Ask the Loctician

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.

swazi adWhen 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.

licenseboxWhat 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 Swazi runs a group online named Kinky Hair Confidence on Facebook, where you can join and share pictures and ask questions.

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

The Golden Age of Locs


Here’s more proof that locs have arrived—big time.

Take a look at the new ad campaign by Loc-A-Fella. It features high glam and natural hair—two arenas that for the first time are brought together.

locafella-image1The ad campaign features a multi-hued group of young African-Americans, living it up on the town featuring locs and mighty ‘fros. In one ad, the group is elegantly dining. In another, a brother with long locs in a tuxedo emerges from a limousine.  He, too, is shown dining with a woman with a ‘fro.  In yet another ad, a natural hair queen overlooks an urban landscape in a sequined gown. The tag line: Be King.

Finally, an image of what locs are and could be.


The ads were launched in last month’s VIBE magazine. Says Ru-El, a representative, “Loosely based around the worldwide state visits of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie during his reign, the campaign imagines the modern-day visit of a youthful, thirty something Emperor and his diplomatic entourage. Positioning women as his Chief of Staff and immediate advisors, the campaign seeks to also communicate a sense of pride about our history and an understanding of parity and equality between the sexes.”

tumblr_n1bm89xe6B1qhomn5o1_500New York Beacon Digital calls the ads, “a move that has clearly changed the direction of haircare marketing.” The advertising agency of record is New York-based Cirqus6. The Loc-A-Fella line features a Eucalyptus Shampoo, a moisturizing conditioner, a Reflections Sheen Spray, Loc Drops Anti-Itch Scalp Conditioner,  a loc and twist butter and gel.

I think that this is just the beginning of images of locs that help elevate and educate. Locs are more than a just a style of rebellion. Locs and natural hair are sophistication, elegance, and a reference to our days as kings and queens. Kudos to Loc-A-Fella on their campaign. Let the gilded age begin!


What do you think of the ads? Write a comment here.

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

Loc Q&A : Thinning locs

iStock_000023235882smallDear Loc’d Life,

In April, I will celebrate my 2 year loc anniversary! I am so excited. For the most part, my locs are doing well. However, in the last couple of months, I have noticed some thinning in the back. One of my locs was so thin at the root that I cut it off (perhaps this was a mistake). The front and sides of my hair are fine. The back of my head has always been thin compared to the front and middle. I believe that my thinning is due to my natural hair texture and constantly rodding my locs.

I have never dyed or did a lot of updos or ponytails. My loctictian has combined several locs in the back to strengthen the roots. I need advice on how to proceed until my back strengthens.

Any suggestions? Should I add extensions to strengthen the root, cut off the weak locs and start again, or do nothing and just wait for my hair to strengthen? Thanks in advance!

Thinning locs are an issue everyone faces at some point. This can result from overstress —yes rodding, especially at the root does weaken and thin locs at the roots—starting them too thin at the beginning, or the weak spots that develop from dryness and friction—not tying locs up at night or by rubbing up against hostile scarves or collars. I know from time to time, the nape of my neck suffers from breakage for this reason alone.

You’ve already done what can be done: going to a loctician. He or she has already combined locs to strengthen them. Your loctician may also opt to wrap extension hair around the roots to thicken them.

Give your locs a rest. Stay away from rodding. Stay away from too frequent retightening sessions. Stay away from too-tight hairstyles, such as ponytails and other styles. Let them rest. Should you need to curl your locs, another safer way of getting curly locs is to braid them while wet. Part your locs into sections and braid them when wet. Once absolutely dry, unbraid them and you have a head full of curls. Watch out from doing even this too often as it can add stress to already thinning locs.

You can also get proactive and use regular conditioning treatments that strengthen.

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Hair Mask, Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque, or other deep conditioners will work wonders for your locs. Hot oil treatments also work. Using thickening oils such as Jamaican Black castor oil can also help. Black castor oil helps thicken hair edges, so it will stimulate growth at the root. It’s also important to oil your scalp, as your locs’ health starts at the roots.

Happy loc anniversary! Keeping your locs healthy will guarantee great anniversaries to come.

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

Loc moisture fixes for winter’s last hurrah (hopefully!)


It’s been a long and cold winter. Loc’d Life is sending out these product tips to help your locs through the last few weeks of winter’s drying effects. Hopefully this will usher in spring… 🙂

  1. Long locs updo hairstyleOjon damage reverse™ restorative hair treatment Restorative Hair Treatment. I use this product often. I put it on right after I towel dry my hair. I also put it on in the mornings for a soft hair refresher and moisturizer. Wet or dry, it works. It does help retain moisture in my locs. And I love the woodsy smell…
  2. Jane Carter Solution Hair Nourishing Cream. This cream repairs dry locs and a little goes a long way. Put it on overnight and wear a satin scarf. In the morning, you’ll be greeted with softer locs.
  3. Organic Root Stimulator Incredibly Rich Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion. Yes, this works on locs too! Squeeze it out and rub it in all the way, allowing it to penetrate each loc. This was my first moisturizer when I started my locs. My loctician even mixed this in with Twist and Lock Gel, also from Organic Root Stimulator, as she tightened up my new growth.
  4. Shea Radiance Nourishing Hair Cream.  This creamy leave-in conditioner with shea butter, avocado and coconut oils, contains natural proteins that soften and strengthen. This is a rich concoction for your locs to help fight off dryness.

Dryness is one of the biggest issues your locs face. These products will help you keep them moisturized.

And, we hope you enjoyed our Black History month of profiles. If you missed any, scroll backwards as you read through them. Stay tuned to Loc’d Life as we help you make history with your winning style.

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

Celebrating Loc Black History 4: Franklyn Ajaye

laughstore_2228_81063088In our final Black History installment, we celebrate stand-up comedian Franklyn Ajaye; comedian, actor, writer, and musician.

The Brooklyn-born star was raised in Los Angeles. Enticed by the laughter, he dropped out of law school to pursue stand-up comedy.

The comedian first made his TV network debut on the The Flip Wilson Show in 1973, and hasn’t looked back since. He did subsequent appearances on all the major talk shows including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Letterman, Arsenio, and Leno. He has recorded five comedy albums.

As an actor, he has appeared in the films Car Wash, Convoy, Stir Crazy, and Bridemaids. He is best known for is role as T.C. “The Fly” in Car Wash. (He had a ‘fro back then.) Behind the scenes, he has written for In Living Color and Politically Incorrect. Finally, he is known as the Jazz Comedian for his excellent clarinet-playing skills. Once while on stage, he joked on his playing of the instrument, “It’s amazing what you can do after a breakup.”

Ajaye has also written the book, Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-up Comedy. It is a how-to book on the technique of doing stand-up comedy.

Keenan Ivory Wayans calls Ajaye “the Miles Davis of comedy.” He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. He periodically returns to the U.S. for club appearances, specials, and TV performances.

I hope you enjoyed the four profiles done on Black History made with locs. We truly have achieved and arrived.

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

Celebrating Loc Black History 3: Lalah Hathaway

lalah-hathawayR&B and jazz has known few voices as unique as Lalah Hathaway.

The daughter of R & B great Donny Hathaway has made her own name in music in her own way. She was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 16, 1968 to father Donny and mother Eulaulah Hathaway, also an accomplished vocalist. As a 10th grader, she first started writing music. In 1989, Hathaway signed with Virgin Records and released her first song, “ Inside the Beat”. She recorded her first album, entitled, Lalah Hathaway, as a student at Berklee College of Music. Her debut released the hit single, “Heaven Knows.”

A host of albums later, including a cover of Luther Vandross’ “Forever, For Always, For Love”, shows that her alto and contralto voice continues to have a smooth sound and large following. Her longest singing note was on this performance, holding a note for 17 seconds. She is also an accomplished producer and songwriter.

When asked about her rich legacy in music with father Donny Hathaway, she responded, “I am his daughter and that’s the truth of who I am, everyday. When I was 15, and ten, 20, I didn’t get why people were asking me how I felt about him and his music. But when I turned 25, I began to understand. Like my father, I want to leave a legacy of music that makes people really feel something, whether it be happiness, sadness, grief or heartache. I also want them to appreciate my humor which I know can be difficult to interpret in a song.”

This year she won a Grammy for Best R&B performance with her own cover of “Something “ with Snarky Puppy. Her unique performance, including her unique ability of singing two notes at the same time, earned her the Grammy nod.

Throughout her career, her music and her locs have taken center stage. Her signature curly look is as much an ambassador for locs as her voice is for jazz and R&B.

Check out this video of her Grammy-winning performance. You will see how Lalah Hathaway beat the year’s best contenders. Here’s to Lalah Hathaway, a singer who makes Black history every time she sings a note.

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

Celebrating Loc Black History 2

274311.1020.AIn this issue of Loc’d Life, we continue our Black History Month celebration with boxer Lennox Lewis. Lewis is considered by many to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time.

Lennox Claudius Lewis was born on September 2, 1965 in West Ham, England. At birth, he weighed 10 pounds and 10 ounces. Lennox moved to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada at age 12.

He decided on boxing early on and won the world junior amateur title in 1983. He fought for the gold in the Olympics twice, ultimately winning in the 1988 Summer games. He went professional and moved back to England. There he fought several fights as he rose in rank. He won the European heavyweight title in 1990. In 1991, he won the British title, and in 1992, won the Commonwealth title. He then became the top five world heavyweight.

In 1992, Lewis knocked out Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in two rounds, making him the number one contender for Riddick Bowe’s world heavyweight title. Bowe refused to face Lewis and held a press conference to dump his title in the garbage can and relinquish it. In December 1992, the World Boxing Commission named Lewis its top champion. He defended the belt three times.

He lost the title to Oliver McCall, but later regained the title. Lewis went on to fight boxing greats such as Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. The bout with Tyson was the highest grossing pay-per-view events in the U.S. at the time. Lewis held the title of Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion in April 2000. Lewis retired from boxing in February 2004. In 2008, Lewis was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, Lewis was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Lewis is one of three boxers in history to have won the heavyweight championship three times. Lewis retired with an impressive record of 41 wins – 2 losses – 1 draw, 32 wins by knockout.

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

Celebrating Loc Black History


Sam: Molly, you’re in danger.

Oda Mae Brown: You can’t just blurt it out like that! And quit moving around, because you’re starting to make me dizzy. I’ll just tell her in my own way.

[pause; then]

Oda Mae Brown: Molly, you in danger, girl.

—From the movie, Ghost


It’s February again, the beginning of African American History Month, and Loc’d Life is celebrating it by highlighting famous loc’d heroes and heroines.

In this post, we celebrate Whoopi Goldberg, co-host and moderator of the daytime show, The View. She is also known for her role as Celie in The Color Purple. She was the charlatain medium Oda Mae Brown, who discovered her real psychic powers in Ghost. She was the wisecracking nun in Sister Act. She was serious as a maid who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in The Long Walk Home.

Little known facts about Ms. Goldberg include her real name, Caryn Elaine Johnson. She was raised in the Chelsea-Elliot Houses, a housing project in New York City. Her stage name is inspired by the whoopee cushion. (She states, “If you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go. So people used to say to me, ‘You’re like a whoopee cushion.’ And that’s where the name came from.”) She was inspired into show business by the television show Star Trek—in particular seeing Nichelle Nichols in her role as Uhura. A young Goldberg exclaimed, “Momma! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!”

Funny, outspoken, and sometimes controversial, Goldberg has made history as one of the few entertainers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and in the 1990s, was the highest paid woman in film.

sidebarGoldberg is a tough act to follow. She has earned two Academy Award nominations for The Color Purple and Ghost, winning for her role in Ghost as Best Supporting Actress. She is the second African American woman to do so. She is the winner of the 1985 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person show for her solo performance on Broadway. She has received eight Daytime Emmy nominations, winning two; five non-daytime Emmy nominations; three Golden Globe nominations, winning two; a Grammy award; a Tony award as a producer for Thoroughly Modern Millie; three People’s Choice awards; five American Comedy Awards, winning two; named an honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters; and is the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.

Goldberg is also an activist, championing human rights on several fronts. She won the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Vanguard Award for her continued work in supporting the gay and lesbian community.

Goldberg exemplifies individuality and is a loc ambassador each and every weekday on The View. Her locs help celebrate a new way for many to “enjoy the view”. For those who say that locs have arrived, look to Goldberg as living proof.

Don’t miss next week’s post as we continue celebrating Black history!

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


The 10 best foods for locs

infinite-black-and-whiteYou are what you eat.

This year, vow to be whole. What better way to do so than to start to nourish your locs from within. Here are the top ten foods for your hair for growth, strength, and overall hair health.

1. Salmon For strong hair, try salmon. It’s rich in protein and vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, which the body needs to grow hair. Omega-3s are also in the natural oils of your scalp for hydration.

2. Walnuts These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Walnuts also have copper, a mineral that helps keep your natural hair color rich and lustrous. One way to eat walnuts: try walnut oil on your salad.

3. Oysters Oysters are rich in zinc, a lack of which can lead to hair loss (even in your eyelashes), as well as a dry, flaky scalp. Three ounces has a whopping 493% of your daily value. You can get some zinc through fortified cereals and whole grain breads, but oysters can boast a good level of protein too.

4. Sweet Potatoes Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. It also helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp, and being low on vitamin A can even leave you with itchy dandruff.

5. Eggs A great source of protein, eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron. Iron is especially important, because it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, and too little iron (anemia) is a major cause of hair loss, particularly in women.

6. Spinach The iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.

7. Lentils Tiny but mighty, these legumes are teeming with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, making it a great staple for vegetarian, vegans, and meat eaters.

8. Greek yogurt Cruise the dairy aisle for low-fat options such as Greek yogurt, which is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid — an ingredient you’ll often see on hair care product labels), and vitamin D. Emerging research links vitamin D and hair follicle health, but exactly how that works isn’t clear.

9. Blueberries Exotic super fruits may come and go but when it comes to vitamin C, it’s hard to top this nutrient superhero. C is critical for circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.

10. Poultry This everyday entree is extraordinary when it comes to protein, as well as hair-healthy zinc, iron, and B vitamins to keep strands strong and plentiful. Because hair is nearly all protein, foods rich in protein are literally giving you the building blocks for hair.

Source: Web MD.

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

More top loc tips for 2014



It’s a new year, and here’s Loc’d Life best tips for locs for 2014.

  1. Mix it up. Variety is the spice of life this year. Vow to try different styles in 2014. Braid outs, updos, maybe even adding a little color (permanent or temporary with some yarn or colored loc pieces) are all in order this year. Don’t be a plain Jane.
  2. Care for them. Don’t slip up with your regular routine. Make sure you oil your locs regularly, and tie them up at night to prevent dryness, thinning and breakage.
  3. Research them. Be on the lookout for new information all the time. Talk with your loctician. Read Loc’d Life.
  4. Take pride in them. 2014 is the year for locs. Wear them with pride.
  5. Nurture them. Drink water for moisture. Eat lots of salmon and omega-3-rich foods to grow hair and to retain moisture. Eat carrots for vitamin A to maintain oils in your scalp.  Oysters for zinc (A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss, and zinc prevents a dry, itchy scalp). Get your vitamins from whole foods.

Don’t forget these tips in 2014!

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