Phase I: The beginning of microlocs and the end of 2022
I have wanted to dive into microlocs for at least three years, however, my stylist does not specialize in this genre of haircare. She can and will care for natural hair or hair in its natural state, but she cannot install, treat, coil, loc, or twist hair.
And since this is a journey I no longer wanted to place on hold to continue to be loyal to my stylist, I mentioned not having anyone to install my locs to my cousin, Akua, and my cousin stormed in to rescue me.
Ending 2022 this way is the best gift I can give myself, considering the bullshit this year brought my way. Now, I will sound off loudly and proudly, and on my terms.
Microlocs are an offshoot of dreadlocks. As the name suggests, they are tinier and a good option for anyone who wants to achieve a dreadlock look but would prefer to cut out the bulk. Deciding to get microlocs is a journey, with phases for each stage of hair growth. — Emilie Branch
Micro means exactly what the prefix states: small (exceptionally small). One does not simply jump from permed and chemically enhanced hair directly to natural hair or locs — the path is usually one many women (and some men) fight with themselves about.
I spent three months growing my permed hair out at the roots. There were no haircuts, no trimming, and no flat-ironing or processing of my hair of any kind. I was preparing for the arduous task of caring for my hair differently — naturally.
The questions I have heard many people ask when transitioning to locs are: “Will this work for me?” “Am I truly ready for this transition?” “How will I treat my hair afterward?” and “Will the loctician I find be the best match for me and my hair?”
I have asked myself every question mentioned above. I have tortured myself over these questions and wondered every single time I leaned into the thought of locking my hair . . . can I endure this?
I can. I did. I will. The photo you see above is a collage of a few snapshots taken by both me and my cousin on the first two days of this journey.
Stepping into a new phase of haircare
On Saturday, December 10, 2022, I began the transition to microlocs. Not only will this be a special day for me, but it is also one that my cousin and I will share, as she is the person who used her creative skills to make this happen.
What we, as Black women, do with our hair can invigorate us and start an entire movement with others. Most of us can be incredibly versatile with our hair and launch our crowns into various new styles that speak to who we are before we open our mouths.
I spent 8 hours (with 2 breaks) at her house sitting stoically in one of her dining room chairs as she began the grid pattern for my locs. The grid pattern is key because once this is parted and designed; there is no changing it. I knew I wanted clean, fine boxes in rows for my grid pattern. Knowing this, my cousin followed suit.
We completed all sections of my hair except one side in the back, which we finished on Sunday, December 11, 2022. This session took 5 hours (with 1 break).
I sat patiently, yearning to see each phase as my cousin completed it. She took photos so that there would be memories of this process. After she braided my hair into sections and the pattern was done, we moved toward cornrowing my hair to protect it.
Since I have had permed/processed hair almost all my life, growing out a permanent, chemically enhanced state takes longer than one can imagine. With that being said, in some sections, my ends would not plait completely to the end or stay braided. So, my cousin cornrowed each section, leaving the back out, but rubberbanded them to protect the ends.
And with the entire process completed and positioned, it is now my job to leave my hair alone for the next 6 weeks (or possibly more) to allow it to loc and take on its own look.
This is the part that is causing so much anxiety within me. I am eager to get to the fully microlocked stage; to flaunt my hair and lean into the beauty it possesses in a natural state.
But this is a process. This is a journey. There are paths that must be followed, adhered to, walked accordingly, and I am here for all of this!
Get it in a protective hairstyle and do not! Do not! Do not touch it until it’s washed and re-twisted. — Miss Kay Cee
2022, you have tried to knock me down, but I won’t stay down
I refused to allow this year to defeat me. From the very beginning, it has been one form of grief to another and another and another, and toward the end of this year, Jernee’s health began failing. At 14 years of age, this is to be expected.
We are now dealing with the decline of her kidneys, and I am moving through this loss as best as I can — the loss of a healthy, young, and in mostly good health dog. That part of our lives together is leaving — nearly gone, but I refuse to allow 2022 to take away the joyous occasions waiting in the wings for us.
We have many more memories to make — she still has a good amount of energy. And with my hair in starter locs, graying to perfection, and altered to the state I have envisioned for it for years, I am more confident in myself. I believe this will help me deal with the changes in Jernee, with my career, and whatever else God will pitch my way.
I decided not to let fear, loyalty, history, and complacency get the best of me toward the end of this year. And as time passes, I will continue to break out and break through some cruel happenings because . . . I am resilient, and I want so much for myself and for others, too.
Marking this event daily on my calendar as each day ends gives me so much joy. A smile crosses my face as I “X” out each day to signify another day’s end with starter locs that will eventually become microlocs.
The transition will probably not be a smooth one, but I am ready
This transition may not end up being all shits and giggles — laughs and happiness, but I am ready to endure it all. The gritty, the ugly stages, the OMG! what is my hair doing stages, and the OKAY! now, we’re getting somewhere stage.
I want to see what my hair can do. I also want to see what I will do as my hair sashays into a new phase.
Some people name their hair. I think this is a solid idea and can further build a connection between me and my hair as well . . . let’s be honest, we will both evolve during this process.
I will bring you along to share my story. This is the first installment of four articles devoted to my microlocs journey.
Ajá and I welcome you as we move from 2022 into the new year of 2023.