Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing up and coming reggae artist Queen Ifrica, and it was a truly incredible experience. Click here to read her words of wisdom on everything from her musical influences to Michael Jackson, to her views on homosexuality and -- what else? -- hair!
Excerpted below are her best tips on loc maintainance, and her candid response on what her hair should be called.
"I started growing my locs, really at age 15. I had locs before that and my aunts combed it out. So briefly I had straightened hair," she recalled. But of course, that didn't last long.
"You don't have to be a rasta who hails Jah Rastafari to grow dreadlocks. But for me it was a part of my life, of my tribe. There was something in me that -- it is an inborn need."
I noticed that she referred to her hair as "dreadlocks." Having been previously chastised by readers for using that term, I had to ask her -- how does she feel about the word? Would she call them locs, or dreadlocks? Why or why not?
"I am a dreadlocks rasta woman," she stated simply, and with great pride. "The debate over words... it comes from people who are familiar with it but they don't truly overstand what it means, or the significance behind it all. It's RASTA, it's DREADLOCKS. That is what I believe," she said.
Well alright, Queen! I understood where she was coming from; as someone who grew up in a country where this hair is more than a style, I never before encountered anyone who shunned the word "dread" until I moved to America. Where many will argue that there's "nothing dreadful about locs," Ifrica and many of the rastafarians I have known in my life would counter, "there's nothing dreadful about being a natty dread."
Either way, it's semantics. We quickly moved past questions about words, and I had to ask for some tips for my rastabellas. What was the best advice she could pass along to those who wear locs? Queen Ifrica had much knowledge to impart. Here are her best tips:
-- "For those who love to twist... it's not the healthiest thing to do. It can thin out your hair and break it. Locks are formed from the residue you would normally comb out from your hair, that is what grows it. So just let them grow.
-- Castor oil is a VERY good thing. And for those who hate the smell, there's a scented castor oil now.
-- Wash your hair only when it is itching. You don't need to wash it all that often. The natural oils are important to the health of your hair. Washing can strip them out.
-- The hair is very soft, no matter how it looks - it is actually very soft to the touch. So you need products that nurture it. In Jamaica there's the Mango and Lime products. They are excellent. I love the leave in moisturizer. It has all natural ingredients, cactus is part of it. Any hemp based products are very good for dreadlocks, too."