In 2009, I made the big chop and started growing my dreadlocks from a very short afro. I knew absolutely nothing about natural hair and was completely terrified about maintaining my new hair. I had so many questions and I really couldn’t find the answers online. Today, I know those answers and more. I’ve compiled a list of a few tips that are essential for growing healthy dreadlocks. The list I wish I'd had!
1. FIND A GOOD LOCKTICIAN
This is so important especially in your beginning stages of growing locs. You want a locktician that can give you great advice and recommend healthy products. If you’re cutting off the last of your perm and going natural so that you can start locking, or if you are twisting your already natural hair, please have a real conversation about your hair objectives and your desired look with with your potential new stylist prior to them twisting your hair. Make sure you feel comfortable with her or him, and get a sense of how knowledgeable they really are about dreadlocks. For example, a good locktician will share small but important details like: the size of your initial twists is a good indication of the width of your final locs.
2. MASSAGE YOUR SCALP
Not only is it very relaxing, but it also stimulates hair growth. You’d be surprised how the simple act of gently massaging your hair at night for about 5 minutes, will really help you achieve the beautiful locs you desire.
3. DON'T RETWIST YOUR HAIR TOO MUCH
We all like the fresh look of a retwist, but if done too often it can start to create breakage and thinning at the root. Look around for new, chic hairstyles that you can tryout to stay in love with your hair in between retwists—it's the perfect time to experiment with your look.
4. PRACTICE NIGHT CARE
Just like with any other hairstyle, sleeping with a night scarf (a silk wrap to avoid breakage) is so important. Locs tend to shed a lot, and protecting your edges and your scalp is crucial. A silk night cap helps keep the moisture in your hair and scalp, as well as protect your hair from pillow friction. Make a practice of never going to sleep without protecting your hair.
5. BE PATIENT
By far the hardest lesson I’ve learned when dealing with my hair. This isn’t a process that will happen overnight. Locking your hair is a journey and it’s a little different for each person. Some people's hair locs faster than others. Thicker hair tends to lock faster. My hair started to lock in the middle and worked its way to the end. The good thing is that if you nurture and take good care of your hair then the growth will come. It really will. Don’t get discouraged. If you have any questions about locs or natural hair tweet @ebonymag with the hashtag #naturalhair.
Good luck on your journey.