The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase III: Re-learning what my hair can do

Post-wash, interlocking process. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I know I have said this before but I will say it again, I love this process! I dove headfirst into this journey knowing it would be a tedious one. However, it is proving to be so fulfilling as well. I consider Ája to be pretty badass, and she is living up to her description with no doubts!

On Saturday, March 11, 2023, I lugged my haircare items over to my cousin’s house. I arrived just after 1:00 PM. I carved out five hours for this task as it has proven to be a time-consuming one as much as it is glorious.

I wanted to be sure I allotted enough time in my day to be available. This date was exactly 6 weeks from the last interlocking session.

As time moves closer to each wash and interlocking visit, I grow more and more elated. Watching what my hair has done since December 11, 2022, has opened my eyes to the beauty of haircare and why it is important for us to love our manes unconditionally.

We are what our hair can do

There is some truth in the above statement and a bit of falsity, too. We, Black women, are by no means, our hair, but we are what our hair can do. We can be full (of good & bad emotions), energetic, bouncy, exuberant, healthy, and inviting.

We can also be pillars of strength and power. And on our bad days, we can be weak, full of sadness, flimsy, lacking color, thin, and dull.

When I have my hair freshly done, I feel unstoppable. This feeling is akin to one that mirrors rejuvenation.

When my hair is on-point, my entire mood shifts — my world becomes a scene straight from my own fairytale meant to satisfy my needs only.

I am on Cloud 9 with all my luggage, headed for a brief stint on Happiness Row (IYKYK).

There is nothing and no one who can make me feel inferior when a fresh “do” has found its resting place as my crown of glory.

Post-wash and interlocking: roller-set phase. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

At the 4-hour and 30-minute mark, my cousin was done interlocking my microlocs. I could get up from the chair and check out the results before the next step.

I looked at our accomplishment in the bathroom mirror and smiled. I recall whispering something like, “This is really happening. It’s really happening” before I went back to the chair for the finishing touches.

What came next, I had already known about before arriving at her home, but it has been decades since I have had my hair “roller-set”. However, the process did not take long at all.

My cousin placed sponge/foam rollers in each section and advised me to let them stay in overnight.

I did as I was told.

Roller-set microlocs, front. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Giving my hair the stage it deserves

The end results are what you see above. I love the look — how Àja is bouncy and free and full of life! I adore how full and inviting my hair looks.

I have been transformed into my highest self just from a grand total of 4 hours and 45 minutes.

What makes it all worthwhile is when someone who loves you takes the time to love on your hair, too.

Roller-set microlocs, back. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My cousin has truly been a blessing. Her talents are abundant, but using her skills to create art with one’s hair is by far a favorite of mine.

I assume that I am not the only one benefiting from this journey. She is gaining more experience with this particular genre of natural hair.

I am relearning what my hair can do, and it has been a titillating educational process so far.

I have the rollers with me at home, and I will roller-set my hair again in about 3 weeks. I plan to have it washed and interlocked again in 7–8 weeks.

Wherever we go, I will be there

Wherever Àja takes me on this journey, I’m going to be there — in my full and whole self, waiting to see exactly what else she can do.

And when my hair is finally loc’d and ready for the world to view its introductory walk into the light, I will be overjoyed.

The path is a much-needed one, and I am still skipping it effortlessly and with a heart full of happiness.

This journey has lit up my life in ways I cannot describe. I am a prisoner of this kind of self-care and self-love.

I will deny bail.

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.

Part I and Part II

The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase II: The interlocking of new growth and clean hair

The interlocking of clean hair. Retwisting my microlocs one section at a time. Photo Collage Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
The interlocking of new-growth and clean hair. Retwisting my microlocs one section at a time. Photo Collage Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I endured seven straight weeks of not washing, scratching, and messing with my hair. Seven weeks. Please let that settle in your spirit for a moment. The entire process — the waiting — the watching new growth sprinkle in and make a home on my scalp; was a calming yet joyous occurrence.

I had the pleasure of witnessing my hair grow in from the scalp and surround the microlocs already in place. I could feel the extra hair sprout up every week and I beamed (and damn near beat my chest) with pride.

“My hair is doing what it should. I am happy.” At least twenty times, I have said that very phrase. I have stood in front of my bathroom mirror completely in awe at what Ajá (Yes, I named my hair, remember?) has graced me with, and she’s still doing amazing things.

I cannot wait to see what the next seven to eight weeks will have in store for the both of us.

Washing my hair after seven weeks

I knew there would be dandruff, of course, there would be! Seven weeks of not washing one’s hair can create a dirty, cakey, matted dandruff build-up that would need to be washed, scraped away, and plucked out (*cringe*) accordingly.

I already had a history of dry scalp and a dandruff issue if my hair had not been cared for appropriately, so this was no surprise to me. To have my hair washed and my scalp massaged and I did not have to do anything but stand in place and experience this form of love and care was a blessing to my entire soul.

My hair care products (for now): Lion Locs Conditioner, Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingling Shampoo, Lion Locs Rosewater Hair Spary, and Wild Growth Hair Oil. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
My haircare products (for now): Lion Locs Conditioner, Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingling Shampoo, Lion Locs Rosewater Hair Spary, and Wild Growth Hair Oil. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My cousin opted to shampoo my hair with my choice of shampoo (photographed above) only, stating that conditioning it would make it shiny and my already smooth/processed (permed) ends more of a problem. Every minute of her hands touching my head shifted me in so many ways.

The simple washing of one’s hair after not having it done in a couple of months can be a game-changer. I felt my heart lift and nearly leave my body. I felt a sense of peace overcome me. My legs buckled from the perfect touches to my scalp from my cousin’s fingers. It moved me to happiness and nirvana.

Before wash day, I used the Wild Growth Hair Oil (also photographed above) every week after the third week of having my locs installed.

When my locs are finally loc’d, I will begin using the conditioner and rosewater hair spray. I will keep these haircare products in rotation and add on a couple more as time passes.

Interlocking new growth and clean hair with existing locs

Once my hair had been cleaned thoroughly and towel-dried, my cousin began interlocking new growth to my existing locs. This process is painful. I used to get my hair braided regularly when I was younger, and that pain is nothing compared to this one.

I squealed — protested with my outstretched arms — flailed my hands in the air; smacked my cousin’s arms, etc. My cousin is so sweet and gentle, each time she’d rebut with this phrase, “Okay, baby. Okay. I almost got it. I almost got it. There. It’s done.” Or, “I know. I know. I’ve got it. It’s coming. I’m sorry.”

The best way for me to describe this process is to get you to visualize it with me as I write it out. Imagine your hair — from the root — being pulled and wrapped into (or around) your hair that has already grown from the root; then pulled again and pulled again and finally pulled down into the place of the existing hair.

Painful, right? I know. Here is a video to further emphasize what I endured:

How To Interlock Locs the RIGHT Way. ©GlamNaturalLife

My cousin used an interlocking tool (similar to the one shown in the video) and her hands for this process. She did this in sections. Some areas did not hurt nearly as much as others.

And as the content creator stated above, she did not choose to interlock too tightly because she has a tender scalp. I do not — I’ve never been tender-headed. So, my cousin’s interlocking method was tight.

And to be honest, the entire process was a relaxing but invigorating one.

I felt both hyped and in total serenity at the same time. This next step is complete, and I can find peace in adding another seven or eight weeks to this phase before the next wash and interlock.

Locs and smile. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Locs and smile. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

It is an overwhelmingly exciting journey and I am well-equipped with the tools to further endure what lies ahead. So far, Ajá has proven she can weather any storm that comes her way, and I am here for every battered window and every toppled trash bin.

We will not be moved or pushed aside, regardless of the intensity headed our way.

As you can see from the photo above, my hair has grown significantly from the previous starter locs article I shared. And I believe as each week passes, I will continue to see a decent increase in new growth which will make interlocking my hair once again in mid-to-late March a daunting task.

The total time for this session, including having my hair washed five times, was six hours and a little under thirty minutes.

And if you ask me if I will go through it all again, I’d happily say, “I sure will.”

Nothing beats the contentment I have welling up in my bones over the choice I made to go natural and loc my hair.

It’s here to stay for the foreseeable future — no turning back now.

Phase I

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.


a senryu

Microlocs progress, week 3. Photo Collage Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

a reserved patience
for things wanted and revered
growth is such progress

Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Peace and blessings to each of you. It is my hope and prayer that every single one of you will have a safe, fun, and loving New Year’s Day and holiday weekend.

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.

The Start of My Microlocs Journey

Photo collage of starter microlocs. Created by Tremaine L. Loadholt

On Saturday, I began my microlocs journey. For the next 6 weeks (or perhaps a bit more), I’ll be letting my hair do its thing before I get it washed and retwisted!

I am eager to see what my hair will do–how it’ll lock up. I’m SUPER excited, and I almost cannot contain myself!

Jernee is a little thrown off, but I smell the same and I sound the same, so overall, she’s good. My cousin, Akua, gets all the credit for this. We endured 8 hours on Saturday, (with 2 breaks) and 5 hours today (Sunday: with 1 break) to make this happen.

She’s amazing at what she does in her creativity with hair, and now, I can say my hair is one of her creations.

I’ll be doing a few articles about this journey; how my hair is growing, what I am expecting (and experiencing), and the chemical-free products, I’ll eventually be using to care for my hair.

I look forward to this next phase of my life, and I am happy to be taking on a process I’ve envisioned for years for my hair.

Stick around and grow with me.