Locs hold on to products whereas loose natural hair releases products.
This is the fundamental difference between locs and loose natural hair that many do not take into consideration. But why is that important? Well, this principle changes the types of products that you use on your locs because many products that were used on your loose natural hair don’t work on locs. One particular product, that is a part of the “holy grail of being natural”, that needs to be re-evaluated for locked hair, is shea butter.
Yes, you need to take shea butter out of your top 5 favorite hair products now that you have locs and I’m going to break it down for you. First, let me tell you why I’m sharing this information because I’m sure you are probably giving me the sideeye for telling you to let go of one of your favorite products.
In my regimen, shea butter, well really Shea Moisture shampoo, was one of my absolute must haves to use on my locs because my hair felt soft and moisturized after using it. I was so excited about the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shea Moisture shampoo and figured it would fit into my loc’d hair care regimen. For weeks, this was my #1 shampoo. Then, I ran out of my Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shea Moisture shampoo and tried the Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap— my locs felt entirely different.
But why? Why did my locs not only feel soft and moisturized but also lighter?
Related Article: First Impressions of Dr.Bronner’s Castile Soap
I decided to look into the composition of shea butter and how it relates to locked hair. What I found out changed my philosophy about the use of shea butter on locked hair.
What is Shea Butter?
According to the Cosmetology Science textbook specifically for Natural hair, shea butter is described as a “nongreasy butter [that] is an excellent pomade for dry hair” and is “effective because it is low in acidity and high in fat and waxy substances that protect and coat [the hair]“. That sounds good right? Yes, if your hair won’t hold on to that butter and those waxy substances; but remember locs hold on to products, whereas loose natural hair releases products. So can you imagine, after repeated use, what the inside of your locs will look like. I’ll show you:
While the outside of your locs may look clean, moisturized and unbothered by the shea butter, the internal matrix of the locked hair is accumulating and holding on to the shea butter.
Using Shea Butter on Locs
Master Loctician, Salih Watts, explained why is it best to avoid using shea butter on locs during his presentation at the Naturalista Hair Show. In his presentation, he used one of the best analogies to explain how shea butter interacts with locked hair at various stages of hair locking.
Pre-Lock / Starter Phase. Using shea butter on starter locs is like putting shea butter through a spaghetti strainer. Think about how much of the shea butter will make in through the large holes but still be left in the container.
Shooter / Adult Phase. Using shea butter on teenage locs is like putting shea butter through a cheesecloth. Think smaller holes and less area for the shea butter to exit without a lot of manipulation.
Contracting / Mature Phase. Using shea butter on mature locs is like putting shea butter through a tea bag. Do you ever find herbs in your hot tea? Nope, because the holes in the tea bag only allow water to pass through. Think about that.
Related Articles: Stages of Hair Locking
Basically, Salih is painting the picture of how intertwined the hairs inside the loc become as the locs mature, which means build up is more likely with shea butter as the locs mature. This also explains why I was fortunate enough to have used shea butter for so long and not have locs filled with build up.
I no longer use shea butter on locs in any form and my locs are lightweight and flourishing. So, I challenge you to stop using shea butter on your locs and notice the difference.
Leave a comment with your experience with shea butter— good, bad or indifferent.