By now, every Natural has heard time and time again the benefits of protective styles. In the winter, they’re great for protecting your hair against the frigid, dry air. In the Summer, they’re perfect for fighting dryness due to the heat and also great if you plan to swim or consistently get your hair wet.
But what comes to mind when you think of a “protective style”? More often than not, the classic Box Braid style pops in our heads. Many naturals have (good and bad) memories of getting these installed as a child, and depending on your experience, may have been turned off to them completely.
Whether you’re looking for a style that has less pull and tug or simply want to try something new, the luscious, free-formed look of ButterFly Locs might be a perfect fit for you! They’re low manipulation, low tension, and are extremely customizable. You can make them full and thick, which will create a kind of curly, wispy, mane with the locs. If you want a more defined, sleek look, it can easily be achieved through changing how tight you make the locs.
Along with these various pros, one big attraction that made Butterfly Locs the new go-to style is that they’re fairly easy to install yourself! Let’s take a look at how this look is easily achieved at home…
What Will You Need?
There are a few things you’ll need for the installation:
1. Some sort of wavy, synthetic or natural hair extensions: the extensions will be used to create the locs. We’ll talk more about the length and the amount you need later on. Most people go for Water Wave Hair because of the shape it will give your ButterFly Locs.
2. Braiding Gel: this will be used when sectioning your hair. It will keep your individual sections (that the locs will be formed on) neat, hydrated, and ready to last a while. Braiding Gel is recommended as it will be more moisturizing and less prone to flaking than a regular, styling gel. Our Hydrating Twisting Paste with Avocado and Kiwi would be perfect for hydrating the hair and keeping it tidy. It also will be helpful in sprucing up your parts once your locs have been worn in. If your hair is tighter coiled, then a stronger hold may be desired. Our Flaxseed Edge Control Gel in Extreme Hold may be a better fit for our 4C Naturals out there; many of our customers love it as a twisting paste!
3. Crochet Needle: this tool is optional. It is used to feed the hair through the root of your section, which will either be a twist or a braid, depending on your preference and how long you want your locs. If you choose to opt out of this, there is a chance the root of your loc may be a little fuzzy since the hair you’re feeding through isn’t being held together by the needle. Depending on the look you’re going for, this could be a cute addition to your tousled look!
4. Braiding Hair: this is also optional and only necessary if you want locs that are longer than your natural hair.
What to Consider
Now that you know all you’ll need, let’s look at things you should consider before starting the process:
1. Length of your locs: the length of your locs will determine how much hair you need, if you’ll need braiding hair, and how you will tie up your natural hair (either in twists or braids). If you’d like for your locs to be the length of your natural hair, you won’t need braiding hair and you’ll want the wavy hair of your choosing to be around 22-28 inches long; this is the standard when installing Butterfly Locs. If you want your Butterfly locs to be longer than your natural length, you’ll need to get braiding hair that will allow you to achieve the length desired. A quick google search on different lengths will help you make your selection; this is a customizable part of the installation that will be all up to you and your preference.
2. Twists or Braids: if your locs will be longer than your natural hair, that means you’ll be braiding in extra hair to achieve more length. Naturally, putting your hair in sections and braiding those individual sections would be the best option, as it will secure the hair more than a twist would. However, braiding the hair leads to more tension on the hair and scalp (especially if the locs are extremely long and heavy). If you’d like, you could opt to do a three strand twist, which will be more secure than a regular two strand twist, but involves less manipulation than a braid. Locs that are the length of your natural hair can be built around a two strand twist without an issue.
3. Weight of your locs: keep in mind that the fuller, thicker, and longer the locs, the heavier they will be. Heavy locs will ultimately cause tension on the scalp and hair, as your roots are being pulled and the strands within the braid or twist will be tugged on. This can lead to breakage and weakened hair, which would be counterproductive considering this is a protective style. If you want chunky, thick locs, we recommend keeping them as short as possible to reduce the pull on your hair. If you’d like longer locs, it would be best to keep them thin, which just means using less hair. The thickness of your locs will also determine how much hair you’ll need, so keep this in mind as well.
4. Style of the individual loc: the Butterfly Loc is formed by wrapping the wavy hair around your twist or braid. You start at the root, anchoring the extension through the start of your section, and wrapping down the hair. The flutter to your Butterfly Locs comes from how loosely you do this wrapping; loose wrapping makes for thicker, more wing liked locs. This will also be a factor in the length of your hair and how much you’ll need.
Now it’s time for the install…
If you are more of a visual learner, there are countless in-depth tutorials online that will show you how to install Butterfly Locs. But here’s a rough step by step on what you would do to install an individual Butterfly Loc:
1. You want to make sure you’re starting on washed, deep conditioned hair. No other products are needed expect for the moisturizing gel of your choice. Applying leave-in conditioners or moisturizers can make it hard for the hair you’re using to attach to your own if your natural hair is too soft. Again, this doesn’t mean you want your hair dry; get a gel or paste that will prevent your hair from breaking. It’s a protective style after all! If you do want to ensure your hair is moisturized and want to use a leave-in or moisturizer, it’s best you apply it and let your hair fully dry before starting the installation.
2. Take a chunk of the wavy hair you’re using. If you want thinner locs, this chunk may be one or two whole pieces of the hair; grab more if you’re aiming for thicker locs. If using a crochet hook, feed the hook through the center of your twist or braid at the root. Now, take the chunk of hair you’re using so that you’re holding ¼ of the total length. So if you were holding your hand upright with your thumb against your index finger, the majority (¾) of the hair should be hanging down along the length of your palm; the other ¼ is above your hand. Create a loop at the point where the hair is divided (by your index finger and thumb) by folding the shorter end over your middle finger. Now take the crochet hook and secure the loop on the hook and close it. After your loop is secured within the hook, you can pull the hook out of your section (in the same direction you put it in). This will feed the hair through your own; make sure one side of your section has less hair (¼) on it than the other.
3. You now will secure the extension to your hair to prepare for the wrapping of the loc. Hold the shorter end of the hair flat along the length of your twist or braid; you want to make sure that this piece doesn't extend past the length of your own hair. This short piece is creating an anchor to secure the loc to your hair. Taking the longer section of the extension chunk, wrap it around your twist/braid and the shorter section. You want these twists to be tight enough to secure the hair but not too tight where it’s causing discomfort. Repeat this process, twisting the hair in the same place, close to the root, until you’re confident you made a strong enough base for your loc.
Note: If you applied any leave-in conditioner or moisturizer before installation, it would benefit you to wrap the hair a little more than you think necessary; but only if your hair feels too soft to create enough traction with the braiding and or water wave hair.
4. Moving down the strand, keep wrapping the longer piece of hair around the section of hair and the shorter end of hair you’re keeping against it. You can make these wraps as loose or tight as you want, until you make it to the end of your hair or until you’ve got the desired length.
5. To end the loc, you can make a loop at the bottom and create a knot or create a loop at the bottom, and start twisting back up the strand with the access hair. Wherever you stop along the strand, make sure you’ve wrapped the end of the hair tight enough so it doesn’t come apart.
Tip: While you’re wrapping the hair around to create the loc, placing your thumb under the hair you’re wrapping, so it’s creating a sort of bump between the base of the loc and the hair you’re wrapping around, will create the wings of your Butterfly Loc. Doing this with every rotation will create a more whimsical look, alternating between this and twisting the hair flat against each other will create a less full look, and not doing this at all will make the locs sleek. If you don’t want a lot of “wings” on your locs but still want fullness, loosely wrapping the hair will help you achieve this.
So you’ve installed your Butterlocks...but what now?
Caring for Butterfly Locs
- Make sure your scalp stays moisturized throughout the time you have your locs in. Use a nourishing oil to maintain your scalp’s health. This ensures you aren’t damaging your roots, which can easily become dried out since your hair is in parts, leaving it exposed. Our Strengthening Jamacian Black Castor Oil Growth Serum is a perfect option for you, as it will nourish and moisturize the scalp while also helping to prevent breakage and damage to the roots.
- Make sure you cleanse your hair as needed. Depending on your hair, it may need to be washed less frequently than you normally would, or at least at the same amount. When washing your hair, make sure to focus on your scalp; don’t be afraid to ruin your locs, as you can refresh and retwist as needed.
- Depending on the length of your hair and how much is exposed, you may want to continue your deep conditioning routine as well. If not a lot of your hair is exposed, this still may be beneficial, as you can thoroughly work the deep conditioner in your hair to ensure your natural hair is getting reached. Our Moringa-Monoi Carrot Bundle contains a hydrating, deep conditioning Fresh Frozé Treatment as well as the strengthening JBCO mentioned before!
- With washing and deep conditioning your hair, you want to make sure you thoroughly rinse your hair and let it dry, as not doing so can lead to scalp buildup and stiffening of your Butterfly Locs.
- To refresh your locs, you can use the twisting paste you used during installation to mitigate any frizz at your roots. This paste can also be used on the length of your locs if you want; don’t be afraid to retwist as needed.