Why I Loc’ed Up

If you’re new here and you don’t know what I look like, too damned bad.

Just kidding.

Me and AndrewThis is me and my friend Andrew at a brewery a few weeks ago.  You’ll notice a few things about me.  One, that I am stunningly gorgeous.  And two, that I have an entire head full of dreadlocks, or locs as they’re commonly referred to.

Kidding again about the stunningly gorgeous part too.  That actually took very much premeditation.  Like I actually showered on the day we took that photo.

But I’m getting off-topic.

So, people are really curious about my hair.  Less so these days, because locs are definitely far more common than they were, but the questions I’ve gotten about this hair, ranging from questions of hygiene to even my sexuality (yes) have been plentiful.

So here’s how I came to the style.

So when I was a wee junior in high school, I had literally done every style that there is to do on a little black girl.  As a kid, my mother had relaxed our hair.  We graduated to getting it relaxed at the salon, and then in the summer time, my mom began to allow us to do box braids.  When it was time to get the braids out, we’d stay up, all night sometimes, taking the braids out, washing, and combing our hair, only to spend another day in the african hair braiding salon for them to reinstsall.

After that, we’d be in agony for like two days waiting for the braids to loosen up because they’d be snatched up so tight.  It’s truly a wonder that I have any edges at all because the women braiding really were trying to make it a point that that didn’t happen.

This is a loose guesstimate, because I really didn’t realize the magnitude of my decision, but I want to say that early on in the year of 2003, I decided that I was 100% done with having my hair pulled, yanked on, burned off, and in general, sitting still for upwards of 8 hours, waiting for a style to be finished.  To this day I can’t sit still, so I’m not exactly sure how I did it when I was so young.  But I was really sick of it, and I told my mom I wanted dreadlocks.  I didn’t know much of anything about the style, which, today, sounds really bratty and sort of trustafarian of me, but I just knew I was done with conventional hairstyles.

Now, at the time, locs were not at all popular, and were mostly being worn by men, and by women of color who were either musicians, or stereotypically, lesbians.  (Which is where the comments about my sexuality came from in the early 00s.)  My father was fairly indifferent to the decision, however, he insisted, after I attempted to start them on myself, that I see a pro.  My mother, on the other hand, was really against the decision, since she associated the style with being unclean and some unsavory characters she’d interacted with in New York.  But we went to a pro who trimmed the relaxed and damaged hair off of the ends, and began to twist my entire head.  It was short.  Like really short.  And I wish I had photos of how long it was, but again, I didn’t realize how cool it would be to document, and I never thought to take a picture.


This is me at the prom in early 2005, probably about 1.5ish, 2 years into the process?

The thing that was really cool about starting the locs, and keeping them, was that similarly to life, you don’t realize the growth is there until it’s there, in your face.  When I started the locs, they were teeny-tiny, and I didn’t have anything to hide my face with.  I felt really exposed, and my dang scalp was cold.

With each wash, and then each year, they got longer and longer.  They’re long enough now to pull back, and for my wedding, I was able to pull it into a gorgeously complex style that served, not only as fierce wedding hair, but also doubled as a face lift cause this stuff is HEAVY.

The significance, since I’ve started my locs, has shifted a lot.  Locs went from being a style of convenience for me to being something more, something from which I draw a lot of pride, and I’ve fielded a lot of (good) questions about the process.  I think about cutting it sometimes, especially during the summer when it’s hot, or I feel like I need a change.  I think about cutting it, and starting it again, but I’m not sure what the future has for me.

What questions do you have about the hairstyle?

Giuliana Rancic

I was about 16 when I decided that I was going to loc my hair up.

To that point, I’d had every hair style that one could have as a little black girl growing up in the 90s.  My hair had been permed.  My mother hand straightened my hair with the hot comb (the one that you would stick on the burner and run through your hair).  I’d rocked box braids.  And finally, when I was old enough to realize that I didn’t want anyone touching my hair or pulling it anymore, I decided that I was going to loc it up.  I don’t think my mom took me seriously at first.  Up to this point I’d been an imaginative teen, and had dreamt of being a singer, practiced my autograph over and over, changed my handwriting, tried to be a lefty, and expressed my dreams of becoming a Rockette, so she may have thought it was just one of my Cheri-isms, and she bought me a few books on it from the library, not thinking it would lead anywhere.

But I was relentless.

I loc’ed it up myself, and my parents were so horrified by the results (rightfully so), that they took me to a place to get a consultation, and then finally, to get my locs started.  They were short, little baby locs, and my mother was horrified.  She begged me to let her cut them off.  She begged me to try a wig, and then a weave.  And when it became clear that I was serious, she left it alone, and most likely resigned herself that I was just going to with short hair forever.  [Side note:  mom has since come around, and admitted that she didn’t understand what they were going to look like.  She loves it, and has since started to wear her hair natural as well.]

Since then I got into a prestigious private college, graduated college, attended graduate school, met my husband, got married, bought a house, and made a life as one of the director team at a non-profit.

All this to say that though I chose to transition my hair back to its natural form 10ish years ago, I am a productive member of society.  But wearing my hair this way made me afraid that white people would look at me and make assumptions about who I was, my education, or my capabilities as an employee.  Fears that came to light when Giuliana Rancic, a correspondent at E!, made the following comments when sizing up Zendaya’s red-carpet look from Oscar Weekend.

“I feel like she smells like patchouli oil… or maybe weed.”

She opened her hands and laughed it off.  My cheeks immediately got hot.

I was taken back to the millions of times people have asked me if I wash my hair.

I was taken back to the time I was in an interview (an interview, people), and one of the gentlemen in the interview asked me what I do with my hair when I’m running.

I was taken back to a 2007 Glamour controversy where an editor stated that natural hairstyles were a big “no-no” for the office.

Giuliana Rancic, your comments were not cool whatsoever.  People with natural hair don’t smell of illegal drugs or douse themselves in patchouli to cover up body odor.  The vast, vast majority of us lead productive lives, and it doesn’t take a classically European hairstyle to achieve any of these.  On the flip side, there are plenty of people with straight silky locks who may smell of patchouli and weed.  I know this because I worked at Whole Foods for a few months while jobs searching after school.  It depends on the individual. 

Now, do I feel like Giulina is an horrible racist?  No, probably not.  But she made an insensitive, stupid, and ignorant comment that peels away that outside layer and reveals what she truly thinks when she sees chicks like me walking down the hall with a huge mane of natural, well-maintained hair.  And that has to change.



If you were thinking natural girls don’t need maintenance, think again.

When I made the transition to natural hair, I was probably about 17-years-old.  I had been traumatized by repeated trips to the salon, where, in an effort to tame my naps, the stylist would pour chemicals on my head and allow them to sit until my hair would lie in fear of the chemicals.

Safe, right?

Eventually, the chemicals took their toll and my hair was not looking too well off by middle school.

Then, I graduated to having my hair braided all the time.  Which was fine, except the place where we went in Charlotte would pull our hair so violently, I ended up in her bathroom in tears once.  And I was too scared to ever tell her that my head usually hurt for two days after the box braids were put in.  Plus it smelled weird there.

So finally, at the tender age of 16 or 17, I got fed up with it, and I somehow decided that I was going to wear my hair in dreadlocks.  My mom gave me a really hard time about it – locs were not yet super mainstream, and she associated the style with marijuana use and dirt.

But I was really persistent, and wore my hair in a short style, and nearly 10 years later, here I am!

If any of you are thinking of going natural, and you feel moved to do it, DO IT!

Locs fit my lifestyle.  Most people assume I’m from California, largely due to my demeanor and the fact that I sound like Hilary Banks when I talk , and the locs fit the Cali lifestyle.  I’m also semi-crunchy, and I work out a ton.  But just because the locs fit my lifestyle doesn’t mean that they’re not work.

photo 1 (2)

After weeks of running and working out and washing, my hair was in a state.  I didn’t have a ton of time, so I made an appointment with someone local to maintain my locs, but she abruptly canceled on me.  My mane couldn’t wait.  It was begging for maintenance.  And the fact that she abruptly canceled on me made me a little leery.  I don’t normally let anyone touch my hair, and I’m not letting someone touch my hair who doesn’t show up for her appointments.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it was time for John Frieda’s Smoothing Shampoo + Conditioner.  I’d read reviews, and black women had said some good things about the way it had left their hair feeling.  (Normally I go for Giovanni, but I needed heavy-duty artillery for this mess).

photo 4 (2)

Post-shower + wash, the hair was already looking better, and felt a lot softer.

photo 5


And I set to the task of twisting with a few clips, since my growth was so soft and not really wanting to stay, with this.




Which leaves the hair feeling light and soft.  And there’s no smell really, which is good, cause I hate smelly hair stuff.

photo 1 (3)


Work those clips honey!

photo 3 (1)…And ta-dahhhhh!  Here is the finished product.

photo 2 (3)Soft, manageable, looking much better, and cheaper than getting it done!

Are any of you guys thinking about going natural?  Why or why not?  



Locs and workouts.

I showed up to see friends last week with fresh locs, and the compliments wouldn’t stop. For those who weren’t as familiar with locs, I got a lot of well-meaninged “Did you get a haircut? It looks sooooo good!” So here’s how it goes down.

I almost understand when women say they don’t want to work out because of their hair.

It’s not cheap. OR (as in my case)

You spend an hour methodically twisting each loc, then you dry it, and tie it in a silk scarf, only then to look like you were raised by wolves a few days later after your 20-miler. I get it.

And last week was totally one of those weeks.

I’d started rocking the famous top-knot because my roots were looking so ratch, because I’d washed after a particularly grueling workout without a twist. You never do that.

Again, a lot of folks get curious about what goes on with locs, especially if you’re an active lady (or gent) so here’s the breakdown.



Far left is new growth/what’s unraveled kind of, since last twist. Locs grow like crazy because you’re not stunting them with scissors or chemicals, so even in a week’s time (and this was far longer than a week unfortunately,) you’ll notice some fuzzies at the root. You can kind of see it in this picture a little, and one of these days, I’ll take a better one so you can really see, but my hair is really two colors, super blond on the ends, and darker toward the roots. Not in a gross tacky way, but because I’ve spend almost three entire summers outside and I run outside, the ends of my hair have captured the most sun. It looks kinda cool, but it can make for some dry times, and I have to be careful to moisturize. Instead of washing with shampoo this time because I was so dry, I went straight to conditioner and glossed it with an oil right after.

Middle is post-twist. At this point, I’ve perfected the art of the twist and I can twist up my entire head in 45 minutes. I put it in a braid so I could finish watching Orange is the New Black without running the hair dryer. Plus it’s mid-summer. If I don’t have to blast my already dry mane with hot dry air, I won’t.

Far right is the finished product. Long, fresh, smell-good, and soft locs. This is what my hair looks like for 10 minutes before I work out.

And it’s hard. I love the way my hair looks when I’m all done. I love how swingy it is. I love that my honey loves how it looks. I love that I can do stuff to it. But I’ll be danged, taking care of this thing ain’t easy! I won’t cut them today, or even a year from today. But on those long run days, where my pony is slapping me in the back of the head? Yeah, I totally think about it.

The things I do for love…

The things I do for love...

Love of my hair, of course.

In the never-ending saga of “shiz I’ve had to purchase online for my hair because they don’t put sufficient amounts of black products in regular drug stores,”  (and that is another post, for another day,) I purchased my ORS (formerly Organic Root Stimulator) Twist and Lock Gel off of Amazon. Because I’m an absolute idiot, for some reason, I inadvertently purchased 4, because I’m completely incapable of reading product descriptions because I get so excited, I just hit “proceed to checkout”. Not to worry though. My swift procurement of four of these bad boys ensures that I will not be on that frustrating hunt for this product in local drug/cosmetic stores while my hair grows at a furiously rapid pace at least until the summer, if not until the end of the year.  So rest easy folks.  Can’t cut the mane, til I finish the absolutely obscene amount of product that arrived today.

**Correction.  I opened the package, and discovered that there were 6 containers in the box, along with 2 free nail files?!  My hair’s gonna be down to my toes by the time I finish this stuff.**

Destination Run – Elon Univeristy!

So yesterday, I went to see my friend in the bustling metropolis of Burlington, NC to see him in The Music Man.  Great show.  Great music.  Good-looking cast.  Absolutely bizarre ending.  You know what I mean if you’ve ever seen it.

Music Man

So I decided to do a “destination run” thing to change my long run Sundays up. That always seems to put a little extra pep in your step, and I finished 10 miles a little faster than the last few weeks have allowed me too. I found myself at my old gorgeous alma mater, Elon University, and something about being back in my old place gave me a little extra runner’s magic.

Marathon Hair

First, I had to decide on my hair. You guys know, my hair that keeps growing and getting heavier by the minute, had caused me a little stress during this marathon prep. So I called on my good friend Kerri Walsh to inspire a hair style, and as always, she came through.  My stuff’s too thick for a braid, but I enlisted the help of a highly specialized device created by Scunci to help me maintain the overall look.


Thanks, Doll! You’re the greatest!


This is Elon.  The photo, that I took as I did my first loop through campus, simply doesn’t do the University, or the spirit of the University, any justice.  Elon is literally a botanical garden, and the facilities are to die for.  The blue of the sky?  We always have it.  On orientation weekends, it’s said that Jesus smiles, so birds sing, the swans come out, and the food in the dining halls is actually good.  I remember days where it had just snowed, and the sky looking like that less than a day after.  I almost went to University of Pittsburgh, and after laying eyes on Elon, I decided that that was where I was going to end up.  I don’t think I’d be half the person I was without what I was taught here.

Elon House

I ran past this little house I lived in after my senior year with Emily Main, still to this day one of the sickest roommates ever.  Right behind  this house was the house belonging to my acapella group where I spent most of my junior and senior year Saturday nights.

I also discovered (as you do when you run a place instead of rushing around everywhere in your car) that Elon also houses a forest?!  How in the heck did I miss that one?

Anyhoo, try this if you’re feeling a little bored with your running routine.  If you’re going out of town, like to the beach or to do laundry at your parents’ house (guilty!) map a run in an area you’re pretty sure is safe, but new to you!

Running will jack your hair up if you’re not careful.

I started my locs I think like 8 or 9 years ago after I was seriously seriously tired of having my hair ripped out while I was getting it braided at the braiding salon in Charlotte we frequented.  I’m also terribly tenderheaded, so the whole thing was a bad deal.

So my hair’s long, looks pretty well kempt for the most part, but it can be hard work when I’m working out.

There’s also the stigma that locs aren’t clean that I like to shake, so I have to make sure that between running, Running for Haiti, teaching classes, and working out, that I’m keeping it together, looking nice, and smelling clean.  You go too long between a wash and this mane begins to cry out for some salvation.

Hot mess of a head, freshly shampooed head, and clean and twisted head.
Hot mess of a head, freshly shampooed head, and clean and twisted head.

I know you’re probably curious about how all of this works.  So usually, when people ask me questions about my hair (maybe a little more often than I’d like), they ask if I can wash it (yes), and how I wash/maintain it.  About once every other week, my hair starts looking a royal mess.  You can see, especially in that picture to the far left, that my roots are super fuzzy and fluffy.  Usually around this point, my scalp is begging for some relief, especially in dry weather.  So I wash with Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat Invigorating Shampoo and Conditioner, which leaves me minty fresh.   Finally, I take about an hour and twist every individual loc with a clear twist and loc gel.  Easy as pie.  So if you’re thinking about locking it up, go for it!  It requires some maintenance, but if you’re like me, and you were just completely over braids, weaves, hot combs, or perms, this may be the style for you.  Doesn’t look half bad on me right?

Taking Care of your Hair When You Work out 5 Million Times a Week

First off, Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone had a great holiday!  I didn’t break from running, as you’ll note on my ticker.  On to the monster post!

I work out a fair bit between teaching Zumba, running, running for Haiti, and working in a shop completely dedicated to running. I also was blessed with a huge full head of hair. Not a complaint at all…usually people think it’s pretty cool, ask to touch it, stare at it, and on one creepy occasion, a guy asked if he could cut a piece of it off for his personal enjoyment. Yikes. Working out make me feel good, keeps me looking decent, and emotionally balances me. The only complaint I have is it wreaks havoc with my hair. But we can’t let that stop us, right? So here, a few lady friends of mine gave me their best tips on how to care for your hair in a workout situation.

This is the hair I’ve been growing since I was about a junior in high school. That was 2004ish, so about 8 or 9 years. I love it, but when I’m working out, I’ll be darned if it isn’t a little hard to manage! I wash about once a week, and moisturize with a hair gloss to lock in natural oils whenever I can. To freshen up, I spritz with water and tea tree oil on days when I know I can’t wash.

Joy (a Zumba teacher!), says CUT IT OFF. A little extreme if you’re attached, but hey, it does the trick right?

Arielle, a fellow camp counselor of mine, rocks a gorgeous, thick curly head of hair. She wears it pulled up during the exercise, conditions every day, but washes only 3 times a week. Among women who work out, I see this a lot, (not washing every day).

Kimmy is my adorable younger sister. “I rarely ever flat iron my hair, moisturizer everyday, wash once to twice a week and I’m about to put it in twists for my internship bc being in the ocean everyday and out in the sun is gonna dry it out I don’t need the agitation of combing and washing everyday on top of that.”

Kimmy Hair
So this is Kimmy, the youngest of my sisters.

Lauren Elliot, Kristin Jones, and Samantha Seeberg all seem to be big fans of some version of dry shampoo after a workout to stave off having to wash all the oil out of their hair after every single workout.

Miss Carly Swanson is firstly, one of my running inspirations.  I met this teeny beauty a few years ago when we both worked for North Carolina State University, and I am honored to say I know her.  She’s incredibly motivated.  Carly a fan of tying her long hair up in a cute Jasmine (from Aladdin) style braid thingie in order to prevent her long hair from getting in her way when she’s running or lifting.  We hope to have Cary’s two cents in here a little more often.

And finally, Whitney Saulsberry and I, the two black girls who work out, have mastered a way to go about 5 days between washes.  This involves a lot of conditioner, natural styles, braids, dreadlocks, and as little heat as possible to protect our dry hair.

And there you have it.  In this monster post, I hope you can pick up a few tips to keep in moving despite wanting your hair to look fly in your off time!

The three of us, all rocking distinctly different textures and styles in Auburn, Alabama.