What a loctician can do for your locs


Blend Images/Trinette Reed

Yes, I know. Part of the reason you went natural was to break free of the beauty shop routine. Yet it seems that you’re “loc’d” in another routine altogether in the loctician’s chair. You may not go as often as you did when you had relaxed hair, but as new growth comes in, special occasions, or for other reasons, you seem to spend about the same amount of time in one sitting as you did before locs.

Many other bloggers have proclaimed their freedom from the salon by doing their locs themselves. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. My arms get tired from trying to twist and turn, using a latchhook (as my locs are tightened by using locstitching), or just plain holding them up.

Why use a loctician? For their expertise. Yes, I know the techniques. You may know some, too. Even so, just remembering how tired my arms feel from doing myself makes me do a beeline to the loctician’s chair.

Here are a few good reasons to go to a loctician:

A good loctician will assess the condition of your locs, Are your locs dry? What’s your natural hair type? (See last week’s post.) Are you missing something in your routine or in your diet? A loctician has seen it, been there, and done that. He or she will know what is needed for your hair type.

A good loctician will provide professional and low-risk performance of services. Coloring locs is no easy process and inherent with risk. Starting locs is also something that locticians do best, as they know your hair type and know when to do palm rolling, locstitching, backcombing or other methods. A loctician will get your locs off to their best start.

Locticians are style doctors. Your loctician is your natural hair guide to styles you haven’t ever thought of before. Want to do something different for the office or that party coming up? A loctician is who you would ask.

A loctician is your beauty supply hookup. Looking for the right products for your routine? Just ask. Their expertise can guide you to the right shampoo, conditioner, or natural oil. If he or she doesn’t share, it may be a legitimate reason to move on.

If going to a loctician very often is expensive for you, here are some options:

Go for loc starts and maintenance only. Get your consultation from your loctician when you start your locs. Go every 4-6 weeks (or for some 6-8 weeks) for a loc maintenance for the new growth. Shampoo and condition yourself, and go to resources like Loc’d Life on how to care for your locs in between visits.

Oil your locs and wrap them up at night. These two parts of your loc care regimen help keep your locs looking their best between visits. Both help keep dryness—the number one enemy of locs—at bay.

Remember, your loctician is your guide for the journey. It helps to have someone to lead and guide you along the way throughout the process.

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

Does your hair type match your loc maintenance method?

Smiling Woman With Blond DreadlocksThere are many ways to start and maintain locs. There’s palm rolling, interlocking/loc stitching, braiding, two-strand twists, backcombing, and freeform.

For loc maintenance, the most popular methods continue to be palmrolling, and locstitching.

But how do you determine which method is best for your hair type if your just starting out with locs? And if you already have your locs, which method works best to maintain your new growth?

For me, my unlocked, natural hair is wavy. Palm rolling would probably not work for me. So my loctician (who at the time was Swazi, see a previous post) used the lockstitch method. Others have more curly, tightly coiled hair, so palm rolling will work.

It all comes down to your hair type (and of course your lifestyle—active, swimmers, etc.) The following chart, developed by famed Oprah hairstylist Andre Walker shows that each of us has a specific hair type, and that hair type correlates to the type of loc method used.


Type 1: Straight

This is mostly found in mostly Caucasian hair textures. Those with this texture hair may need the most adhering loc methods and products. Backcombing with a good dread wax works best.

Type 2: Wavy

This texture comes in three types: 2A, 2B, and 2C. (My texture as described above falls into this category). A more interwoven method works best for loc starts and maintenance.  A loc stitch, where a latching needle is used to interweave parted hairs into a crochet type pattern, works best for this hair type. Hair stays put and is already “loc’d” so that it will have the opportunity to so in time. This method is also great for active lifestyles that require frequent shampoos.

Type 3: Curly

For this hair type, hair is more tightly formed into a curl. Interlocking works well with this hair type, as it is still relatively straighter than Type 3 hair textures and can still be easily combed through. Interlocking/loc stitching also works with this looser hair type. Braids, two-strand twists will also work over time.

Type 4: Coily

This is usually the coarse, tightly coiled hair that easily tangles. A variety of methods work best with this hair type. Palm rolling and freeform locing will work. Braids, two-strand twists, and loc stitching will all work. Locs are formed faster.

Keep in mind that with all natural hair, we will have a variety of hair types on one head. The front may be a Type 3 and the back can be a Type 4.

There you have it: a guide to the natural textures that make up natural hair before it’s loc’d. Remember, a consultation with a loctician will best help determine which method works for you.

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

Loc hot oil treatment guide


Many swear by hot oil treatments as the best conditioner for locs. When battling dryness, oil and water do mix when it comes to quenching your dry, thirsty locs.

Many have written on what oils to use, how often to do a hot oil treatment, and why you should do one. Locs love natural oils. Olive oil is by far one of the closest oils to our natural sebum. It is also the most economical for the amount you’ll need, especially if your locs are long. Here in a nutshell is how to do a hot oil treatment:

  1. Do a hot oil treatment after a shampoo. For shampooing, I highly recommend a castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s Organic Castile Liquid Soap. This soap lathers quickly without buildup, and it’s gentle.
  2. After rinsing, towel dry.
  3. Gently warm a generous amount of olive oil by placing the oil in a bottle and immersing it in hot water to heat. I have read that microwaving rids the oil of its nutrients.
  4. Saturate your damp locs with the warmed oil from scalp to tip. Make sure that your locs are well saturated.
  5. swazi adThere are a few ways to let the heat do its thing:

o   Do it naturally with body heat. Wrap your locs with a plastic cap (or bag if a cap won’t work) and let it sit for at least thirty minutes.

o   Use a hooded dryer. Wet a towel with hot water, and wring it out so it is not dripping. Wrap your locs with the towel and sit under a hooded dryer for 10-15 minutes.

o   Steam your locs with a steamer. The process of opening up your hair cuticle to moisturizing oils will leave you with softer locs.

  1. Rinse well. Do a good water rinse to remove the excess oil.
  2. Shampoo again at this point if there is still too much oil. Again, castile soaps are best because they don’t strip your hair while cleansing. They are oil-based as well.

That’s it. Many will see their locs shine after a hot oil treatment. They will be softer. Your scalp will also benefit by adding the right amount of moisture.

How often should you do one? You can do it as part of your regular regimen once a month. Some may do it after every other shampoo. If your locs are color-treated or dryness is a constant issue, hot oil treatments are the cure.

Can you use other oils? Yes. Castor oils have been known to increase the luster of hair. Coconut oil is also good for a hot oil treatment. Avocado oil works well, too.

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

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 swazime@yahoo.com. 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