Monday, May 19, 2014

Things I've Learned About My Daughter's Hair Through a Hair-tastrophy

About 2 months ago I decided to install braid locs (or micro dread locs) in our 3 and a half year old's hair.

Then 2 weeks ago she cut 1/4 of her newly installed locs off... in a very sad incident.

Through this all I've learned a whole lot about her hair and about locs. I am mainly recording this for future reference, but I thought it might help others out there too...

Why We Wanted Braid Locs...
Braid locs or locs of any kind aren't for every person or child. I began the process of researching them about 6 months ago. I thought they might be a good choice for her hair for a few reasons:

- We like the look of them.
- She has very fine hair (soft and very thin strands of hair) that is prone to breakage, no matter how gentle we are and what products we use. Several reports seem to think that locs are ideal for fine haired people.
- We are having a new baby and I was concerned that for at least the first 3-6 months I'd not be able to devote the time and attention to her hair that I think it needs. Locs seemed like a wonderful choice that is fairly self-sustaining and requires less intense care.
- We have very limited resources for ethnic hair in our area... so having someone else do it, isn't an option. 
- I was ok with the permanency of locs or braid locs... that they can't be taken out or aren't intended to be.

She looked ADORABLE with them!!!
We were very pleased with how they turned out and the over all result!

Preparation and Installation...
I am not going to do a "how to" but basically installing them taught me that her fine hair requires that both the sections/parts need to be bigger, but not too big. If they are too small the locs looks absolutely minuscule... and I feared that such tiny locs would end up being too tiny and fragile once actually loc-ed. However, with her fine stranded hair, if I made the parts too big her little tiny hairs also seemed to escape and pull out of the braids... and it made the over all look of the locs on her head look "sparse" or far a apart and not full on her head.

Most people recommended parting boxes/sections to be the size of a pencil eraser... this was WAY too small... the locs were way too tiny. As I worked up her head some of her part got bigger as it got to the wider portion of her head (should have added some more boxes in as I went up) and they ended up being about the size of a penny (or slightly bigger), and that was too big and made the locs look way to far apart and sparse in one of the most noticeable parts of her head.

The magic size for her hair/head was the size of my index finger nail... or a little smaller than dime sized. Next time I will shoot for this size part, over all her head.

The Ends...
When she cut her hair she cut off the ends which were twisted into little spiral cork screw curls.

I realized a few days later just how important those little twisted ends were... once cut off, the (unestablished) locs frayed into balls and started to unbraid and loosen up the entire braid locs to some extent. With a mature loc I assume this wouldn't happen. But, leaving the twisted corkscrew ends is important until they are fully loc-ed!

How long it takes to actually loc...
I had read and heard from others that it usually takes about 6 - 8 weeks to loc the hair. I am sure it depends greatly on the hair type and habits or products used. I took them out at about 8 weeks and will say that they didn't look remotely like they had even begun the process of loc-ing, they came out very easily and showed NO signs of being loc-ed at all. Only about 3 braids looked to me like they might be starting to loc... and they were very small, and along hair lines where they were probably rubbed a bit more than the others.

How did we "fix" the Hair-tastrophy???
Well. I decided to not do anything for 2 weeks after she cut her hair... mainly because if I had before that I probably would have done it out of emotions and ended up just shaving it all off or something drastic! I actually waited closer to 3 before fulling taking out all the locs. Also the time gave me the ability to see what might happen and really the extent of the damage.

In the end of decided to cut her hair (while in the micro braids) down to a more even length. I cut about 2-3  inches off of each loc... and left about 3-5 inches of hair on her head (other than the parts she ravaged which are any where from scalped to an inch or two long). 

I also decided to take out the micro braids and shelf the idea of "locs" for some time in the future.

I feared they might be starting to loc and then we'd be "stuck" with them (which as I said above wasn't true... they weren't even remotely loc-ed). I also decided that it might be a good idea to take out the locs because she had snipped many locs in the middle (but not cut them entirely off and hair was starting to fray and get loose from the "half-damaged" locs.)

 I just doubted my ability to "fix" all these inconsistencies and maintain the locs as I had planned. 

Taking out the (Un-loc-ed) Locs...
This was a process all it's own. Since they weren't fully (or remotely) loc-ed it was undoubtedly easier than taking out fully established locs. But it was still a bit of a chore. 

What made it easier was to wet the braid/area, coat in Kinky Curly Knot Today... and get a larger embroidery needled and pull them out "stitch" by stitch. I tried at first with a pin tail comb and it was just too big... it was a major chore getting it to push into the tiny braid. Then tangles would happen as I pulled it down. A needle made things move much faster. 

After I get each section out, I comb through it, apply some coconut oil and then I am rope twisting two sections of hair together to make larger (for us normal sized) twists. 

I have noticed that my hopes might be correct... there is very little loose or damaged hair as I have combed out the sections... locs might just be a great style for fine haired people!

Will we Loc Again?
For sure. 
I have loved our 6 weeks with unestablished braid-locs. I loved the care it required, I loved how they looked, I loved the styles we could do with them and how they had a versatility all their own. I loved comments we got on them and how her hair looked consistent and neat even when we had not officially "done" anything with it! 

I think we will probably wait a year to two years before attempting it again.
Why? Because my only negative is that I think her head will probably grow more and with it the boxes/parts and more hair will fill in. I knew that when I did it, and was prepared to "fix" any issues this caused. But, next time I'd really like to avoid having many repairs... 

Also, waiting until age 4 or 5 might eliminate the possibility that a child CUTS their beautiful locs off... haha!


So Wheeler said...

I enjoyed your post. If you do decide to do another loc install, I would suggest you eliminate block/brick partings. The hair will lay more naturally with rounded or c-style parts. Also, I'd suggest you make them smaller simply to give her a fuller head of hair.

Thanks for sharing!

Marci said...

Thank you! I totally agree. I think they need to be smaller and more natural parts would look nice! I think we will wait until she is 5 to try again.

quarurii said...

Loved reading your post. Very informative. I agree with So Wheeler! I just started my second set of braidlocs. The first ones were parted with the block style and having only 2 inches of hair, the scalping was too much. So i removed that and went and got the c pattern and they look fuller. Looking forward to three months. Hopefully the scalping will have reduced. Please keep us updated on your daughters braidlocs.