Why & How I Combed Out My 1st Set of Locs
Full transparency, when I got my first set of #locs installed, I really didn’t know much about the journey I was embarking on. I’d tried every other hairstyle possible and since I’d grown my natural curls out to a length at which I wanted to start my locs, I just did it! I literally walked into a salon for what I thought was merely a consultation and walked out with 73 interlocked #babylocs. I didn’t ask for a specific type of parting system, I didn’t know the difference between palm rolling, two-stand twists or interlocking, I simply relinquished all control to my stylist and let him do this thing!
I was initially shocked at how much they would frizz over the next few months of the journey because again, I literally had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. I wasn’t nearly as active on social media as I am now, so at the time, I didn’t know about all these incredible loc pages and influencers, at all! I rarely used YouTube at that time either lol, so I didn’t know about the instructional videos that were out there about all the different aspects of starting one’s loc journey (styling, maintenance, etc.). The only real piece of advice that my stylist gave me, which to this day, I still practice with my second set was “to keep your shit clean”. Even though I have a softer/finer texture of hair (3c), I was told to wash my hair in the very beginning once every week to two weeks and to refrain from using creamy conditioners and products as it would cause major buildup. Since they were interlocked, I fortunately didn’t experience much unraveling and could wash my hair as often as necessary.
Maintenance & Color
Nearly 5 years went by with that set of locs. I kept them fairly clean but rarely slept with a satin/silk scarf which I found to have been a very key component in keeping my locs lint-free. I kept them hydrated and moisturized with Dr. Loc’s “Yaya Oil” which is a combination of a lot of really useful oils to enhance moisture and promote growth. I very rarely styled my locs because as someone who is extremely tender-headed, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit through all the tugging and pulling that (I thought) it would take to do the cute up-dos that I would always see women wear. Once my locs began to mature, I got my locs retwisted on average between every 6 to 8 weeks and I began coloring them around the 3.5/4 year mark. As I began coloring them, I started with about 5 locs and only dyed about half of each loc.
That graduated to dying half of ALL of my locs and then I took the plunge and dyed my entire head! Although I loved the look, I didn’t realize how much damage all those chemicals were doing to the integrity of my babies and over time, they really began to thin. Added to the fact that I still rarely ever wore a scarf & I was experiencing a lot thinning around the edges due to all the tugging of being interlocked, in time I found that although my locs had achieved the length I wanted them to and had become a beautiful hue of brownish-blonde which really seemed to compliment my ski tone, they were undeniably unhealthy and I simply wasn’t feeling them anymore.
Locs Hold Energy
When you’re a loose natural, you can comb out the dead hair that has broken off due to stress, anxiety, hormone imbalances, dryness and natural shedding but with locs, you don’t have that luxury. All of the hair that breaks off typically remains in the loc so whatever energy caused that hair to fall out never gets released from your scalp. You subsequently walk around day to day holding onto so much energy that you may not want anymore. Sure, there are definitely loc detoxes that you can use to refresh your mane, rid your locs of lint and other unwanted buildup and subsequently some energy, but ultimately because that dead hair is matted into the rest of the loc, a lot of times it’s never released and although I was initially excited to start my loc journey, I did so during an extremely troubling time in my life. I was in a traumatizing relationship with a man who I’ve mentioned in previous posts whose actions made me feel completely worthless. All the cheating, deception and lies brought my self-esteem lower and lower until I’d finally sunken into a very, very deep depression which took years to get out of and heal from. All the while, I lost tons of hair due to the stress and anxiety that I’d experienced and that hair that had shed due to those experiences simply loc’d in with the rest of my hair. Yes, as I grew spiritually and emotionally, my locs too grew; however, I kept feeling that when compounded with the damage from all the color and lint build-up and the aggressive maintenance that I was getting done every 6 to 8 weeks, that I was approaching the time when I needed to comb them out.
Making the Decision to Comb Them Out
It was February 2019 when I began really considering combing them out but everyone I’d asked their opinions from really didn’t want me to. As such, I didn’t comb them out. A few months passed by and the urge to comb them out got stronger and stronger and I began dreaming about it. On July 20th, I found out I was pregnant (yayyy!) and with that came an even more intense desire to start fresh! It had gotten to the point where every night I was having dreams of having loose hair! I kept telling my husband that I was feeling compelled to do this even though I know he didn’t want me to and I finally just said “I’m going to try it. I’m just going to take one out and see how I feel after that.” Given how impulsive I can be (especially when it comes to my hair), I knew that it was very possible that I would take one out and immediately rethink my decision to comb them out LOL. So I looked online, I watched several YouTube videos (because at this point, I was hip to all the information online & via social media about locs) and I purchased a pink rat tooth comb, sulfate-free conditioner (I learned this was best for detangling hair so as to avoid any damage to the hair) and a loc detangling cream.
On the first day, I put on Netflix and got to work.
Here’s what I did:
I took a loc from the lowest part of my scalp, snipped off about 2 inches and completely immersed it in a cup of warm water. I waited until the loc was soaking wet and then saturated it with a loc detangler.
From there, I held the tip of the cut loc in my hand and began combing it out with the rat tooth comb. At times, I would use the pointy end of the comb to loosen up the loc up a bit more but because it was soaked in conditioner and water, I found that despite having been loc’d for nearly 5 years, the hair came undone pretty easily.
I worked my way up the loc until I reached the root. Depending on how thick the loc is and how much or how little you decide to cut off, some of my locs took only about 20 minutes to comb out whereas others were nearly 30-45 minutes!
I would two-stand twist the bunches of hair that I’d unlocked in one sitting so that the loose hair could retain some of the moisture from the conditioner. I also found that the thick conditioner worked MUCH better than the loc detangler and once I got the hang of it, towards the end, I was able to get through several locs at one time at a much faster rate. After about 8 days of spending several hours a day (I’d say about 3 to 4 per day) combing out all 73 of my locs, on September 9th, 2019, I was completely loc free. I immediately shot a few pictures and then took the most incredible shower and washed the hell out of my scalp. Let me warn you however, that you will shed an incredible amount of hair during this process. I found that with each loc that I combed out, 50% of the loc contained dead hair. I had bags and BAGS of dead hair and was completely shocked at how much hair I still had left on my head!
Want Different, Do Different
3 months of wearing loose, curly hair went by before I was back in the chair on January 2nd, 2020 getting my second set locs installed. I'd done my research this time and knew precisely what method I wanted to use & what parting system as well to avoid pulling around the edges and unraveling in the early stages.
Stay tuned for the next post on why I restarted my new set and what differences I employed in what I knew would be a completely different #locjourney! Have a question about the combing out process? Comment below!