After years of relaxing, curling, pressing, flat ironing, braiding, twisting and weaving my hair…I decided to lock it. Although Black hair has been a source of controversy (remember the NY Times article on black hair) this was not a “political choice.” I love all hairstyles – straight, relaxed, curly, braids and weaves – as long as the hair itself is healthy and strong.
I believe its not what is on my head but what is in my head that counts! I opted to try Sisterlocks (I first heard about them from my hip British sister-in-law) - which is a hair locking system developed by Dr. Joanne Cornwell. Sisterlocks do not involve the use of any chemicals, beeswax, pomades or hair extensions. I liked the appearance of Sisterlocks and loved that they are “water friendly.” (After swimming they do not need to be re-done to maintain their appearance.) Because Sisterlocks are so thin, they do not put additional tension on my fine hair.
I am not sure how many locks I have. I would guess 400+…but who has time to count? My hair was locked over 2 days and took 24 hours and 2 lockiticians. My hair was done by the wonderful stylists at Sabine’s Hallway in Brooklyn, NY. Every six weeks I go in for a “retightening” – which my stylist promises won’t take more than 2-3 hours. (Update: Hmm..this might have been the Sisterlocks bait and switch….it took 4.5 hours but I was at the seven week point with a lot of new growth.)
Sisterlocks, unlike traditional locks, are formed from the bottom up using a small instrument that resembles a crochet hook. The initial result is a bit startling. Due to multiple small parts, if your hair is fine like mine, you will have a “plucked chicken” appearance at first. Sisterlocks do not require oils, moisturizers or pomades of any kind. I am a bit of a product junkie – so it was hard to go cold turkey. My lockitician warned me that conditioners or oils of any kind could cause slippage or unravelling of the locks. My sore behind outweighed my hard head and I complied with her instructions.
In my family a holiday dinner seems to always involve a critique of some one’s hair! Well, on Thankgiving it was my turn. My nephew Little K. (he’s a grown man – but he will always be Little K. to me) cornered me and began to pepper me with questions about my hair. Are those braids? How long did it take? How much did it cost? Can you take them out? (Technically, you can, but once you ask this question, most lockiticians will probably ask you to consider another hairstyle.) Do you wash it? (Sisterlocks are pretty low maintenance but yes you wash them!) My favorite question was, “Can I touch them?” (Absolutely! I was one of those pregnant women who loved belly rubs – so what’s a little head patting between relatives?) Then he turned to his mother and girlfriend and started encouraging them to get Sisterlocks. Probably not a great boyfriend move – but I was sure loving him for the compliment!
Sisterlocks can be spritzed with a little water and worn freestyle, braided together or curled for additional styling options. I call it leisure hair – less time in the hair salon – means more time playing with my kids at the beaches and resorts! Here’s a pictorial of my journey thus far. (Click on photos to enlarge)