an in house personal hair stylist paid in dinner and kisses. There was a time when I went to a new loctician back in April, and that was good, (it was the referral from my first loc compliment). She was really nice, fit me into a busy schedule on short notice, was really fast, and liked to teach me about my hair and how to take care of it. And they weren’t afraid of washing my hair there, which was great. But it still was just too expensive, so I’m sticking with home care. 

We’ve started to incorporate latching into the process. Personally, I like latching because it prevents my hair from coming unravelled after washing and also allows us to stop when it gets too late and have to go to bed. But the locs don’t really look much different afterwards, still fuzzy, just tighter at the roots.

She still palm rolls my hair every so often because, well it looks better. And you get to see the length. The only problem with palm rolling is that with my hair as long as it is, we need a million clips and we can’t stop halfway so we’re up into the early morning hours. So we switch back and forth between the two methods.

I wash my hair about once every week though sometimes every other. Currently using a V05 Vanillia Mint Clarifying Shampoo for washing. It seems to get my hair the cleanest so far and its super cheap, maybe $2.99 for a big bottle. Depending on what it looks like after, we may try and do some maintenance, or I might just leave it alone. Unfortunately, the front couple of locs are still not loc’d. Like, really just mostly tufts of hair…maybe one day. The back on the other hand was fully loc’d by month 7 or so. The sides and top are somewhere in the middle. Not fully loc’d but definitely coming along.

As far as products go, it’s really pretty simple. We use aloe vera gel in my hair during retwists and I have a tea tree and jojoba oil mix with a lot of water that I spray in my hair daily. That’s it. The key I found was that I get the actual essential oils, not the mixes I had been using previously. One small bottle of the EO costs about $15 for the tea tree, $6 for the jojoba, but I only use a few drops in a spray bottle that lasts me for a week. I think I’ve used about 10% of each of the bottles in the last 3 months, so all in all it’s pretty cheap.

I still have occasional dreams about something happening to my locs, either them falling out or just shaving them off completely. Pretty annoying, but I guess that means I care enough about them to include them in dreams.

I guess that’s it with the update. I’m not really sure when the next post will be, things seem to be pretty stable for now. Thanks for reading.

4 Months

Yesterday marked 4 months. Wow. This month was a lot better than last. But let me not get ahead of myself.

Last month was a lot of trouble. It has been 56 days since the last time I went to my loctician. I decided that I really should try to work on doing my hair myself, to save some money and give me a little more flexibility. If I have to go for an interview, I want to be able to do my hair the day before and not have to worry about whether or not I can get an appointment. So last month I washed my hair, and tried to retwist my hair myself. It worked out well, but took quite a few hours, and I looked crazy for the first day or two, with my hair sticking up every which way. The problem with that was that my hair wouldn’t really stay together over time. Every time I washed, I had to retwist which was basically every week. This led up to an actual bit of soreness of my scalp, which was not fun. Nothing too bad, just an annoyance. I started using Dr. Bronner’s Tea-Tree Shampoo. That stuff is strong. Even diluted, it’s pretty strong.

I also started using Taliah Waajid loc’ing gel which contains fewer chemicals than others, next to none really. That stuff was nice, but I didn’t really get enough hold to keep things together. I even added some honey, and that seemed to hold better, but my hair was super stiff.

It got to the point where I really didn’t know what to do. I tried a towel rub method to rub my locs in a circle which is supposed to tighten them. That had mixed effects. While for some of the locs on the side of my head, it worked great, the others…not so much. Unless they were already in good shape, it just made a huge mess of things. 

Things were not really looking good.

This month things have changed. My girlfriend offered to retwist my hair with aloe, which has actually worked out pretty well. My hair has grown in length, and is starting to hold together better. I’m budding all over the place, mostly on the sides, but some in the back in random spots. The top and front of my head is still pretty loose, but given some time, things will change.

I’ve gained some length and my hair stays cooperative for the most part.

I’ve gone back to using Carol’s Daughter shampoo instead of the Dr. Bronner’s. Although CD has some chemicals and sulfates in it, it seems to do better with my dandruff. Last month I was itching like crazy, but this month, not so much.

All in all, I’m really enjoying how things are going right now. My hair is looking pretty nice, and I’m trying to push washing it and retwisting to at least 2 weeks. As it grows, I think this will be easier.

On to the next month…

3 Months

I’m a little late with this, it’s been a bit of a crazy week, but the 22nd marked 3 months loc’ing. This last month actually went by pretty quickly, I really do feel like it was yesterday that I was writing about 2 months. My hair has decided to do some interesting things, I’m not really sure how to explain it yet, but I will eventually. Basically, there has been tons of unravelling, tons of retwisting, a little soreness, lots of washing, and a host of other things going on. Basically, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my hair while at the same time trying to let it do what it’s going to. And trying to be comfortable with that. It’s been tough. Pictures and more details to come soon.

My First Loc Compliment

So this may seem like a silly thing, but I got my first loc compliment today! Now, my family and friends are usually complimenting me, or asking questions, but no this was different. As I got off the subway today on my way back from an engaging class on business creation (my favorite) a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said “Your locs are very nice and neat, how long have you been growing them?” We then proceeded to talk for a few minutes, as she was on her third set of locs, two years in, and gave me the card to her loctician. She did suggest that I stick with my current loctician, since I’m still in the early stages and shouldn’t have too many people messing with my hair, but I have another choice in the future.

How I’m looking today.

Anyway, I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me, but having a random person come up to me and tell me that they actually liked my hair as it was, and a week after my last retwist mind you, really made my day.

So I realized that I might have been a little hard on myself and my progress last post. I’m just a little disappointed, but I guess that’s a part of the process. I decided to take a look back over the last 2 months and make a little “progress timeline.” Turns out, I’ve come a bit of a way, more so than I realized. Looking back to when I got my first coils, they were so tiny. My hair has grown a bit since then, so even if the loc’ing isn’t apparent, my hair growth is. Eventually, I want to not only have locs but also some length, so at least seeing the growth is reassuring. Also, my hair isn’t completely starting over, most of the back looks like it’s made some progress. So all in all, I’m feeling better about things.

A ‘professional’ retwist. My loctician wasn’t exactly happy with my hair when I got there. “What happened to your hair? Did you get it wet?” Ummmm….I don’t know. (sshhh I didn’t tell her about the washes.) So it seems like I might have back tracked a little, though I’m not exactly sure how. Anyways, what I think I’m going to do is change my schedule up a little. I’m going to try retwisting every 2 weeks, which is pushing it when it comes to over manipulation. I’m only going to go to my loctician every other time, and wash my hair and do it myself the other times. This way, I can still go to her without it costing me too much, and I can start to do it myself without completely ruining my parts. Speaking of my parts…they look different now. Less square and more angular. I’m not sure if it’s just me or if she just gave up on trying to keep the same ones. I’m starting to not care as much, since I can’t seem to keep my hair in a good state for long. That and I don’t see my self doing really crazy styles, that require super even parts, in the future.

Also, my little buds I thought I had are mostly gone. Makes me a little sad. Another instance when I’m not sure if it was my fault or hers.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a little disappointed this time. Not with the retwist, I think it looks nice, but with my progress. Mostly because my hair seems to look like it did a month ago, just a little longer. Getting it retwisted just seemed like starting over, with more hair. Meanwhile, last week I was counting my progress with my fingers.

We’ll see…

2 Months

So the 22nd marks 2 months into my loc journey, and I’m chilling. To celebrate, I washed my hair (more so because it needed it), and my head feels great and my hair is still intact. I used my usual stocking cap setup and just poured diluted Carol’s Daughter all over my head, with a thorough rinse this time.

I’m in the market for a new loctician, but only because my current one is just too expensive. If it weren’t for the price, I would gladly keep going. The place is nice, just a few blocks away from my apartment, my loctician doesn’t talk too much (which gives me time to think), and I feel a certain sense of loyalty. But my wallet says otherwises. I figure I’ll go there one more time and then try another retwist myself to see if I can just become a DIY.

Pictures to follow soon.

Finished What I Started

I finished what I started. I retwisted the rest of my hair yesterday. I used Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking Gel and retwisted by hand. I don’t have a dryer so I just let them air dry. It was a long and tedious process that involved many mirrors, many moments of frustration, and a whole lot of clips. But I did it and I’m actually pretty proud. It didn’t come out as nice as I would have hoped; instead of looking freshly retwisted, they just look a little better than they did before. But it’s a work in progress. Besides being happy about being able to do something myself, I’m really interested in saving money, because going to the salon is getting expensive.

Intermediate stage, I had to run to class after this. There was a du-rag involved, most definitely.

Finally done.

So as you can see…it needs some work. I’ve got things sticking up all over the place. I’m also not sure if I have buildup from washing my hair and not getting it all out, but that might just be my camera. But anyway, it was a good experience.

So…yesterday I decided that it was time for an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse, which basically means I mix some apple cider vinegar with water and pour it over my head while wearing a stocking cap. Supposedly this is to clarify and cleanse. Also, it’s supposed to prevent dandruff. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. All I know is that after I rinsed my hair, it smelled heavily of vinegar, even after it dried (which was when it was supposed to stop) and today…well the itchies came back. In full force. Like really bad. So…I stopped at the hair supply store to pick up some clips, got home, put on the stocking cap, diluted some Carol’s Daughter Shampoo, and washed my hair. Just poured it all over. And oh what a blessing. My hair was dirty, obviously, so it was nice to see that all coming out. And then I washed again. And it was good. And then I took off the stocking cap……..and my coils were still there!! For the most part. A few had come undone, mostly before the wash. I then took some Mango and Lime Locking Gel and went to work on the front ones just to see. Twist then clip.

Turns out I may not have much longer before I start to take care of my hair myself. It really wasn’t that difficult to do a few, and if I can make sure to keep my parts intact, I should be able to do what I pay my loctician more money than I can afford to do on my own. And I loved washing my hair. That’s going to be happening much more frequently.

Be Assertive, Be Confident

While I’ve never been an extremely shy person, I haven’t always been a very…assertive person. Sometimes I chalk it up to being a ‘nice guy’ or being reasonable or maybe it’s the right decision at the time. However, I’ve realized over the past few months, that sometimes…you just need to be assertive.

Now what does this have to do with locs? Not a whole lot. Yet. One of the stages of locs is called the “teenage stage.” What this means is that at some point my hair will stop obeying my wishes and be unruly and rebellious and all that jazz (Defiant already has a head start). So at some point I’m going to need be a little extra assertive, and make sure I’m not backing down because I’m self conscious about how I look. I’m not saying that I’m going to be running up against people left and right who are going to think I’m inferior just because of my hair, but being a black person in a science and technology grad school is already uncommon, so finding someone to relate to about my hair is really not going to be easy. As such, I’m going to be different, and that means that I’m going to need to not let that influence me. I’m going to need to be confident in my abilities.

In a more concrete sense, I’ve had to go up to people I’ve met once before, or maybe never at all, and ask them about their locs. That’s something I would have never done before, because well, that’s not me. But I’m that passionate about this, so I did it. And now I have lists of products to use or avoid, a salon that I go to that appears to specialize in locs, and a few good memories of friendly smiles and conversation. I’ve also had to deal with accepting the fuzzies and making sure that the rest of my appearance is on point. And those are just some of the small things. I’ve seen some larger changes in my life, but I want to see them play out a little more before I get all giddy.

There are definitely bonuses from this journey.

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