Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bantu Knots and Twists

The week after my first retightening, I decided to play around with more ways to wash and style my hair . This time I decided to twist my hair (like two strand twists) then wrap them into Bantu Knots.  Washing my hair this way was easy, and I let them dry that way. The results were...curly....REAL curly.  The pictures I have posted were taken the next day and do not show how curly it really was.  I had a little fro.  I was very tempted to run damp fingers through my hair to loosen the curl, but it looked o.k. with a headband.  It has been over a week, and I still have plenty of curls. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Retightening....Better Late than Never

     I was really looking forward to my first retightening. It was scheduled for five weeks after my initial install.  My hair seemed to be doing well. My only slippage seemed to be around the back edges.  I did have some bunching, but overall I was pleased. Unfortunately, the unexpected death of a beloved uncle forced my plans to change. Although the reason for my visit was sad, it was nice to see my family. I only took the baby (21 months) with me.
     My family is outspoken, and I braced myself for the reactions to my hair. I've always had hair that grows long and thick.  Just cutting it off would be cause for an "ear-full", but locking it was sure to draw comments. I was lucky, my cousin blazed the path of locks in my family a couple of years ago.  She has small traditional locks.  When I walked in the door with the baby on my hip (whom they haven't seen in a while), the first thing said was, "Let us see the hair."  That didn't bode well. I walked up to my oldest, most conservative aunt to let her inspect "the hair" (might as well get it over with).  "Beautiful, just beautiful", she pronounced. You could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather! Most of my family liked my hair. A couple of my aunts said they liked it, but they liked the relaxer better. You can't please everybody.
    My retightening finally occurred two weeks later (seven weeks after the install). My consultant was happy with my hair's progress. She corrected the bunching, but was pleased that my hair wasn't really slipping.  My next appointment is in six weeks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Braid-Out Vs. Twist-Out

Last week I did the normal braid and band in order to wash my hair. I wanted to wash my hair this week, but I didn't have time to braid, band, and wash before my toddler awoke from her nap.  Therefore, I decided to try a short cut.  Instead of the normal braid-out, I did a "twist-out".  I basically took the same sized sections that I would use for braiding but twisted them instead. The hair stayed in the twist, and it was much faster than braiding.  I like the results even better than the braid-out.  The braid-out gave my hair tight crinkles, but the twist-out gave it a loose wave. Here are pictures to demonstrate what I mean. My hair is in the same style and the ends are curled under. The only change is braid-out vs. twist-out.  The back of the hair appears different because the twist out caused some of the hair to flip-up. 


Braid-Out Crinkles
 Twist-Out Waves

Braid-Out Rear View

Twist-Out Rear View

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Wash and Braid Out

Yesterday was the first time I washed my locks. I braided and banded my hair the night before.  To control itching, I treated my scalp with full strength apple cider vinegar before washing. I used my fingertips to apply the vinegar.  Personally, I didn't care for the Sisterlocks shampoo. It didn't get my scalp clean, but in all fairness I had a lot of skin cells from the subboratic dermatitis.  I ended up washing with the Sisterlocks shampoo, a tea tree shampoo, then the Sisterlocks shampoo again to make sure the tea tree shampoo didn't leave any conditioning agents in my hair. I looked like a pick-a-ninny for a day, while letting my hair dry in a braid out. I slept on the braids overnight.  This morning I removed each rubber band and carefully curled only the relaxed ends with a curling iron. I rubbed Africa's Best Ultimate Herbal Oil on my hands. There was a very light layer of oil left on my skin.  I then ran my fingers through my hair to separate.  The result looked pretty good. I don't think I have much slippage or bunching, and my parts seem a little less visible. Next time I think I'll wash in the evening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Sisterlocks

African Orthodox Icon of Saint Mary of Egypt


     For black women, hair is personal. There is so much caught-up in the idea of "hair", that any other ethnic group probably wouldn't understand. Social status, economic status, self-esteem, our daily plans are often influenced by our hair. Breaking free from this hair bondage, is something that is often wished for, but never realized. The desire for convenience and the need to be accepted, often keep people on the well traveled, socially acceptable path. When black people ask why I decided to get Sisterlocks, it is a "loaded" question containing all the "drama" of our hair. I will, however, attempt to answer.  My answers are not an indictment of anyone's choice for their own hair, just an explanation of my decision.

Saint Mary of Egypt
                I Chose Sisterlocks Because...
...Because I want to dance in the rain with my kids
...Because my hair doesn't dictate my exercise
...Because God didn't make my hair straight
...Because I love the idea of "wash-and-go" hair
...Because there is a better way than burning my scalp
...Because shower caps don't look good as lingerie
...Because my natural hair is beautiful too
...Because I want a variety of styling options
...Because I want to swim more than once a week
...Because I can open the windows and the sun roof
...Because it's all natural
...Because umbrellas are optional
...Because I can scratch if my scalp itches
...Because I can wash my hair frequently
...Because I'm a black person with black hair
...Because I can curl them or leave them straight
...Because I have other things to do than my hair
...Because there isn't just one kind of beauty

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 1 and Soft Spikes

         I didn't think I'd have anything to report during this first month, but I was wrong. Around the third day after installation, I began to experience a great deal of itching. It was highly annoying. I think it was my scalp's attempt to release some of the tension of the hair being pulled tight. Perhaps I'm wrong, but the itching has mostly subsided, and my hair doesn't feel like it's been pulled tight anymore.
        Yesterday, our normal homeschooling park-day was canceled due to heavy rain.  I decided to run errands instead.  This was my first small taste of freedom from relaxers.  I'm almost always carrying a child, so I almost never carry umbrellas. My hair got wet several times getting in and out of the car. By the end of the day, the relaxed ends were frizzy.  The Sisterlocks were great. Fortunately my Soft-spikes arrived in the mail that day.  Right before bed, I decided to just "play-around" with them. I rolled my hair haphazardly, and went to sleep.  The results were great.  The kids loved the curls. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Locked Hair Blog Exchange: Dominica's Sisterlocks

If you are looking for a great place to start learning about all kinds of Locked hair, a great place to start would be the Locked Hair Blog Exchange.  It is run by Maryee, and it's a wonderful resource. 
Locked Hair Blog Exchange: Dominica's Sisterlocks

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things I've Learned Rearching Sisterlocks

Like many others, it was with great anticipation that I awaited my Sisterlocks install. I think I've read 3/4 of the blogs about Sisterlocks available.  I did this partly because I wanted as much information as I could gather, but mostly because I just liked looking at the pictures.  I did run across good information, tips, and advise.  Here are some things that I learned, and a few things that I wish I had known.

The Initial Consultation:
1. Research your consultant. Make sure that person really is or has been certified or trained as a Sisterlocks consultant.  I have seen several people on the web who were told " yea, I do Sisterlocks".  They ended up very unhappy. Don't be afraid to select a different consultant than the first one you interview. I interviewed two prior to selecting my consultant.

2. It is traditional Sisterlocks practice that consultants do not charge for the consultation.  However, some consultants feel like you should pay for their time and charge a small fee $15-$25  for the consultation.  I am comfortable with either option.

3.  The test locks are important.  Don't skip that step if possible. You'll find out if you're tender-headed or how gentle the consultant is. You will get a little taste of what the initial stage may look like.

4.  You should come away with a general estimate on how much time and money it will cost for your install.

5.  Pay attention to the setting. You may be spending a good deal of time with the consultant.  Is the office clean? Is the chair may be sitting in it for 21 hours!

6.  Is the consultant child friendly?  Some consultants don't want even older children coming to retightening appointments.

7.  Come when you can see their work if possible (an install or a retightening).  Ask to see pictures of their work.

8.  Join the Lockitup yahoo group.  The people there have lots of experience with Sisterlocks and are willing to answer questions.

9.  Find someone with Sisterlocks and talk to them in person.  It's one thing to look at pictures on the internet, but another thing to see "real" locks. 

10.  You need three inches of hair total. However, only two inches have to be natural. The other inch can be relaxed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


My Sisterlocks installation began yesterday and was completed today (Oct 3-4, 2009).  It took a total of 21 hours over two days. I have 545 locks.  My consultant, Kenya Austin, and I agreed to gradually increase the size of the locks. The locks in front (ear forward) are small. The locks in the back gradually increase in size from small, to mediums, to medium large.  I did not "decide" the size of my locks.  I showed Kenya what I liked, but told her to pick what would be best for my hair. I started with two inches of natural hair (non relaxed hair).  My ends still have the relaxer, so she used the Reverse 4 pattern, which is the tightest.  My hair is fine, but I have a lot of it (it's dense).    I chose to transition to Sisterlocks without going really short, for my husband's benefit. I have been short and natural before, but he liked that I was able to keep my hair longer.  I also wanted a style to my locks, therefore, I chose a haircut that I thought might look good while the relaxer grows out.  Here are the pictures:

Relaxed hair before the cut

Relaxed hair after the cut



Sunday, September 20, 2009

The After Picture

I had my hair cut on Thursday. It went well, but I didn't do a very good job of describing exactly how I wanted the back of my hair to look. Laurie was very kind.  I went in the next day,  and we arranged to "fix" the back.  I'm very happy.  I basically chose an asymmetrical bob with stacking in the back. There was an additional requirement of not cutting any of the hair shorter than three inches. This is the minimum length my Sisterlocks consultant needs to lock my hair.  Here are a couple of "after" pictures.

A side view that shows the stacking....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Hair Story

       In 2000 I had my first daughter. She was every bit as precious and full of life as anything I could have imagined.  When we would go to playgroups, she would climb behind the moms and play in their hair. She loved hair.  In particular, she loved straight hair.  I have heard many women with naturally curly hair long for straight hair and, I have watched many women with straight hair pay large sums of money for curly hair. I knew the time would come when my daughter would want straight hair like everyone else around her. How could I blame her? With a relaxer, even I had straight hair.
      I started considering the possibility of cutting the relaxer out of my hair and going natural.  There was a slight problem. I had worn a relaxer since I was nine years old. I didn't even remember what my natural hair looked like. Once I considered going natural, I started spotting black women with natural hair frequently.  My own hairdresser wore her hair naturally.  She kept it pulled up in a little ponytail puff. I thought the women with their short spiky curls looked sassy.  I was ready for my curls.  I let my relaxer grow out until I couldn't stand it anymore, then I had it cut off.  I didn't get my curls. I got frizz.   My hair had a wave pattern from the ears forward and curls in the back.
     I didn't like this new look. My face and neck are long, and I was accustomed to long hair. However, I did like the maintenance.  I never realized how much my hair controlled my decision making. I suddenly felt free to exercise, to swim, to play in the rain. I knew I didn't want to go back to a relaxer.  I continued to let my hair grow until I could put it up in a ponytail. It wasn't nearly as cute on me as it was on my hairdresser. She had very thin hair.   My hair is very thick.  It did not look sleek or stylish.  Yet, a ponytail was the only thing I could do with it. My hair was to big to wear down.  Mostly, I missed the versatility of straight hair. After my second daughter was born, I decided to return to relaxers.
    I have worn a relaxer for the past six years, and have become increasingly disenchanted with it.  I guess I'm picky, but I wanted it all. I wanted the versatility of a relaxer and the convenience of natural hair.  In April, I found Sisterlocks, and I think I've found what I've been looking for. I have been growing my relaxer out ever since.  Tomorrow I will have most of it cut out of my hair.  In a couple of weeks I will have my initial install of Sisterlocks. Here is my "before" picture: