Whether you’re only thinking about growing locs or you’ve had them for years, some common questions crop up among newbies, mature loc wearers and those who’ve never had them. The following are 11 questions about locs that you may have wondered about or have heard yourself.
1. How Long Will it Take My Hair to Loc?
This is a big question for people thinking about growing locs. A mature set of locs doesn’t grow overnight. It can take many months for your locs to settle and not easily unravel. It will likely be over a year before your locs are considered “rooted.” The more tightly coiled/curled your hair, the faster it will loc. As your hair moves toward this style, expect it to go through several stages, each one offering you the chance to learn more about your hair. In general, if your hair is coily/kinky, expect locs to begin forming in a recognizable way within several months. Looser hair textures may take up to a year or longer. More »
2. Do You Wash Them?
This is one of those questions some loc-wearers have to deal with, and it often comes from a place of just not knowing enough about locs or natural hair to begin with. Of course, locs can be washed, and they should be cleansed on a regular basis. To prevent as much buildup as possible, stick with lightweight cleansers that are still moisturizing and avoid anything too heavy and creamy. Locs should be cleansed on the same general timetable as loose black hair — about once every 7 to 10 days. If you’re very active or work out frequently, co-washes will keep your hair fresh. Just make sure your locs dry thoroughly after each cleansing session; otherwise, it’s possible for them to develop a mildewy odor, the last thing you want attached to your mane!
3. How Do I Condition Locs?
Locs are low-maintenance, but they still require cleansing and conditioning. Applying a regular rinse-out conditioner after shampooing and deep moisturizing treatments is a good habit to maintain. Spritzing on a lightweight leave-in conditioner when needed is also a great idea for keeping your locs hydrated and supple. You don’t want a lot of conditioner building up around the base of your locs, so take care to only apply it down the length of your hair and gently squeeze it in before rinsing. Instead of very heavy conditioners, look for lighter versions, such as:
4. Can I Cut My Locs?
Sometimes, you just want a different look while still keeping your locs. Or maybe yours have gotten very long and heavy. Yes, you can cut your locs to make them shorter, but you’ll have to handle the ends in some way so they don’t unravel too much. Usually, after cutting, you’ll have to backcomb and/or secure the ends for a short while (with rubber bands or small elastics) until the loc is set. A Loose Hair Tool for Locs (buy on Amazon) can make dealing with the ends of cut locs much easier.
5. Why Are My Locs Falling Out?
This can be very distressing for loc wearers as there are several reasons why locs can begin falling out. Some are within your control, while others aren’t. You can change your habits around conditioning, hydrating and too much retwisting if those are the causes of losing locs. Other issues may require a visit to a medical professional. Remember, locs are low-maintenance, but they still must be properly cared for in order for them to flourish and remain healthy. More »
6. How Can I Color My Locs?
Coloring locs has to be done the right way to avoid any damage to your tresses. If you’re thinking of a color that requires bleaching, it’s recommended that you visit a professional for this process. Locs are not like loose hair when it comes to chemicals because products may sit deep inside the locs and become harder to completely wash away — the last thing you want in your locs is some leftover color or bleach! If you choose to color your locs yourself, be aware that you’ll probably need more than one box of color in order to fully saturate your mane. Keep in mind that colored locs require the same diligent care that colored hair of any style requires — frequent conditioning, hydrating and protein treatments.
7. What Styles Can I Use to Start Locs?
Palm rolls are a very popular method for starting locs, but two-strand twists and braids can also be fashioned for this style if your texture is looser and has trouble remaining rolled without a lot of help. Some people prefer a more “organic” look and go the freeform route. Still others want a more instant loc look and choose Sisterlocks, which must be done by a certified Sisterlocks consultant and generally result in small, very uniform locs. If you’re not sure which starter style is right for you, seeing a loctition for advice and assistance is a great place to begin. More »
8. What Styles Can I Do With My Locs?
Once your locs become long enough to style in various ways, the possibilities are nearly endless. While you can create basic styles such as ponytails and buns, you can also design intricate updos and combo styles that are very different and imaginative. Locs can be rolled and curled, braided or twisted together. Plus, don’t forget about all of the accessories and jewelry made just for locs! Cowrie shells are just a start. You also have a huge variety of beads and cuffs to try out along with an array of headwraps. The Black Hair expert’s Pinterest board devoted to Locs is a good starting point if you’re looking for styling versatility.
9. How Often Should I Retwist My Locs?
Although this may vary among loc wearers, plan to retwist about every four to eight weeks. The earlier you are into your loc journey, the more you’ll have to retwist to help your locs form and “set”, but beware of too much retwisting. Over-manipulating your hair can lead to thinning at the roots, resulting in thinner, weaker locs that may break off. One of the most important aspects about retwisting is making sure you twist in the same direction each time you handle this task.
10. What Are the Best Products for Locs?
Choose lightweight products for cleansing, conditioning and styling your locs to prevent buildup that may cause a dull sheen to develop over your hair. Avoid anything with petroleum or beeswax. Although beeswax was long considered a good product for twisting and holding locs in place, it’s extremely difficult to completely wash out of your hair. Plus, very heavy products like this attract a lot of dust and dirt. Look for more lightweight picks like the ones listed (all available at Amazon):
A lightweight oil is great for regular use, but a heavier butter (like the one from Lockology) is perfect for sealing in moisture and keeping your locs well-conditioned.
11. How Can I Remove My Locs?
What if you decide that you want to go back to loose hair? How do you remove your locs? The easiest, quickest method is to cut them off. However, some people don’t want to lose all their length. Can you comb locs out? In some cases, yes. It’s usually possible to comb locs out if they’re not very old and rooted. However, even two year-old locs can take days, if not weeks, to completely comb out. This isn’t a removal method for the impatient. You’ll need lots of time and conditioner to make the process smoother. If your locs are over a decade old and very entrenched, the comb-out method may be impossible without causing a lot of pain and hair loss (so is not recommended).