Niyya’s Loc Journey


IMG_0061My loc journey started off a bit unconventional. After a few weeks of having two strand twist in my hair. I decided to leave them in indefinitely. I know that’s not super exciting but that’s all there really is to it. Sorry no deep philosophical story this time.

Now this was back in 2005 and the Natural Hair Movement hadn’t quite caught on yet. Well at least not in my world. So I stumbled through my journey without YouTube, natural hair events or meetup groups to support me in my transition.  Not to mention that there certainly weren’t any natural hair salons in the small rural town of New Paltz, NY where I was attending school.

So, I was on my own. There was one thing I did know. If I didn’t comb my hair it would eventually loc. I figured that was good enough for me and I went about things the way I handle most other things in my life. Doing what feels right and moving foreword.

At first my family wasn’t very supportive. The only person who really even took me seriously was mom. She just couldn’t understand why I would want to loc my hair. Through most of my transition she would ask,  “Is it supposed to look that way.”  My boyfriend at the time said he was cool with me loc’ing my hair but once he saw I was serious he would walk around he the house saying, “I can’t believe this girl loc’d up her pretty pretty hair”  Imagine  hearing this  repeatedly in a Guyanese accent. Then there’s my grandmother, to this day she doesn’t understand what’s going on with my head.

None-the-less, I pictured myself like a young Toni Morison or Sonia Sanchez.  Yea my locs were here to stay. Only they weren’t quite locs yet.

It took my hair almost a year to fully loc and they mostly just looked like frizzy twist with curls on the end. I would get defensive when people would compliment me saying, “I like your curls.”
“They’re not curls they’re  locs damnit!”

Ok, I wouldn’t actually say that but uhhh it felt like it took FOREVER!

Sportin' my one month old two twist. October 2005

Sportin’ my one month old two twist. October 2005 Million More March, Washington DC

I washed my hair way too soon. So my two strand twist slipped forming knots. I just couldn’t bare the idea of not washing my hair with good ol’ fashion soap and water. Dry wash and witch hazel just didn’t cut it for me. I’ll admit I may have gotten carried away with the scrubbing. But you know how good it feels when that water hits your scalp. Don’t judge me.

Once I even sprayed fresh lemon juice in my hair because someone told me that lemon juice would make my hair loc up faster.  When it really just made my hair sticky and dirty, attracting eternal lint.

The loc transition had its ups and down. Honesty most of the time I looked crazy but good thing for me I was in undergrad and; most of my peers looked just as crazy. Going to class in pajamas and what-not.

Even once my hair was fully loc’d the ends still seemed resistant. No doubt this was due to years of heat damage from straightening my hair. So one day I just started snipping and I trimmed off all my straight ends. Once my hair was fully loc’d I tried I few hair products that claimed to be made specifically for locs. I didn’t like any of them. What I learned was that the best thing for my hair would be what had always been good from my hair, a good lathering shampoo, clean rinsing conditioner and simple hair grease.

I’ve never been a fan of hair gels and I’m still not a fan of gels. People always want to know, what I put in my hair. What will make it grow faster or loc faster. The realty is that all you need to grow locs is water and time. That’s it. Everything else is just extra.

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About three years into my loc journey I got the urge for color so I treated my self to a salon visit and colored my whole head a bronzy brown. I loved the color but hated how it made my hair feel. My locs felt like straw. They were so dry I was afraid they would burst into flame if I stood in the sun! Ok, I’m being a bit dramatic but I decided that would be the last time I would color my hair and I havn’t colored it since.

Eight years of locs and they continue to grow now reaching my tailbone and I’m loving every minute of it. I love the feeling of my locs on my back and knowing that every inch of the hair on my head is 100% naturally mine. The endless styling options keep things interesting. It’s an amazing journey to be on and I wouldn’t give it for the world.