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Hair

The Truth About My Faux-Locs

For 6 weeks I had my hair in faux locs – a protective style that creates the illusion of real dread locs using extensions twisted around your own hair. The response was fantastic; my family, friends, colleagues AND students all seemed to love them, and I LOVED the versatility of having long hair. But what was it really like carrying 9 bags (no exaggeration) of extra hair on my head? Would I recommend it? And most importantly, would I ever get them again? Read on to find out the truth about faux locs.

The positives

Realistic looking dreads

Now I love protective styles, and I have dabbled with braids and havana twists over the years. However, although people would compliment me on my hair in these styles, people never mistook them for my own hair. In contrast, the method hair stylist Ama Monique used to put them in (see below) was so intricate that I regularly had people asking me if it was my own hair – even people with beautiful real dreads themselves!

Even back when I wore my hair in weave, I always stuck to using hair that was the same colour as my natural hair, as I much prefer the natural look over anything too eccentric when it comes to extensions. Therefore, I was really happy that others agreed that the locs looked incredibly natural, and as it grew out and got more frizzy around the edges, the authenticity of the look grew. Frizz is definitely not something you would want when you’ve just had neat braids put in! Therefore faux locs have the potential to have much more longevity than other styles with extensions.

Added length = versatility of styles

As you may know, I had a large amount of hair cut off in November, leaving me with hair much shorter than I was used to. I decided to protect my new, healthier hair throughout winter by using the LOC method while keeping my hair covered underneath head scarfs and turbans.

By Spring, I knew I wanted something different without compromising the health I had maintained in my protective styles. Therefore faux locs seemed like the perfect solution – covered hair that gave me the length that I had been missing!

The added length meant that I could style my hair in all of the long haired styles that I had been craving since giving up my straighteners and weave, and the thickness of the locs allowed each style to be as dramatic and as large as I wanted it to be. Check out my ‘classy front bun’ in the video below, for example!

More respect from men

Please don’t revoke my feminist card, as I know this sounds superficial and stupid! However I genuinely noticed a positive difference in the way men approached me and spoke to me. As I explained in my #MenOnNaturalHair video (see below), men that spoke to me on the street were more inclined to refer to me as ’empress’ or ‘queen’ rather than the ‘babez’ you will often hear echoing around the streets of London.

Negatives

However, although there were various positives to having my hair in this style, there were also numerous negatives which I think it is important to share with you. The first, and most inhibiting being…

Back and Neck Pain

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9 bags of hair – I mean, it goes without saying. However, when I first left Ama after having them put in, I told myself that I would get used to them after a few days – just like I would when I first had braids put in or a new weave. However, in all of the years I have had my hair braided, the maximum amount of bags of hair I would use was 4, and 9 was simply too much weight for my neck to handle.

So much weight in fact, that I actually suffered from neck and back pain while wearing faux locs. As I have a previous back injury from a gymnastics incident when I was growing up, the added tension on my neck and upper back made my whole back stiffen up, resulting in my me looking like a tin man. Even my students commented on how robotically I was moving, especially as I had to turn my whole body around to look in someone’s direction, rather than simply being able to turn my neck.

It may all seem melodramatic, but I can only describe it as constantly carrying a weight on top of your head – just like our sisters in Africa. My respect for them is never ending, as not only do they carry a large amount of weight on their head each and every day, but some walk miles at a time with all that extra weight on their shoulders!

I, on the other hand, was a lot less mobile with my locs. I’m ashamed to say that due to the added weight on my head, and my inability to put it in a style where it wouldn’t get in the way (when it was down) or wouldn’t make me feel like I was about to topple over (in a headwrap), I avoided exercise while having my locs in. Now, ordinarily, I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week, however in the whole 6 weeks of having my hair in locs I went 3 times. Three. Along with the gym I also play netball once a week, but again, due to the weight and the stiffness in my neck, not only was running incredibly painful, but even looking up to aim for the hoop was a strain on my neck. Typing this actually makes me see how ridiculous it is that I put myself through this, all for the sake of beauty, but we live and we learn.

Strain on the Scalp

This I find even more shameful to reflect on, because I actually risked baldness by keeping my faux locs in so long. There are various horror stories and images of women who suffer from traction alopecia due to wearing styles that are simply to heavy for their scalps to handle. Naomi Campbell being the prime example:

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Although weaves, braids and faux locs can be used as protective styles, putting your hair in styles that create too much tension on the scalp due to tightness or weight can lead to permanent hair loss.

Now, not all of my scalp hurt – the back of my hair actually felt pretty comfortable, as long as I didn’t somehow sit on my hip length locs – however, the front of my head was constantly in discomfort throughout the six weeks. One of the reasons why I continuously changed how I styled my locs was because I found that when I left my hair in a style for too long, my scalp would literally feel like it was being pulled apart at the parting. Wearing the front of my hair up in a bun or top knot looked great, but it was also the only style that gave my scalp a rest throughout the day; I just had to focus more on balancing instead.

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It got to the point where I convinced myself that when I took my hair out, half of my hair would come with it. However, I am lucky that not only is my hair strong but it is also thick, meaning that the inevitable shedding I experienced after taking them down didn’t leave my hair looking any thinner. If your hair is of a finer texture or your hair is less dense, I would definitely recommend using a lot less hair, just in case!

Build Up

Unfortunately, there was another consequence to the constant tension on my scalp… build up. But what is build up? To be specific, a mixture of products, dirt, dry skin and scabs – bet you wish you never asked, right?

As I avoided applying sticky oils (such as castor oil) to my scalp, I actually experienced very little build up within the first few weeks of having my faux locs in. However, something changed around week 4. I found that every time I looked in the mirror, I could literally see parts of the skin on my scalp lifting due to the strain. At one point, the scalp around my crown was red raw due to so much skin being raised.

When it finally came to taking it down, my hair was left with a solid clump of build up around the root. Luckily, I had been warned about this. Therefore, rather than trying to detangle the clumps and risk pulling out my hair, I applied an apple cider vinegar rinse as soon as I took the locs down. And let me tell you, it was the biggest weight off my shoulders to finally see them go. Literally.

Would you ever get Faux Locs again?

NO.

 No hairstyle is worth causing yourself permanent damage. When I reflect on my faux locs experience I feel like they have helped me learn a lot about myself as a person. Superficially, I know that I love the look and that my hair grew a lot in the style. But I also feel I have grown as a person.

I would have never described myself as a shallow person, however, clearly I placed my aesthetic beauty over my overall health and well being. I now look back on my faux loc experience and laugh, as my actions seem so far fetched from my normal outlook on life. From spending well over 3 months with my hair constantly covered in head wraps and turbans, I am shocked in myself that I kept a painful and potentially damaging style just for my own self confidence.

I now know better.

If you are considering getting faux locs, please consider their length, thickness and weight. Your hair and health is way more important than any amount of likes on the gram.

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With love from London,

Davina x

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This article has 19 comments

  1. Britney

    What’s crazy is that I’m currently working on a similar post. I took down my waist-length braids after 3 weeks. They were heavy, I couldn’t sleep from laying on them. They were so thick and heavy I couldn’t pin them up. The itching and build up was THE WORST. It was disgusting. My scalp is now sore and very sensitive. Thankfully, I didn’t loose as much hair as expected, but I’m sticking to buns and TLC for awhile. I will never again get braids that long and guess how many bags I had… 11!!! I liked the overall look, but I’m not getting those ever again.

  2. londoncurls

    It’s crazy how much pain we put ourselves through just for a style. 11 packs!? I’d collapse – literally. I’m shocked that you managed to last 3 weeks with that much piled on your head. I’d love to read the article when you have written it, so please share it with me when you do :)

  3. Kianna

    hi ! I did my faux locs and my ends are sticking together because I burned the ends. I was wondering if you did your ends a different way , if so how ? and if you did it the same way did yours stick together as well ?

  4. Tiffany

    I’ve had my faux locs in for only 2 weeks and my scalp is still very sore. I’m so scared that my hair will fall out from the weight. I think I’ve reached the end on my faux loc road.

  5. Presh

    Hi,

    I really like your blog, just wondering, where did you do your hair and how much did it cost? I have been trying to find someone to do my hair this style and all I can say is that it is very difficult to find anyone. Please help

    • londoncurls

      Hi hun,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I got my locs done by a lovely lady called Ama Monique who is based in Brixton. Ama is heavily pregnant now though, so unfortunately she will not be doing hair for the next few months at least. Here is her number in case you want to contact her after – 07837029356 . Hope this helps!

  6. Manilla

    I really enjoyed your piece on faux love and definitely will be trying those styles out. I wanted to defend the faux loc style a bit and kind of help you in the future if you ever do get them again. Well for starters your locs were beautiful I would have never guess they were fake. You said the locs were heavy but that’s because of many things that were not necessarily “wrong” just excessive. 1. Once the locs pass below armpit length they get really heavy so It’s best not to get them so long (unless you just love inches). 2. The method to do the actual loc used way too much hair (that’s also due to the length), for a shorter style you just need to pieces of hair for one loc (one to twist and one to wrap) if the hair reaches the end then thats the length you should go with.
    I recommended trying the hairstyle one more time with a much shorter length to see if you really hate the style or not you look absolutely stunning in them. With a shorter style there’s many benefits : same great look , less packs of hair , less pain on the back and neck , versatility. Sorry if I sound like I’m trying to shove the idea at you I’m just #TeamFauxLocs.
    Btw I had the faux locs installed 3 different times and I must say the shorter the locs the better the everything.

    • londoncurls

      Hi Manilla, thank you for your comment! I definitely agree that I had used FAR too much hair. Unfortunately, if hip length locs is the look you are going for, you have to expect to use a lot more hair! I don’t think I will be getting faux locs done any time soon, but if I do I will definitely go for a much shorter style :)

  7. Pink

    I just talked to my hairdresser yesterday about fixing faux locs. She said i’d need about 6 packs which would then be cut into half. You experience is actually very eye opening. I am not sure i want to do them anymore. They look so beautiful though :-) Thanks for sharing! Greetings from Kenya!

  8. Christina

    I definatly understand your opinion on faux locs. I’m going through something similar , maybe even worst. I’m experiencing tremendous amounts of pain from this hair style. It’s so bad that I’ve cried. The lady who did my hair used 13 packs of hair. She did them so tight that my scalp is constantly throbbing from the pain. Sometimes I feel shooting pain as well, like someone is stabbing my scalp with little needles. I can’t even sleep comfotably.

    I’ve contemplated on taking them out but I spent 200 dollars for my hair to be done like this and I know that it would just upset me to take them down . I haven’t completely ruled out that idea , I’m just trying to wait one more week to see if they loosen up a bit. Also my neck is hurting. I didn’t think these would be so heavy but they are.

    This is the worst pain that I’ve experienced from a hair style and I will never get them again. If I do, I will be the one doing them.

    • londoncurls

      OMG, 13 packs is insane! It’s crazy how much pain we put ourselves through just for a hairstyle. I totally empathise with you when it comes to not wanting to take the down because of how much money you spent on them. However, if the pain continues, like you said I think it is best that you take them out, purely because you don’t want to cause permanent damage. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Sheila Roundtree

    Hi , your faux locs were beautiful , I enjoy reading your post but I wish I would of read it before I got them I did a lot of research before getting them and watched many you tube videos including yours and no one mentioned these points so I thought it would be ok and after sitting 7 hours and 200 dollars my scalp feels horrible , I’m getting little sores all over my scalp I have back and neck pain that has improved somewhat over the past 3 days but I’ve been on pain pills non stop, the pain has eased a bit but even when I reposition them which is difficult due to there size it’s still feels sore hot and itchy, I’m ready just to remove them, I wish More people would write honest post and stop hyping them up and share the real raw experience , I have decided it’s not worth it, I’m gonna do my makeup take some nice pics to remember and then I’m done . Thanks for your honesty , u are beautiful by the way

    • londoncurls

      I’m so sorry my post didn’t come sooner! I think for a long time I was in denial about how insanely painful they were. Nevertheless, you did the right thing… get your selfies done and take them out! Thank you for commenting :)

  10. Isabel Paulo

    Hello my name Is Isabel , I have done my locs today I use 7 packs , I could not imagine that could be so paintfull , it Is 4 am right now in South Africa and I am still awake ??????because Of the Pain. I wish I read ️your article before doing locs . It is my first time and I am taking them off tomorrow . I really enjoy how does it look but i can Handel The pain .

    • londoncurls

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re in pain! Make sure you share your experience and mine to make sure other people avoid also being in so much pain!

  11. Pingback: The Ultimate Faux Locs Tutorial Guide - Textured TalkTextured Talk

  12. cecily

    I’ve only had my faux locs a 6 days !!! At first they were very tight my scalp was very tensed couldnt sleep Today the 6th day my scalp is sore and itching very bad Im crying I have sores in my scalp above my neck and behing my ears I’ve rinsed and used the AVC solution it helped a lil bit !!! I don’t know if I’m having a allergic reaction to the hair (Noir) by janet collection or what I can’t deal so I am taking the down never will I ever get faux locs again!!!!

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