13 January 2013

Frustrated: A Moment of Revelation

Can I off load some of the emotional baggage from my dread journey so far? This weekend I reached an all too familiar low. Nine months in and my hair still resembles an unkempt fro.

6 month old locs baby stage
month 6 after washing

washing locs unravelling
month 9 after washing

I previously noted that I suspected my locs were forming particularly slowly but only this month did I declare ,myself finally loc'd. Well, both statements are true. I have several locs that are firm and delightfully dread-like but on the other hand I have huge sections of locs that are nothing more than tufts of tangled hair waiting for instruction.
mature locs loose hair 9 months loc'd
2" fully loc'd
I wash, palm-roll, backcomb and twist and still nothing happens. I can't work out why only a handful have dreaded. After all they are tangled, matted and growing ever longer. I get shrinkage and budding but nothing more. At first I thought my locs were too big but some of my smaller locs have yet to progress either.

I've thought about extensions, braiding and interlocking but I can't bring myself to do it.

So, I have had enough. No matter how I look at it something isn't right. It's been on my mind all weekend and as I was walking off the bus, admiring yet another head of locs up a head, I decided to pipe up and ask him for advice.

We chatted and laughed and to my relief he had a lot of good advice. He told me he was seven months into his journey and that he too went through a challenging stage but for him the solution was to get someone else to twist his hair thoroughly and only wash it once a month. He explained that he had chosen to wait six months before washing his hair for the first time but can now wash it regularly. So washing is my problem? For months now I've been washing my hair up to 3 times a week. It made sense to me to keep my scalp clean but am I over washing? Well, tonight's conversation has convinced me that I am. 

To my understanding, dreadlocks are made up of shed hair that isn't able to leave the head and so tangles and matts instead. With such frequent washing it's not surprising my hair hasn't been able to complete this process, only ever getting to the tangled stage before being washed disturbed all over again.

I've decided that I will not wash my hair for a month, 31 days in all. I'll get someone to twist it and then leave it alone. When the urge gets too strong I'll go to a professional and ask them what they recommend, if nothing else they should give me the reassurance that I can last a bit longer. So I'm going to let it be until February 15th. I mean how dirty can hair get in one month?

Now there was talk of products, in particular beeswax which, I don't mind sharing, is not the first time it has been recommended to me by someone with beautiful dreads. I have my doubts but what do I have to lose? He also mentioned gel but I'm not going down that route.

Now, I know my hair will easily hold a twist with water alone but once the water evaporates I'm left with very dull, dry hair, which is partly why I wash it so often. Ho-hum-dread-dom, do I take the advice of the successfully loc'd or struggle through on my own?




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  1. Doll, I'm sorry you felt this way. Were you actually washing washing, i.e. with shampoo, three times a week? IMO that would be very drying but tbh we all have different heads. I would imagine washing so often would create more tangles, not the other way around but what do I know. I guess it's just about your head and what works for it. In the beginning I waited 3 weeks after my install to wash, I couldn't wait any longer, before switching to two weeks until roughly month 6. Someone else in your head is not necessarily the answer but I wish you luck. If you find that you cannot wait a month, wash them. Dont worry about it. I'd suggest rinsing during the week though instead of washing. Also try twisting with oil instead of plain water to combat dullness but also bear in mind shine is all about light hits the hair and shiny locs are not everyone's portion.

    1. Hi,

      I do understand where you're coming from. I too thought frequent washing would create more tangles which it did overall but the tangles wouldn't matt. I've seen Damien Walters' YT vids and he has said many times that too much of anything will hinder you. I wasn't using shampoo but the drying affects were still apparent. I guess the water pressure and rubbing were actually loosening my hair. It may also be that comb coils fall apart more easily than other methods since the hair isn't intertwined with anything to begin with.

      Having tried to comb coil myself, then later having both my mother and now a hair stylist do them instead, I'd say someone else in my head was definitely the answer. Having a clear view of all angles of my head is a great advantage. Had I been skilled in comb coiling for several years prior I may not have needed the assistance.

      It's quite different at this stage because it's winter and of course my hair is longer so waiting a month should be fine. Although using oil started out well, I still found issues with buildup having to, then, retwist several times a week. I'm going to see how well the aloe vera washes out before I do anything indefinitely.

      As always, it's been a while but very good to hear from you MzT

  2. Hmm. Really interesting. I have never come across this. More knowledge lol. I guess most of the time I've come across people with large locs starting off with twists, not comb coils so I'm eager to see how your hair will look after this experience. I'm curious as to why you needed to retwist several times a week? And what oils were you using? Perhaps they were too heavy? Just wondering. Girl.. good luck with waiting a month! I mean I do it sometimes but more often than not, it is not pretty lol, even though these days I must admit, routine tweaking has made it less of a struggle. Anyway.. stay strong!! :-P

    1. In the beginning my hair was about an inch long which made retwisting several times a week quite necessary with comb coils but only for the first month. I was using sweet almond oil which I thought was quite light but I've learnt that all products will buildup if used too often. I think I will reintroduce an oil in the future and just use it sparingly. The hair stylist I visited recomended an spray/sheen oil for being lighter.

      I'm basically trying to assess what my hair requires by omitting virtually all of my recent habits and products and seeing what changes come about for my locs, rather than using multiple products at once and never being certain which ones work for what needs if at all.

      Who knew finding a suitable regime would be so complex. Though I have a feeling there is no "one" regime so I'm just going with it and looking out for any major warning signs you know, breakage, itching, dryness and so on.

      The blogging network has kept me going so far :))

  3. Very interesting post... I've noticed some build-up too from the olive oil I put in my dreads. My dreads don't get sticky like they do when I wash them with regular shampoo. But when I look closely at them, I see the tiny globs of oil on the strands. I'm not sure what the long-term effect will be. All I know is without the oil and regular wetting, my hair gets really dry.

    Also, I did a 2-strand twist and my roots become a mess the minute I wet my hair. I don't think mine unravel as much as yours had in this picture. But it unravels enough to give me kinky mop on top of my head. I am constantly having to the retwist the root. I'm still hoping this will improve over time.

    1. Well I could be inaccurate but buildup either stems from too much product or too little washing. It's most likely that you're just using the oil too often. When I first started out I was using my water and oil spray almost everyday and I've watched and read about others who do the same but it's not working for many of us because we're eventually getting buildup.

      I think the problem is the popularisation of oil and water mixtures when the two substances are just too different to be used in the same way. Water evaporates very quickly until there is nothing left whereas oil doesn't go anywhere therefore it makes sense to me that oil should be used far, far less frequently than water. I was recommended to only use product once a week. Try it for a month and see how it goes.

      The long-term effects will be either be more frequent clarifying that will dry out your hair or buildup that will clog your hair, slowing the growth, and weakening hair you already have because it'll receive less oxygen. Also being in such a hot climate when oil covered hair is exposed to the sun next summer it'll magnify the intensity obviously causing damage. This kind of damage usually only happens over a lengthy period of time so it's difficult to be persuaded until the damage is done. I sometimes feel I have the strongest hair in the world but if I keep certain habits for long enough the drawbacks begin to show. I take buildup as a warning sign just like dandruff or split ends.

    2. Hurrah for sharing your unraveling issues! Especially having started with a different method to me. Clearly your dreads are doing better than mine were but I hope this is the solution for me.

      It's sounds like your issue is normal as the roots are the last to form by which time more new growth has come through anyway. I've read about multiple dreadlocker's usually of Caucasian ethnicity that struggle with "unravelling" roots whereas many black people proclaim their love for the fuzzy roots that make their locs look more freely formed. I won't know which I prefer until mine actually loc up by more than 2 inches :D

      I think when yours are really long and flowing you'll like the untamed crown look with several beads thrown in for eccentric good measure x