Saturday 28 November 2009

It's good to be back

Well fellow loc'ers it seems that I've been away for ages. In that time I've sported my locs on the other side of the pond in the great city of Atlanta.

Its coming onto 5 months of loc'dom and I can categorically report that I am having the time of my life. Bad hair day? What are those?

Since my last post my hair has changed considerably. The main difference is the thickness. Each loc has become much more plump. My hair continues to grow about 1/4 to 3/4 inch in between each re tightening. I don't observe a great deal of difference in the length to be honest, but my friends and family certainly do. My dad, who is a traditional Jamaican, anti-dreadlock aficionado loved my hair! I couldn't believe it.

My loc hair care regime is simple. I don't spritz with water as I have been advised that this can cause slippage. I simply allow the steam from the shower to do the work for me. Every couple of days I spray sparingly with Olive Olive Moisturiser and this works a treat.
I wash every 2 weeks and just before each 6 week re tightening.

I use Aveda Hair Detoxifier diluted with two-thirds water. Be warned, Aveda products are expensive. But to borrow another manufacturer's anecdote: 'I'm worth it!"
I spray every couple of days with Olive Oil Moisturising Sheen Spray. It doesn't cause build up, smells great and gives my locs a great sheen.

The journey so far has been pretty uneventful. I have minimal slippage and my hair is healthy and most importantly, my consultant Marie is happy. She informs me that contrary to my opinion my hair is nowhere near locking and it might be another year before it does. Am I bothered? Nah! Although a pain, I'll continue to braid and band until she tells me not to.

I cannot describe the feeling of freedom that I experience with microlocs. I really don't worry about being caught in the rain or being wind swept. Just a quick finger comb and my hair is beautifully restored. It's all good. I love the length (because it looks sassy) and when I feel like it I roll sections into Bantu knots to achieve a crinkly, curly voluminous look. I get many compliments and I feel great about my hair and its progress. Check out the pics below.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Locked in the Caribbean

Sisterlocks Meet-up in Jamaica

I've been back home for two weeks now after a very restful vacation in Jamaica. Whilst there I had the opportunity to meet up with the JA Sisterlockers for lunch and it was such a great experience. I had a hard time trying to eat, converse intelligibly and not keep staring at the beautiful head of locs that were attached to the talking heads of these beautiful women. N'Drea, CaribSun and Jastu were a pleasure to meet. It was indeed an honour. Thank you ladies and hopefully I'll catch up with you on my return next year.

So how did my locs hold up under the intense heat? - very well indeed. Marie my consultant had pre-warned me that the intense heat and humidity combined with the fact that I am a newbie, would put my locs at a greater risk of slippage. She was right. I loved that my scalp was constantly damp from my sweating head, but it did cause several locks to slip. Still no great damage and Marie sorted them out for me at my retightening session. Another thing I noticed was that the rate of growth was faster when I was in the Caribbean. So I am moving to Jamaica immediately and my locs will be down to my bum within a year or two. Result!
OK that's a pipe dream but it was amazing to experience such rapid growth.

My hair is changing in texture and thickness as the loose hair that would have been lost through combing is sprouting and wrapping themselves around my locs. Although I've had about an inch and a half of growth you can hardly tell and I haven't noticed a great deal of change in the length. I don't mind because I love the short and sassy look.

Hot Weather. Cool Hair! Literally

My friends and colleagues are beginning to take notice of my hair and are watching the changes keenly. I continue to attract comments (mostly positive) and remain ready to explain my reasons for locking at the drop of a hat. I am determined to enjoy every stage of the locking process and really, REALLY love my hair.

Saturday 1 August 2009

One month loc'd

I cannot believe how time has flown. It's been a month since I've been loc'd and I absolutely love them. I can't really see much of a change in the pictures but my hair feels thicker and they seem to be settling in well. I am such a compliant customer and follow Marie's instructions all the way. I have no problems doing so because I want my locs to look as fabulous as hers do.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to combine my 3 week follow-up consult with a lunch with some of Marie's clients. Well, how can I describe the event? As woman after woman walked into the restaurant I had to make a conscious effort to keep my jaws from dropping open. Everyone's hair looked spectacular. I had to try mighty hard to maintain eye contact and stop staring at everyone's head! I was the newbie - but only just. Being in the company of such natural fabulosity reconfirmed my decision that micro-locing my hair is the very best decision I could have made for myself and I am assured that they are going to mature into a glorious head of locs.
I wish I'd taken pictures but felt a little shy of asking. I will do next time.

Anyway I have had no problems at all. I have had my first wash (braiding and banding) and that went well. NO SLIPPAGE. I didn't really experience any shrinkage after washing and one month on my length is the same as when I was first loc'd. I am not sure if this will change. It is my theory that the shinkage just might be to do with hair type. Coily, kinky hair simply does its own thing when it is in the lock pattern. My hair strands don't have too many coils and therefore not very much elasticity in it and so tugging on a loc doesn't make it any longer. It just hangs straight down with a few kinks.

I have my first retightening in 2 weeks (6 weeks post installation) and am looking forward to it.

I don't really have a hair care regimen as Marie has instructed me not to put any product in it at this stage. I simply allow the steam and the mist from my shower to moisturise my hair. Then with dampened hands I simply run my fingers through my hair and I'm good to go.
I do have the itchies and my scalp is prone to flaking. So Marie has given me some scalp oil (jojoba, rosemary, sage) which I simply apply to the troubled spot.

I have had lots of compliments from friends, family and colleagues. I love seeing the puzzled look on the sisterin's faces as they try to figure out what's going on with my hair. I have been asked for Marie's number but then they get a little put off when I mention that she is 157 miles away. I can understand that not everyone would want to travel so far, especially in the UK, but I simply look at it a 'me' time.

Please enjoy the pictures and feel free to comment.

Saturday 4 July 2009

Britlocs's First Week in Pictures

Week One

So it's been one week since my locs were installed and I have to say I am loving them. Today was their first outing as I have been at a conference for most of the week. I met up with some friends and as I expected they were curious. I anticipated loads of questions but only got a few. The comments were about the size (why so small?), permanency (when are you going to take them out?). But I did have compliments. On the whole my friends liked them.

The real deal will be at work with my colleagues. I work as a senior manager within the corporate sphere.
I have been really shocked about some of the posts I have been reading on the locks blogs re locs and corporate-dom. I'm not sure that we have that problem in England. Here we are pretty much free to wear our hair how we please as long as both it and the person are well groomed. Fellow Brits - please feel free to correct me here.

I have never felt that my hair is a problem and I don't feel differently with locs. I firmly believe that it is the confidence that the wearer exudes that makes all the difference.
At the moment mine are short. I started with 6 inches of all natural hair. I have to say that I LURVE wearing my hair short and so my short and sassy look microlocs perfectly suits my personality. I know I'll mourn its passing in a year or so. However I am curious to see how long they'll grow.

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Lessons Learned at the Journey's start

I think I border on being obsessive. Before I make a decision about a major purchase or lifestyle change I research mercilessly. I did this before my microlocks installation. I thought I knew everything there was to know about microlocks but being in Marie's professional hands highlighted that I know very little.

Only a professional can turn your hair into a living work of art

For those of you contemplating microlocks or Sisterlocks, please choose your consultant wisely. Be guided by your consultant throughout your journey and temper the urge to 'try out' a solution offered by another person about your hair and its care.

I learned that my hair is peculiar to myself. While someone might have a similar texture to mine chances are your hair will be very different and so what works for you will not necessarily work for me. One has to be cautious about giving and taking advice from websites and blogs. So my blog will be about MY hair and MY journey. Hopefully it will inspire and help someone along the way.

I have found an excellent, professional consultant who sports a glorious head of manicured locks. They testify to her skill and dedication so I know my locks will be fabulous but only if I trust her and follow her instructions.

Marie will be very embarrassed about this post but I value her highly and look forward to working alongside her as a partner in cultivating a glorious head of locks. (Marie, I do take debit and major credit cards!) So let the journey begin. YAAY!

400 steps to Freedom

I am now the proud of a head full of glorious microlocks lovingly installed by my fantastic consultant Marie of Cammalocks.
Although excited about the installation I was anxious about what the final result would look like. It was one thing to have several sample locks but quite another to have a head full of them. And what about the dreaded 'plucked chicken' look?
Marie honed in on my anxiety although I did my utmost to be brave. She patiently answered every one of my questions - and goodness knows how many questions I asked over the two days I was with her.

After 20 plus hours of tireless work, she installed the last lock with the words 'welcome to the microlock family' and then as if on cue the Chaka Khan song... 'I'm every woman' came on and then I was surrounded by a translucent white light. OK, so I jest with only two of the three being actually true. But the truth was I was quite emotional about it - why? Who knows. But the results are great. I love them and I am looking forward to the journey. Judge for yourselves.

Installation completed
Look at uniformity of the grids

Saturday 27 June 2009

T'was the night before

Well I am only a few hours away from lock down. I can't quite describe what I'm feeling - perhaps because I am so tired.

Over the past 9 weeks I have worn my hair natural, which is a major accomplishment for me addicted as I am to smooth shiny, processed hair. Now I lurve my natural hair especially its softness. I think I'm going to miss this most of all as I've yet to feel soft locks. Well off to bed I go as I get ready for a major life change.

Friday 5 June 2009

Tester Locks

SL's are still relatively uncommon in the UK and I wanted to find out as much as I could before I took the plunge. My obsessive personality meant that I had to find the best SL/microbraider in the UK, conduct a one hour telephone interview, award them marks out of 10 and then sleep on it for several weeks before coming to a final decision.

Well it didn't quite come to that because I found a great locktician in Marie of Cammalocks. As soon as I spoke to her on the phone I knew she was THE ONE. It's a 2 hour drive but it was well worth the trip for my initial consultation. She is personable, patient, honest and beautiful. She has the most beautifully long and cultured microlocks that I have ever seen and I instantly knew that she would be the person I wanted to do my installation. Her grids are sheer perfection and her work is flawless. She patiently answered everyone of my questions.

The following information might be useful so here goes. Before my consultation I had no idea about my natural hair. Let's face it, it was hidden beneath horsehair for the majority of my life.Before that I'd permed it to infinity and beyond.

My hair is jet black and soft. It is what Jamaican elders call 'good hair'. I have no idea what 'grade' it is. It's wavy and shrinks mercilessly when wet. Look at the before and after pics below. Ignore the face!! I just cannot believe that I took pictures of me looking like this. But I did it for humanity. That and shameless self-promotion.

I was trying so hard not to laugh out loud when taking this picture

Marie informs me that my hair type will take about a year or more to lock. A year? You gotta be kidding right? No. It's definitely a year and this means that until it does lock she will have to handle my retightenings. I think I'd better get a second job right now. Taxi anyone?

My natural texture

Anyhoo, Marie has installed 6 tester locks of various sizes and techniques. The differences between them only being visible to those possessing superhuman powers of detection.

Week One and tester locks

Marie explained the braiding and branding formula for washing. I held out as long as I could because I hate washing my hair. I did really well 'cos I washed my hair in week three of having the testers installed. Despite the shrinkage my lockettes held up extremely well and didn't seem to shrink at all.

Washing: Braiding and Banding

Minimal shrinkage

So now all I have to do is sit and wait. I might not have explained before but I am the most impatient person in the UK - no, the world. I will have my locks installed at the end of June. That will have been a 9 week wait. Nine weeks! Empires have been built and destroyed in less time. Who'd have thunk it, but I can hardly wait for the 'plucked chicken' look. But no. That's not the attitude. Everyone knows that good things come to those who wait and wait and wait and Marie is certainly worth waiting for. Until then I am still intrigued by these stringy things. They don't seem to have plumped up yet and I've had them for 5 weeks now.

Until then my new found friends. Adios. See you at the end of June. Y'all take care now.

Fabulous Naturalosity

I have been thinking about what to do with my hair for ages (I'm talking years). I had taken the super comfortable route of wearing my hair in braids and kinky twists which became my signature style. I loved the versatility and although stylistically challenged, I managed to create a range of styles.

On and off I thought about locking my hair. I have several friends who have the most beautiful traditional locks, some down to their waists and beyond. They looked beautiful and well nutured and I was in awe of them. My problem? I simply wasn't brave enough.
There was also the issue of the inherited prejudice of my Jamaican parents who saw locks as the embodiment of rebellion and anti establishment sentiments and therefore had no place on their educated daughter's head. I couldn't even broach the subject with my mother.

My sister, younger and braver, started off her locks herself several years ago and looks great with them. I'll post some pictures of her self installed palm-rolled beauties.

Several years later and I gotta tell ya - I got fed up with the braids. I looked into my future and thought:

"Man! Am I still going to be braiding my hair at 50 or 60? Eventually I'll end up with just a couple strands of hair in the middle of my head with an extension attached to it".

No, I had to do something and NOW.
Then I discovered Sisterlocks/microlocks. After hours of research I have decided that now is the time to embrace a whole new me and lock my hair.

I cannot begin to describe the fear of revealing my nappiness to the world. Once I'd picked out the last braid and washed my hair, my son didn't recognise me and wanted to know where my 'long hair' was. I'm ashamed to admit it but he'd never seen me with my natural hair. Oh no. For within several frustrating hours of taking down those stubborn plaits, I was in my braider's chair.

There's much to be said for the British stiff upper lip that confidently deals with any situation no matter how difficult. With my tester locks installed and several weeks wait until 'D' Day, I had no choice but to to bare my all to the world. My work colleagues were bemused at my radical transformation. But I tell you, I walked into my corporate job with my head held high and answered every (ignorant and just plain curious) question with grace and patience.

And now, well I've been sporting the two strand twist for several weeks and I've grown confident in styling and wearing my own beautiful hair. I've had lots of compliments, many from my own weaved and braided sisters who tell me (on the quiet) that they want to do the same but can't yet quite cross the 'artificial' divide.

There's nothing quite like being comfortable in your own skin - or should I say, hair.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Help! I'm about to start blogging

Well there's nothing like starting as you mean to go on. Inspired by others who have trodden this road before me, I have decided to chronicle my microlocks journey.
June 27th 2009 is my installation day and I approach it with excitement and a tinsy winsy bit of trepidation. Oh yeah. Good thing I'm a praying woman.