25 December 2012

(almost) 1 Year Natural: Shrinkage and a length check

Quick post. It's been a long and fruitful year. Here are a few photos of my current length and how well shrinkage disguises it.

From the fro where it all began to now:

1 year natural shrinkage afro hair
soon to be 1 year natural approx. 5th Jan 2013

baby locs unravel shrinkage

stretching baby locs

stretched coloured locs to compare shrinkage
re-dyed with adore intense red (71)


**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission**

3 December 2012

Month 8

Well don't things look different this month? Since month seven my spirit has been expressing itself quite vividly and I've chosen to go with it for now. As you can see, the external results have been bigger hair and intensive shrinkage. I combined a few locs in the back using loc beads or rubber bands but after about a week I got tired of the rubber bands and untwisted and backcombed or palm rubbed the roots instead. Several of them have meshed and matted about an inch along and I have one loc that has formed very nicely since the end of summer:

new favourite loc: it's so sponge-like

stretched matted locs with dread bead

Other locs are still figuring things out:

dreadlocks forming

I used a homemade rosemary rinse for the first time and I'm quite pleased with the results. My hair felt soft and smells great with no additional oil so I'll continue with a wash and go approach and look out for any signs of progress. In all honesty I suspect my locs are maturing at a considerably slow rate but I'm still hopeful. I had three compliments from people who "love my hair", one person wanted to touch it and a stranger was grinning at me in such a strange way as he asked what I "call that hairstyle". I think he may have been mocking me...

**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission**

21 November 2012

Week 33: How d'you clean dem dreads?

If you've been keeping up with my journey over the last seven months you'll know that I don't use shampoo or conditioner on my baby locs so I thought I'd do a quick post on what I use to wash my hair instead.

Now you may be thinking, how have you survived for so long without shampoo? Well I was plenty skeptical at first but it's become quite normal now. I guess the main reason I stopped using shampoo was for fear of loc buildup from various ingredients that I still don't know much about. I also haven't yet used a shampoo or conditioner that actually delivers what it promises, even products specifically designed for afro hair weren't dazzling. What I use now leaves me with clean, healthy hair that feels light and manageable.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Baking Soda
Aloe Vera Gel

Once I wet my head with warm water, I apply a runny paste made with a 2:1 ratio of, ACV:Baking soda, through my scalp (going row by row to ensure complete coverage). I then massage and gently scrub my scalp until I'm ready to rinse (alt: leave on using a shower cap for up to 20 minutes before rinsing). I follow up by massaging the aloe gel onto my scalp (once again row by row) and spread it onto my hair. After massaging for a further 5 minutes I rinse thoroughly in very cool water and I'm done!

It's a bit of process but here's how I prep the aloe vera gel on those days where I have time for a bit of luxury cleansing:

You can clean your hair with the aloe alone or you might try adding it to your current shampoo. Goes well with a herbal rinse too. (simmer herbs in boiling water for 10-20 minutes, strain and use water when cooled)

Click the link for a video on a Rosemary Rinse

Aloe uses:
Face mask
Shaving gel (tried and tested)
Personal lubricant (who knew)
Edible ingredient (food & beverages)
Teeth cleaning
...to name a few

Oh and before I forget, I recently came across a short page of information and discovered that my cleansing method is considered to be a 'no-poo' approach. Never knew it had a name lol. Click here to have a read.


**Photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission. Slideshow made at photosnack.**

11 November 2012

Week 32: Weekend Update

Want to know what's going on in Naturalocs' corner of the world? Well I thought I'd jot down a couple of the things that I've been up to this weekend.

First up, I've been ebay-ing like crazy. I don't know why but every now and then I look in my clothes dresser and see nothing but black, white and dark blue or purple. I love colour but I never see anything that really works for me and I never pay full price for anything these days. Here's what's caught my eye lately.

They should arrive soon woohoo!

Secondly, I found a nice little job for the Christmas holidays and finally started last Sunday:

I've never worked in retail before but I have say it's be pleasant so far. I'm looking forward to being part of the Christmas cheer working in the centre of my city. Oh and if any of the hostile, short tempered customers are reading: please be nice, we want you to enjoy Christmas too!

Thirdly and finally, I joined a small and friendly choir a few months ago and yesterday was our first 2012 winter concert performing the highly famed Carmina Burana: a selection of secular medieval poems set to music by Carl Orff in 1935-36. I sang second soprano:

Ii was incredibly enjoyable and had a surprisingly big audience. It was worth all the hard work. I insist you experience a choir at some point. Find out where the nearest carol sing-a-long is and bring a friend!

That's it for now. Busy, busy, busy. As you can see I've been rockin' the headband look this week and I'm glad my little dreads have been part of the fun.



**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission.**

3 November 2012

Month 7

Oh boy it feels like a long time coming but here we are. Seven months in and they're beginning to move y'all! I predict they'll be swaying by month twelve. Yeah I can see it - "oh sorry is my hair your way?" *flick* teehee.

So, it appears my locs are in transition. Following some of the issues I was experiencing a couple of weeks ago I've since taken down my two headed locs and re-coiled them thanks to the advice shared by friends over at Loc and Roll, My Baby Girls Curls and My Africa is Showing. Shrinkage is here one minute and gone the next and the buds are increasing and expanding. I think I'm getting a case of the fuzzies too:


My locs drink up water like there's no tomorrow. They look a lot like this after a couple of days using my water and oil spray:

swollen buds

I love the results of palm-rolling and I've learnt it's all in the technique. If I palm-roll congruently from root to tip, in time, they'll grow more uniformly:
freshly palm-rolled

Here's how my braided loc is coming along. I like this one because I can feel just how much new growth I'm getting and I haven't had to maintain it since it was installed two months ago:

I'm trimming regularly, especially since I'm starting to get those single strand knots hanging at the ends, but my hair is around 3-4" long now yayy!



**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DO NOT use without permission**

24 October 2012

Colour Trial Revisited: Locspiration

So today I confess that my fascination with hair colour is back in full force. (read more here). I still want red locs and I'm not the only one. My4tress and ThoughsofAddis have both blogged about there new hair colours and I love it. I found locspiration on tumblr too:

Cute right? Well while I wait for my locs to mature I have done tons of research. During my first attempt I bleached and coloured a few locs and wasn't too happy with the results. The colour was too subtle and the bleach left me with dry hair that no amount of deep conditioning has been able to reverse. I'm glad to share this bit of info for anyone wanting to lighten their hair using bleach. The result is permanently stripped hair. It's in good enough condition for me to let it grow because I don't comb or use heat but I cannot bare the thought of my entire head feeling this way so I need something else.

Amongst other YouTubers, My4tress used a different method to lighten her hair. Dying it blonde! Sounds simple enough right? I looked around and it seems both Dark & Lovely Lightener and Creme of Nature Honey Blonde have successfully taken natural hair from dark to light so I was tempted enough to do a strand test. And it worked. Using Dark & Lovely Lightener in Light Golden Blonde I was able to lift my colour to the same shade on the box...and get this, I didn't use the provided bleach (booster) packet!

Once I tried it on myself my hair felt normal, it hasn't lost it's elasticity (as with the bleach) and it's not dry. As you can see, My4tress then applied a semi-permanent colour to get the red. I followed suite and did the same. Using Creative Image Adore in Intense Red I got this:

Now I personally think my roots are far too bright but as I palm-rolled the loc, the colour became darker and I quite like it.

So I learnt:
  1. I should lighten my roots last so that they aren't as bright as the lengths. 
  2. I should apply lightener/colour ⅛" away from my scalp so I don't get such a harsh contrast.
  3. I should pick a colour only slightly lighter than I want so that when it's applied to loc'd hair it'll appear slightly darker because less light can shine through it than if it were loose.
  4. I need only colour my hair permanently once or twice a year and then use a semi-permanent in the same shade to top up the colour in between.
  5. Semi-permanents can last longer on loc'd hair because we don't tend to wash and use heat as often as when it's loose.
  6. Adore brand semi-permanent colour isn't harmful to hair.
  7. I'm one step closer to getting healthy red locs.

Thoughts, advice, critique, dye stories welcome below.


**Collage created using photos that a publicly available on tumblr. All other material is owned by the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission**

20 October 2012

Calling all loc'd friends: Help!

Hi folks, I'm having some issues with these locs of mine and I need some opinions and advice please.

It's hard to explain in words but here goes: As you know I opted for bigger locs a couple of months ago. The issue is only with my thickest locs. I love how thick they are but I'm aiming for a more cylindrical shape - whether that happens naturally or with maintenance. I've been "budding" for a while now. There's a bud on the end of virtually every loc. I've seen so many pictures and videos of people with buds starting in the middle of their locs but I assume that's because they've got longer locs to start with. Anyway, my "buds" have swollen up. A LOT. They're so puffy and shrink every time I wash my head. When I re-twist the roots they unravel within the day. The sections still stay separated so it's not like having loose hair but when I stretch out one of the problem locs it looks like this (A):

(B) Here's what I do understand of the budding process so far:

So that's how it's supposed to be, right? Budding, shrinkage, swelling? Well I have some questions:
  1. Do I need to re-twist the locs in pics (A) or will they matt and condense on their own?
  2. If I don't re-twist will they remain as thick and shapeless as they look now?
  3. Many of the smaller locs are forming with either pointed or rounded ends which I don't mind but I also have some locs that seem to be forming two headed dragons or something less distinguishable. How can I get the ends stay together?
  4. Is this my hair's way of telling me my locs are too big?
  5. How can you tell between budding/matting and unravelling?

(C) Here's how a thinner budding loc looks by comparison:

baby hairs

(D) And here's some two headed locs:

two headed dreads

You know when you only get to see freshly twisted loc's and you rarely see what they look like in between so you panic every time your own locs look different? Well I'm experiencing that right now.

Thanks in advance.


**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission**

17 October 2012

She's Gone Natural Too: Update

Hello everyone, do you remember my earlier summer post mentioning my mom's decision to go natural? Check it out here. It's been around 3½ months since she big chopped (BC) and she's enjoyed every minute.

We've since learnt that it's easy to get caught up in some of the common misconceptions surrounding the desire to go natural:

Natural hair will be easy 
A twa certainly looks and feels easy but it doesn't stay low maintenance for long.
As the length comes in and the styling options increase,
hair maintence becomes a little more complex
requiring more time, effort and patience.

I'll have one set regime
In the weeks following your  natural decision you'll 
become a custom to a particular regime that your hair responds well 
to but as it grows out things might not work as well as they once did. 
Your hair will be exposed to the change in seasons
as well as your lifestyle choices
 which require some getting used to as
you go through your first year as a natural.

I'll have my true hair texture straight away
Don't get caught out by the textural changes afro hair 
can go through as it grows. It may increase in density 
and exhibit a tighter or more defined coil pattern.
This often leads to drier hair that needs to be cared for in different ways.

I can't do anything with my short hair
You can! Grow out your hair just 3" and you'll have styling options. 
Because of shrinkage my mom didn't think much was going 
on hair-wise until we tried an easy 
two strand twist style a few weeks ago:

using olive oil and water
they stayed in with ease

My mother experienced most of the issues above. First she had to deal with the hair care products she possessed. Things like; holding sprays, setting lotions and creamy leave in conditioners. Having found that they didn't give her soft, manageable hair, she has since opted for simpler ingredients such as almond oil, water and herb infused deep conditioners. She had to wait a few weeks to see positive results.

less of this
We then came to the issue of styling tools: At first there was little she could do with a 2" fro but lately she's felt the need to comb through and pick it out each morning and she suddenly started to experience breakage.  After getting in on YouTube's natural hair world we soon learnt from our mistakes. So it's out with the hot irons, afros picks and hair grips and in with a wide tooth comb and detangler.

more of this
She also learnt that even on short hair there is still a "root" and a "tip". Barely distinguishable when you leave the salon chair with something closer to a fade than an afro but as it grows out, even a couple of inches, it's important to comb from the ends first by hand stretching sections of hair and working towards the root.

YouTube gave us a TON of styling ideas for various hair lengths and textures. We had a lot of fun watching the magic hands of some of these brilliant women, all doing their own hair in their own homes. I'd like to share a video from my mom's favourite natural hair Youtuber - SimplYounique:


**Photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission. All other material is publicly available on the world wide web.**

13 October 2012

Tips: Locs and Sports

I'm still balancing my loc journey with my fitness routine but it's definately getting easier. The main issues have been with unravelling and dryness. This is how my hair looks after the gym:

I'd like to share a few suggestions you can try if you're anything like me and want beautiful healthy hair without cutting back on physical activities:

  • Swab your scalp with witch hazel every two or three days to minimise the sweat buildup. Once you're done check for fibres, that may have been left behind from the swab, to prevent lint buildup.
  • Be patient. There will come a time when your locs adjust to your activity level.
  • Wash no more than once every two weeks useless your scalp is sore, flaking or excessively itchy.
  • When you do wash, make it thorough. Pat and squeeze low pressure water through your hair, even working in sections if possible. Use a product that will cut through sweat, product and dandruff. If you can't avoid a shampoo that dries out your hair, like many clarifiers, it's best to follow up with a hearty application of coconut or extra virgin olive oil while your hair is damp, then proceed to maintain or simply air dry.
  • Consider a sweatband. NewbieLocs has a great post here. Others also recommend a cotton head wrap so sweat is absorbed quickly. Cotton is drying so make sure to moisturise your locs on your days off.
  • Keep internal hydration high at all times. Water will help fight the drying effects of sweat as it evaporates from the scalp by supporting the hair follicles.
  • Don't go overboard on the products. Things like dry shampoo can make things worse if used in excess.
  • Of course if you have the length, tie it up! Several ponytails if need be, just as long as your hair is away from your face and neck.
  • If you're doing home workouts try using a blow dryer on low/cool heat as soon as you're done so that you don't have damp hair all day.

For those of you about to start your journey as a regularly active person:

  • I highly recommend starting your dreads with a good 3 inches of hair at least. Longer hair strands hold better after exercise and washing. 
  • Consider such starting methods as braids, two strand twists, freeforming or interlocking. Click here for more information on these methods.
  • Try using rubber bands on the ends of your baby locs to keep them together during rigorous workouts, though I suggest letting your hair breathe once a week and changing the bands often. 
  • Be prepared to be re-twisting regularly, seek advice from a loctitian.
  • Whatever your maintenance product is, avoid using it every time you re-twist (e.g. several times a week) because it'll suffocate your hair and scalp. Try just twisting with water and letting them dry in place.

I gathered a few videos on the subject of new locs and physical activity. Please share your own experience(s) in a comment below:


**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DONOT use without permission. All video footage is publically available of YouTube.**

3 October 2012

Month 6

So, It's official! I've finally settled in the baby loc stage and I love my little dreads. I definitely have the dryness issue under control and my maintenance routine is smoothing out.

I tried the palm roll method for the first time and I have to say I loved it!

Recently I've been getting the urge to play in my hair more and more. It's like an affection thing, the more you love it the more you want it. Thing is, there's not a lot of "loc'ing" going on at the moment and the buds I do have are battling enough as it is. Looking forward to the time when I can smile and welcome a curious hand or too onto my growing crown without fear of unravelling!

I was wondering how to celebrate half a year's dreadlocking on a budget but after enquiring at a local salon for prices, I decided to have some fun with makeup and some dread beads instead.

That's all for now!

Products I love:
  1. Pure coconut oil as a leave in conditioner.
  2. Extra virgin olive oil and water as a daily moisturiser.

I took quite a few photos this month sooooo have a look-see below (click to enlarge).

adding some colour

the colour's starting to grow out

texture close up

almost two weeks after re-twisting

using rubber bands again

a braided loc

i love this shot

experimenting with colour

shrinkage, shrinkage everywhere

new loc cuff

comb coil close up

going for the dramatic look

happy 6 month update!


**photography ownership is held with the blog account holder. DO NOT use without permission**