The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase IV: I marvel at the length, and I am in love with every strand

Interlocked and cornrowed again. Photo Collage Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I continue to be amazed by this journey. The path is curvy with twists and turns, and on some days, I am unsure where we (Ájá & I) are headed, but I am glad we are on our way.

My last wash and interlocking session was on March 11, 2023. My hair was out and free to grow and lock and become a force of beauty and strength. And it did exactly that.

On Sunday, May 07, 2023, my cousin had the tedious task of washing, re-sectioning, and interlocking my hair. I am no stranger to these methods now; I am a soldier on a familiar battleground, and the war is almost at its end.

Just under two months after my last wash and interlocking session, I am greeted by more length and a fuller head of hair.

There is peace in the calming hands of another

My cousin does an incredible job with my hair. When she washes it, my soul is moved. I can feel the cleansing process while it’s taking place, and my mind is at ease. She scratches it in sections and pays attention to the dryer spots.

She is like a surgeon — the way she dances around my head with her fingers; plotting the best ways to relieve itching. My hair always feels ten times cleaner and lighter after her hands have massaged my head.

She is thorough yet gentle with just the right amount of force to push away dirt and dandruff buildup. It’s fascinating — the washing process. I am not only in an impeccably relaxed state, but I am also overcome with serenity and joy.

When my hair is clean, I know the next steps are to interlock each section and pull any new growth into its rightful places for continued growth and locking.

With every session, my anticipation heightens

Growth and thickness. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

During every interlocking session, my anxiety builds. I am anxious to see the outcome. However, there is also an intense amount of patience — knowing that this process provides added length and replenishes the hair as well.

I wish I had the words to describe how I feel walking around with an ever-changing head of hair. I do not.

We started this process as microlocs, but my hair has loc’d in a way that is clearly its own. My locs will probably be bigger than microlocs or even sisterlocks, and I am all right with this.

Whatever Ájá wants to do, I am on board with it! This transition is one I signed up for and perfection was not in the cards.

I want to see what the end of the year will bring when we make it to a full year of interlocking and patiently waiting.

I want to know what December 2023 Ájá will look like. And I know with my cousin’s hands creating, washing, and maintaining my crown of glory, the sight will be one to see.

I marvel at the length, and I am in love with every strand

My hair is growing. It flows on its own and lands just above the nape of my neck. There are sections that are longer than others, but this is to be expected, as I am also growing out a short haircut.

I stare at myself in the mirror. I gaze at my graying edges and perimeter, and I am wooed by these changes.

New nose ring (had the old stud switched out to the one). Graying all around. Locs doing what they want to. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I am not the same woman. I am changing along with my hair, and every day brings a newer side to me which I am eager to embrace.

The Powers That Be promoted me at work. They have invited me to be a part of our Engagement Team. These novel happenings are keeping me sane and giving me hope for a brighter future.

There is still a deep pain from the loss of my beloved cousin early last year, but I am moving along on a happier note.

I no longer carry grief in my pockets. I hold her memory close to my heart, sit in my favorite chair, and twist my hair because of a new habit.

And with each twisted strand, I think of Chrissy, and I wonder if she’s enjoying this journey with me, too.

I am happy with Ájá’s growth. I admire the length of my hair, and I long to see how long it will get before I become tired of it being too long.

I don’t foresee this happening. I have happily embraced every phase so far. I am positive this will continue.

December 11, 2023, will be one full year

At the end of this year, I will share where my hair journey has taken me.

One year of growing locs and maintaining them is steadily approaching. I am patient as I mark each day off on my calendar.

I have a few pieces of hair that have already locked and my heart flutters at the sight of them.

I am on my way to loving a full head of dreadlocks, and my soul can do nothing but smile.

Transitioning hair is a topic I love to discuss now. There will be more to come.

Part I, Part II, and Phase III

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.

The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase I: The beginning of microlocs and the end of 2022

A collage of the beginning of my microlocs transition. From the afro blowout to the grid, then plaits/braids, cornrows, and the finished product. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt & Akua Montgomery
A collage of the beginning of my microlocs transition. From the afro blowout to the grid, then plaits/braids, cornrows, and the finished product. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt & Akua Montgomery

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.

Microlocs grid pattern. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt
Microlocs grid pattern. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt

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.

Starter microlocs cornrowed protective state. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt
Starter microlocs cornrowed protective state. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt

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.

The finished product the next morning, Monday, December 12, 2022. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
The finished product the next morning, Monday, December 12, 2022. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

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.

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.