I have had natural hair all my life, my hair has never been relaxed or straightened. I felt that if I straightened my hair, it would mean that I was agreeing with people who say that black kinky hair is not beautiful. I would be selling out and conforming to the idea that to be beautiful, you had to have Caucasian features. I love and embrace my blackness, and that extends to my hair.
I kept my natural hair, however, maintaining natural hair is difficult. To wash, treat and style natural hair can be very time-consuming and expensive. I wanted to find a middle ground, a way in which I could keep my natural hair but have a hairstyle that is versatile, easy to manage, and inexpensive. After conducting my research, it was down to installing traditional dreadlocks or sisterlocks; I opted for the latter.
I choose sisterlocks because it is an established system of installing and maintaining locs. The locs are very thin, which means that they could be curled and styled in just about any hairstyle you can fathom. You have to be trained to install sisterlocks, this ensures that there is quality control and guarantees that I would get excellent results.
What are Sisterlocks?
Sisterlocks, founded in 1993 by Dr. JoAnne Cornwell, is a system that has established methods of installing and maintaining locs. Installation is done using a patented latch hook tool by trained consultants. Sisterlocks has since been trademarked and operates under the motto: “Sisterlocks is not about a hairstyle, it’s about a lifestyle”.
Sisterlocks aims to empower women of African descent who are interested in cultural self-expression, to embrace a natural hair care system that is “self-affirming and truly gorgeous”.
How does Sisterlocks differ from Traditional Locs?
While the general idea is the same, there are stark differences in the installation time, installation method, styling versatility, installation cost, and loc size.
When sisterlocks are being installed, the consultant will complete three sample locs with different weaving patterns to see which works best for your hair texture. After three weeks, the consultant evaluates the samples, decides which the best choice, and begins installation. This process can take up to 48 hours or more depending on the size of your head, the speed and expertise of the consultant, hair length, and hair texture.
Traditional locs however, may take around 3-4 hours depending again on your loctician, hair length/texture, and head size.
Installing sisterlocks does not require the use of any chemicals or products. Instead, the consultant uses a latch hook tool to create an intricate pattern that may produce around 400 locs.
A loctician can install traditional locs by using any of these methods:
- Comb coils–Ideal for short hair, one single-strand twist is made in small to medium sections of the hair using a locking product such as wax.
- Two-strand twists–The hair is sectioned and twisted with two strands of hair using a locking product.
- Braids–Braiding the hair in small to medium plaits. This allows for styling versatility.
- Interlocking–this is done using tools such as a latch hook or a crochet needle, Ideal for persons with relaxed ends or fine textures of hair.
- Palm rolling– two strands of hair are rolled in the palm of the handing to form one loc.
Because of the method used to create sisterlocks, the loc sizes are thin almost like a strand of hair. As a result of its size, the styling options are endless. Sisterlocks can; be curled, create beautiful chignon and other types of low and high buns, colored, twisted, wrapped, and the list goes on.
Traditional locs are beautiful and produce styles that are more rugged compared to sisterlocks. While traditional locks can be colored, when curled, the results produced are polar opposite to that of sisterlocks. Given that the loc strands are thicker, it would be difficult to twist or wrap.
Installation Cost and Loc Size
Due to the intricate, time-consuming pattern that is created when sisterlocks are installed, the cost for installation is upwards of JMD 15,000.00 or USD 100.00. However, this cost may vary depending on your consultant. Conversely, traditional locs are a lot cheaper, it may cost around JMD 6,000.00 or USD 40.00, again depending on your loctician.
The loc size for a typical sisterlocks is around 0.5cm wide while traditional locs are around 1.5cm or larger depending on your preference.
Given that there is no set standard and training to install traditional locs, locticians are many and easier to find. Conversely, sisterlocks consultants have to be trained, as a result, the selection pool is drastically less. For example, when I first started my sisterlocks journey in 2009, there were only two certified consultants in Jamaica, one in Kingston and one in Manchester, now, there are Nine (9) consultants in five Parishes. However, you can find traditional locticians in every other beauty salon and there are thousands of beauty salons in Jamaica.
Caring for Sisterlocks
Your sisterlocks hair care regime is as unique as you, as such, it can be designed to suit your lifestyle, budget, and preference. However, there are some basics that you are advised to observe if you want to maintain healthy beautiful locs:
It is recommended that you avoid wetting your hair for at least two weeks after the initial installation. However, after the first 4 weeks, you are advised to wash your hair every other week. This can be done using specialized Sisterlocks shampoos and conditioners or any clarifying shampoo to safely remove built-up grease and other impurities and any moisturizing conditioner that “waters” your hair, making it easier to handle.
Once you’ve finish washing, you are advised to use the L.O. C method to treat your hair. “The LOC method is a technique that comprises applying Liquid to hydrate the hair, Oil to lock in moisture, and Cream to prevent moisture loss”.
Sisterlocks.com recommends that “you schedule your first few re-tightening visits at 4–6-week intervals so that the progress of your locs can be monitored”. Once your locs mature, you and your consultant will determine the frequency with which you re-tighten.
To prevent breakage and drying of the hair, it is recommended that you hydrate your hair daily using a combination of one part water and one part vitamin E or castor oil to spritz the hair using a spray bottle.
When styling your hair, avoid styles that put tension on your hair as this may cause a thinning of the hairline.
I have had sisterlocks for twelve years and I do not regret my choice. My locs are beautiful, easy to manage and ideal for my busy schedule. I encourage anyone wanting to go the natural route to like me, choose sisterlocks.