1. Only twist your locs when your hair is wet.
When I go swimming, immediately after getting out of the water, especially if I plan to sun bathe, I use a thick creamy conditioner and basically, rub it into my hair and let it stay in until I am ready to wash it. I also braid my locks, usually into two large braids and pin them up while I am swimming. Sometimes I wear a speedo cap and at other times I don't. It depends on where I am swimming. When I wash my hair I follow after with immediate twisting before my hair dries.
2. Moisturize first and then twist.
I always moisturize my hair after washing it (with a thick, creamy shampoo and a recondition, with a thick creamy conditioner). After washing, I then moisturize by putting 100% shea butter into my hands (usually a quarter size), rub it into my hands and then all over my hair. You can use olive oil if you don't have Shea butter. This is just to lock in a bit more moisture before I twist. My hair is still wet at this point.
3. Twisting with Gel.
I use gel to twist my hair while it is wet, after it is moisturized. The Gel that I prefer is Giovanni Organic Hair Care, L.A. Natural Styling Gel. It is a bit on the expensive side, but if you use it sparingly, it should last a long time. I use this gel to twist at the root where there is new growth. It holds very nicely. I purchase this Gel at Whole Foods and often times, they have it on sale.
I also use a second gel for each loc beyond the root. The Gel I use is Jason's Flaxseed Hi-Shine Styling Gel. This Gel is lighter and gives my hair a nice shine and maintains the hold. I also buy this gel at Whole Foods and it is also costly but if you use it sparingly, it will last a while. Also, you can look for sales at Whole Foods or on-line where you may find better prices for both of these gels.
4. Braiding and Up Do's
Since it is summer, I usually braid my locs and creatively place my hair in an updo, held up with bobby pins. This seems to help to keep my locs from unraveling and promotes growth as I am leaving my hair alone and not "fussing" with it all the time. I used to cut my locs during the summer but not any more. A scissor never touches my hair anymore and I am the only person that maintains it. No costly salons for me. It's a personal choice, to just let it grow, naturally and handle the care of my own hair.
5. Allow a little unraveling...and no stress.
One thing that I have noticed are that locs are very free spirited, sort of like a vine. The goal for me is not to have control of my locs and confine them and to keep them completely, neatly tight at all times but to let my hair relax and grow naturally without too much tampering. I think neatness matters, but who says that when your hair is not tightly coiled at the root at all times that it is not neat. I remember when I was young, before I wore my hair naturally, and I was required to wear a perm by my mother, she would often tell me that I needed a "touch up" if I had any new growth, which meant to straighten the kinky new hair growth. I believe that we can fall into the same trap with our locs if we panic every time we see new growth or a loc that is not tightly coiled that we need to immediately "straighten it out." Natural, kinky hair has a tendency to be unraveled and free...it's no biggie. Just get to it when you can, don't stress about it and always know that whether a loc is uncoiled or tight, Natural Is Cool Enough and just love your hair and welcome the new growth.
My goal is to just keep my locs twisted N.I.C.E.ly during the summer months and beyond!