Why I decided not to wear extensions in 2018
Where do I start?
I suppose I should first mention that I’ve had locs before. I had traditional locs that I started and maintained for 4 years by myself. I even documented most of that journey on a previous YouTube channel. But after a few years, I got bored with them. I was no longer able to wear cute yarn braids. I even tried a sew in once. My hair had to be put in a low hanging net and a curly weave was sewn on to disguise the bulk, but not only was it heavy and uncomfortable, it was also quite ugly. Worst couple of hundred dollars spent ever! I tried dying my hair, but that also didn’t turn out right. Had to go to an actual stylist to correct the color. He forced me to wear my terrible home dye job for a few weeks (to keep from damaging my hair) before he would even attempt any correction. That was punishment enough.
One day in January 2015, after watching too many loose naturals on YouTube, I thought I could do it too. It looked easy enough. So I spent about 5 days combing out my locs.
Having loose natural hair was fun for a while; until it wasn’t. Wash days took forever, shrinkage was a beast, blow drying hurt my arms, I became a product junkie, coconut oil got everywhere, my face was constantly shinny, and I eventually ran out of creative puff ideas when all my twist outs and braid outs failed.
After just a few months, I eventually bought a relaxer kit and permed my hair at home myself (after my hair dresser refused to cosign a decision she knew I would regret momentarily)… She was right.
Two big chops and another relaxer later, here I am in 2017, ready to start another loc journey. With sisterlocks this time.
2017 was a very busy and life changing year for Brandon and me. It was also the year I decided to stop experimenting with my hair and had my sisterlocks installed. It took 9 hours on a beautiful March day to turn my 3 inches of hair into 469 sweet little sisterlocks. And that began my sisterlocks journey.
The weekend before I was scheduled to get my sisterlocks installed, Brandon whisked me away to Ashville and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. So, by the day of my install, we had started talking about possible time frames and dates for our wedding. It was starting to look like it would take place that very same year. In fact, my parents were suggesting dates only a handful of months away; October. I knew I had to get to work on planning the whole shindig: preparing a wedding website, sending out invitations to allow adequate planning time for relatives outside the country, finding a venue, cake, etc. All this planning and preparation led to the urgent need for an engagement photo shoot… and eventually my first sew in on sisterlocks.
For this set of locs, I had opted for sisterlocks because I had done a lot of research on how flexible smaller locs are. I did not want to have the same look for the next bunch of years, get bored, and comb them out like I had with my first batch. I liked that I could still wear braids, weaves, wigs, flat iron, curl, crotchet, etc. It was the best of all worlds really.
So for our engagement shoot, I went to the professionals and had a wig put on. Up until this point, I had been wearing wigs to work almost daily and it wasn’t a big deal to me. My hairstylist braided down my hair, fit the wig to my head, and used some type of glue to adhere the wig to my head. To be honest, I was expecting the wig to be attached with pins and combs, not glue, but I went along with it anyway since I know how laid my hair could look with this method. After all, almost everyone one that rocks wigs on Instagram/YouTube use all kinds of glues to hold them and they look hot. After the photoshoot, I noticed the glue started to look white and unnatural, so I decided to take the wig off in the middle of the night a few days later. I know, I'm too impulsive. I didn’t realize I needed to buy a dissolving spray to release the glue so I ruined my edges and a few locs in the process. Here’s what happened at my next re-tightening appointment: Click to watch
I didn’t learn my lesson though.
For our second engagement shoot on location in Greensboro, I thought I would take it one step further and get a sew in this time. My mom had complained that my hair looked wiggy in the first shoot. I also wanted something I could keep for a few weeks and wear to work. I loved this sew in even more because the closure matched my skin tone better and the extensions were longer. I did everything with this sew in: I swam, washed my hair several times, and styled it a lot. My summer body didn’t quite arrive, but my hair sure looked good. I was on cloud 9. Until I took it out. Once more, I had damaged my edges and some locs.
This was one of the reasons my sisterlocks consultant and I ended up parting ways (though I didn’t know it at the time).
Since I really didn’t want to go back to my consultant, I bought some extensions, and spent two days installing some waist length braids on my locs by myself. I wore these braids for some time while I contemplated my next move. These braids were really long and sometimes felt quite heavy. I started to fear for my locs. I didn’t want to destroy them with all that weight and tension so I quickly took them down.
This time, I learnt my lesson.
I found a new sisterlocks consultant who once again repaired my locs. However, I knew I would still have to get another sew in for the wedding. Just one last time. So I just gritted my teeth and got another one a week before the wedding. I loved it and felt beautiful throughout all the wedding festivities. I took out this weave a few weeks later and once more, I had some damage so I promised myself NO MORE WEAVES!
Until my birthday came around.
I was turning 30 and I wanted to have a dinner party to mark the event. I had my outfit picked out and everything was all set. I just had no clue what to do with my hair. I was going to wear a wig (no glue), but then at the last minute, 10pm the night before, I begged for one last sew in from my stylist. She was very hesitant, but I begged and begged until she agreed to help me out.
I kept this sew in from the 15th of Dec to the 30th of Dec. That last week with the weave was a struggle. I used to get weaves to make myself feel confident (long hair makes me look slim or so I’m told), but this time around I just felt fake and sad. I had broken my word to myself not to get another sew in and I knew I had set my locs back once again. I felt so bad that as soon as we got home, I grabbed some scissors and went to work removing my weave. While cleaning up, I noticed two locs on the chair beside me. The worst part was that I wasn’t able to find where I had lost them from. I was so sad and angry at myself. I ran to a mirror to inspect my hair and see what other damage had been done. I was horrified to see how weak my edges looked - my hairline appeared to have shifted backwards - and I saw that about 5 locs were hanging on for dear life. Holding on by just 2 to 3 strands of hair.
That was the moment I decided that I would not wear any extensions in the year 2018 because I owe it to my locs to give them a break, and a chance to actually grow and get healthy.
When I Big Chopped in 2010, I had just watched Chris Rock’s movie, Good Hair, and I was determined to stay true to myself, the way God made me, and not wear any human hair extensions. Especially after seeing where the hair comes from. Yet here I was 7 years later, back where I started.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think wearing a weave is bad, I just questioned my own opinion/image of myself. I questioned my need for it. Do I really believe I can only look good with long extensions? Do I really think I won’t get a good job if my hair isn’t straight or long or conforming to the stereotypical image of what professional women in corporate America look like? What am I hiding from? Or am I just looking for convenience? Taking the easy (to style) way out?
I did not take the decision to get sisterlocks lightly. I did a lot of research and thought long and hard about whether or not I could afford to have such a costly hairstyle/lifestyle. I just got to a point where it didn’t make any more sense for me to continue to destroy all the hard work and hundreds of dollars spent starting and maintaining this hairstyle. I knew going in that locs aren’t always beautiful when they are starting out. Baby and teenage locs can be quite unruly at first, but with enough love and care, they mature into beautiful testaments to strength, growth, will power and sheer determination. Like a crown of glory. I know because I felt that a few years into my last loc journey. My locs were my babies. I was so proud of how far they had come.
Once, my youth Pastor asked me what I was most proud of and I actually replied, “My locs. I started them and maintained them all by myself!” He didn’t get it. But, I really was proud of that set and regret ever combing them out. But then again, that decision, along with many other decisions all brought me to where I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing. I can only strive to do better and make it up to myself and actually be present for my sisterlocks journey.
So, here’s to new beginnings and second chances…