Many forget that locs are a part of the natural hair family. They have been around for thousands of years in African and Asian ethnic groups, and while becoming more popular by the day, they still get neglected. Many have little to no knowledge about locs and hold onto outdated and ignorant perceptions of them. There seems to be incorrect information surrounding their maintenance and the only way to dispel myths is to give clear, accurate knowledge. To shed some light on the top ten myths surrounding loc maintenance, I spoke to eight-year veteran loctician, Lawrence at Fly Guys Locs, in Stone Mountain, GA.
1. Dirt makes your locs grow faster or better
I truly wish this myth would just die! Not washing your locs is the best way to ruin them. Simple truth: if you don’t wash your hair it will stink. Also, clean hair will lock faster than dirty hair, as the conditioners, moisturizers, and buildup can prevent locking.
2. Do not use conditioner
Many feel that using conditioners will make it harder for the hair to lock. Of course this way of thinking makes sense from the first myth, but it doesn’t mean steer clear of all conditioners. Since shampoos lift dirt, toxins, and buildup along with the necessary oils our hair needs, we need to condition the hair to soften and replenish it. Unfortunately, many hairstylists don’t want to add conditioner in fear that it will disturb a style or loosen locs, but conditioner is necessary.
3. Only certain curl patterns can lock
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fly Guy Locs shared some of the history of locs on how the Scottish, Mongolian, and Egyptians have worn locs for hundreds of years. Although each texture is different and coily curl patterns tend to lock faster, all hair is capable of locking.
4. You can use regular hair grease
There shouldn’t be any bad alcohol-based or petroleum-based products in our hair. According to Fly Guy Locs, “These are dangerous products to put into hair. Petroleum products are not meant for the body…period. Petroleum is basically used to lubricate machinery…It’s like putting saran wrap over your body. Nothing goes in and nothing comes out.”
It seems that many still want a sleek look where hair is laying down and glistening in the sun. Everyone’s hair cannot do this. Using grease and petroleum will only clog up the hair and your scalp, and bad alcohols will strip the outer membranes of the hair.
5. Locs are maintenance free
There is a structure and a foundation to locs and they need steady upkeep just like any hairstyle or texture requires. Your hair should be washed weekly just like your loose natural hair. It’s important to have a nightly routine as you would with loose natural hair. Healthy hair means maintenance and that goes for loose hair and locs.
Photo by loctician @brown_eyed_b_
6. Every cosmetologist is a loctician
Fly Guy Locs was quick to say, “Don’t ever go to anyone who cannot tell you what they are doing and why they are doing it. I’ve had people sit in my chair with honey in their hair…super glue in their hair because someone told them it was natural.”
Locticians must inquire about your regimen and lifestyle: diet, water intake, and what products and hair accessories you are using. It makes a world of difference for them properly caring for your locs. If they are not asking then they cannot correctly assess each individual client. Question everything. Everyone needs to be a little more responsible, including the clients so ask questions and know what you are getting yourself into before hiring a loctician. Unfortunately, most of Fly Guy Loc’s work is repair jobs or rehabilitation work rather than starter locs.
7. Expect your locs to be sleek
Locs are not meant to look like straight hair. You should not be going to a loctician weekly getting them retwisted every time you see new growth. You will only end up over twisting and end up with broken off locs. Too much retwisting, especially if the hair is not moisturized, will lead to thinning locs.
8. Reduce frizz with scissors
This is not the way to deal with frizz or new growth. Using scissors to cut frizz only creates thinning in the middle of the loc. You must train your hair or to grow a certain way, and cutting will only alter the consistency of your locs. There are two positive ways to handle frizz:
- Palm rolling the frizz to train the hair to mend to the loc
- Take the frizz and wrap it around the loc and allow frizz to mend to the loc
9. There is an ugly stage in locs
Not so if you have a decent stylist who will show you what to do to avoid that so-called ugly stage. If you find you are having a lot of frizz the right stylist will ask you a few questions like: What are you doing at home? How are you sleepy with locs? The two of you will find what’s wrong and fix it. It just takes practice.
10. Locs are highly resilient to anything
Lawrence feels we need to leave it up to the professionals, as many are damaging their tresses expecting to get the color like the model on the box. “10 out of 10 times the model on boxed hair used salon-quality products from a professional,” he says. Sometimes you just need to go to the professional for color to avoid over processing your hair, which then leads to dry and damaged locs.
What loc myths have you heard? How do you care for your locs?
This article has been updated.