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Locs are the ultimate carefree hairstyle for Black women. They’re low-maintenance, versatile and earthy. Some people are hesitant to commit to locs, but often this hesitation is based on myths and misconceptions.

The truth is, dreadlocks are among the healthiest hairstyles for Afro-textured hair. Manipulating your hair is what causes damage, and dreadlocks require very little manipulation. A little moisture and regular re-twisting are all that this hairstyle requires.

If you’ve been considering living the loc life, here are three myths that you should forget about right away.

Myth #1: Dreadlocks are unclean and can’t be washed.

This is, perhaps, the most persisting myth about dreadlocks, and yet it’s COMPLETELY untrue. Developing long locs is not as simple as neglecting your hair and letting it do its thing. In fact, loctitians (hairstylists who specialize in locs) say that unclean, greasy hair is actually less likely to turn into locs because the hair is too slippery. The cleaner the hair, the more well-formed the locs will be.

The only difference between dreadlocked hair and unlocked hair is that dreadlocks have not been detangled. It’s important to regularly wash and condition locs, even long after they have fully developed.

Myth #2: You can’t style locs.

Another hesitation that people often have with this hairstyle is that it’s not versatile enough. Dreadlocks are dreadlocks, right? No more switching it up every week, right? WRONG.

Dreadlocks can be styled in a ton of different ways. You can French braid them, rock an updo or do a million other hairstyles that you would do with loose hair. Dreadlocks can even be formed into Bantu knots, twist-outs and braid-outs just like loose kinks and curls!

You can absolutely still get fun haircuts with dreadlocks, too. Asymmetrical bobs, long layers and other trendy hairstyles are all fair game for women with locs.

Myth #3: Locs are always permanent.

This one is the most understandable misconception. Committing to dreadlocks is no small order because they can potentially last for years of your life. The longer that you have your dreadlocks, the better they will look — but they’ll also become harder and harder to remove.

Dreadlocks are not, technically, permanent. You can comb out even the most fully formed locs with a large helping of patience and gentleness. After all, dreadlocks are nothing more than hair that has been allowed to tangle over and over again.

However, combing out dreadlocks is not a small job. It can take several days and lots of manpower. You should definitely still consider locs a huge commitment—just keep in mind that they CAN be combed out if you really, really want to.

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Tips for Keeping Long Hair Healthy

Healthy, long hair is beautiful to look at and touch but caring for it can be a challenge. Long hair is prone towards split ends and breakage, especially if you color, perm, or straighten it. If you don’t care for it properly, you can end up with hair that’s frazzled and damaged beyond repair. Don’t let that happen to your hair. Here are some simple tips you can use to keep your long hair soft and healthy.

Treat Long Hair Kindly

It takes years to grow long hair. Of course, you already knew that! Don’t destroy years of growth by pulling your hair back tightly with a rubber band. The traction will lead to breakage and damage. Instead, pull your hair back with a coated band made specially designed for hair. You can find them at most drugstores in the hair care section.

Be gentle when combing or brushing. Never use a brush on wet hair. Keep a wide-toothed comb on hand to gently comb wet hair in small sections – starting from the ends and working up. Don’t brush your hair unless it’s completely dry. Use a natural bristle brush to reduce the risk of damage.

To Have Long, Healthy Hair, Here’s What to Avoid

The two biggest enemies of long, beautiful hair are heat and chemical treatments. It’s tempting to use a blow dryer to dry your hair fast, especially when you’re in a rush, but it’s healthier to let it dry naturally. An alternative is to let it dry naturally until it’s seventy percent dry and then finish it off with the blow dryer.

Use a heat activated condition to protect your hair when drying it and keep the hair dryer as far from your hair as possible. Keep the dryer moving so it doesn’t stay in one place too long. Stay away from curling iron, flat irons, hot rollers, and crimpers.

Thinking about perming or straightening your long hair? Don’t. Perms are usually too damaging. Hair coloring can also be damaging — especially if you lighten your hair too many shades. Never use bleach on long hair and let a professional do a coloring job — preferably with a low peroxide formulation or henna.

How to Care for Long Hair: Other Tips

Don’t shampoo too often and always use a conditioner — at least on the ends. Do a hot oil or deep conditioning treatment every two weeks, religiously. Conditioners don’t repair damage but they do help moisten and protect the hair shaft.

Trim your hair at least every two months. Many people neglect this step because they don’t want to lose the length. Don’t be shortsighted. Not doing regular trims will lead to split ends which can’t be repaired. Find a hairdresser who understands that a half-an-inch means just that and no more.

Caring for Long Hair: The Bottom Line?

Treat long hair with a little T.L.C. and enjoy the many benefits of having long, healthy hair that turns heads and raises eyebrows.

References:

LaFlash, Teri. 2010. Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long, and Strong.


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