To condition, or not…

Yes, winter is upon us. Drier, colder air and even drier forced-air heat can leave your locs brittle, even to the point of breaking. During winter, I also noticed some thin spots midway along my locs—usually around where my collars and locs meet or where I wear my scarf.

I’ve battled on and off with cream conditioners. A good cream conditioner for relaxed and free-strand natural hair may be just the wrong thing for loc’d hair altogether. These usually detangle, breaking down the very essence of why your hair is loc’d in the first place.

So what should fellow loc’d ones reach for when hair feels too dry to touch? Here’s what I have found to be some of the best loc conditioners. Ironically, it’s not necessarily what’s on the store shelf.

These are the most powerful conditioners for locs. I shampoo often, so after my shampoo and towel dry, I apply an oil. Oil helps keep the moisture in longer. Some to try: SheaMoisture Bath and Body Massage Oil (yes, a massage oil!) and African Pride Olive Miracle Growth Oil. Oils seem to strengthen even the weak spots along the loc shaft and leave my locs softer. Try to also apply an oil every day in between shampoos—from root to ends. Coconut oil is also a good conditioner, as well as several essential and carrier oils.  If your locs are extremely dry, apply some coconut oil and let it sit in overnight. Your locs will feel a lot softer in the morning.

Hot oil treatments
Sitting under a hot dryer and allowing hot oils to penetrate to the loc shaft is also one of the best ways to condition. Shampoo, towel dry locs, and apply enough oil to coat your locs from scalp to ends—especially the ends. Cover with a plastic cap and sit under a dryer for 30 minutes or wrap with a towel for the same time or longer and rinse. You may want to shampoo again to rinse out any excess oil. Your locs will emerge softer and stronger afterwards.

Occasional use of Deep Conditioners
Be careful with deep conditioners. Left on too long or used too much and you will wonder what happened to your once strong locs. You’ll have thin spots, unraveling and a host of other problems. Look for ones that do not detangle. One I have used in the past: SheaMoisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque. You’ll have to look for others that just add moisture and not restructuring of the hair. Use these sparingly, like once or twice a month. If you do your part the rest of the time—lightly oil your locs and tie them up at night, you shouldn’t need an intensive conditioner.

Conditioners made for locs
There are a few on the market, and a lot are made by smaller companies. I have used the Jamaican Mango & Lime Loc Conditioner for a quick treatment. I have also used lighter instant conditoners. I have found that these leave locs feeling initially conditioned, but dry later on. These just seem to coat the locs and tend not to deep condition.

Here you go—my advice for softer locs. You’ll need it to get them through the winter.

One more tip: I use the LocSoc to wrap my hair up at night. I used to just place it around the top of my head and let the ends hang loose. If you have long locs, you’re basically not wrapping your ends up at all. Instead. I have tied the open end of the LocSoc, using the four-corner method (opposite ends tied together), basically forming a cap. I then tuck all my locs underneath so that everything is covered. There are two advantages to this. One: your locs can avoid being rubbed to death as you toss and turn on your pillowcase overnight. Two: if your locs are longer, you get a little bit of a curly look.

Yet another one: I start my new exercise regimen next week. In future weeks, I’ll write on how to manage maintaining locs with exercise—which I think is a good mix.

Next week: Chrisandra Wells, the face of Fashion Fro week, coming up in February. This makeup artist and model rocks locs in a whole new way (I got your note this week, and thanks!)

gail1‘Till next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine


4 thoughts on “To condition, or not…

  1. You’ve given some awesome advice! I wanted to add to the conversation as well. I have a Loc Soc but I don’t use it to sleep with anymore because I find it too small. When I wake up, it’s no longer on my head lol. I found this company called DreadSock that sells closed-off breathable, stretchable material and I recommend it to every loc’r I know. I actually had it as one of my monthly favorites on YouTube channel (JazzyTe007). One last thing: Do you recommend the As I am Co-wash conditioner for locs? I purchased it this past weekend and I’m not quite sure about it for locs but I’ve good things about it in the natural hair community. Thank you in advance!

    • After doing some research on this, it looks like a product more suited for naturally curly textures. First it is a conditioning cream, that does lather but detangles as well—which goes against the very principles of locs, which is hair fused together. As the article states, be very careful of conditioners with locs. Detangling ingredients can and will breakdown your locs, resulting in weak areas, and eventual breakage. Stick with basic cleansing shampoos that remove buildup and clarify, and with some moisturizing properties. Your locs will emerge stronger for it.

  2. lawd have mercy this is just what i needed.. i have been having issues with my locs being thinner along the shaft of the loc and i just do not know what to do. When you say use oil, im assuming you mean oil oil right ? I have been thinking about starting to use the Jamaican Mango and Lime “Sproil” I was researching it and have seen nothing but good reviews. Have you heard anything about this ? Well anyway just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for the winter care tips! Much Love.

    • Most oils condition and moisturize locs for strength and softness. I would watch for oils with natural ingredients and essential oils mixed with carrier oils—olive, grapeseed, jojoba oil and others—for optimum conditioning properties.

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