I wrote in early January that I was facing a decision with my locks. I'd started them a year previous on New Year's Day, with the resolution that I would keep them in good faith and hard work for an entire year. At the end of that year, I would decide if I would keep them.
At the end of a year, I loved my locks. I wanted to keep them. I felt at-home, beautiful, comfortable in them. My problem was a hypersensitive scalp that had grown more sensitive in the absence of regular stimulation, and my locks were just hurting too darn much to keep them.
Alas, I made the difficult decision to comb them out.
I picked up a pair of cheap metal dog combs from the pet store, some spray detangler, and went to work. For five days, I worked on my hair for 3-5 hours at a time. In the end I had my old hair back, with some interesting and not-unattractive variations in hair dye, and a stuffed sandwich baggie full of loose hair I combed out.
I will say this: I tried deep conditioning my locks before combing them, thinking the conditioner would help loosen the knots. I WAS WRONG. All the conditioner did was settle into the roots like goopy wax. It made combing them out much harder and more painful. If you're thinking to comb out your locks, please do not make the same mistake I made!
Now that my locks are gone, I know what caused the problem. My scalp has always been sensitive to prolonged tension. I couldn't wear pigtails when I was little, and I still can't wear high and tight pony tails. What I experienced with dreadlocks is similar to what women experience when they wear acrylic nails for a long time. Isolated under the armor of an acrylic nail, the nerves in the nail bed grow more sensitive, so as to get back "normal" sensation through the acrylic. When a person whose fingers have thusly adapted then removes the acrylics, their nail beds are so incredibly hypersensitive that even the slightest touch is excruciating. I had experienced something similar, yet less intense, with my scalp. You don't brush or wash locks every day, and it's difficult to massage the scalp through the locks, so my scalp had become hypersensitive in the absence of regular stimulation. Weird, huh? ;p
Combing out my locks (through the waxy conditioner... don't make that mistake!) caused a great deal of bruising on my scalp that lasted about 2 weeks. After the bruising went away, I still couldn't really handle anyone touching my scalp for another 3-4 weeks. Brushing was also excruciating. Yikes! It's now been about 7ish weeks since I finished combing out my locks and my scalp is mostly back to normal. I'm still only washing about every 4 days because oil production on my scalp is still way low from washing my locks only once a week for a year.
In the end, I'm very glad I had my locks. I also have a better idea of what I'm getting into, for the next time I try. I have no doubt that I will try again, this time with smaller sections that will move easier, and I will regularly massage my scalp to keep the same thing from happening again.
Much love to you all, dearly beloved GUDUers. I'll still be around to share your glee and frustrations, and to offer wisdom where I've gained it. Many thanks to lishd for your wonderful awesomeness, and I may just come see you in a year or so with fresh hair, a metal flea comb, and a wad of cash to say "Let's try again!"
One week, right before first wash
My locks really started to take shape when my husband and I went on a cruise.
Yay for sea salt! :D