Sunday, December 26, 2010

Here are some pics of some of the styles I've been wearing to manage the frizz. I let my babies breath when I'm at home. Special thanks to my hubby for being an impromptu photographer. We're still working on lighting, I'm not dressed-up nor is my face done. It's just me chillin' at home on a Sunday!

Locs covered with knotted scarf. Check out my frizzy babies!  

Here's the knotted style I wrote about here.
Two skinny bands with flowers added and another view of the frizz.

Side view of the bands. Lots of loose hair at the edges.

Looking forward to my re-twist!

- kareen

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sixteen days loc'ing and I'm fully engaged! My hair is frizzy beyond belief but I'm loving it. There's something heady about letting go and trusting my hair to do its thang!

While I'm enjoying my babies and their messiness, I still need a pulled together look for work. I'm still rocking scarves and have added headbands and flowers. Nothing complicated but helps for work. I'll post pics this weekend of the looks. Like I said, nothing complicated :)

One of the scarf looks was inspired by quotidianlight on Youtube. The scarf tutorial I used starts at 11:43 but the entire video has great ideas. I just don't have the hair length to try the other suggestions yet!

In other news, still no itching!! Feeling blessed be this development. The witch hazel remains on stand-by. Just hoping to make it to my next appointment which I scheduled this week! Mid-January I'll be making the 3.5 hour trek for a wash and re-twist. So excited! I just love the energy in the salon and it's always nice to take a 'me' day.

Thanks for the feedback on the water spritzes. I added water to my hair oil and haven't regretted the move. I experience major shrinkage and I think the moisture contributed to the frizzies but that's part of the journey!

Just a brief update. Sending everyone blessed holiday wishes!

- kareen

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First, I would like to thank (and welcome!) all of my subscribers! I appreciate your comments, advice and support!

Soooo, I'm happily celebrating a week of loc'ing. Nothing appears to be happening other than flat hair. I find myself yearning for the frizzy stage just so I can enjoy some fullness. Wonder if I'll look back at that statement in a month and wonder if I was crazy. LOL! To help give the illusion of fullness, I've been rocking scarves to work.

I have been sticking to the recommended hair care maintenance regimen but my mind is wandering. Do you think I could add water to my oil mixture or even just spritz my hair with water alone? Locs thrive with water and perhaps the water will encourage my babies to fatten and frizz up! What do you think?

I'm also pleased to report NO ITCHING! *doing a little jig* I have the witch hazel on standby and am going to purchase the dry shampoo soon. I'll likely use that this week. I think keeping the locs covered when outdoors has helped. I'm thankful for my itching status because I have no desire to wash my own hair for fear of unraveling the starters. That'll have to wait for my next appointment in a couple of weeks.

So, should I water spritz or just let nature take its course?
- kareen

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So it's been four days and the loc babies are still holding up. I'm trying to remember that they're not actually babies, LOL! I'm so scared that I'm going to do something wrong. These feelings should pass soon...right?

The good thing is that I'm not playing in my hair; mostly wearing wraps. I haven't counted them yet because I'm hesitant to find out. I'm going through the occasional minor pangs of buyer's remorse. Perhaps they're too big? What if I don't like them as they mature? I quickly push those thoughts out of my head. I'm just curious to see how they develop.

Onto maintenance, when I left the salon, China gave me only two instructions to follow: wrap my hair at night with something non-cotton and to spritz with hair oil every other day or as my scalps needs.

Here are my essential items for this first (relatively easy and stress-free) phase of maintenance.

I wear a hanky at night to secure the locs. I also wear one when I'm hanging out at home.
This is the large head tie I use over the hanky at night. My locs aren't going anywhere!

I'm spritzing with Africa's Best hair oil. You can get it at Wal-mart for 1.99. For the ingredients included, they're giving this stuff away!
And that's it! I can handle these steps until my next appointment in a month.

Lastly here are some pics of my day 4 loc babies.

Lots of loose hairs!
The locs at the nape are frizzing up.

Big loc babies!
Thanks for reading!

- kareen

p.s. My sweet hubby just counted my locs and I have between 55 and 60. Not as worried about the size but it seems like most people are around 80+. I know. I know. I can't measure myself against others. And I'm not. It's just an observation. We'll see where this journey ends!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I had my locs installed today AND I LOVE them, my babies. I never truly understood why people called their starter locs "babies" but as my loctitian was finishing up, I realized that if I want loczurious locs, I have to treat these starters with care. They are the foundation for the next 5, 10, 15 years!

Let's start from the beginning.

I scheduled the appointment last week and was a bucket of nerves until I walked through the salon door today. In the days leading up to the appointment, I was a Youtube junkie watching hours and hours of loc videos. If you remember, I found my salon of choice, Rare Essence, in July. One of the deciding factors was their commitment to customer service. Four months later, that dedication to customer service remains intact. From scheduling to the end of the appointment, I was 200% pleased with the service I received. Nothing over-the-top; simply caring and respecting their clients.

My July consult was with Vela but she was booked today so the appointment was made with another loctitian. I won't lie, I was disappointed but December 9th was the only date in what's left of 2010 that I have free. Waiting until 2011 was out of the question; I wanted to start my journey NOW!

I wasn't sure who my loctitian would be until I sat in the chair. You can imagine my surprise when she introduced herself as China. Talk about my lucky day! Essence China Farmer is the owner of the salon and a celebrated loctitian. Besides that she is a leader in the natural haircare movement in Arizona and likely well-known across the country. Her story is inspiring and she shared it with me today. In short, she launched a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for the rights of natural hair stylists and won! You should read China's story.

So, in the end, I decided to start my locs with comb coils. I like the look and it's a sentimental - - comb coils were my wedding hairstyle five years ago. China asked what size locs I would like. Of course, I had my laptop ready with pics. Both my hubby and I like the look of thick locs. Not so thick that I can't style them but definitely not thin.

I mention my husband because he's part of the journey, too. He watches Youtube videos with me and he's been engaged in the process. I was sorry he couldn't join me today.

Regarding partings, China and I had corresponded via telephone in July when she answered some lingering questions I had. China reassured me that the salon only uses bricklayering. So today after confirming the loc size, there was nothing else to discuss and she began the process. Well, there was one request I had but didn't verbalize. I wanted diamond-shaped partings as well but no need to worry, China did that automatically. I didn't even have to ask! The joys of working with a professional.

Here we are just starting.

The installation took just over an hour and then I sat under the dryer. In all, it was a two hour visit. The cost? Not nearly as much as I predicted and that made the whole day even sweeter.

I'm done!

Here's a view of the back. . . love the parts!

Extreme close-up of the comb coils and another back shot.

The flat look will definitely take some getting used to. I'm going to enjoy this stage but I am looking forward to the fattening up of my babies. I just have to remember I'm beautiful no matter what's going on with my hair!

So, the trip to the salon is a trek: six hours round trip. Yes, I questioned my sanity. It's not only this trip either; I will return for maintenance. So, why not start them myself? Or have a friend start them?

Well, China answered those questions for me. When she finished, she handed me a mirror and said "Make sure you like the parts. Once your hair locs, those parts are forever."

And that's why I drove six hours today.

I probably could have muddled my way through the parts or walked a friend through a process but why? Loctitians are professionals and I respect their talent. The parts are important because they affect how the locs lay as they mature and they can make or break a style. More importantly, they determine the thickness of the locs. I didn't want to mess with that, ya know? So, I will drive three hours in another month for maintenance. One day I will transition to self-maintenance but until then I'll travel and I'm fine with that.

Here I am with China!

(On a side note, this picture highlights that my weight loss journey is not over. To read about that, check out my other blog here.)

Here I am with Vela!

I left with only a couple of instructions to follow. That's a good thing. I'll discuss them in another update. For now, I'm exhausted!

Thank you to the Rare Essence staff. It was a wonderful experience and in case you couldn't guess, I highly recommend their services!

Loc'ing and loving it,

- kareen

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This video has been making the rounds on FB and other natural hair blogs. Hopefully, as natural hair continues to move into the mainstream, black women who have been on the fence will take the 'plunge' and join the 'au naturel' movement.

Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

- kareen

p.s. in case you didn't catch it in the video, BC = big chop

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wow, time flies. My fellow blogger and friend, Adri, sent me this link via FB back in AUGUST. Um hello?! She thought it would be a great addition to my hair blogging and she was right. I loved it! (thanks, Adri!)

The video discusses bi-racial hair and starts with a dramatic rendering of a poem and ends with a panel discussion. The panel also discusses locs (yay!). I think the whole video merits a watch but if you want to jump to the panel section, it starts around 5:17.

Let me know what you think. . .

- kareen

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm in the middle of two-strand twisting my hair. It's a nightly ritual that I look forward to putting aside when I'm loc'd. I do enjoy my loose hair and my hubby can't stop complimenting me on how healthy and rich it looks. Here's a shot from my birthday.

 He's noticed that it looks better than the first time around and that's because there's just more information out there on how to have a healthy head of natural hair!

But with all that love comes more work. I re-twist every evening so that my hair doesn't mat together during the night. The length is still too short to leave the twists in as a protective style. In my next post, I'll go through my hair care ritual with products.

So back to loc'ing. As promised, below are the questions I asked the Rare Essence Studio salon. The owner, Ms. Essence China Farmer, called me herself and answered my questions on the telephone. It was a great conversation. Again, excellent customer service! Her responses are (paraphrased) in red.
1. I do not want traditional parts. Are you familiar with bricklayering? Can you bricklayer the parts to minimize how much scalp is showing?
We only offer brick layering parts. It minimizes the scalp showing and gives fullness to the hair.

2. If I start with interlocking, can I maintain with palm rolling? Yes!

3. With interlocking, will the locs have the cylindrical 'loc' shape? Yes they will have the cylindrical shape.

4 a) I would like larger locs, what is the best way to maintain them? Interlocking or palm rolling? You can maintain them with either method. 
4 b) I've seen a couple of videos on youtube where people indicate that with interlocking, the locs become thinner. Is this accurate? With interlocking the locs can appear thinner than when you palm roll.

5. What is the cost of interlocking to start? Does the fee start at $60 or is it $60/hour? The fee is $60/hour as interlocking to start is labour intensive. We do offer a time definite guarantee. If we quote you three hours and it takes five, we will only charge for three hours. Cool beans!
 Yes, the questions have 'NEWBIE' written all over them but hey, that's what I am! I'm even more comfortable with my decision to use this salon. They took the time to answer my concerns. Not only that but the owner called. I appreciate the thoughtfulness! It's going to be a pricey endeavour but I can't wait!

Back to twisting.

- kareen

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I celebrated another year of life this past Friday! And on that day, I discovered a pot of gold at the end of a 3.5 hour drive: Rare Essence Studio.

After my disappointing consult, I remained determined and continued searching for loctitians. In my search, I came across the website PhxSoul. It's a blog that promotes African American businesses in the Phoenix area. How perfect! Rare Essence Studio had an ad on the site and one click later, the rest is history!

With such a long drive, I wasn't sure if I wanted to make the trip for what might be another disappointing 10 minutes and on my birthday no less. But after my initial telephone conversation and one email response, I had a consult booked.

From that first conversation to the end of the consult, I received professional and courteous service. The receptionist, Joy, knew me by name when I walked through the door. Vela, the stylist with whom I had the appointment, asked all the right questions: what type of locs did I want, do I exercise regularly, what size locs do I want, how did I want to start my locs. There were more but I can't remember them. The first stylist didn't ask me any of these questions so Rare Essence was already a step ahead.

Then Vela proceeded to do something novel - she demonstrated the different techniques for starting locs on MY HAIR. I know, crazy, right? That was so helpful! Well, actually, it wasn't helpful because know I don't know which method to choose. Sigh.

From my answers to her questions, she recommended three options: two strand twists  (definitely no), comb coils (definite maybe) or interlocking (also a maybe and I didn't even know that was possible!). I had my trusty Flip with me so I have video of the techniques but I still can't decide.

I like the look of comb coils and that's how I want to start; however, I do exercise regularly. Interlocking will allow me the flexibility to rinse/wash my hair frequently without worrying about the starter locs unraveling. On that note, it's only a myth that you don't wash locs. Locs thrive when wet! In the beginning, just be prepared for longer re-twisting sessions as your starters may come undone.

I digress.

So now I'm researching the interlocking starter method. I have a few questions that I've emailed to Rare Essence Studio. Once I get answers, I'll share the conversation with you.

How did you start your locs? How did you make that decision? Please share!

Loc love,

- kareen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Thursday evening I was so excited I could barely sleep! My first step towards obtaining locs was only mere hours away. After a three hour trek, we arrived in the 'big city' and I headed straight to the salon for my consult.

During my initial conversation with the loctitian, we set up a tentative meet-up time of between 9 - 10 am. She indicated that I should contact her when I got into town which I did at 9:00. I was surprised when she returned my call at 9:30 to say she would be stepping out until 11 am. Fortunately I was at the salon door when I received that call and she was able to see me before she left. I can't lie; that interaction left me a little...sour. We selected the agreed upon time based on her schedule. And while I understand that the consult was free, we had set an appointment and she was willing to throw off my day by an hour! And besides, I would have paid for her time as I think it's important to have a good rapport with your loctitian. I don't want to have to start my locs multiple times because I don't like the work or the products used.

The salon was clean and the person who greeted me was helpful. Good first impressions here. The loctitian herself was nice and I didn't necessarily feel rushed so that was good. I have soft hair so I expect that it will take longer to loc but I know it's possible. For my wedding five years ago, my hair was styled in comb coils which remained intact/neat for three days. On my honeymoon, I removed them over the course of a couple of days. On that fifth day, those coils  were near impossible to comb out! The ones in the back had already started loc'ing!

Anyhoo, the loctitian confirmed the fact that I have soft hair and recommended that I start with synthetic hair extensions. In addition to helping my hair loc, the synthetic hair would help me avoid the starter/teen loc phases aka the 'ugly' phase.


I didn't mention wanting to avoid the 'ugly' phase. And if I had, I would hope that human hair would be recommended.  Truth be told, I had initially considered loc extensions. So, I have nothing against them. I chose not to pursue that path for two reasons:

1. COST! Loc extensions with human hair start at $300; and
2. I want thicker locs but don't want bulky extensions pulling on my hair. They would likely slide out anyway.

When I inquired about other options for starter locs, the loctitian mentioned any other option would require a lot gel which would lead to flaking. Not a good look. My previous experience with comb coils didn't require a lot product and I never experienced flaking. She returned to the synthetic hair extension option and provided anecdotal examples of clients who are currently using this method. She warned that if I didn't cut the extensions out at the right time they would become part of my permanent locs. Human hair I could live with but synthetic hair mixed with my natural hair? Not so much.

In the end, she reassured me that she could get my hair to loc no matter what. I respect her talent and opinion but this isn't a relationship that I am going to pursue. We're not a match.

I was disappointed but not deterred. I continue my search. In the meantime, I'll continue rocking loose natural!

- kareen

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Call me excited! I have my first consult booked with a loctician! It's going to be a quickie at 10 to 15 minutes and it's a three hour drive to get there but I'm still stoked. The distance doesn't bother me; that's just the reality of living in my little town as a black woman. Hair care will require a lengthy trip no matter what style I choose to rock. Love my city but understand it's limitations.

To be honest, the consult is a side trip and not the purpose of the three hour drive. . .this time. I am heading into the "big" city with co-workers for a shopping day next Friday and was able to convince them to agree to stopping by a hair salon for my purposes :) How nice!

I have one more loctician to visit going 3 hours in the other direction. If I'm pleased with this week's consult, I may not bother making the other visit. I'll post my review when it's all said and done!

- kareen

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I recently visited NYC for a business trip and had the fortune to have enough time to walk around Manhattan for an afternoon. I am working towards starting locs so i'm always on the lookout  for a loc'd head of hair.

Well that Manhattan afternoon I found myself surrounded by loc'd lovelies! Sisterlocks, free formed, manicured, small, thick, baby and mature locs whirled around me. Loose natural and relaxed hair, too. Truthfully, it was great to see such diversity. I've been missing it lately as I live in a small town.

The NYC trip was for business and I was with my boss. I wasn't free to stop and talk with the loc'd lovelies I encountered but just being around them was motivating. While I at the airport I did have an opportunity to speak with a mother/daughter loc'd duo. They recommended a loctician in one of the large cities near me. I now have two recommendations and I'm comfortable enough with my hair length to start the process.

So it's time to consult!

I'm excited!

- kareen

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So, I thought a brief hair history would be an appropriate first blog update. Here we go. . .

Earlier this year, in a moment of sheer frustration with my hair ironically, it struck me that 2010 will mark 10 years since I have applied a chemical relaxer (texturizer included) to my hair.

First, I can't believe I'm old enough to remember anything from a decade ago! Second, it's kind of a cool milestone. I was fortunate enough to have the support of my natural-haired friend, Kimberly, and of my then boyfriend now husband while I transitioned. Seven to eight months later I look the plunge and did the big chop (BC - cutting of one's chemically relaxed hair leaving a teeny weeny afro or TWA). What a cathartic experience!

I am thankful that I worked in an artistic environment where expression of personal style was encouraged. As a fledging natural, I don't know if I could have survived the transition period in a traditional corporate environment. My confidence grown, I'm now proud to rock natural hair in my now traditional corporate position.

What's also great are the number of resources available now to assist with transitioning and maintaining natural hair. Youtube is just. . . awesome. Like, really, awesome! While you can't trust all the information provided, combined with your own research, Youtube has proven, for me, to be invaluable. My current fave Youtuber is Kimmaytube. Be sure to check her out!

I got a second BC in May 2006 but this time the goal was to revel in a super short TWA complete with fade. Those three years served to increase my confidence even further. It's not just a hairstyle. Living natural, in all its stages and forms, is not the norm and bucks societal trends. You can't help but feel confident, powerful and sexy all at the same time!

In August 2009, I started to grow my hair with the intention of loc'ing, i.e. dreadlocks. That's the last natural hairstyle I have to try so I'm going for it!

Hmm. Who knew a ten year journey could be summarized in 5.5 paragraphs?

Stayed tuned. The journey continues.

- kareen

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