Lint in locs is unavoidable…it doesn’t mean you did something wrong. But there are some things you can do differently. Here are a few… Let’s face it…it doesn’t seem to matter how well you try to maintain your locs — lint happens! This is especially […]
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Since returning to being a loose Natural after 11 years of being loc’d, I am rediscovering different things to do with my hair and ways to wear it out and about, to work, and in various other daily activities.
I think of myself as a simple loose Natural. Meaning, I don’t fuss with my hair a lot and I usually keep one style for the week. I don’t do too much to it beyond a daily moisture spritz & seal to prep and wrap it before bedtime.
The K.I.S.S. Method to Natural Hair Maintenance
In essence, I use the K.I.S.S. method when it comes to my natural hair regime. (I have a little more fun on the weekends though).
So I was intending to put it up in a chignon last night but stopped short of that when I glanced in the mirror and caught a side profile of my full-out Afro puff in all of its glory. And the look actually gave me pause…I liked it. I wasn’t expecting that…
BUT, surprisingly, it also brought up some other feelings that I was not expecting and was not ready for.
I guess you could say I’m caught between two worlds…new school and old school thinking. The majority of me is determined to accept me as is, no apologies…especially when it comes to my hair.
But if I’m totally honest, there is still a small part that rehashes the old, discriminating thoughts as to the degrees of overall “kemptness” of kinky, curly hair.
Questions quickly started running through my head like ‘is this OK?”, ‘is it too much?’, is it too ‘out there?’ — basically, will it draw too much attention to itself? I work in a pretty small office and the boss is fairly conservative. I’m the only one that looks like me in there…so anytime I do something different with my hair it’s a new experience for the people in my office even though it’s pretty normal for me and that got me to thinking…
Natural Hair Hangups: Why All the Fuss? …A Brief Look At History
Our hair is an integral part of our history, in more ways than one. Before colonialization, afro-textured hair was prized, donned in elaborate hairstyles by African women and even African men. Different hairstyles could tell you about a person’s social status, religion, clan, among other things. If a woman’s hair was unkempt for any reason, it was to signify a period of mourning. Regardless, the point is, black hair was not seen as less than, or with any subliminal meanings attached to it. In fact, as with most other cultures, it was a source of pride.
When the slave trade was in full swing, it was common for slave traders to shave off the head of Africans to humiliate them and strip them of their identity. Due to the long, grueling and dehumanizing hours that they were forced to work, quite naturally slaves had no time for their hair, and even if they did, there were no styling tools fashioned for afro-textured hair as they had back home in their native lands.
Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps in their book, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America write that some African slaves used sheep fleece carding tools to take better care of their hair but this resulted in infections and breakage. Hence, they resorted to covering their hair for lack of better options.
Slave masters also preferred to keep slaves with “good hair” for house jobs. This led to some slaves using lye soap or lye and other mixtures to straighten their hair in hopes of looking neat enough for house jobs. Although house jobs were just as tedious as field jobs, they were deemed somewhat better.
This continued into the post-emancipation era when blacks had to straighten their hair to blend in and not have “slave hair.” Slave hair as you can imagine, was characterized as short, kinky and unkempt.
It’s shocking to discover how far the system would go to degrade black hair. In the late 1800’s, there was actually a “law” in colonial Louisiana which prohibited women of color from wearing their hair out in public places. Can you believe it?! They were ordered to cover their hair because it was seen as a threat to white women. Although it was not an official law, the governor at the time made the guideline which was part of the ‘Edict of Good Government’ to be punishable to the full degree of a law.
The edict was made to downplay the attractiveness of black women and separate women of color from their white counterparts.
“The distinction which exists in the hairdressing of the colored people, from the others, is necessary for same to subsist, and order the quadroon and negro women, wear feathers, nor curls in their hair, combing same flat or covering it with a handkerchief if it is combed high as was formerly the custom,” a section of the edict reads. [source]
However, this rule is known to have backfired as the black women made quite a show with the pieces they used to cover their hair.
This clearly shows that natural hair was often stigmatized as either not ‘neat’ or ‘too much’ and this message has been transferred from generation to generation both directly and indirectly. This explains why many black women feel the need to look “presentable” and not stand out where a white employer or predominantly white gathering is concerned. And you will see that the stigma of curly hair extends beyond people of African descent, you can witness threads of disdain across any ethnicity, even its own as witnessed here.
Is an Afro Puff ‘professional enough’ for the workplace?
I wanted to share these thoughts with you because I figured if I was having these thoughts then there are others out there having these thoughts as well. Maybe we can share some ideas of how to deal with them, process them and move past them because I would love for us to get to the place of so what?
What I mean by that is to acknowledge hair as being just hair and not weighed down with so many meanings, assumptions and associations.
Big and fluffy or kinky and coily doesn’t mean unkempt, and it doesn’t mean political or confrontational, it simply means not straight. Period.
Honestly, when contemplating wearing my puff to work what I felt initially was fear. And that simple fact bothered me. I didn’t like it and reaffirmed silently to myself that I refuse to apologize for my hair or hide its texture. I woke up the next morning, fluffed my puff and went off to work. I’m confident that I made the right decision.
Although I do believe in workplace appropriateness (the old school part of me coming out). For example, I wouldn’t expect a bank teller or law clerk to sport multi-color hair and I’m not rolling in to work with booty shorts on. The simple notion that hair texture could or would be associated with an individual’s capacity to do their job is simply ridiculous. I won’t take part.
In case you were wondering, the day was rather uneventful. No one commented on my hair. Even though sometimes they do…and when it happens, I normally just chalk it up for the team (#teamnatural) and try to keep the conversations surrounding the novelty of my hair brief and lighthearted. But in this case, I didn’t have to. The day came and went, and I had a small victory for self-esteem. Yay!
Do you have concerns about whether or not natural hair is professional? Do you ever question your hair style choice and it’s office-appropriateness?
Tell me about it in the comments below and how you dealt with it. I’m listening…
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“I love my hair…you, not so much.”
— Natural Hair T-shirt
Ok, the quote above is a bit tongue in cheek, but the struggle of having a hair complex is very real. Seriously though, when I was growing up, it was during time when being a dark skinned little girl with short hair was not necessarily popular. Nobody wanted to be that. You wanted either to be light skinned or at least have long flowing hair—the looser the texture, the better. That may not be en vogue to admit now, but it was a very real feeling back then. And a very heavy weight to carry (queue “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu here…)
A Journey Back To Love: A look into my Natural Hair Journey and how it might give you LIFE…
Like most children, I had a best friend in elementary school. We were close (thick as thieves) up until the new girl arrived to our class. She had long, curly hair and everyone flocked to her when she arrived. She immediately became the most popular girl in class even though she was extremely shy and introverted. People gravitated towards her and wanted to be around her because of her social currency—a loose, curly hair texture and head full of long, shiny locks.
Suddenly, my best friend no longer wanted to be friends with me. She became best friends with the new girl who had the hair that everyone loved and coveted.
I vividly remember passing a note to my former best friend in class one day, asking her why she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. She responded dryly and unaffected by saying, “This is America and I can be friends with whoever I want to be friends with.” And that was the end of it. I had to find a new friend.
That was painful at the time and there were many other experiences I’ve had growing up that left me with a feeling of inferiority. There were undercurrents in many situations throughout my life that made it seem as though popularity or desirability was based upon your hair texture and length. And in fact it was, just think of the hair salon scene in School Daze. Especially during jr. high and high school…the most influential times when you’re growing up and forming your own identity.
These experiences planted a seed within without me even realizing it.
The reason why I am so passionate about what I’m doing now is because I don’t want any more little girls to grow up with that heavy burden. It hurts my heart just thinking of all of the #blackgirlmagic being smothered and silenced by negative messages we subtly, and not so subtly pass downs to our girls — these negative ideas about beauty that get recycled generation after generation.
The way we can break the pattern is by reaching the mothers of little coily-haired girls everywhere. We have the power to destroy the stigmas and negativity surrounding afro-textured hair. We can get rid of “good hair” vs. “bad hair” so that no little girl will feel like she’s less than. My mission is to affect people by fostering pride within them about their own hair texture, and I do that through my creations of natural hair accessories.
Let’s work towards eliminating the stigmas together, so that little girls everywhere can recognize, honor, and be unapologetic in their own beauty.
Can you relate? Do you have a hair story that profoundly impacted you? Share it with me in the comments below…I’m listening…
And if you’re on the shy side, here’s a great natural hair tee to let folks know how you really feel…
Hair Vitamins? Really?? You’ve seen them on store shelves and you’ve read the hype online. “Take these pills and your hair and nails will grow like crazy!!!” We secretly wish… ? Shoulder length? Check. ? Bra strap length? Yes please. ? Waist length? […]
6 Down & Dirty Tips on Choosing A Dreadlock Shampoo Whether you’re just starting to explore natural hairstyle possibilities, are beginning to grow dreads or have been wearing locs for a while now, it’s important that you learn just how to shampoo dreads to ensure […]
Lint in locs is unavoidable…it doesn’t mean you did something wrong. But there are some things you can do differently. Here are a few…
Let’s face it…it doesn’t seem to matter how well you try to maintain your locs — lint happens! This is especially the case in dry climates and during the winter months when static electricity can attract those pesky little particles to your hair strands like moths to a flame and then seemingly bind them in place.
There are many ways that lint finds its way into locs, and there are just as many ways of removing lint from locs. Here are a few of the best solutions for those of you who have asked, “Help! How can I get the lint out of my locs?!?”
1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse – The classic apple cider vinegar rinse is one of the most popular solutions if you’re looking to find out how to quickly get what may appear to be lint out of your dreadlocks. You can whip up a batch of this DIY rinse easily by combining 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. The natural hair cleanser is great for removing product buildup and should be applied right after shampooing for best results. Find a big bucket that allows you to dip and immerse your dreads into it. You’ll repeat the process of dipping and squeezing and soon you’ll start to see the residue dissolve into the bucket. When the water in the bucket is sufficiently sullied (or you’re totally grossed out) empty the bucket and do it again. This time the water should be less cloudy. Rinse your hair thoroughly with water afterwards.
2. Clarifying Hair Mask – Bentonite clay is a real wonder for even lint-less locks, as it absorbs all kinds of build-up with ease. Clay has a lot of minerals and nutrients that benefit the body like magnesium, calcium and potassium (is that why little kiddos love to make & eat ‘mud pies?’). But lucky for the loc’d & lovely, clay also has antibacterial properties, drawing out toxins and it is great for getting out stubborn lint and buildup from the multitude of hair products that we try in search of the Holy Grail of hair care (thank goodness).
This natural clay should be mixed with equal parts apple cider vinegar (water works too) in a glass bowl using a wooden or plastic spoon. But don’t use metal! Why?…what’s the big deal? Well, because bentonite clay is a healing clay that carries a negative charge which bonds to the positive charge in most toxins. When it comes into contact with say a toxin, heavy metal or chemical, it’ll absorb the toxin. So using a metal spoon or bowl will lessen its detoxifying properties on your hair. And we want the most bang for our buck, don’t we?
You might see bubbles or hear a little sizzle as you stir if using the ACV, but this is normal. Smooth the clay onto your locs and let it rest for up to 30 minutes. Have a plastic grocery bag handy to wrap your locs in while you wait. Then rinse well. Extremely well. Then the lint will be easy to remove.
3. A Good Shampoo Comb – If you have only a small amount of lint, just using a shampoo comb made especially for dreadlock maintenance when you manicure your dreads can help to remove the fuzz without thinning out your locs. I prefer using the tip of a rat tail comb for this method. And if the lint is trapped at the very tip of the loc, I’ll gently coax it out and and tightly recoil the tip with the comb.
4. Trusty Pair of Tweezers – If even more extensive loc surgery is needed, using tweezers to grab and remove the lint is another option. However, manually plucking out lint can be very time consuming, as well as, damage the integrity of the loc if you’re not careful. So I wouldn’t recommend this technique if patience isn’t one of your virtues;) It’s a good idea to try the other methods first (like the ACV rinse) and then use this method to remove the pesky pieces that linger. Make sure that you work slowly, so as not to damage your locs. You may even want to enlist the help of a friend if the lint is in a hard-to-reach (or hard to see) spot.
You can also use a needle to coax out stubborn lint that’s embedded in your locs. If you have a lot of embedded lint (is it waxy with a grayish tinge?) then that’s a strong indicator that you’re using too much hair product and suffering from a serious case of product build up. Time for an ACV rinse (see above) and a clarifying shampoo.
Right now, I’m really enjoying Jason’s Normalizing Tea Tree Shampoo. It doesn’t have any any harsh chemicals (I purchased it at the health food store and that was all the convincing I needed…lol!) No, but seriously…no parabens, no sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate or phthalates and not tested on animals. I read about it on a dreadlocks forum and sought it out, when I finally found it and saw on the packaging that it’s recommended for itchy scalp (which I have), I was convinced enough to try it and thus far it’s my dreadlock shampoo of choice.
[UPDATE:] In mid-2017, a class action lawsuit was brought against Jason’s for falsely advertising that their products contained no sodium laurel/laureth sulfates. They have agreed to settle the lawsuit with a settlement to it purchasers. Thus, I no longer include this shampoo in my hair care regimen.
If you’re wondering how to keep lint out of your dreadlocks in the first place, always…always…always be sure to wear a scarf at night, when you’re working around the house and anytime you might be pulling on a top that is prone to fuzz-like wool. Choose a lint-free scarf, switch to dark colored towels (microfiber towels are best) and skip petroleum-based styling aids, which are big lint attractors. Are you guilty of using beeswax, pomades and greases? Stop it right now as they are primary lint magnets.
If All Else Fails…Conceal It
When it comes to lint in locs, you have quite a few options on how to get rid of that pesky hair lint. You’ll need to find a method that is the best match for your lifestyle and your natural hair care needs.
By combining one of the methods on how to remove lint from dreadlocks with the prevention tips, you’re sure to have lint-free locks ahead in your future (or at least much less of it).
Again, lint build up happens to the best of us, so don’t feel bad now that it’s happened to you. Just like sugar, it sneaks up on us in the most unexpected places. To find out other cleverly hidden ways that lint can make its way into your locs, check out this post over at Loc’d Glory’s blog…you’d be surprised!
How do you care for your dreadlocks? Leave your best tip over on our Facebook page (click here)…
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