There is a Dr. JoAnne Cornwell who has claimed that she has developed a form of locking hair called brotherlocks and sisterlocks. She claims that they do not put any form of tension on the scalp meaning no traction alopecia. I was hoping you could look into this potential scam before it fools too many.

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This is a styling option, not a medical or surgical option. I looked at the product’s website, but I am not sure what Sisterlocks is (aside from some kind of hair extension for African hair types) or how it attaches to the hair or scalp. It seems like it’s just a technique rather than a product, but I’ve spent 15 minutes going through this site and I’m still coming up empty. Anyone else have an idea?

Sorry, but I can not help you understand it any better.

Tags: sisterlocks, brotherlocks. cornwell, african, hairloss, hair loss

26 thoughts on “Sisterlocks

  1. There is a wealth of information on the Sisterlocks locking technique available on the internet. A simple google search returned an enormous number of blogs and online photo albums of women who have embarked on the Sisterlocks journey like Brunsli who has posted above. Further research of AA hair care will reveal the benefits of locking and the options Sisterlocks provides for AA women with natural hair.

    A consultation with a Sisterlocks consultant would be the ideal way to find concrete information on the Sisterlocks locking technique. After all that’s what I did!!!

  2. Co signing the above, Sisterlocks is hair locked via a latching technique. I have been locked for 3 years and my hair is long to bra strap length with no balding spots. Like any style any excess tension on the scalp can cause hair loss (as per Brunsli’s example) whether the hair is braided, cornrowed, weaved, twisted so tightly that you lift the face.

  3. Dr. Rassman,

    I hope you didn’t assume that extensions were involved because this is a styling technique used for “African” hair types (whatever that means). Thank you for admitting that you didn’t know about the technique and asking for help. You may want to take this request a step further by contacting Dr. Cornwell or a consultant (as suggested above) or a dermatologist who is familiar with natural styling options for “African” hair types for more information.

  4. Hello,
    I have Sisterlocks as well as maintain them for other ladies. I started Sisterlocks for a client who was suffering from hair loss of her hairline. Being that SLs are not done tightly, use no damaging chemicals, and no heat is added, her hairline was able to recover from her hair loss. Sisterlocks allowed her a way to wear her hair that gave her scalp a change to recover.

    Yet, the opposite can happen. If someone is constantly pulling on their roots or allowing the roots to be pulled on for an extended amount of time, then yes, there will be hair loss. Sisterlocks should not be done that they are tight enough to damage hair follicles.

    I hope you and the person who asked for your help do more research.

    Google Sisterlock blogs!

    Take care

  5. William Rassman, MD

    I encourage you to do more than 15 minutes of going through a site before sharing assumptions about Sisterlocks. That makes me question your status as a MD.

    Google is a powerful tool. Most scholars know that. Type in Sisterlocks (you can even use “images” or “video”) and see what you get.

    In my effort not to be too negative, I want to also tell you that Sisterlocks is NOT a product.

    It is exactly what Dr. Cornwell explained on her website dedicated to her craft of Sisterlocks. She originated this approach to locks, so I am safely assuming she would know. Please re-read the information there.

    In closing, let us both make efforts to dispel certain misconceptions about natural hair care. Natual hair does not always mean add something to the hair or use a product on the hair. Sisterlocks has proven to me personally that it does not provoke discomfort or tension on my scalp.

    Ignorance is a vicious enemy. Let’s run from that.

    Happiest Nappy—4 Real

  6. Dr. Rassman,

    Did it ever occur to you that responding with a “sorry I do not know” may be more effective than spouting youe lips about something of which you admittedly know nothing about? Your are an insult to the African American community. Where the heck did you get your “degree”?

    Kristian Alexis Perry

  7. I was very clear in my original post when I said, “It seems like it’s just a technique rather than a product, but I’ve spent 15 minutes going through this site and I’m still coming up empty.” In fact, their website calls it a “hair care system” — which makes it sound like a product. Perhaps your outrage should be better spent helping the Sisterlocks website to explain their technique better.

    BaldingBlog is about hair loss information. I was asked about a hair extension solution I’ve never heard of and was very frank about that. If you’ve got issues with the way I answered the question, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to help you further. Why the anger? I apologize to those that were confused by my answer, but I’m still not clear what I could’ve said differently. I’m very open about what I do and do not know and don’t try to hide it. I opened the door to people to write in with helpful tips and instead I get insulted.

  8. Thanks for opening the door for further dialog regarding
    Sisterlocks. I’m a Certified Sisterlocks Consultant and I’ve also worn Sisterlocks for nearly ten years. Sisterlocks is
    a “hair care system” which allows African American hair to do
    what it loves to do naturally which is to coil and curl. When done properly there is no stress on the scalp thus reducing the potential for hair loss. All of my clients are
    experiencing hair growth and enjoying the freedom that such a style offers. Locked and loving it in Escondido CA…

  9. Dr. Rassman,

    I agree with you, as you not an African American woman, few can expect you to know what the Sisterlocks process is, I only recently discovered it myself. I commend you on taking the time to review the website, and admitting you are not familiar with the process rather than give incorrect advise. I am sure you realize by now it is not a hair extension process. I recently spent several weeks researching Sisterlocks and have decided to have the process done myself, as most of the information I found online has been very positive. I have also spoken with individuals who have had it done, they love it. If only the individual who asked the question had done some research as well, or perhaps framed the question differently. We African American women are very sensitive about our hair so don’t take it too personally when we go on the defense.

  10. Hello Dr. Rassman, and all other posters. I happily sat for my Sisterlocks install this weekend. I feel like a different person. How liberating, and exciting to join the Sisterlocks family! Brunsli, thank you for your blog, yours was the first I studied in depth when I first decided to take the plunge. The time and effort you put into sharing your journey with us will prove priceless when you stop to realize how many of us you’ve helped set free. The attorney I’ve worked with for about two months has worn Sisterlocks for 3 years, I had no idea what they were called until I was updating her calender and saw “Sisterlocks retightening” on the schedule, I googled it and decided my wig was on it’s way to a hot bonfire. I had cut off every bit of my thick, tightly coiled hair and started over, no chemicals for a year and didn’t know what else to do with it, but cry myself to the wig shop unwilling to spend another second perming, weaving, braiding, coloring or curling. I’ve had my SL’s for one day and have heard numerous times that I look fabulous and my hair is really cute. To the poster who asked the original question – take the plunge, it will be one of the most liberating and defining things you’ve ever done for yourself, and for those who have to live with you. My Sisterlocks Consultant is Traci Mack in Tampa, Florida.

  11. Wow! I have found this to be very interesting, Sisterlocks is a hair maintenance system,that allows you to wear your natural hair without any chemicals, extensions,or attachments of any Kind. Thank God for Dr Cornwell she has shared her idea and creation with us. We no longer have to walk around wondering what to do with our hair.
    And in its natural state there is nothing for it to do but grow Long and Strong. I have had my Sisterlocks for nearly 10 years now and can’t imagine wearing my hair any other way I just cut 7 inches off and it is still past my shoulders. For Down to there Hair I would say (Go Sisterlocks) Sisters!
    Loving My Own Hair,

  12. Brunsli, you are a rockstar! You are the reason I have chosen to get Sisterlocks. I went for a consultation last year and I will be getting them shortly. I did the big chop and have been enjoying my fro immensely. That is the only reason I haven’t done it yet.

    Doc, maybe there is a Sisterlock consultant that can work with you and your customers in your area that are suffering from hair loss. Good luck.

  13. I realize that I am a Janie-come-lately to this thread; however, I still felt compelled to respond to a few of Dr. Rassman’s comments directly. Be forewarned, it is somewhat wordy response.

    While I surely cannot speak for all Sisterlockers or locked sisters for that matter, I hope that you take the time to read my reply as well. “Why the anger?”, you ask. I for one found it a tad offensive that you would scan the Sisterlocks site, admit that you do not know what it is and follow that up with “…or how it attaches to the hair or scalp.” And you say that you are not sure what you could have said differently? Calling them “extensions” tends to evoke a bit of anger from those of us who lovingly maintain our locks while patiently allowing our hair to grow naturally on its own. Although it has already been so stated, I think that it bears repeating for both the OP and you Dr. Rassman: Sisterlocks is an ALL NATURAL method of locking one’s own hair. There are no extensions of any kind involved and nothing need be attached. Absolutely no products whatsoever (gels, locking butters, pomades, beeswax, etc.) are used to maintain these type of locks. There are many who are not of African descent (and even some who are) who have been somehow convinced that “African hair types” cannot naturally achieve and sustain fullness and/or length. Therefore when they come across something as phenomenal as Sisterlocks, or a similar locking method, they are often amazed and assume incorrectly that the hair is either purchased or obtained by some other unnatural means.

    Personally, I do not believe that anyone was confused by your answer. I think, however, you may have been confused by the question. You wrote, “I was asked about a hair extension solution I’ve never heard of…”. No, Dr. Rassman, you were not. You were asked about Sisterlocks, which is anything but a “hair extension solution”.

  14. I had sisterlocks for over six years and unfortunately I have suffered traction alopecia. It may be less likely with sisterlocks but it does occur. I did NOT pull my hair back frequently. I usually wore my locks loose. However, my hair has always been rather sparse along the edges and I did have thinning of locks but did not realize the impact. I have since cut my locks off and wear my hair in an afro. I would recommend anyone with locks to monitor their hair espcially for thinning locks. Also, let the loctician know that you would like to be alerted if they notice any thinning.

  15. I have had sisterlocs for approx. 1 year and I have experienced several areas of alopecia. Several of my locs have fallen out and several are very thin now. I need some suggestions and some help. I take care of my hair with regular washing and conditioning. I do know that my consultant is not very good with giving instructions on haircare. She basically retightens and get paid. I am contemplating cutting my hair off and starting over or trying to take the locs down to see where I stand. What should I do?

  16. Don’t be too hard on the Doc. Most BLACK men don’t understand black women and their hair.

    Caramel, you should pose this question on the SL site, but you do need to see a dermatologist, and then find someone who is into healthy hair, no matter how you wear it.

  17. Dr Rassman,
    May I ask why you are so interested in “black women” hairstyling? I mean why is it of any concern to you? Unless you were planning on getting sisterlocks yourself, I suggest you leave it alone and let *us* deal with the “scam”(which it is not).Please get a life and stop trying research things that are ment for the black community!

  18. Commenter #21 above:
    You are obviously confused. I write a blog where people ask questions. I try to answer those questions to the best of my ability, and in the case of Sisterlocks, I clearly stated I knew nothing of it, yet I still tried to do a little research and came up short. I have no interest in hairstyling for black women, so I don’t know why you’d get that idea.

    You seem like a very angry person and you shouldn’t let yourself get so worked up simply because you misunderstood. I never called the product a scam, I have a life, and thanks for visiting!

    In the future, I suggest you take a deep breath and think before you comment so that you don’t look so foolish.

  19. First, I must say that I do not think you were trying to offend anyone–you were asked about a hair styling technique that you were not familiar with and you made that clear and asked for input–but several of the responses have been rather angry simply because of the wording used in both the original question and your reply. The question referred to a locking technique that is a “potential scam.” I’m sure some took offense at the idea of sisterlocks being a scam. The questioner assumed that people who choose sisterlocks as a method of maintaining healthy hair and avoiding hair loss are being fooled. Your response included the words “hair extension.” In the black community, most people know that locks are not extensions,(dreadlocks are a common example of locked hair) so some of the commenters were probably surprised that you made that connection. Of course, you never claimed to be a hair stylist. Many, many black women are sensitive about their hair and often feel pressured to do something to make their hair smoother, straighter and longer and as a result experience constant hair loss. To those who choose to have natural hair as opposed to chemically treated hair or extensions, the implication that their hair cannot grow long or be healthy and manageable without extensions is insulting. You were not trying to make that implication at all and people should take a moment to consider the context of your answer before spouting off angry replies, but unfortunately even the mention of hair extensions in connection with hair loss or hair management can lead some to jump to unpleasant conclusions. “Well, what is he trying to say? My “African hair type” is somehow a problem? Natural hair is bad hair that needs weave and extensions and to cover it up. Who does he think he is?” It’s unfair to assume that you were trying to suggest any of those things and I don’t share those sentiments, but as a black woman I understand why hair can be such a touchy subject among black women.

  20. Natalie,
    I deal with men and women on daily basis that are losing their hair, and I can say with certainty that people of all races are sensitive about their hair. I’m sure you’re right though, that somehow these commenters saw the word “scam” and even though I never called such, they got very narrow-sighted and started to attack. In the 7600+ posts I’ve made, this one was the one that caused the most anger, a lot of which was “inspired” by a Sisterlocks blog that targeted my site.

    Anyone can do a search for “sisterlocks hair extentions” in Google and see that I’m not the first to reference the two in the same breath. They might be different, but they are similar enough to a hair styling layman. If their site was clearer about what Sisterlocks was, I would’ve been able to describe it better to my readers. At any rate, no offense was intended.

  21. I just wanted to say as an African American Braider I was offended to asume that all exstensions take people hair out is not a fair assumption neither. I take pride in my braids and I make sure that I don\’t take edges out even though it has been done.Its all about braiding the correct way that doesn\’t cause tension to the scalp and keeping hair properly moisturize. Alot of people don\’t want something so permanant so I make sure that I talk with my clients how to eat right and take proper nutrients and if they are on meds talk to there Dr about side affects.I\’m not out just for the money I just believe that a womens hair is her glory and its my duty to inform them what works and what don\’t. Because some people can even be allergic to the hair. It\’s a number of reasons why people hair fall out and we can\’t point the finger,but we as professionals can make sure at the end of the day know we did the right thing for our customers. Love you all and God Bless!

  22. Dr Rassman,

    I am writing from The UK, and have been wearing Sisterlocks (SL) for about 14 months. Now you have become aware vis a vis earlier posts that the Sisterlocks hair care system is not “some kind of…extension” and consequently, it is reasonable to assume that you are now fully informed of how the lock is attached to the scalp, i.e. it is the wearer’s own hair, not an addition to it, you could probably consider revising the contents of your very first post clarify what you were in doubt about previously? Professionals must pride themselves on our ability to learn and impart correct information in a responsible manner and this duty is continuous.

    Angry readers do not remain angry as the misconception appears to have arisen as a result of ignorance (freely admitted by the good doctor) rather than an intention on his part to deliberately offend SL wearers.

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