Under the Dryer with... Tashele McLean

Saturday, October 14, 2017

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Whoever said sporting locs is boring and monotonous has never been farther from the truth. As Jamaicans, blessed with instinctive, ingenious and, might we add, innovative genes, there is never a dull moment with dreadlocks. As the hair statement continues to transcend and impact fashion realms, and with the ongoing quest to save money, many persons, naturalistas or otherwise, have found creative and surprising ways to care for their own locs.

Tashele McLean, a fourth-year medical student at the University of the West Indes, Mona, is one such creative mind, who shares with Under the Dryer (UTD) that locs can be fun and as versatile as you allow them to be.

The 23-year-old, who goes by the Instagram and Snapchat handle 'Empress_Ryah,' is an aspiring beautician and budding YouTuber whose foray into locs started six months ago. “At first it was just to grow my hair. Upon surfing Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, I discovered so many beautiful styles that can be achieved with locs, and I fell in love,” explained McLean. Despite rocking the style for a mere six months, her grooming and styling methods have gained quite the following, especially from the #Teamnatural community.

McLean gets creative when it comes to her styling preferences. She often sports loc extensions, red-foxed bleached ends, plaited updos and even braids. Yes, braids! “As I always say on my YouTube channel, locs are versatile. I want to bring a different meaning to locs,”she told UTD.

“Having my locs, has taught me patience — patience watching them grow and form. My locs also help me to appreciate beauty in its most natural form. You don't need processed hair to look good.“

Tashele's Guide to Healthy Locs:

Essential oils are key to hair growth, particularly castor oil. Apply three times per week with other oils such as coconut, olive and even lavender.

Keep your locs and scalp moisturised. ALWAYS!

Do not go overboard with hair products. This causes unnecessary build-up. Allow hair to loc naturally.

Wash locs regularly. Contrary to popular belief, water moisturises and keeps locs healthy and clean.

Do not “over-maintain”. This means that if you interlock or retwist, do not do it too often or too tight. The constant pressure and tension may lead to hair thinning, or even worse, hair loss.

Bleached locs must be conditioned regularly. Why? Chemicals dry out hair texture. Consult a loctician (a hairstylist specialising in dreadlocks) before bleaching your tresses.

Finally, do not over-bleach.


McLean, who runs a fairly new YouTube channel called Elle McLean, uploads regular beauty and hair DIY's. “I love locs, make up, fashion and beauty, overall. I just think YouTube is the perfect platform to showcase that and help viewers do things on their own,” she explained to UTD.

The YouTube channel Elle McLean covers tips on make-up, beauty and haircare but zooms in on DIYs for loc hairstyles. These DIYs include guides on creating loc extensions and box braiding over your own locs.

Things are not always blissful, as McLean says her greatest challenge is to ascertain viewership and subscribers. However, the rewards overshadow the setbacks as persons often praise her for helping them to do their own styles through her videos. To date, her most viewed video is 'How to Add Loc Extensions', which has amassed over 2,000 views.

Although McLean only experiments with her own hair, if the opportunity presents itself, she would happily venture into a professional career geared towards beauty and haircare.




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