I am 5 months old…well sorta!

Posted in Sisterlocks, Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 by blynsay

My lovely locks are 5 months and 11 days old and I could not be happier. Every day I see changes that I am getting closer to the big “C”(as in color).

Let me explain.  Because my locks were very young, and I had a lot of permed ends, there was a greater chance of slippage (unraveling) for me.  So I have been babying my locks.  You know; wearing a rag to bed so the pillow case would not pull my hair and braiding and banding my hair when it was shampoo time.

At my last re-tightening, I was freed from the do-rag and not a moment too soon.  The heat at night was brutal and every morning I would have a version of hat head.  Now I just get up, separate my locks and go.  They feel firmer and less like braids.  Most are doing fine except for a few “bad children” in the back.  I have a little slippage there, which I cannot understand.  This section of hair is virgin and un-touched and I thought it would have locked there with a quickness; even faster than the strands that have permed ends.  My loctician was a little surprised, but she fixed me right up so that I can last until the next visit.

I have grown a lot and want to let you see my progress… here I am!



Redeeming the Time

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 by blynsay

Prior to my freedom date, 04/13/10, I would spend at least 30 minutes  in the morning coaxing my hair into a style.  If I had a fresh relaxer, then all that I would do is unwrap the scarf and admire the stylists handiwork and smile with satisfaction.  This lasted about 5-7 days–until I had to wash my hair. 

I had to wash my hair so soon after the relaxer because I would have terminal dandruff from the products .  The flaking would be so bad that I would not be able to wear any dark colors .  So once I ran out of beige clothes, I would need to shampoo my hair.  I never could get the same effect as the stylist so, in the morning after the wash I would comb, curl, comb again, position with my fingers, comb some more and finally I would resolve that I was never going to be totally happy with the result and got on with my day. 

30 minutes to get a result that to me was “just ok”.  Not bad, but not what the picture on the relaxer box promised.  No body, no movement, just lax, lank hair that needed care and feeding throughout the day. 

The reason why is that to straighten my hair texture, you would need to relax it within an inch of its life.  You know, sitting perched on the edge of the style chair, anxiously waiting for the stylist to say, “Come to the bowl”, so that you could sprint to the shampoo bowl and end the torture of the lye burning your scalp.  Then when it was all said and done, you had a great style that lasted until the next day, when you had to take over. 

My education did not include advanced cosmetology, so my efforts were amateur–and time-consuming.

But…04/13/10 changed this.  I got some of my time back.  Even though I am still babying my starter locs, my only hair implements are my fingers and the shake of my head.  My morning hair care routine takes about 45 seconds and always leaves me smiling.  That leaves about 29 minutes and 15 seconds surplus.

At first, I slept in a little longer.  That was good because with a child, work, school and life you can get a little sleep deprived.  This week though, I have been putting this extra thirty to good use…  This time lets me-

  • Pack my lunch in the morning
  • Have a good cup of tea and watch the sun come up
  • Play with and make pur with the cat 
  • Have breakfast with my son
  • Exercise

 That last one is the greatest thing.  I used to have to plan to exercise when I came home, because I did not have the time to workout, shower and style before rushing off to work.  I really needed to make the effort, because the stress in my days, and the creek in my knees told me that a little treadmill time would be good.  But when!  How!

Well, now that my hair is no trouble, I have awarded that extra 30 minutes to working out.  Nothing big and over the top; I am too out of shape to go at it with that much vengeance.  But 20 minutes on the treadmill, the stationary bike, or moving along with exercise TV has transformed my days.

I look forward to jumping out of bed, donning my workout gear and heading for the family room to get my sweat on. It really sets the tone for my day, and even though it is a little soon to see the results in my body, I feel better and more alive. 

Thanks you hair! Thank you me, for making the decision to reclaim my natural self.  This time to exercise is a great side benefit and I know that the goodies will just keep on coming.

I have my Sisterlocks, finally!

Posted in Sisterlocks with tags , , , , on April 19, 2010 by blynsay

I did it!

Yes, April 13, 2010 was my day and I cannot be happier.  I have some pics, that are further down in the post, but I want to give you a blow by blow…

My day really began the night before, as I was instructed to wash my hair, braid and band it, so that it would be comb-able the next day.  (I refused to take a picture of this as I did not want to scare any one.) I rummaged in the dresser and found a scarf to cover the braids and retired for the night.

I awoke for my lock date at 3:30 AM.  Anticipation can be wonderful and dreadful (pardon the pun), and for me it was both.  i just could not wait. My sleeplessness probably also was a combination of  joy and discomfort, as there was thunder and subsequently, my son had taken over my queen-sized bed, and relegated me to the edge.

I tossed and turned for a while and finally went to sleep shortly before the alarm.  Even though my appointment was not until 9:00, I got up at the regular time  and started my day.  All went well, except that son had a sore throat and was remaining at home.  Since I did not have to drop him off, I had a few extra minutes to address some of the things on my to do/go there/pick up for later list.

I got up and dressed and found a hat to wear to the shop and off I went.

I ran most of the errands, treated myself  to a grande, white chocolate half-caf mocha, from Starbucks, and arrived at the shop with 5 minutes to spare.

I had come prepared for a long, long day.  I brought the laptop (with a web-cam, so the folks at home could see the process),  my text book,  juice and vitamin water and some fruit. I expected to be their until the dark of night, because every blog I  read or You tube video I saw communicated the lock process as a 10 to 20 hour job.  Not fun but to me worth the struggle.

Around 9:15 a lady came to the shop.  I and my consultant thought she was there to receive services, but she was a trainee who was coming to shadow my consultant, Ashlee.  What a treat, someone to help in the process.   Then around 9:45, Paulette the shop owner came in and picked up her tool.  I was ecstatic with all the attention and also a little scared.  Was this going to hurt with three people working on my head at the same time?

Let’s face it, I’d  had my hair braided by some of our sisters from across the water, who will employ 2 braiders to get you out of the chair faster.  I have felt they were contesting to see who could pull my hair the hardest and create the biggest migraine.  Talk about pain.  But this experience was totally different.  No pain, pulling, discomfort or anything.  Matter of fact, I was so relaxed that I was able to sleep while they worked.

Yes, I went to sleep in a salon!  It was easy.  One reason I could sleep was because my anticipation had rendered me physically exhausted.  Secondly, and I think the most important reason(s), was the peace, quiet and fragrant atmosphere.  No sound of the blow dryer, no smell of burnt hair or chemicals and most of all I could just relax and enjoy the process.

In the past a salon visit meant you had to stay alert to hold your ear so it would not get burnt, or watch the timer to make sure that the relaxer was washed out before the burn reached the  critical stage. This was totally different.  Just the sound of quiet music, the scent of a fragrant candle, soft diffused natural light illuminating the room; tranquil and soothing.

When I woke up, my head was half done, around 1 PM and we were ready to order in lunch.  My consultant volunteered to pick up the food and we relaxed while she went to get the orders.  (No this is not the kind of salon where the man brings the jerk chicken and you can by a purse, or a boot-leg movie, or tickets to a play, etc.  If you are from Detroit, you know what I mean).

After a light lunch, I set up the web-cam, so the folks at home could see what was going on and the Ashlee and Denise (the trainee) began work again; this time with me reclining so that they could complete the top of my head.  This took another few hours, and around 5:30 PM they completed the last of around 400 teeny, weeny locks.

Ashlee and Denise braided and banded my hair and instructed me on how to wash it and allow it to dry. Because I have permed ends, I will need to braid my hair anytime I come in contact with water until my locks settle in.  This is to prevent slippage (unraveling).  I put my hat on and traveled home to   shampoo my hair for the first time.  I allowed it to dry overnight and then unwound my braids and fluffed out my locks.  The photos below are the results of my first braid-out.

I am loving my hair, and am more and more enamored with it every day.  Over the past week, it has become more and more spring-y and seems to have a life of its own.  I am willing to let it have “its” way, for the first time in my life and just enjoy the journey.

This is really day 2 at the officeUp close and personal

Loc-it Your Way

Posted in Sisterlocks, Uncategorized with tags , , on April 5, 2010 by blynsay

I have chosen Sisterlocks as the method that I will use to loc my hair, but it is by no means the only way to do this.  I chose this method as I have permed ends and did not want to BC (big chop.

According to KnattyDread.com , there are at least 5 ways to lock your hair.  Here is the list, and if Sisterlocks (Brotherlocks for the fellas) is not for you then you may find another technique that works.

  1. Spin and Pin (aka comb coils, single strand twists)
    The Spin and Pin method is the most commonly used method for locking highly textured (nappy) hair. Even though the most used, it is the method that is the hardest to see through to finished locs, because this method’s baby locs are very delicate.  Also, this method only works on nappy hair. Caucasians and Asians who want to lock their hair shouldn’t even attempt this method.
  2. 2 or 3 strand twists
    The 2 or 3 strand twist method is gaining popularity for locking hair. 2 or 3 strand twists are less delicate than single or comb coil twists, but are still only really ideal in highly textured African hair.
    The basic idea is that the 2 or 3 strand twists hold the hair so that the roots can begin locking. The hair in the twist eventually loosens and begins to lock as well.  2 or 3 strand twist have an advantage as they  are a beautiful style in themselves as you wait for the dreads to lock, and  despite the strand twists being visible in the finished dread, strand twists tend to lock smoother and the finished loc-from-strand twist is visually more pleasing. As such there is no need to trim off the once strand twisted hair since it looks good after it has dreaded.  One disadvantage is that strand twists are not as durable as the next method–braids.
  3. Locking from braids
    Locking dreads up from braids is not for everyone but it works well in some situations. The first thing to understand about locking from braids is that the hair that starts out braided should eventually be trimmed away after the locs have begun forming. It’s not mandatory that you trim of the braided ends but the texture of the braid will always remain in the dread. This is because hair in a braid lays parallel or beside the other hair and the braid prevents much movement. The only hair that actually locs is the hair that has worked its way out of the braid. This is the loose fuzzy hair that you might see on the surface of braids that need to be redone. Even after this hair locks, which takes a considerable amount of time, the majority of the hair remains trapped in the braid and never truly becomes a dreadlock. This is why it’s best to start with very short braids or plats and just trim off the braided ends after the locs grow out a bit and are mature enough to hold their own.
  4. Backcombing (teasing)
    Backcombing is a popular method for locking Caucasian and Asian hair types because it’s one of the few methods that works in hair without texture. It’s also gaining popularity in African hair textures as well because of its consistent results and durable knots. The only real disadvantage of backcombing is the time that’s required to backcomb them initially. Backcombing can be used in highly textured African hair, bone straight Asian hair, wavy Caucasian hair or any hair texture in between. This makes it an excellent method for hair that has been relaxed, eliminating the need to cut off the relaxed portion before locking. Dread size and placement can be controlled though sectioning. Dread locs done with this method look very decent as soon as they are dreaded. They appear a bit fuzzier than mature dreads while they are new but they soon compress and tighten. The areas of the dread that were backcombed are almost identical to the new growth which will lock as the hair continues to grow. This makes backcombing a “seamless” locking method. Newly backcombed dreads are not indestructible but they are much more durable than twists or strand twists.
  5. Latching (Sisterlocks could be considered a form of latching)
    Latching has recently exploded in popularity. The biggest benefits to latching are its ease and it’s durability. Because the hair is wrapped though itself rather than knotted the latched locks are very durable, in fact they are almost impossible to remove without cutting should you want to remove them, whereas other methods can be combed out with relative ease using dreadlock removal products.
    There is a difference between Latched Locks and Dreadlocks. Latched locks do not have the random knots of dreadlocks. When locs are latched they are basically wrapped though themselves repeatedly from alternating directions. Each wrap is made up of hair strands lying against each other. They run parallel instead of being randomly knotted. Latched locs tend to be thinner than organic locs formed with the same amount of hair. This is because hair laying flat beside other hair takes up less space than hair that is knotted randomly.

One of these methods may work for you, if you decide to embrace the joy of a natural hair style.  Whether you start your locs with an organic method or using a tool as in Sisterlocks, the decision is yours.  Just do your homework and find out the best route for you.  See you on the natural side.

You Cannot Free Everyone!

Posted in Sisterlocks with tags , , , on April 5, 2010 by blynsay

I am eight days away from my lock(loc) date and I could not be happier.  I have become a Sisterlocks poster child. 

One reason is because I am so excited.  I keep envisioning healthy hair, with no dependency on hair products or implements of torture (hot comb, flat-iron, curl wand, blow dryer, etc.).  I see days ahead when I no longer have to choose between working out or sleeping in a little longer.  I have to choose now, because I have to factor in style time, after I have “sweated out” my style on the stationary bike or treadmill.  Believe me, styling has won out over exercise too many times to count.

Another reason I am preaching Sisterlocks is to give rhyme and reason to the state of my napps.  This has been an ordeal, and I want folks to know I am not as crazy as I look.  I have to steel myself to look in the mirror, because my hair is less than cute right now.  I mean!  If I did not have a confirmed lock date (and had paid a non-refundable deposit), I might have succumbed to the lure of the “creamy crack”–relaxer! 

But, I am holding  strong and counting down the days.  I will not lie and tell you that transition has not been a little difficult.  One reason is that the only method of heat styling I am allowed is a blow dryer.  I am using it to the max, and every morning, I saturate the virgin hair with a little water and styling spray and blow dry away.  This straightens the roots for  the day, and gets me out the door.  Now, if  was going to continue the grow out process, as is, I would be concerned, because I find broken ends of relaxed hair around the room every time I use the dryer.  It was scary the first couple of days, but now I comfort myself by remembering that these broken, fried, damaged ends are taking themselves out of the picture and those will be less I have to cut off when my locs are mature and the permed ends go bye-bye.  It is a win-win situation.

You may wonder what this has to do with the title of this post. Well, nothing!  But, I just wanted to have a lemonade moment, and take you guys along for the ride.

Now back to the topic.

On Friday last, I took my son to the salon for a hair cut.  Yes,  I take him to a salon, because  he  is tenderheaded, like his Mama, and has curly hair.  The normal little boy buzzer cut  does not work for him and leaves him with whorls and cowlicks all over his head, so we need someone to cut it that has scissor skills.  He was a walk-in and we had to wait for an available stylist.  He is a regular and there are only a few there who cut his hair.  He played with some little sisters while we waited for a chair.  They had their Easter Sunday hair going on! 

Newly pressed and curled ponytails, bouncing in the breeze.  Now as the holiday was two days away, I envisioned a Saturday for them of rollers and do-rags to keep the style “fresh” and get them to the Sunday School program with straight and managed edges. You know it is only in our community, before a big holiday, that sporting a rag on your head at the supermarket is acceptable.  

When his turn came, I noticed an older lady in the chair next to him.  She had long, thick salt and pepper colored hair.  She and the stylist were having a conversation about cutting out her relaxer.  She had about 5 inches of relaxer, and an equal amount of un-processed hair.  I did not say virgin, because the new growth had been pressed.  I got excited.  I almost starting singing, “Dun, dun, dun-another one bites the dust!”, but held it in and just smiled and told her “Happy BC (big chop) Day”.  She looked at me a little strangely and I took the hint and turned back to my son and my own business.  I thought, this may not be a happy day, especially when you see 5 inches of hair on the salon floor.  I mean there was not hope for a ponytail or a quick bun to tame the hair, at the length that was left.  She was going to have to style her hair every day.  I thought, another one free!  But then I turned back, and low and behold saw not one but two jars of relaxer on the counter.  I wanted to tell the stylist, “Put down the brush and back away from  the head!”  Then I had to get all in the mix, and ask the lady the deal. 

She told me that she had been sick and not able to relax her hair for sometime, and finally her doctor said she could, and she was getting her hair done, so that she could look normal.  She had the old relaxed ends cut off, because they had been “damaged” by pressing, and was starting fresh.  It was then that I closed my lips, nodded and smiled and realized that we cannot all be free.  Some are not ready, some never will be and that is okay.  We all must have a place, within our own psyche, where we can be comfortable.  We all must be able to meet the man/woman in the mirror and like what we see.  For me, I look forward to a day, when I see mature locs, healthy and vibrant.  I look forward to no more burnt ears, no more relaxer burns, to more sleep in the morning, to working out and now worrying if my edges left the gym and went home before me, or my style drooped in the sauna.  

This is my happy place, and even though I am not there in the flesh, I have come to this place in my heart, in the present moment and I will not be moved.  If I could, I would free the world of our dependency on weave and relaxer and such, but this has to come for all in there own time, if it comes at all.  For some it may not, but I am going to love it enough for me and everybody else.

Is Nappy Hair a Crime?

Posted in Well-Being with tags , , , on March 19, 2010 by blynsay

I have always tried to put my best foot forward when it came to appearance.  You know; no chipped nail polish, shined my shoes, pressed my clothes well so that I didn’t have “cat tracks”, and took care of those nappy edges.

Since I am in transition from relaxed hair to a natural hairstyle that last hallmark of good grooming has been abandoned.  I have to rest my hair before it is locked and have been admonished by my loctician (with fire in her eyes), not to heat style my hair.  So consequently, I have a few beady-bs goin’ on.  Some people have remarked on my status, to which I told them my story, and they were fine. 

The ones that I am concerned for are those who either refuse to make eye contact, as if they are witnessing something shameful or those who really want to ask me what the h_ll is going on.  Some have touched my hand and told me in hushed tones, “We all have been there and you will come through”.  I muttered thank you and looked puzzled, and then I realized it was the hair! 

I really did not think it looked “that bad”, not bad at all since this is a plan not an accident or a bad hair experience. Nevertheless, thinking back, this is out of character for the old me.  I had to be sick, depressed or something on those lines to come out of the house with the tresses less than perfect.  I have spent many hours perming, dyeing, cutting and styling, chasing after the illusion of being as my Mama called it—presentable!

That is so sad!  Is presentable the most that a nappy headed child could hope for? Are the adjectives beautiful and lovely reserved only for the sisters with the less tense tresses or for the short period when your press or perm are fresh?  Maybe in another time and place, but today I reclaim my right to be beautiful, nappy hair and all!  I just wish I had done it sooner and gotten my “get out of hair-jail free card” a long time ago.

Therefore, for those who love me and are concerned and those who are nosy but too polite to ask, here is the deal—

  1. I am fine
  2. No, I will not look like this forever, as my lock date is 04/07/10, and I will have a whole new look for you to ponder about
  3. Yes, I intend to walk around like this and am not going to hide under hats and scarves for the duration
  4. No, I am not going to apologize for having nappy hair; I am no longer ashamed; it is what God gave me and I will rock it with pride

Whew, that feels good to get that off my chest! 

I am not trying to be belligerent, but I am standing up for my choice and holding my Nappy head High!  This is a time for me to just—be and not concern myself with presentability or acceptance by the mainstream.

I instead choose to be beautiful!

My Conversation with Me

Posted in Sisterlocks with tags , , , on March 18, 2010 by blynsay

This is a conversation that I have had with friends and anticipate having in the future with friends and family. So…I am talking to myself as a stand-in for those who may be curious.

Let’s see what I and me talked about!

Q. When did you decide to lock your hair?

A. Last year in the fall.  I had been struggling with my hair for sometime; since I started to go through the change of life. My hair texture was changing.  It was too fragile for relaxer (made it brittle and dry) but it would not hold a press.  Most people told me that I just needed to get a good stylist, go to them 2-3 times a month and let them “train my hair”. 

Q. How did you feel about that?

A. I could not comprehend spending countless hours in a salon, to leave and have my hair fall, or frizz before I got to the car.  I know what that is like and I did not want to go through it.  I could no longer relax my hair, but I did not want to be limited by pressed hair.

I thought about just wearing braid extensions for the rest of my life, but could not except that either.  I just knew my hair was breaking more and more with each passing day.

Q. Why Sisterlocks?

A.  To tell the truth, I really did not know any thing the Sisterlocks method, when I started to research natural hair.  I thought that I might try 2-strand twists and see if that would be good for me.  While I was researching the twists, I came upon Youtube videos about Sisterlocks.  I could not believe it.  They were beautiful and so classy.  I had no idea where to go next, but as they say, when the student is ready the teacher appears.

Within weeks, I had reconnected with an old friend who wears Sisterlocks and met a new friend who wears them also.  I was amazed at how beautiful they were.  I asked if I could touch them, and when given permission I closely examined their locks.  They were small, but not fragile and soft.  Neither of the ladies had been someone you would remember as having “great hair” before Sisterlocks.  One rocked a TWA (teeny-weeny afro) and the other kept a short relaxed style because her hair “would not grow”.  Now they both have hair far down their backs. 

Q. Aren’t you afraid you won’t like it and then cannot go back?

A.  I have done a lot of things from which there is no easy return.  Relaxer is one; once you relax your hair you permanently change its texture.  Permanent hair color is another.  You just have to take the time, do your research, find a consultant that is recommended by others, that you trust, and get ready to learn a new hair care regimen. 

Q. Is it costly?

A. Yes and no.  The initial outlay, for installation, is high, but the upkeep every 4-8 weeks is no more costly than going to the salon every two weeks. 

Q. Does it take a long time?

A. I am told that it can take anywhere from 8-18 hours.  I am going to go to the salon prepared.  Food, books, a good pillow, my laptop, my phone charger, and anything else that I may need for the duration. 

Q. Will you recommend the hairstyle to others?

A. I already am!  My blog links to Facebook, so all of my friends can experience the process right along with me.  In addition, I can’t wait to do things that I have never done. Like swim without a cap and play in the sprinkler with my son.  I am looking forward to traveling without a completely separate bag for my hair care implements like blow dryer, curling iron, flat iron and the stove! 

Q. Is there anything else you would like your readers to know?

A. Just one more thing.  Moving on to natural hair has been the most freeing thing I have ever done.  I know this is not for everyone, but for those who can stand the freedom, think about it and maybe allow yourself to explore the mere possibility. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.