As you can see in my picture above- I have dreadlocks (or just “locs” as some people call them). I have been growing them for a long time and they are a part of me.
Because I am coming up on my 12 year anniversary with them, I have decided to make this post about my dreadlock journey just in case anyone passing by is interested.
As a little kid up until I was a junior in high school, I had worn my hair in the standard African American styles. This included having it in cornrows, chemically relaxed, braids with extensions and kinky twists.
I have the kinkiest, thickest hair type around. Being around girls with naturally straight, long hair made me feel a little bad that my hair didn’t flow without extension hair twisted/braided in. Even having it chemically straightened didn’t make it flow- it just burnt it!
One day, my mother drove me to an Aveda hair salon about 1.5 hours away from where we lived. I had planned to get a chemical relaxer done but the hair stylists convinced me to start “going natural”. Doing this means to wear your hair in the texture that naturally comes out of your head.
The Aveda stylist showed me how to twist my hair so that my new growth blended into the rest of the hair that was still chemically relaxed. She told me to keep doing that until I had very little of the chemically relaxed hair left and then cut it off. I followed this plan and after nine months…
I was completely natural!
I mainly wore my hair in a short “puff” style but I would also still get kinky twists put in by a hair stylist we found that did/does my type of hair texture.
The following pictures are examples of how I used to wear my hair:
Starting my dreadlock journey
When I was close to 21 years old, I kept coming across pictures of black women with beautiful looking dreadlocks. They were well taken care of and styled impeccably.
I decided that I wanted to get them too!
I at first wanted a type of dreadlocks called, Sisterlocks. These are really tiny dreadlocks and from a certain distance away, look just like straight hair. Sisterlocks take a long time to install (20 hours and up) and cost a lot of money (at least $500).
My stylist and I decided that I would get traditional locks but have them be small sized. This would save me time and money. She used the interlocking method to start them which uses a latch hook tool. Installing them only took about two hours and cost me $150.
To be quite honest, I didn’t like them at first because they were so short but I knew that in time they would grow to be long like the women in the pictures I saw had.
The following picture shows how long my starter dreadlocks were :
Good times and bad times along the way
Seeing my dreadlocks growing was a wonderful thing. I began to learn to be patient with the whole process because it was happening!
When it came to getting the new growth at my roots into my dreadlocks, I went to my hair stylist once every three months. She again used the latch hook to do this. I always felt so cute with my salon-fresh look!
After about 2.5 years with them, I began doing braidouts. This involves braiding the dreadlocks when they are wet, letting them dry and then taking them out for a wavy appearance. I loved the way this looked on me and did it every couple of months.
I came to an unfortunate point in my dreadlock journey where my hair began to start thinning in the middle of the dreadlocks. It started with just one and then eventually a lot of them were like that. This was alarming to me as some of them were hanging by a tiny hair which forced me to cut the part off.
I was so distraught by this so I had my husband sew handmade dreadlocks out of a pack of human kinky hair onto some of the ones that I took off. The unfortunate thing is that the handmade dreadlocks looked less kinky and were darker than my real hair. This made it look noticeably different.
I went to my stylist crying because I didn’t know what was happening. She began to ask me if I had a disease or was taking any kind of medication that caused hair loss. I said “no” but looking back on things, I am wondering if it was a result of PCOS.
My stylist ended up cutting my dreadlocks shorter that day due to the thinning middles. I found this heartbreaking because it was just getting to the length I wanted it to be at.
Eventually this hair fiasco phase stopped and my hair was back to growing nicely again. A few months ago, I cut the last remaining fake dreadlock off because my real hair was at a good length and the sewed in one made it be way longer than the rest of my dreadlocks.
Current care, maintenance and styling
Since my hair is on the long side and heavy, washing it is a chore. I still do it though, trust me!
I do not use very many things on my hair as I do not want it to get gunky. Also, nothing I use has fragrances in them due to my husband’s severe allergies.
Here are the things I use:
- Earth Science fragrance free shampoo
- Vanicream fragrance free conditioner
- Aloe Vera juice
- Peppermint essential oil
- Sweet almond oil
My wash days consists of these steps:
- Shampoo and condition.
- Spray my hair with a mix of water, aloe Vera juice and a few drops of peppermint essential oil. I work this through my scalp and hair.
- Put almond oil on my scalp and hair
- Squeeze out my hair and wrap it in a large white t-shirt. Keep it in the t-shirt for 15 or so minutes.
- Blow dry my hair ( I don’t always do this).
Really simple! I used to do hair masks and hot oil treatments but I realized that it doesn’t actually do anything for my hair.
Also, once a year I do a “dreadlock” detox. This includes me filling up the sink with really hot water and mixing in baking soda, apple cider vinegar and peppermint essential oil. I put my hair in this for about 40 minutes and then wash my hair as usual.
I went a full year without getting my dreadlocks retightened due to being scare of getting COVID-19 again. It is looking like that will be happening again now that the delta variant is surging. I have tried many times to do the retightening myself and I just can’t get it right.
I have been doing braidouts regularly these days because it makes me feel better about myself-even if I am not going anywhere. Maybe one day things will be safer so that I can go out and show it off!
Here is me letting my braids dry:
Here is the shower cap I use when I do not wash my hair while in the shower:
Future hair plans
Right now, I plan on keeping my dreadlocks for a long time. If I change my mind, I will just go back to having a short puff like before.
There are some benefits of short natural hair. For example, it doesn’t get in the way and I know how to take care of it. I do love the look of long hair on me so I would probably get butterfly locs, extension braids or passion twists a couple times a year.
The only thing I can really see myself doing in the near future with my hair is cutting it shorter.
Congratulations for making it this far!
So this was a long post about just hair. I wanted to talk all about my journey with dreadlocks as I thought it might help and/or inspire someone.
I love my hair even though other people may not.
Do you have dreadlocks? If so, tell me about them!
Thanks for reading!
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#dreadlocks #naturalhair #4chair #blackwomen #africanamerican #beauty #haircare