Locs to talk about: The versatility and experience of locs
By Ada Kalu
January 11, 2023
2020 was a stellar year for duo, ChloexHalle. The sisters released their sophomore album, earning them 3 Grammy nominations and surpassing their previous album sales. Their backyard shows in the pandemic were exciting performances with commanded stage presence. A worthy note that has not stopped ringing is the versatility of their hair. Now 22 and 24 respectively the sisters have been locd since the ages of 3 and 4. Every few months, a new tweet praises their hair and the need for professionals that understand Black hair as stylistically capable. The message is a constant reminder; Black hair has always been able to do so much.
The history and the knowledge of Black hair has been well documented. One such example is The Salooni Project, a Ugandan Collective that explores and celebrates the history of Black hair through multidimensional art experiences. I experienced the Salooni in 2018 and it meant a lot to me. Between 2017 and 2021, I was dismissed, misdiagnosed and mistreated for various scalp conditions which contributed to my alopecia. Across 4 years my shaved head and hair choices were cause for conversation despite ongoing flare ups of severe scalp pain and sensitivity. The Salooni Project aimed to foster community while easing the pain and uncomfortable memories of hair, including challenging hair as a defining factor of Black femininity. In all this, locs are not exempt. To explore more of the loc experience, I spoke to a couple of people about their journeys.
MAKING THE DECISION
Nylah Akua (Lifestyle and travel influencer): I’ve been loc’d for 2 years! I’ve been natural most of my life and felt like I had done all that I could with my then current hairstyle. I was looking forward to beginning a new journey with my hair – learning to love a new / different me with locs. The versatility and ease of loc maintenance in comparison to my natural hair was also a factor given my busy lifestyle.
Kader (Stylist): I had locs for 2 and a half years before cutting them, then had braids and now l’m back to locs.
Marie (Social worker): I think for anyone that wants to start locs, you must know why you want them. What is it about? Is it for fashion? Ease to manage your hair or is it the lifestyle? If it’s for fashion, that’s fine but you need to remember it’s also a culture and we should all respect that. Locs are about being natural. There are so many styles, get someone you trust to start your journey and process with. I have had locs for 5 years but before that, I had locs for 28 years. The first time I started to loc my hair, I was 16 trying to find my identity and finding myself. I’m still on that journey now.
Chisara (Enterprise Customer Success Manager): l’ve always wanted to do it. I just never had the bravery required. My natural hair always grew long but never thick, and I got tired of shrinkage. I almost always had my hair in braids and locs just seemed like a healthy natural progression and solution to this. I’II be one year loc’d on the 11th of January, 2023 – so exciting!
Uzo (Brand strategist): I loc’d my hair in March of 2022. I grew out my hair for a while and just didn’t feel ready to cut it. I’ve done the wave brushing, braids, high top fade, dyed it blonde and platinum. I felt like I’d done everything with it so I was looking for something fun and new to do with it.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROCESS
Nylah Akua: Since starter locs can be so expensive, I went the DIY route. I got two strand twists installed by a hair stylist and then I loc’d my hair myself using the interlocking method. Since then I’ve been mostly maintaining them on my own with occasional loctician appointments.
Kader: The first time the loctician used gel to just do a normal twist, then 4 weeks later, I decided to interlock them. Went back months later and twisted them with just gel.
Uzo: I look, feel and play with it [locs] everyday. I think it’s incredible all the things Black hair is capable of and it just translates to how I view myself. I never want to box myself and I know there are many things I’m capable of creatively and professionally.
Kader: My dad used to have locs when he was younger and coming from Senegal, people that have locs are called Baye Fall. A community of people that have locs. Now my mum, sister and brother all have locs. I would say it is more like an identity.
Chisara: When I got my locs done, the first thing my friends said to me was `you look like you’ve always had them’. I believe this is a huge testament to how they suit me. I absolutely love them.
Marie: I cut my hair and restarted my locs in 2016. They’re an extension of who I am. It’s been incredible bonding and meeting other sisters on their own journeys with locs. l’ve never been happier.
VERSATILITY AND MAINTENANCE
Nylah Akua: As a travel and lifestyle influencer, locs have only made my life easier and more beautiful. Since I’m often on the go, having locs takes away the countless hours I used to have to spend on my natural/ loose hair. Now it takes me 5 minutes to get my hair ready. I love the versatility! Even though my locs are just shoulder length, I can do so much with them. Up do’s, straight down, curly, braids, I can even still add hair for unique hairstyles. PLUS, I don’t have to worry about it getting wet or when I work out, it’s not going to ruin my hairstyle.
Uzo: [Locs] have been freeing. Before this, I felt like there were so man rules about what should and shouldn’t go into Black Hair and these rules kept changing. I just couldn’t keep up. Now I let my hair do its thing and I go for my monthly upkeep with my hair ‘therapist’. I’m also curious about all the things I can do with my hair, currently looking for someone to teach me how to twist my hair.
Chisara: The maintenance isn’t easy, I won’t lie, especially as I’m still new to it and I like them to look neat most of the time. So it’s been a big learning curve but loving every aspect of it. I even started a TikTok for my locs if you want to see: aunty. cheese_
Special thanks to all my participants: Chisara, Kader, Marie, Nylah and Uzo
You can find them on the following:
Nylah Akua: @nylah.akua (Instagram)
Uzo: @dubonde.wav (Instagram)
Chisara: @aunty_cheese_ (TikTok)
Kader: @kaderabsolute (Instagram)
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