As told by Tiffaney Robinson to Blake Newby
I considered getting locs when I was about 15-years-old. However, I decided against it because I had such a superficial connection to my hair. I was always getting a lot of compliments on the many styles I'd wear — natural, in wigs, and in weaves. I was always doing something new. It was fun, but I realize much of my self-esteem was tied to my hair.
Nonetheless, I was always very drawn to the look of locs and those who had them. So last year, with my 25th birthday approaching, I decided to get Bonita Locs, a brand of faux locs. I initially did so simply because I wanted to do a style that I hadn't done before. However, the result of me wearing the Bonita Locs was an unanticipated spiritual journey that lead to me making a drastic change to my natural hair — and finding myself in the process.
The faux locs, which took about five hours to complete, gave me an immediate boost of confidence. I felt like I had an extra pep in my step, my energy was more outgoing, and every chance I'd get, I was asking someone to take my picture so I could post the look on Instagram. I couldn't help but think of myself at 15, when locs were just a dream. My teenage self would feel so fulfilled, I thought.
After about two and a half months, it was time for me to take the Bonita Locs out. Typically, once a style of mine runs its course, I always have plans for the next one. But this was the first time that I dreaded having to take my locs down. Upon further research, I learned that loc journeys are often rooted in spirituality. At first, I didn't think locking my natural hair was something that I could do because honestly, I do care a lot about my appearance. As an aspiring actress, I was concerned that I might not get booked for jobs because my hair looks a certain way, or they'll want it to look "neater," like we often hear in the industry.
With quarantine, I had more time to sit and reflect on my relationship with my hair, and dug deeper into why I'd put off getting locs for so long. I thought about how emotionally connected I was to the faux locs, and something inside told me to finally do what I had wanted to do for years. Because I was home, I knew I wouldn't have to worry about going out and being seen. And as anyone who's started locs knows, the process isn't one of instant gratification. It takes months — even years — for them to grow. But amidst all of the political and social unrest, it felt like an opportunity to pay homage to the rich history of Black culture.
On May 2, I started my journey with the help of my mother — something that made the experience even more special. Together, we parted my hair into dozens of sections. From there, we created two-strand twists from each section using aloe vera gel. After that, I didn't touch my hair for eight weeks so the sections could bind together. Two months later, upon my first visit to a loctician, it seemed that my hair still wasn't forming. After reassurance from the stylist, though, I knew not to be discouraged. She explained that it can take six months to a year for hair to lock completely. So now, at four months in, my hair is finally beginning to lock.
You go through an internal upheaval of sorts when you start your loc journey, as it takes a lot of self-love and patience to really stick to it. The journey allows you to analyze who you are on the inside and get comfortable with how that is projected on the outside. You develop a deeper love and appreciation for how your hair is in its natural state.
The notion that locs are low-maintenance is a huge misconception, though. The most unexpected aspect for me was the time commitment. I didn't think that my hair would take this long to start to lock. I didn't expect my hair to kind of shrink, either. With locs, your growth pattern grows "up" and not "down," meaning the real length of your hair will be cut in half or even more once it's locked.
Loc specialists can be expensive, and caring for them is completely different than caring for your natural hair. Wash days, for me, are totally different. I only shampoo twice a week, since conditioner can soften and detangle the hair which doesn't help your locs stay in-tact. However, I still have to keep my scalp hydrated, so I try to oil my scalp with tea tree oil or coconut oil every three days. When it comes to re-twisting, I go see a stylist every six to eight weeks so that she can lock my new growth.
I'm still learning on this journey. I still have that worry that I'm not going to get an acting gig just because of how my hair looks, I still wake up and wish the locs were longer. But I feel much more at peace and, a lot more in tune with God. To me, that makes it all worth it.