Locs, also known as “dreadlocks”, are a hairstyle that has been known throughout the ages and across many different cultures worldwide. In America, they were brought into mainstream popularity as a trendy style that exudes a carefree and “rastafarian” inspired lifestyle.
In reality, locs and the process of locking or matting the hair requires maintenance, patience, and a great deal of know-how. There are 5 primary stages that you'll experience as you go through your loc journey. In this guide, we walk you through that process from starter locs to rooted locs. We will lay out the typical process for forming locs, along with some helpful loc maintenance techniques, and products that will be helpful in your loc journey.
When you first 'loc' your hair, your new locs will be in the starter loc phase. This is a very vulnerable stage, since your hair will naturally want to untangle and revert to its loose form. Be careful when washing and conditioning during the starter loc phase, as unraveling can occur. If your hair won’t quite stay together, opt for putting rubber bands on the ends of your locs and sleeping with a bonnet or scarf on to prevent unraveling.
How do I start my locs?
Locs can be started using multiple techniques. The main concern is usually parting. Having parts that are too small can result in locs that are too thin and thus break off easily as they mature. Some opt to use natural hairstyles such as twists to start sectioning off starter locs.
Braids and two-strand twists can start a loc journey, but this process will take longer to look like locs because the pattern of the twist/braid will remain visible as the hair matures.
Some other options for initial sectioning starter locs are comb coils and palm rolls. Comb coiling is the technique of using a comb to twirl hair into a single curled strand, using product to seal.
Palm rolling is the process of rolling the hair with the hands to form a cylindrical strand of hair. The effect of palm rolling can also be simulated when using a curling sponge on very short hair, and then parted and retwisted later as the hair grows into its segments.
Both can result in great looking locs in only a few months! Note: because the inside of the “coil” is hollow, it can take longer for the locs to thicken as they enter the budding phase.
The palm rolling method works very well for those with fine and straighter textures, as they give the instant look of locs once the hair is teased or backcombed to simulate a more coarse hair texture.
For naturally kinky and coarse hair (4b/4c), manipulation might not be required at all. Freeform locs, as their name suggests, form all on their own. While the hair remains untouched, aside from washing and oiling the scalp, the hair strands will naturally mat together and create an organic form with results that can be beautifully unique in shape and size.
Once locked, this chunky style can be manipulated further to defy gravity completely, and form incredibly thick “wicks” or combined locs that hold their form. Be careful when combining locs as too much manipulation or weight on a thin strand can cause breakage and excessive thinning.
Just as with all hairstyles, length and texture can be the deciding factors in how your hair will lock, the best method to form them, and time the locking process will take. We recommend consulting with a loctician, who can not only start your locs for you, but will provide maintenance and advice throughout your loc journey!
The Budding Phase of Locs
Congrats, as you’re now well on your way to your hair fully locking! In the budding phase, hair begins to form “buds” at the ends of the sectioned strands which hold the hair together. At this point, your new growth might be puffy and frizzy with its texture differing from the rest of your budding locs, so you’ll need to get them retwisted to incorporate them into the rest of your locking hair and promote new growth.
During budding, the hair is just beginning to loc and demands that the strands be kept intact. This makes it very important to resist retwisting your new growth too often, as it can result in bumps and weak spots as the hair further grows and locks. Embrace this stage, as it’s a part of your hair’s beautiful transformation. NaturAll's Avocado + Kiwi Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Hydrating Avocado + Kiwi Conditioner is the perfect duo to keep your budding locs moisturized and healthy without weighing them down.
The Teenage Phase of Locs
You’ll know your locks have left the budding stage once they begin to swell, and maintain their shape on their own while looking more cohesive in texture. Teenage locs may seem to stand on end all over your head and go in whatever direction they want as the matted hair thickens and becomes taught at the root. This can be a tough stage for styling your locs, but if you can persevere, it'll be worth it.
You’ll want to be particularly careful of your wash routine, and products you use as product buildup becomes more visible. Since locs might not absorb styling products, it may dry and flake on the surface. NaturAll's Hydrating Twisting Paste provides enough hold to retwist locs, and has a moisturizing formula that won’t cause buildup on your hair.
The most noticeable sign of matured locs is that they lie flat against the scalp, and hang down. They’re firm to the touch, and can’t be unravelled easily at their tips. Because they’re mature, you won’t need to retwist your new growth as often since the untwisted hair will be weighed down by the locs themselves. With a regular washing and conditioning routine, your locs will remain healthy and strong with minimal manipulation and maintenance.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final stage of your loc journey. Your hair should feel heavier than before with the locs taking on a more slender profile, with a complete range of motion that allows for many different protective styles. Braiding, cornrowing, and even trimming your locs should be a seamless process so long as you continue to keep your hair and scalp moisturized.
NaturAll Club’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Growth Serum will help to keep your scalp and hair hydrated and protected as well as stimulate growth while you enjoy the results of your completed loc journey!
I hope that this guide helped to shed some light on the process of locking hair, and the many benefits of doing so. Locs are a timeless style that descend from the traditions and cultures of people far and wide, and are here to stay. Good luck on your hair journey, and always continue to be deliciously you!