consultant update, perhaps the beginnings of a new regimen

I spent months 12-20 of being sisterlocked (Jan-Oct 2012 of being sisterlocked) worried that my hair wasn’t settling right and venturing out for second, third, and fourth opinions about my hair. I ultimately did end up trying out a new consultant (the fourth “opinioner”); however, that didn’t last too long (about 2-3 retightenings?) until I found my way back home to my original consultant.

Now, my original consultant is moving out of town and I have found myself on the hunt for a replacement! I didn’t reach out to these other consultants for a couple of reasons- #2: took all day to do retightenings (I don’t have the patience nor the time to sit around in the chair); #3: has enough clients already; and #4 (the fourth “opinoner”): could’ve worked out… but I always felt like she was overwhelmed by the # of locs/thickness of my hair. Bumping up the price on me via email was the last straw.

I took to the sisterlocks registry and started making a few calls/emails. I’ve connected with one sisterlocks consultant who seems like she will be a good match. (Random fact: I’ve actually been to her house the year before of an annual natural hair expo in her backyard– though we’ve never officially met!) We had great rapport; her schedule fit my schedule; her price is in line with what I’m comfortable paying for retis… I’m really hoping this works out, though I know I can’t be sure until one or two retightenings in.

Meanwhile, during my initial visit with her, I was curious to see what feedback she had about my hair. All in all her feedback was positive. The following two items stood out to me:

  1. She echoed what #2 said about washing my hair too often. The washing of my hair once (often more than that!) a week, is keeping my ends from fully locking. I did go 3 weeks without washing my hair once… but that was by accident.

    and

  2. I mentioned I wash my hair often because a) I sweat a ton when I workout and b) I don’t like dull looking hair. Her response was that from what she could see, the dullness maybe be attributed to a dry scalp and/or build-up from the shampoo I’m using. She suggested that I try a) going back to the SL starter shampoo and b) doing ACV rinses every once in a while as a clarifier and to soothe my scalp.

I realized that, for good or bad, I haven’t followed any particular regimen for hair over the past year. I had a lot of starters… but lacked consistent follow through. At least in the beginning of my journey with this new sisterlock consultant, I’m going to try to be a bit more diligent with my hair care. In the short term, I’m committed to trying to go 2 weeks without wet washing my hair and using witch hazel as a wet/dry “shampoo” (and perhaps even the (nearly full) bottle of Taliah Waajid’s Moisture Clenz that I barely used since that first experiment). I need to think more on a long term regimen (that will include re-introducing the ACV + Black Tea rinses) that I can kick off with my first reti with the new consultant.

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re-tightening day recap: baking soda wash, ACV rinse, black tea rinse

Last re-ti, I washed my hair with baking soda, followed by an ACV rinse (I believe before the baking soda I may have used shampoo too… I don’t remember). I do remember my hair feeling and looking great after that reti, so I decided to try it again as a pre-retightening routine.

Here’s what I did yesterday morning:

  • Shampoo: 1 TBSP baking soda added to 1 Cup of Water and a lil bit of Shampoo (in this instance DreadHead Shampoo)
  • Rinse: 2 TBSP ACV with 2 Cups of Warm Water… let sit for a few minutes… and then apply 1.5 cups of Black Tea, diluted with 1/2 Cup Water… let sit for a few more minutes.
  • Final Rinse: Cold Water
  • Moisturize: I let my hair air-dry for a few hours and then spritzed lightly with some Greg’s juice.

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Nothing magical happened right away. But after the reti my hair felt pleasantly light and soft. My hair is usually light and fluffy after a reti but the softness was a nice bonus. However,  to avoid dry scalp from the baking soda, I may need to rub some light oil directly on it after my hair dries.

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Black Tea Rinse
The Black Tea rinse definitely cut the ACV smell. There was no trace of the ACV smell left over at all! So far, my hair doesn’t seem any dark or “healthier” as a result of the black tea rinse. I know it takes time so I’ll continue to use it each wash for a few weeks and see what happens. EDITED TO ADD (9/24): Actually the black tea has enriched the color of my hair. It took a few days for me to notice. I did another black tea rinse the wash after this one. 

The night before, I boiled 4 tea bags in 5-6 cups of water. Then read blogs about how tea makes your hair hard, and ended up using less than half of the brew, diluted with water. I’ll continue to play around with the brew until I get it just right for my hair.

ACV Rinse
I believe the ACV rinse may be the culprit of my “browning” hair. Before yesterday, it has been 6 weeks since my last ACV rinse. Before then, I don’t remember how regularly I’ve done the rinse… maybe every 2-3 weeks? Likely less than that… the point is, I’ve done a few of them this year.

The acidic properties of ACV, in light of the benefits it provides, can lighten and make your hair drier over time. I read a blog recently that said it could be contributing to the frizz… Going forward, will limit ACV and Baking Soda Washes to no more than every 6-8 weeks.

Retightening
Remember how last time took about 10 hours? Today Mrs. CGS (Sisterlock Consultant #2) only took 5 hours. I was just getting comfortable thinking I was in for a long haul. Seems like she has “learned” my hair and 6 weeks is a good enough time for me to come in for a re-ti for her. Unfortunately, every 6 weeks will stretch my budget since she costs more, so I’m pushing my next re-ti to 7 weeks.

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new consultant, new pattern

New Consultant

It has been 9 weeks since my last retightening. At about week 7, I started to worry about finding someone new to do my re-tightenings. At that time, I was just seeking someone to fill in while my existing consultant is ready to start seeing clients again after having a baby. I wasn’t really sure what the procedure would be… is my consultant working just weeks after giving birth? Would she proactively recommend a consultant to fill in while she’s out? Or, maybe she’s is still working? I wasn’t sure. So, I called and left a message to check in. No response. My sister got a response to her text though and was able to set up an appointment right away. No hard feelings there. Honestly. But I decided then that, although I truly believe my existing consultant is a sweet person, I just had to admit to myself that the sisterlocks part of our hair relationship has been peppered with doubt (due to lack of reassurance) and issues with scheduled appointments. Perhaps, this was the green light to step out on faith with another consultant.

Long story short, a woman from church recommended her consultant to me. (Coincidence– she started her sisterlocks with my existing consultant and had a successful transition.) I met with the new consultant on Monday and had a great rapport. Today, I worked from her house as she retightened my hair.

The experience was a good one. We talked about ourselves (shared wedding photos, etc). She was okay with me working on my laptop and taking work conference calls. The key difference between my old and new consultant is that my old consultant worked really fast… in and out in less than 4 hours. The new consultant… not as fast by a long shot. But she was awesome. She offered me water and fruit. We had good conversation she’s very relational.

New Pattern

My new consultant suggested switching from a 4pt pattern to a 3pt. I admit. I got the gist but didn’t fully get her explanation but she showed me pictures from her sisterlocks handbook and took time to explain it. I remember reading blogs about women who made the switch and decided to agree to the change. I got home and recalled those blog posts…

  • “I’ve done two retightenings using the 3 pattern and I see a huge difference in body and volume of my locks, which I’m absolutely loving. With the 4, my locks felt strangled and they weren’t allowed to breathe so I’m happy that I did change and I expect to see a lot more changes to come in terms of volume! Quite possibly I may not have to use my lock loops because they will curl on there own to give its own distinct styling, left to be seen.” (embraced my sisterlocks)
  • “When my locs were first installed, my consultant used a reverse 4 pattern and then switched to a 3 pt. pattern on my hair (after a few months) because this would allow my coils to expand and mesh with some room rather than feel choked. She showed me the visible differences between both patterns on her locks and I could see a major change. Her 4 pt. locs looked thinner and tighter, but appeared to have lacked room for the strands to coil around itself properly. The good thing about a 4 pt. is that it creates a tighter lock. Then she showed me her 3 pt. locs and they had a really cylindrical look to them and looked fuller as if the coils had room to mesh, tangle and shrink. The good thing about a 3 pt. is that is looks a little fuller.” (kalia-dewdrop)

I look forward to seeing how things work out with my new consultant (next appointment scheduled for six weeks out!) and how the 3pt rotation works on my hair.

P.S. This weekend makes 1.5 years locked. 🙂

“soft hair,” a second 2nd opinion, washing without banding

Never before have I (or anyone else for that matter) described my hair as “soft” unless it was pumped full of moisturizing conditioner.

4a/4b, tight coiled, kinky, nappy… those sound much more familiar. But, not soft. Especially not “soft” after a year of forgoing any conditioner!

Anyways, since my second consultation back in January, I thought more about whether or not I wanted that consultant to close up my ends or have my existing consultant cut down my loose ends.

Cutting my hair seemed so risky considering it would be tough to get an even cut. Though, in an act of defiance a couple of weeks ago, I cut the loose ends off of two my locks… just to see how they would do without them. So much for an experiment… I can’t locate those locks anymore (I’m sure I could if I tried harder).  I’m assuming they didn’t completely unravel because if they did, the hair would be easy to find.

So, I decided… I’m just going to have that sister lock consultant “repair” my sisterlocks.

Well, that consultant took a while to get back to me, so in the meantime, I called another (a third) consultant. I still wasn’t sure about the decision I was making and needed a second, second opinion.

soft hair and the second 2nd opinion

This third sisterlock consultant was great. She worked out of her home but was very professional. She echoed the second consultant and said my sisterlocks look great. And, that they are doing what it’s going to do because… I have soft hair.

She said that in her experience (she has a lot of experience, including with her own (2nd) set of sisterlocks), people with soft hair (even those like me (and her) with a 4a/b hair pattern) will experience more unraveling than others. It’s best to leave the loose ends alone. She can certainly tighten them up but, more often than not, the hair will unravel to that same point.

She also:

a) Said I’m washing my hair too frequently. Water softens the hair; so, washing once a week will slow the locking process. Washing 2x a month (or every other week) is ideal.

b) Recommended Taaliah Waajid’s Moisture Clenz as a dry shampoo. She said I could use it daily if necessary since I work out 3x+ a week.

c) Told me to stop putting my hair into ponytails when I go to the gym. She said that by putting my hair into ponytails, I’m stretching it too much and stretching it while its wet (or soon to get wet) weakens the lock and impacts the locking process. Instead I should let my hair remain loose when I work out and not touch it until it airdries.  This whole time I thought I was helping by keeping my hair in the two ponytails… It became my signature gym look.

d) Said that my hair is not ready to forgo banding AND braiding for washes. I’m still a couple of months before I can safely consider not braiding and banding.

All in all… great feedback. I’m purchasing an athletic headband to wear to the gym. I bought the Taalih Waajid’s Moisture Clenz (I hope it gives me a good clean feeling and doesn’t dry out my scalp!). I will limit real shampooing to every other week.

This consultants 2 year old sisterlocks look great but it’s clear that her ends though locked now, took their time locking (slightly thicker than the rest of her sisterlocks). My hair will lock in due time.

washing without banding

Cutting my locks wasn’t the only defiant act I made in the past few weeks. For my lastest wash before my reti, I didn’t braid OR band. I tossed on a thick hair net and shampooed my hair loose (got this idea from the lockitup yahoo group).

washing with hair net

I didn’t notice any additional unraveling… Though my hair has major shrinkage from airdrying without  braiding or twisting, after a day or 2 my loose ends look more like they are trying to lock up. Instead of a puff  or thin, crinkled but not locked ends, the ends are tightly coiled, cylindrical in shape.

no braiding banding with wash + fresh reti

See… you can barely see how loose my ends are in this pic.

My sister gave up on braiding and branding two months into her sisterlocks journey (so she says) and her hair looks fine (she also likely has a different hair type than me).

I haven’t decided yet whether I am going to go back to braiding and banding or not…

the second opinion on my sisterlocks

I met with another consultant today to talk about my sisterlocks. I expected a 30 minute consultation but the entire visit lasted over an hour.

My sister came with me. When I arrived, she (the consultant) was finishing up one of her clients re-tightenings. We chatted for a little bit while she finished up and looked through some of the sisterlocks photo books she had. When we finally got down to business talking about my hair, here is what I learned:

In regards to my concern about having long loose ends-

  • While it’s necessary to leave about an inch or so backcombed, the 2-3 inch loose hair that I have is a bit much.
  • It is possible to close up the loose ends by pulling the lock into the loose ends so that only the root has the 1-1.5 inches left to be retightened the traditional way. (The SL consultant demonstrated for me on one lock.) The thing is… this process takes forever to do on one lock, and would thus take forever (and cost a lot) to do my entire head– but it is possible.
  • As an alternative to closing up the ends, trimming is an option as well.

 

In regards to my hair overall:

  • My sisterlocks are in really, really good condition: the grid pattern looks great; despite the loose ends, the locks are maturing as they should be.  My existing consultant is doing a great job.
  • My sisterlocks do look a bit.. dusty/dull. She thinks the shampoo I am using may be leaving build up and is glad to know I’m switching back to the Starter Shampoo.
  • Though she doesn’t think my locks are at risk of unraveling/slippage, she recommends bundling (no need to braid) for at least 6 more months. If I want to experiment with not bundling at all, I should do so only for the wash directly before my next re-tightening so my consultant can fix any issues immediately.

My overall experience with her was good. She was very knowledgeable (she’s been in the game for a while– was one of the first sisterlock consultants in the Boston area) and easy to talk to. She works out of her home so the environment is a bit more relaxed. She took our her spike curls and demonstrated how she uses them with end paper and setting lotion. A lot more chill than the salon setting where my current sisterlock consultant operates. (Though I like the girl talk environment of the salon (when I’m not napping), and the fact that my stylist sticks to appointment times (this new consultant seems a bit lax when it comes to timing).)

I told her that my next step would be to try to have another conversation with my existing consultant about my hair, dealing with the loose ends, etc and see if she would be willing to consider some of the things I learned. Because of my long-term relationship with my existing consultant, if all goes well, I may not be so inclined to leave her. The  consultant I met with today was completely understanding.

My next steps/thoughts:

  • Talk through what I learned with my current consultant– see how receptive she is to trimming my hair and/or at least talking through my concerns.
  • Try the ACV rinse for my next wash to see if that helps with the dull look to my hair.
  • Learn to be more free with my hair– including a using a little jojoba oil to combat dry-ness, and  try giving lock loops one more try… using setting lotion, eek!