Natural Spotlight: Nicole

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Today's "Natural Spotlight" is courtesy of everyone's favorite California Girl, Nicole (Buttahflyhustla). She's enlightening readers about the do's and don'ts of maintaining locs. 

1. Introduce yourself to us (are you: loc'ed, newly natural, natural-n-pressed, etc.)
Hello, I can't figure out what my name is today, and I have loc'ed hair.
2. How long have you been natural and why did you decide to embark on this journey?
I've been loc'ed 4 1/2 years now. My first natural experience in my adult years started in about 1995/96 with a short afro. It was the easiest thing to do for a struggling college student. When I joined the work force, I straightened my hair again in order to blend in better and to offer myself more versatility. Chameleon changing hairstyles had always been a part of my personality and I wasn't willing to give that up. I even experimented with twisties (a popular men's style at that time), but never let them loc. Then in 2001 I managed to grow a very big afro. I found someone to give me precisely perfect two strand twists that even blended in my relaxed ends. Although I tipped her well I was never able to reach her again. Fast forward to 2003. I discovered that I was pregnant with a little girl who's hair, no matter how nappy, I knew I would never straighten. I remembered as a child being burned so badly by the pressing comb that my mother had to get prescription antibiotic cream to help it heal. Right after it healed, we went back to the SAME woman who burned me like that in the first place. This is torture I would never subject my little girl to. But, I couldn't very well let her go natural without first showing her how beautiful natural could be. It had to be done!

3. How did people react to the changes you made to your hair? Were they supportive or against it?
Many people in the professional environment thought that I was going through some things mentally I guess.
It was kind of funny conversing with folk whose gaze would keep going up to your hair line. I remember a friend said, that would be ok if you owned your own business or something. This friend once complimented me "it's so beautiful on you." And then when her son remarked that he would one day loc his future daughters her she said "don't put that mess in my grandbaby's hair!" This all in the same breath.

My mom is very much into blending in and had things to say I think that more reflected a lack of understanding about herself than anything. "They let you wear your hair to work like that?" As if straightening hair was a part of offiical dress code attire somewhere (it probably is). But many black women see their new growth as a flaw to their appearence. I mean it is if you're going to straighten (either or I say), but we have a choice, and many black women have forgotten this. Most of my family weren't surprised at all. I mean, some even wondered what took me so long. It's like the locs matched my personality.

4. What's your hair regimen?
Every one to two weeks I use Dr. Bonner's Magic Soap to wash my hair. It dissolves dirt, which is important for someone with strands of hair up to 1/4 inch in some places. Before washing I pretreat my scalp with the juice squeezed from 2 lemons. This rids my scalp and hair of build up that could otherwise be twisted into the locks. I use a lock butter called i'Tal, made here locally in the Sacramento area. I can only get it from my stylist. I've tried to contact the producer with no success. After twisting and clipping my locks down, I sit under the hot dryer for what seems like an eternity. This is the fatal flaw with this style. The hair dryer is like my little torture chamber.

5. Maintaining locs can be a challenge if you devoted time to their care. What are some tips and tricks you can share with others that have locs?
Cover your hair before going to bed every night. This will help your maintenance look better longer. Take care of your scalp, lemon juice is the best method for me. My hair stays lemony fresh for weeks. Only get your hair colored professionally. I experimented when my colorist went on maternity leave and gave myself a case of eczema. This is not fun. Avoid pillows and bed coverings that offer additional fluff and fuzz. You'll be working lint into your hair all night. Attack every lint ball immediately upon site!!! Be careful with product usage. Products can cause nasty build up that can not be removed easily. Pure shea butter is a main build up culprit. Shea butter is ok when blended with something but not as a stand alone. Don't assume just because it's natural or pure that it's ok for your locs.

6. Any advice for those considering loc'ing their hair?
Research, research, and more research. Have a solid plan for maintaining your hair once you loc it. This will offer the greatest success.

7. What is your staple hairstyle for the summer?
I don't have a staple hair style. I'm too diva for that.

8. What's your favorite hair accessory?
Locs and hair accessories are known enemies. There's pretty much nothing you can buy in a store that will hold your hair up or in place. I use my locks to fasten other parts of my hair down or up when styling. It takes practice but almost any straight hair style can be achieved with locs as well. I try to use pins as little as possible for up-do's. Clip on flowers are always great because their only function is to sit there and be pretty and not to hold anything in place.

9. Is there a blog or website we can follow you at?
Not for hair specifically. But I write a lot about my tragic and sometimes exciting life (hair included) at