The Hair Dilemma, A Moot Point

This is another hair post that I would like feedback on. When I wore my hair straight a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I love the styles that I can achieve with straight hair.The styles totally work with the look I want to portray.

I personally feel that locs are the natural woman's straight hair. I think any style I can achieve with straight hair, I can achieve with locs. This brings me back to the topic of... locking my hair. However this time I have different feelings as to why I feel this way. Let me start from the beginning. When I did my BC in July 2008 I knew two things:
  1. I wanted to be natural
  2. I wanted to have long hair
Since then, I've had starter locs, free-strand natural hair, and straight hair. I've learned a lot about my hair. Here are some facts that I've learned over the past 2.5 years.

  • My hair does not hang down (with the exception of a FRESH braid/twist-out, which lasts one day)
  • My hair loves to shrink, at percentages unbelievable, 50-75% of it's actual length
  • My hair is naturally dry, and extremely kinky
  • My hair thrives in protective styles (twists, braids, updos)
  • My hair doesn't hold a "mold" well (mold = twists, braids, rods)

Pic 1 - May 2009, 9 month in locs
Pic 2 - January 2010, Day one braid out
Pic 3 - January 2010, Day two braid-out *same one*

Knowing some of these facts and looking at the two things I know I find a dichotomy. The fact is, if I continue this free-strand natural thing, my length will be a figment of most people's imagination. Just click here to see what I mean. So, what's the point of having long hair if it's not noticeable, and you can't enjoy it?

I don't do braid-outs, twist-outs, bantu-knot outs or any other "out" styles often because they lead to knots and tangles which, lead to breakage. Not to mention, my hair will look like an afro after one day anyway. There are naturals whose hair thrives with these styles, however I am not one of them. Thus, I am left with a dilemma. I don't want long hair just to know for myself - I want the world to know! I also do not like braids, and I'm temperamental with twists. Therefore, I feel like locs will allow me to show off my length.

It's funny, because I started writing this two weeks ago and felt that I would definitely loc my hair, however I'm on the fence about it now. I know a lot of kinky (haired) ladies follow this blog, I want your feedback! What do you all think about this? Do you feel my dilemma? What do you do to show off your length with really tightly coiled hair? Does showing your length matter to you?

One final example: Kimmaytube. I like Kimmaytube - love what she brings to the natural hair community. Her length shows dedication, and is commendable. However, she keeps her hair wrapped up 90% of the time, masking her true length. Again, I wonder - what's the point?


  1. If a big thing for you is noticeable length then maybe locs are the way to go to achieve that look.

    What I've found is stretching my hair via twists give me the most length. This usually means that I don't get a style that really shows my length until maybe a week after I wash. Dry twist outs on stretched hair give the most noticeable length for me.

  2. I feel like I go through the same dilemma every once in a while. I've been natural for 3 years and my hair is longer now than it was before I did the bc. The problem is it doesn't all. I don't like straightening my hair and braid outs/twist outs don't create a noticeable pattern. I don't want to loc my hair because I know I change my mind often. I don't want to get a year out of locs only to end up doing another bc because I don't want locs anymore.

    Showing off my length does matter to me...and now you have me considering locs

  3. I keep my hair longer because I like the laziest route possible. I keep my hair in twists or braids 90% of the time which is low maintenance. Longer hair is more practical because I can style it easily - easier to hold into a bun, easier to braid into a french braid.

    I personally do not care to show off all my length and most of my preferred styles are updos when my hair is free. I am creeped out by hair rubbing on my back lol. My shrinkage is identical to Mwedzi's. If I LET my hair shrink fully it always goes to 1-2 inches. I never let it shrink fully because it is a nightmare to detangle afterwards.

    I can do twist outs or knot outs and they will last pretty long if it does not rain (which being in UK is highly likely). The thing with twist outs and braids outs is that the hair needs to be super dry to hold the set. This means wetting (including moisture in the bathroom), humidity and moisturising is out of the question. I guess that is the only tip I can give you for trying to keep sets is to keep the hair very dry and forget about rewetting for 2-3 days.

    In terms of showcasing length - what is the difference between wearing your hair in twists most of the time and loc'ing? I can see it saving you some time in undoing but other than that?

    My hair has been mistaken for locs (7 week old well washed twists) so in a sense I am 'seen' as a loc'er who sometimes has free hair lol.

  4. @ Christine - LOL!!! I also change my mind a lot and don't like the permanence of locs...hence why I don't know that I'll ever really commit to them.

    @ Jc - Thanks for the tips. I know my hair gets wet in the shower because I don't wear a cap. I'll keep this in mind when I wear my braid/twist-outs. Also, I think I could benefit from using a "holding cream". I feel like if I can hold out until my twists reach my shoulders shrunken, this conversation will be a done deal.

  5. I guess it comes down to personal preferences. As you mention it is important to you that people actually see your "true" length. I don't know if locs is the way to go or not but if that's what feel right for you then you should go for it.
    One thing I would like to say, I don't if it is true because I did research to much on this but, apparently locs works on shrunken hair. Therefore you may not get to full length right away. (just some food for thought)


  6. Okay clearly I don't have the same dilemma that you do with hair (trust I've got a whole world of them as well). However, I'm going to give you my opinion anyway. A girl loves options! I may not understand all of the difficulties of growing out your hair, but I feel like you would like the option of being able to straighten your hair or try different styles. No people might not see your length all the time, but I think it opens up options for you. For example I have naturally straight/not cute waves and flips type hair. I have found that curling my hair is really difficult for me and my hair won't hold well, but I can quickly straighten it. I ended up getting my hair permed so I can wear it curly or easily straighten it.

    I'm just saying, leave your options open. I feel like we always want what we don't have (curly vs straight, short vs long, etc). If you can find a way to have the best of both worlds... why not?

  7. I would like to say first that I love reading your blog!!!

    I can understand your dilemma completely. The shrinkage that I have makes it difficult to see my length. For the longest I wore my hair in two strand twists done on wet hair (my hair seemed to stay more moisturized this way). When my hair was twisted this way, they were neck length, and even shorter in the front! I was concerned that my wasn't growing...until I straightened my hair and I realzed it was arm pit length.

    My sister, on the other hand, wears locs and her hair is bra strap length. She also has very thick hair. She loves that her hair has grown so long and of course the length is apparent. The issue that she has is that she says her locs are heavy and wearing updo type styles and ponytails give her headaches. She actually does not style them much at all.

    I have considered many times to loc my hair. What has kept me from doing so is that my hair is very thin, expecially my edges, and I am scared the locs won't look right.

    To show off the length I do have, I do braidouts and twistouts on dry hair. I don't mind wearing protective styles because I like wearing my hair up and out of my face and off my neck.

    What made you cut off your locs before?

  8. Thanks for the feedback, I'm reading each comment carefully!!!

    @ dre - I actually combed out my locs after I found the Black Girl Long Hair Blog, because I thought the only way for someone with my texture to have long hair was with locs. BGLH told me otherwise! I know I would get shrinkage with locs, but nothing close to what I have now!

  9. OK, it's me back again pleading with you to not get locs. i know how you feel but i strongly believe ou can eventually get the same thing following Loo's routine if you just stick with it. PLUS you will have the versatility of being able to show off your loose length every once in a while PLUS hey! the twists show off your length too! If you will recall, I had locs for ten years (they would have been waist length at the end if i hadn't cut them repeatedly) and in all honesty the only reason i had them was because i wanted to grow my hair long and had no idea how to take care of my loose hair. locs aren't terrible but they aren't as versatile as they might seem (unless i guess if you got sister locs, never had them so i don't know) and they get really heavy as they get longer and can take forever to dry and thus stinky and worst of all THEY DON'T EVERSHRINK. some days with locs, i just wanted shorter hair and the only way i ever achieved it was with SUPER time-consuming bantu knots.

    i urge you to be patient and see how you do in the 3 in 6 (i am doing it too - i'm "olamina" on youtube. you can also see me with locs on there) because it still doesn't seem like you WANT locs, it seems like you are kinda where i was some years back but i am pleading with you...don't cave. victory is nearly ours!!(*insert heroic wonder woman stance here*)

    p.s. - of course, it's your hair and i ain't mad atcha whatver you do. my love of your blog goes deeper than that!

  10. I feel your dilemma ... but my feelings have transformed over time. I'm in twists majority of the time because my hair can't handle out styles for long. It's also next to impossible to show off my true length. I've tried flat-ironing a couple of times, and it just shrinks up in minutes. I try to show "some" length by wearing a flat-ironed bun thereafter.

    However, though my shrinkage is INSANE, I've come to embrace it overtime. Though I'm in twists almost 24-7, I've come to love the style over twistouts and braidouts (which I feel make me look like a little kid anyway). It's also become fun to surprise myself and others with the length under all this shrinkage.

    I've had on and off loc fever .. but it's been more so because I like the looks of locs and not necessarily to showcase length. I understand where you are coming from, but perhaps, with more length your feelings may change? Even though Mwedzi has intense shrinkage, her dry styles (i.e., twistouts and twists) have gotten noticeably longer over time.

  11. Everything you said made complete sense. I'm only able to get length when I straighten or blow dry my hair. Since that's too much work and heat damage is no fun I just style it wet. So locs would be a great alternative, but do you think your ready to fully go through that process just for length??

  12. @Camille Acey - you are too funny! One of the main reasons I'm not sure abt locs is due to so many loc'd women combing out their hair and vowing to never go back. I take it as a warning. I guess I just have to accept my hair for what it is and deal with it.

    @Loo - I too like the look of SOME locs, but I fear that mine won't look how I want them, lol. I do think I'll be happier with more length too.

    @Mrs J - I don't think I want locs just for the length, at least not right now. There's something abt the semi-permanence in locs that I just don't like.

  13. a few more notes:

    * as for your "out" styles. an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. that is to say, maybe you should wrap up your hair and put it in a shower cap before you shower and also try Loo's moisturizing once a week. Kimmaytube has been a source of lots of information, but the wetting my hair every few days is something I can no longer get with. I seal with a shea butter mix on wash day and that's it for at least a week and frizz is avoided.

    *if you get to a certain length, you might try "heat training" your hair like longhairdontcare(youtuber) if showing length is really your priority.

    *as for shrinkage, have you tried washing in twists? if i just let my hair shrink, it is tangle city so i do my best to never let it go there. i recommend this method.

    OK, well i think i've done more than my part to keep you on the path. keep the faith, kiddo.

  14. Monique,

    I believe our hair type is VERY similar and I TOTALLY feeel you on the shrinkage dilemma; however, like many of the other natural sisters who have commented, I think you should NOT do the locs and learn the next level in what your hair may be asking for in terms of growth and length maintenance.

    Do you take supplements? Also, check out Sunshower 143. I have followed her hair washing/conditioning routine for over 6 months now and my hair has grown tremendously, especially my bangs.


    Lastly, I haven't seen your hair routine, but think about introducing some sulfate free products if you don't already.

    God bless you and HAPPY GROWING!


  15. I struggle with this too, both wanting locs and intense shrinkage. As far as locs, I know I wont be getting them anytime soon because they are a little to much of a commitment. I twist my hair 98% of the time, and they really look like locs, its hard to show length but maybe if you braid them overnight you will see some of your lenght? For out styles, I rarely wear them but when I do its always better the second day after styling because its stretched.

    Im sorry I dont have real advice for you, length does matter to me. But the more I wear twist im used to my shrinkage and enjoy seeing my length when I pull on a shrunken twist. i too have very tightly coiled hair, so I totally feel where you are coming from :)

  16. For me length is related to ease of styling. With medium length to longer hair, you can do a bun. I have never done a braid out or a twist out, it just seems like too much work! However, I might try it this summer. My hair is mainly twisted, braided or cornrowed. When it's "out", I prefer updo kind of styles.

    If you liked having straight hair, why not straighten once in a while. Wear your twists or braids the rest of the time. Revel in the fact that with these you can have different styles and looks that are unique and no else is rocking! And when you want, you can let it loose :)

    I like locs but I find them restrictive in some ways. I say don't give up your free strands just yet.


  17. If I did a braid out and went into the shower with out a shower cap my hair would shrink up too--it's a natural tendency of our hair.

    I've found that if I keep my hair stretched (read: away from water once in an "out" style) my style stays fresh for 5 days or so (and I don't re-braid/re-twist at night). The detangling session is also easier than on shrunken hair.

    If you don't like the shower caps maybe you could re-twist/re-braid at night and take a shower with the braids/twists in. That way your hair would get moist but not ruin the style.

    A gel helps too--I like Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel. It's all-natural, lightweight and is $9 for 8 oz at Whole Foods. I use it over my leave-in before styling.

  18. I have locs for the noticeable length, too. Over time length has gotten less important to me, and I've cut my locs to chin-length twice. (It just got too hot for me in the summertime!) But I had locs for 7 years before I got to that point, so I finally got to experience what it is like to have hair down my back.

    I like wearing locs, because I can wash and go, or I can curl my hair, or I can braid my hair...whatever I want. At some point I may cut off my locs and remain natural without them, but I am not ready for that change.

  19. I keep my hair in PS 90% of the time too. My goal is similar to kimmaytube--to retain length. I feel that once I do reach my length goal,that I will start wearing my hair out and be able to show it! And, perhaps I won't...I'm lazy too..and PS just fits my lifestyle!

    I rocked locs for 3 years. I think they would definitely look good on you. I loved them!! I know you mentioned you worry about your hair not hanging down...but I can tell you after 9 months of locing they won't hang down. It won't be until they start growing out more. I used to dislike the fact that the start locs stood up everywhere...i think I wore a headband for an entire year until I was comfortable with how they looked. But, they will mature and come into their own.

    Good luck to you and can't wait to follow your journey.