New locs are exciting to have, but worrisome at times. The anticipation of waiting for the hair to loc up is a treacherous journey sometimes. Preoccupied about how long it will take to loc may overshadow some of the other obvious necessities in caring for baby locs.
The first day or so, they usually look very neat. Every one is in its own place and, if comb coils were used, they are very shiny and cylindrical. They appear to be off to a great start. But after a week or so, the comb coils begin to get fuzzy, and the definitive parts may begin to crawl together, making it hard to see each loc. Some people will be quick to find a remedy, inadvertently twisting the locs back into place, but for many, that idea hasn’t come across the mind.
Baby locs are like real babies, they fuss, but we can’t figure out what they need, so through trial and error, we try things and they may or may not like it and calm down. The locking journey is temperamental. Depending on the weather and how you are already feeling, they can be a joy to have or a frustration to deal with.
Here are some basics about baby locs/dreads:
Cleansing your hair. While it was often mistaken that those who have locs don’t wash their hair, there are a great many who, somewhere along the way, have been told or misinformed that they should not wash their hair until it locks up. The problem with that is that the locs can take any where from 6 months to one year to form and solidify and waiting that long to wash the hair is a great disservice to the overall health of the hair and scalp as well as the growth and formation of healthy locs.
How to clean baby locs. If you have had your locs started by comb coils or just by twisting the hair around your finger, these will require the most diligence and patience. Because they are made of a single coil, they are the easiest to unravel. If the hair is less than 3 inches long, this will also be a factor in how the locs can be cleaned. If you have just twisted a very short length of hair, it may be difficult to wash them because of the certainty of unraveling or loosening back into an afro.
For short comb coils/twists you can opt to use witch hazel or sea breeze (or a mix) on a cotton pad, and rub it across the scalp, gently. This will gently clean the scalp and surface while acting as an astringent, battling any abrasions and unclogging pores. The scalp will immediately feel refreshed, but you still may not be used to not immersing the hair in water, and soon the desire to wash will return. The second thing you can do is to cover baby locs with a stocking cap or snug wig cap. This will allow some of the shampoo to penetrate the cap and reach the scalp and hair without disturbing the locking pattern too much. There still may be a few casualties, but it wouldn’t be as terrible as just immersing all your coils into a stream of running water and watching all the work put into the locs disappear.
For locs created by braids or twists, if you have very tightly coiled hair, you may not need to do anything to the locs in order to clean them. Afterward, you would want to do some type of maintenance to manicure your locs, however. Braids and twists are often used on looser hair types, or for those who want more holding power than what comb coils can provide. But if you have loose hair and slipping is still a problem, you can braid and band your locs in order to clean them. Braiding and banding is done by gathering small sections of braids or twists, then braiding them altogether. To secure the ends, use a rubber band. Then proceed to clean the scalp and hair. The main focus is on cleaning the scalp, the shampoo with run down the length of the hair and still clean the rest of the hair, but the hair would not have to be manipulated, which can cause unraveling at times.
For locs created with a tool (Nappyloc tool, Latch Hook, Sisterlocks tool), slipping may be a problem even though the locs are formed creating a stitch of sorts. To clean this type of locs, braiding and banding would be appropriate.
While fuzz may not be a huge problem, it still may exist and for that, new locs can be tied down with a satin scarf or du rag to tame the coils and deter frizz as much as possible.
Baby Locs and scalp conditions. Often times we want to wear a style but may be apprehensive due to a scalp condition. But you can still wear locs, it would be a matter of choosing the right method of hair locking. To see what methods of hair locking is available, please read our Locked Hair Guide. Before you decide to loc, however, consult with a Physician and/or Dermatologist who can help you determine what type of style and products you will be able to use.
Loc Maintenance is important. Maintaining baby locs is key to encouraging the locking process. While neglect, which is also a true form of locking, can still rend locs, they may not be clean and healthy. (This is where the term “dreadful” came into play). Baby locs that have been comb coiled or twisted should be maintained at least twice a month for very short locs and once a month for longer lengths. The shorter the hair, the more likely the locs are to unravel as well. It isn’t always about the hair texture itself.
For braided, twisted and tool installed locs, they need to be maintained at least once a month. This may be more or less true for someone whose hair doesn’t grow rapidly or grows very quickly. Loc maintenance also depends on your desired overall look. If you prefer well manicured locs, with visible parts, etc, it is best to have them maintained at least every 4 weeks. If you don’t mind new growth, you can go longer, but more than 6 weeks can be counterproductive, causing locs to grow together, and would need to be popped or cut away from one another. This can lead to thin, weak roots.
Baby locs/dreads are definitely not a low maintenance or fuss free stage in locking, but the results are rewarding.