This week Loc’d Life talked to loctician Swazi Williams, a 30-year veteran of natural hair care in Chicago. There are many misconceptions on natural hair care, especially locs. Swazi helps set the record straight.
Tell me about yourself.
I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. Natural hair care is my passion. I come from a background of cosmetologists and barbers. I am very passionate about natural hair, and I know all about it.
How long have you worn locs?
I’ve worn them for nine years.
What is the best advice you can give for loc wearers?
Keep your locs moisturized, and keep them moist with natural oils. Moisture grows locs as well. Also eat the right foods to keep locs nurtured from the inside out.
When you mention natural oils, what are some of the best ones to use?
You can use oils as a base to make your own serums. Olive oil and sweet almond oil are good bases to use. Vitamin E, blackseed oil, and flaxseed oil are also good. Peppermint oil is good for stimulation, as it opens up the scalp. Nettle oil and neem oil (a vegetable oil from India) are also good oils to moisturize. Be careful with jojoba oil, as it tends to make locs hard. Be careful when using oils in general. Oils are somewhat of a chemical, too. Don’t overmix them, and some of them do not go together. If you feel tingling, you have too much of something. If you overwhelm yourself with too much oil, you develop dermatitis, which results in dandruff or scalp dermatitis.
What other things do you recommend?
Folic acid and magnesium needs to be sufficient in body to help hair grow as well. Hair is made of keratin and biotin. All the things that your hair is made of can be used as a support to make hair stronger.
Many of our readers have asked questions about hair loss. What advice can you give them?
Hair loss has to do with everything we put in our bodies. Everything you eat is not all good for you.
What types of hair loss have you seen?
I’ve seen patches—around the edges, top, middle, nape of hair, and the top where the soft spot is as a baby. Hair loss can be caused by an iron deficiency, and this type of hair loss will break off hair at the new growth—the strongest part of the hair, down to the scalp. That’s just hair breakage. With alopecia, the scalp starts to harden, a skin forms over the pores, and the pores close up. Hair just stops growing there. This can come from many things: genetics, heritage, harsh chemicals and nutritional imbalances. Alopecia can be a registered condition, but if you catch it soon enough, there’s a possibility that you can reverse the genetic result. If you know you have it, you can be proactive. You can supply your body with the nutritional deficiencies that may have been genetically inherited. The way to do that is to see a dermatologist so that you can have your blood drawn, and he or she can tell you the numbers of your deficiencies.
What causes hair loss?
Harsh chemicals, poor circulation, poor nutrition, not enough or too much fatty acids, not enough fiber, and not enough protein—all of these—can lead to hair loss. Stress, menopause, crash fad diets, hypothyroidism, parasites, heavy metal toxicity, like eating too much fish, which sometimes has high levels of mercury or copper, can also lead to hair loss.
I’ve heard that too-tight hairstyles can cause hair loss, too.
Hair has been pulled too tight can get pulled out of the pore. Hair is like a plan. Once you pull a plant up from the roots, there’s no more. But with nutrition, there’s a possibility it can grow back and start again.
What treatments can you recommend?
Eat well-rounded meals: whole grains, protein, beans, nuts, fish, legumes, and vegetables. If you are deficient in even one of the vitamins and nutrients—your hair can break off. Biotin promotes hair scalp and health and stops hair loss. Fruits, berries, figs, Vitamin C, citrus fruit—all are treatments, too. We also don’t realize the fatigue you feel when you may be iron-deficient or thyroid-deficient. Something’s wrong with the way our body is functioning, and we don’t pay attention to it. Our blood type is something to look at as well. You have to eat right according to your blood type. If you don’t eat right according to your blood type, all kinds of diseases can come to you.
As a loc wearer, what are the best hair practices?
Keep a regimen for loc maintenance. Locs need to be trimmed, as they naturally fray at the ends—away from the life source. A good regimen includes monthly maintenance and keeping them clean and moisturized with natural oils. Have a good diet, and avoid stressing them with tight hairdos and styles. Locs thrive when they have not been pulled and tugged on.
Swazi can be reached for loc maintenance, natural hair care and consulting by appointment. Call 773-301-2318. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Swazi runs a group online named Kinky Hair Confidence on Facebook, where you can join and share pictures and ask questions.