Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here's The Buildup Story! - G's Story, Chapter 3

As of today, G's locs have been in just 2 days shy of 2 years and 2 months. I will never regret putting them in, even though I wish I had tried more of the awesome cornrow hairstyles that I see out there in Katie's and other bloggers' and YOUR photos. Today, her longest locs come to her shoulders and we are still growing out those bangs :) I love the ease of styling them on the go, and how flexible we can be with how much and how often we tighten them. And I especially love that Katie's daughter B has them too, and I can get loc-style ideas from her! :-)

G still has some locs where we have about an inch or two of the original braid. Many locs are locs all the way to the ends. I have no idea how this happens. It's like the loc took over the ends and turned the original braid into a loc. It's kind of fun seeing that original braid's so thin and tiny compared to the loc itself! Eventually I may trim off many of the braid ends, but I plan to keep a couple just for nostalgia's sake. So when she's grown, if she still has her locs, she will be able to look at that loc and say "wow, here's the braid my mom put in when I was 5!!" I have already done a trim on her locs. As with B, G had a couple locs that were just crazy long, and some ends that were scraggly....the nice tight spiral coil had lost its mojo somehow.

One recent topic on the Adoption Yahoo Hair and Skin Care group  was The Fuzzies. Many people get really uptight about their girls' hairstyles getting fuzzy quickly, and then are itching to change the style. This was me a couple years ago. I would post and ask for help as to how to reduce the fuzzies...both pre-locs and post-locs! The fuzzies have gotten a bad rap, that I know for sure. Some people who dream of having their child's hairstyle last a few weeks are reduced to changing it after a week or less because they feel that the fuzzies render the style "too messy." With locs, oftentimes the new growth hair or hair that has grown in within a few months and has not locked in yet, will stick out from the locs and cause the fuzzy effect. I used to lament about what to do with it! Just putting some locking gel on it and rolling it did not magically loc it.

I have stopped being so picky about the fuzzies. It's just a part of her hair, and it's natural. Afro hair is fuzzy and curly and twirly and that is its natural state. One incident that happened to me that changed my outlook on the fuzzies occured a few years ago, before G's locs went in. Here's how I told the story on the Haircare group.

I had black neighbors whose daughter played with G. They liked how I did her hair. I'd be over there yakking with them and say something I'd make an excuse why her braids were fuzzy or too grown out, or whatever, as though they would think I wasn't doing it good enough or often enough. I'll never forget this one day....I said that about the unkempt braids and the mom just shrugged like I was too neurotic and she said "she's just flyin' her colors." and that was a turning point for me. Obsessing too much when there is some fuzz is just another, though more subtle, form of imparting that their natural frizzy fuzzy curly cloud of hair is somehow "not good enough" in its natural state and must be contained and controlled to be "good."  So then and there I stopped doing that. I let her fly her colors and didn't worry about fuzz escaping! It's better for her, and also made me more relaxed about scheduling new hairstyle time!

One thing about being in locs is that G's hair seems to me to grow insanely fast. It feels like I barely get done tightening her locs, and then there's a quarter or half inch of new growth within a week! If I leave a style in that has the hair gathered close together, like ponytails or cornrows, the hairs that are not locked yet will grab onto neighboring locks and I frequently have to work to separate them when I take that style out. If I have her hair in a style like this for awhile and there is a lot of new growth, some of them are very attached and we have to do what is known as "pop the locs." which is to quickly pop them apart. I have to be careful because that can hurt a bit if they are really attached.

There is really only ONE THING to fear with locs, and I know many of you have been waiting for me to talk about it. I experienced it big time. No, it's not lice (although those went around G's first grade class at least a few times and she never got them! That would make it near the top of the list of things to fear, though!), it's 7 letters long, and it's NASTY....


Buildup in locs is purely awful and evil! Moms of kids with locs live in fear of that day when they squint at a funny-looking loc and say "Hmmm....what is THAT? and then they scrape and squeeze and.....NOOOOO!!!!" Ok maybe I am being a bit over-dramatic, but that is pretty much what happened to me. This was not a case of a bit of something stuck in a small area of one loc. This was much worse. I even remember where I was when I did the "squint and Hmmmm...." we were at G's soccer practice last Fall. It was a brightly overcast day (if that's possible). G's hair was down and I was looking at it and puzzling why it looked kind of ashy, kind of grayish at the back near the crown. I picked up a couple of the locs and looked at them closely. I scraped at them with my fingernail. It seemed kind of powdery and gunky in there. I was like "whaaattttt is that?" I could hardly wait to get home and get G in the shower. I guess the reason I had not really noticed it much before is that in the shower, when it's wet, all the hair darkens so I didn't really notice the ashiness.

Once I knew what I was after, I really looked CLOSE in the shower, and I could see the slight difference in color between the buildup locs and the other ones. It was most of the back of her head and some on the sides. Then this is where it got crazy. I took my fingernails and SQUEEZED and scraped the loc to the end. Forreals guys....GOO came out. Gray-brown goo. Like coming out of a sponge. I scrubbed the loc against itself (gently) and more goo appeared. I was horrified! What had I done to get this result!!! It only took a few seconds to realize my error....I had been treating her locs like they were still unlocked hair.  And even for unlocked hair, I had done wrong. I had fallen victim to that old temptress.....the Leave-In (or in my case, The Put On Willy-Nilly And Leave-In)

I had many moisturizing products from what I sold on Snapaholics, plus stuff that just looked good and smelled good in hair stores I had visited, so I bought it. It was various oils and/or leave ins. Whenever I would pass by her head and thought of it, I used to grab something to moisturize her hair and put some in. It always turned her hair shiny and moist and made it smell nice. Because moisturizing was ALWAYS good, right? Of course, the top back of her head being the side that I typically see when I am behind her, this is the area that got it the most. Once her hair was locked, the locs became like tiny little hanging sponges to all this product that I stupidly kept applying. If the product was not something that was going to easily soak into the hair shaft itself, then it was going to SIT on the hair. With locs, it gets all caught up in the loc and sits there and makes a little party with the NEXT round of product you slap on, and so on, and so on, until you got a major Buildup Rave Event going on in there. The goo is slam dancing in the mosh pit, and having a big Love-Fest inside those locs.  At this time, when this all happened, I did not wash G's locs very much. We were still doing the "put a shower cap on!" thing. So all the buildup never got washed out on a regular basis. I naively thought that all this stuff that said WON'T BUILD UP! actually wouldn't build up and would soak all into her hair! WRONG!

Well, I tried washing the heck out if it right then. I used JML Tingle Shampoo. I did an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. I did it many times over some days. I scraped the locs with my fingers. It was SO HARD to get the buildup out and while we were in the shower the offending locs were hard to see so it was very hard to grab each bad one individually. Just washing and having the ACV rinse down the locs was not getting the goo out. I bit my tongue and realized I was going to have to go medieval on this goo. I promised the little locs I would only do this once or twice till the goo was gone....but I went to the store and got the Big Guns...

I know it's horrible. It's awful. I used Dawn dishsoap on my kid! But I thought, if it's good enough to clean oil from the delicate wings of baby seabirds, then I can trust it on MY baby's little locs. And of course I would moisturize them afterwards!

It did the trick. I had to still scrub the locs and use my fingernail, but the locs were much improved after a shampooing with Dawn. I did it again a couple days later. It was tons better. After that I just de-gooed in the shower with just water and some regular shampoo on that particular loc when i found a goopy one. And I vowed that I would ONLY use Virgin Coconut Oil, or something light and meant for daily moisturizing on her locs again. Like watered down Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier. Or now, the Tate's Conditioner, which I pour very watered down over her head and body at the end of her shower.

Needless to say, we haven't had that problem again!!! The Virgin Coconut Oil seems to all soak in to the hair and scalp, and the Tate's and Taliah Waajid have not resulted in buildup.

We are footloose and fancy free again! Here is how G's locs are looking today, Sept. 2, 2010:

So, that is our story, and we are stickin' to it!

Thanks for reading!


  1. I find that I am always really apologetic, too- about the fuzzy-ness of my daughters' hair after a week or so... and yes! I start feeling the itch to change the style. (Fully due to my insecurities about not being able to do her hair well or right.)

    So I'm really thankful you said this. It gives me a new perspective, and I'll remember it!

  2. I love your writing style! LOL You cracked me up! especially with the mosh pit. :p

    Great story. Thank you for sharing what you've learned! That's probably a good lesson about products even for those of us without locs. Thanks!

  3. Wow, loved what your neighbor said - She's just flying her colors. Hopefully I can learn to embrace the fuzzies too.

  4. Okay so your story is PRECISELY mine! If you thought you brought out the big guns...I went and bought some GOO GONE! I tried it on one loc and that goo came right on out! I'm just afraid to use it all over because it is basically orange flavored GASOLINE!

  5. I too found that sneaky ninja build-up on my baby boy's locs in the exact same spot and felt some kinda way about it! Oh, I am so on the Dawn dish soap! Gonna go and try it right now! I am also extremely tempted to try the Goo Gone....wonder if that will harm his little locs or not. Thanks, girls!! #yayteamnatural


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