Basic dreadlock maintenance: Lock Lacing

Hair Lacing

Today I am going to discuss a type of lock maintenance that is not for the masses: lacing. I’m sure that there are many different names for this technique but I don’t know any of them, I call it lacing. The reason I say that this technique is not for the masses is that it makes your locks permanent. Some people assume that locks are permanent but this is not true. Locks are simply a controlled form of hair matting and it can be combed out – it just takes patience. One MAJOR exception to combing out dreadlocks is lacing.

Lacing is a technique that loops the lock end through the new growth at the root to create a knot. The amount of times each lock needs to be laced will be determined by the amount of new growth available. Some people using lacing rather than palm rolling as their sole form of new growth maintenance because lacing doesn’t pull the roots of your hair (and thus is kinder to your edges than palm rolling) and it doesn’t wash out. I do not use lacing as my primary form of new growth maintenance because it is very time-consuming. It takes me about double the time to lace my hair than to palm roll my hair. Typically, I lace my roots about once or twice a year.

Start with a clean head of hair. It really doesn’t matter too much if the hair is wet or dry with this technique, unless you also plan to wetset your hair at the same time. It is important to make sure that the hair is moisturized and not so dry it is brittle, however. Brittle hair could possibly snap with this technique. I like to moisten my fingers with a little Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercream before starting each lock.

Step 1: Take a lock and grasp the new growth. Smooth the hair with your fingers until it is straight enough to make a divide in the new growth with your fingers.

smoothing new growth

Step 2: Divide the new growth into two sections with your fingers

divide the new growth into two sections

Step 3: Grasp the end of the lock and thread it through the new growth divide that you created

thread the lock through the new growth divide that you created

Step 4: Pull the hair through the divide to create a knot.

Pull the hair through the divide to create a knot

Step 5: Repeat until the majority of the new growth is knotted, changing the direction of the knot each time. If you do not change the direction of the knot you will end up with a “V” separation in your new growth and (eventually) your lock.

That’s all! Repeat these steps for each lock in your head.


Locks on the Street – DC: Brandon


How long have you been locked?
4 Years

What made you decide to lock/go natural?
To really be honest, I started my dread locks because I felt like it was better and less costly way to have hair and not have to have maintenance done every week.

Who does your hair?
I go to a salon

If you go to a salon, what is the stylist’s name and salon?
Stylist: Sade
Salon: Le Touche Beauty Salon
2615 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204

What hair product could you not live without?
Jamaican Mango & Lime No More Itch Braid, Twist, and Lock Gel

Keep your locks maintained! Go to the salon every two weeks.

Brightening Lemon Hair Rinse

I love to rinse my hair with rosemary, but rosemary darkens hair overtime. While I love the exoticness of my dark brown hair, I also love my blonde and gold streaks. 🙂 In order to keep my blonde streaks as bright as possible, I started rinsing my hair with this lemon rinse after applying any rosemary.

Brightening Lemon Rinse
Lemon oil is a great hair tonic as lemon is good for making hair shiny and removing dandruff. Lemon oil also has bleaching qualities, so it helps to lighten blonde hair and counter-act the effects of rosemary rinses (which darken hair). This rinse leaves your hair shiny and smelling of lemons.

1 16oz bottle
10-12 drops lemon essential oil (or 2 tbsp fresh pressed lemon oil)
16 oz distilled water

Pour lemon essential oil and distilled water into bottle. Shake well. Use to rinse hair after washing.

Knots on the Street – DC: Patrice


How long have you been natural?
9 years

What made you decide to lock/go natural?
I decided to go natural in high school. I was looking at my hair and felt like the perm made my hair look dull and dead, so I cut it off.

Who does your hair?
I go to a salon.

If you go to a salon, what is the stylist’s name and salon?
Stylist: Ashley
Salon: Noire Salon
8225-A Georgia Ave
2nd Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

What hair product could you not live without?
I love olive oil!

Honey Mayo Protein Hair Mask

Honey Mayo Hair Mask

Every winter the cold damages my hair. Natural hair needs a lot of moisture and winter rips it away much faster than I can add it, so my locks have been shedding a lot lately. In order to combat this hair stress, I’ve been treating my hair with a protein mask (recipe) that I got from Freakz & Geekz. This recipe has been the savior of my hair for a couple of months now.

Honey Mayo Protein Conditioner
Because hair is a protein, protein conditioning treatments penetrate easily, getting deep into the hair-shaft. Use of protein masks/treatments stop hair breakage, rebuild hair structure and makes your hair shine and grow. If your hair is healthy, only use a protein treatment once a month, if necessary. If your hair is damaged (chemical damage, shedding, etc) use a protein treatment 2-3 times a month, no more than once every other week. Protein treatments are great right after having a chemical service (color, bleaching, highlights, etc.), too.

Note: Do not use protein treatments daily or weekly! Protein treatments penetrate the hair-shaft, so too much protein will cause the hair to become brittle and have breakage.

Eggs are rich in protein, which helps to make the hair follicle stronger (thus less split ends). Eggs also smoothes the hair, has thickening agents, and adds body and shine to hair. Mayonnaise adds moisture and shine to the hair. Honey helps soothe itchy scalp and stops hair loss. Olive oil helps to tame frizzy hair, relieves hair damage, and moisturizes (especially in winter!)

1 cup hair conditioner (I use Aussie Moist)
¼ cup olive oil
2 eggs (shoulder length hair, 1 egg if hair is shorter)
3 tbsp honey
½ cup mayonnaise

Mix the conditioner, olive oil, honey, and mayo until blended. Add eggs. Whip until frothy and smooth. Separate hair into four sections. Apply conditioner – one section at a time – until hair is evenly saturated. Wrap hair in plastic and let sit for 5 hours or overnight.

Rinse conditioner out and wash with moisturizing shampoo if needed.

I start by parting my hair into four sections. I braid each section loosely and tie them off with a covered rubber band. Section by section I apply the conditioner, making sure to completely saturate my hair, especially the ends and any damaged sections of locks. Once I have completed a section I re-braid the hair.

Once I am finished applying the conditioner I take bobby pins and pin the sections of hair onto the top of my head (nothing fancy, I just want it off my neck), then I wrap my hair in plastic. Because I sleep with this conditioning mask on I also cover the plastic with a scarf before sleeping at night.

Second Chance Locks – Keven Cotton

Redo. Take 2. Let’s run that back. All are requests for a second chance and all would accurately capture my 2nd go round with locks. I cut off my locks about 6 years ago after having grown them for 4 years. While I can point to several reasons for cutting them off (didn’t think that I could get a job in policy with locks; locks were becoming a fad; my locks were defining me instead of me defining me), I realize now that I gave up on my locks as opposed to fighting through the difficult stages that come with having locks. Unfortunately for me, it took growing locks over again and seeing people with long locks and knowing that mine would have been longer to fully appreciate the locks I had.

If you have locks, you can point to at least 3 periods in the first year of having locks that will make you throw up your hands in frustration. For me, the tough times were: initially growing out my hair, trusting that those baby locks would actually grow into something, and being patient when some of your hair has locked while other sections stubbornly resistant to the process. Couple that with friends and family offering their comments and you’re often left with only your commitment to the process as motivation.

There’s a symbiotic relationship between growing locks and your personal growth. While I was still committed to growing my locks, I didn’t feel that I was growing. That could be why I felt that my locks were beginning to define me instead of me defining me.

After about a year to two years, that commitment is rewarded as you can begin wearing your locks in multiple styles and others begin seeing and appreciating your efforts. The funny thing about having locks for longer than 2 years is that you can find yourself in the “now what” stage. “Now” that your locks are down to or past your shoulders, “what” do you do with them? Perhaps you never thought that your locks would get this long. Maybe you don’t know anyone that can style your locks and you’re tired of pulling your locks back in a ponytail. Or, it could just be a hot summer in DC and your locks make you feel 10-15 degrees hotter. The difficult or trying stages of having locks are not just in the beginning. Throughout the time that you have locks, there will be times when the easiest answer is to cut them off and as well all know, the easy way is not often the best option.

When I cut my locks, I promised myself that I would re-grow them if: 1) went to graduate school; 2) worked in the education field; or 3) started my own business. That was as much a challenge to myself to find a path and follow it as it was a recommitment to my locks. As for my second go round with locks, I’ve been growing my hair since October 2009 and actually twisting/locking since June 2010. My hair is definitely in that 6 month window where some hair has locked and some sections, especially the top of my head, are resisting the locking process. The difference between having locks now and 6 years ago is that I’m ok with the process. I’m ok with my locks looking fuzzy and I’m ok with them freshly twisted. Locks, like any relationship, has its ups and downs. The key to not getting frustrated or just “cutting your losses” is patience, understanding and belief in the end results.

I’ll be honest, in these early stages, I am not ashamed to visit a loctician to get my locks re-twisted. However, when the funds are low, I will set aside the 3-4 hours necessary to wash and re-twist my locks myself. There are many people who have locks who will tell you that going to a loctician or natural hair specialist takes away from the process of having locks. Personally, I’m ok with going to a loctician, especially in the early stages. Getting your locks off to a successful start is critical so whether you go to your cousin, friend, or hairdresser, just make sure that they know what they’re doing. But I also subscribe to the belief that if you have locks, you should know how to re-maintain your locks yourself. Sure, it feels good to have someone scrub your scalp and re-twist your hair while you check your email but that’s the easy way out. Having locks is demanding and time-consuming but it is that process that bonds everyone who has locks. It’s like a badge of honor. If you see someone with long locks, you respect them for the time they put in. At the same time, if you see someone with baby locks, you respect them because you remember when you were just starting out and you can appreciate how far you’ve come.

Locks are definitely a labor of love whose fruits you not see for months, sometimes years. They definitely become a part of who you are and I’m excited to embark on this path once again.

Keven Cotton is an education professional as well as an avid sports fan and blogger. Check out his blog: Opinion on Sports

Locks on the Street – DC: Larry Watson

Locks on the Street: Showing the diversity of locks and natural hair

Larry Watson

How long have you been locked?
At least 8 years

What made you decide to lock?
I had a lot of run-ins with bad barbers and got tired of it.

Who does your hair? How long does it take?
I go to the salon about once a month and my wife does my hair about once every 3-4 months.

If you go to a salon, what is the stylist’s name and salon?
I go to Big G Images and Nook’s Barber Salon.

Big G’s Images
Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 30904

Nook’s Barber Shop
15214 Sheriff Rd NE
Washington, DC 20019

What hair product could you not live without?
My favorite product is Jamaican Mango & Lime Locking Crème Wax and Jamaican Mango & Lime No More Itch Braid, Twist, and Lock Gel.

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