A short story: How I started and ended my loc journey

For some, dreadlocks symbolize a lifelong commitment. That wasn't the case for me. People who decide to loc their hair call it a journey for a reason, and every one is different. My loc journey started and ended in nonconventional ways, but they were both ways that worked for me.

After years of consideration and adding loc styles to my Pinterest board, I decided to take the plunge! My mom has locs, and she's a natural hair stylist so she suggested I start with a comb coil. It could take anywhere from 10 months to two years for hair to completely "loc up" and I was not interested in waiting that long. So, in true Leo fashion, I found a way walk into the shop with a fro and out with mature, fully formed and styled locs.

Instant Locs & Extensions

I've had a few people ask me whether or not I got loc extensions, and yes, I absolutely did. I was never embarrassed about my decision to get extensions and I'd tell anyone who asked when and how I got them done! Through a quick hashtag search on Instagram, I found a girl named Ashley who offered instant locking and extensions. Unfortunately, she doesn't do hair anymore and her shop page has been deactivated. Nonetheless, she's the one who did my hair.

I went in with completely natural hair that, when straightened, was almost to the middle of my back. The "instant loc" method refers to the act of creating fully locked hair “instantly” using a crochet needle. Along with instantly locking my hair, I asked that she incorporate some extra (human) hair so my locs would be thicker. In the end, that wasn't necessary but, you loc and you learn!

The process took about 11-12 hours and cost me $600. This was extremely cheap. This method and service can cost up to $1,000 depending on where you are, how long your hairs is and simply how much your stylist charges. I live in Atlanta so, of course, stylists charge a little more. Do your research before paying any deposits!

About a month later, I was really enjoying my locs. My mom's wedding was coming up and I was the maid of honor! All the bride's maids had to have their hair in a high bun. I wasn't convinced my locs were long enough, so, I went and got more extensions (of course). Then I was REALLY feeling myself.

The locs were heavy, but not unbearable. At this point, they were just past my bra but not yet at my waist. I loved them!

When and why I decided to get rid of my locs

Contrary to popular belief, I only had my locs for two years! I've been natural, though, since 2014. So, I'm used to my hair growing quickly, but never this quickly. The day I started to comb out my locs, they were at my waist, brushing my lower back. I was laying on them, getting them stuck in zippers and ponytails were impossible.

I think the length paired with the weight of natural locs and extensions was just too much for me. I was getting headaches often and my hairline was always sore and tender, like someone had been pulling my hair. As beautiful as locs are, for me, they were becoming more trouble than they were worth. So, I started weighing my options.

ANOTHER big chop was not an option for me. I've cut my hair into a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) twice since I went natural in 2014. I'm over the short look. I'd like to be a long-haired natural from this point on. So, I watched Youtube videos of other girls who combed out their locs instead of just cutting them at the root. It seemed simple enough, so I gave it a try!

How I combed out my locs

The entire process took about 1 week. I documented the entire experience on my Instagram story, and created a highlight called, Goodbye Locs. I made the decision on a Sunday, then went to the beauty supply to pick up some deep conditioner, eco styler gel and shampoo. One risk of combing out my locs was the possibility of losing my length, texture, thickness, or all of the above. I really just wanted enough hair to slick back into a bun.

Monday morning, I got up and cut all the extensions off first. I cut my hair to where each loc was shoulder length, so that they'd be easier to manage and comb out. I sprayed each loc with water and conditioner in a spray bottle and detangled each loc with a brand new, sharp rat tail comb. It took about 15 minutes for me to do each one, so I took breaks pretty often. Eventually, I had to recruit some help. One of my best friends, Danielle, came over one night and combed out the entire lower/back half of my head while we watched That's So Raven. Then the next day, Dante finished the rest. Every loc was gone by the following Friday night.

The quality of my hair

I was so shook that my hair was as curly as it was when my locs came loose. I've always had soft, shiny, 4A/4B curly hair but I wasn't sure what to expect this time around. Alas, my curls prevailed! My hair was still soft, curly and healthy, but it was noticeably dry and thinner than before.

Once we were completely done, I took the world's longest shower. I hadn't run my fingers through my hair in so long, it felt amazing. I washed and conditioned my hair twice then combed leave-in condition through it and got out of the shower.

I slicked my hair back in a ponytail and was so pleased with the results! My baby hair and little neck hairs were popping!

Regrets, advice and afterthoughts

I don't have any regrets. Locs are beautiful and mine were no exception. I'm glad I got to experience having them, but they weren't for me. Aside from the length becoming uncomfortable, I missed my curls. I missed the versatility of loose natural hair, and the satisfaction of running a denman brush through freshly detangles curls.

If you're considering getting locs, go for it! Don't let me deter you. There's tons of ways to start. Choose the way that works for you, your budget, and your patience! If you have locs, and you're ready to part ways but don't want to go bald in the process, you don't have to. Don't feel ashamed or embarrassed that you're ending your loc journey. Your journey is your own, your hair is your crown and you should wear it any way you like (except perms, we don't do those.)

I'm wearing a drawstring ponytail in this photo, because that's my business.

©2020 by Savannah West