1 May 2012

Natural Loc Stages

Having locs is a very interesting journey. From the start, you might be wondering how exactly would your hair go from free and flowing, to being matted and one solid loc of hair. It is truly an amazing journey!

In this post:
The basis of the information is from Lonnice Brittenum Bonner's Nice Dreads: Hair care basics and inspiration for coloured girls who've considered locking their hair (portions highlighted in orange and green). 

Coils resemble tightly coiled springs that look like baby spirals and can be as small as a watch spring or fluid and loose as fusilli. Hair can be as short or as long as one likes. The key factor here is that your hair is able to form and hold a coil, but the hair within the coil has not yet begun to intertwine or mesh.
ME: When I began my coils, my hair was not terribly long at all. I actually like that I started from that short because I got to see and measure (in a sense) the progress of the coils.

You may notice that some of your coils have little knots of hair in them, about the size of a small pea. This knot is more or less the nucleus of each lock; the hairs in your coils have begun to intertwine and interlace. Individual coils may seem puffy and lose their tightly coiled shape; this is part of the process and shouldn’t be disturbed.
ME: This stage amazed me most. I can remember twirling the little puffy nodes between my fingers. And as the coils the little peas got fatter, they gradually grew firmer. During this stage, I did not condition either for fear that the still baby coils would 'walk out' and I'd have to begin the process again. 


This is when the buds and sprouts truly begin to look like locks and few, if any, locks shampoo out or come out during sleep. The peas you saw and felt in the budding stage have expanded, and the hair has spun into a network of intertwining strands that extend throughout the length of individual locks. The locks may be soft and pliable or feel loosely meshed, according to your hair's texture. This is the growing stage of lock development, and it extends into the lock's mature stage. Shampooing doesn't loosen these locks. They have dropped, which means they have developed enough to hang down versus defying gravity. This is when you start to relax and feel more confident about locking.
ME: Moving into this stage I began to notice that my locs held more water after washing.

Each individual lock is firmly meshed or tightly interwoven. Some loosely coiled hair textures may retain a small curl or coil at the end of the locks, but most will probably be closed at the ends. You will begin to see consistent growth because each lock has intertwined and contracted into a cylindrical shape. Think of each individual lock as a hair strand in itself. The new growth is contained in the loose hair at the base or root of each individual lock, and regular grooming encourages it to spin into an intertwined coil that will be integrated with the lock.
ME: I believe that my locs are now into this stage. Each loc is definitely firm and tightly meshed. What I like to see is my new growth meshing and becoming intertwined in the already existing loc. After each wash and reloc, there is a clear difference between the maturing loc and the 'new' growth. 

Think of this stage as akin to the shedding stage of hair growth. After many years, depending on the care you have lavished on your locks, some locks may begin to thin and break off at the ends. For the most part, this deterioration can be minimized and controlled by monitoring the ends of your locks for signs of age and getting regular trims.

Final thoughts: One thing to always remember is that your loc experience may very will differ from the next person's. After all, no two people are exactly alike. Your hair texture will probably not be like mine. So use the terms from the book as guidelines to help you gauge your progress. Your lifestyle, background and nutritional choices do play a part in the overall health of your hair. 
My baby locs and budding stage

Teenage stage heading into mature

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