The Loc Life
So you're thinking about getting locs. Unlike some other hairstyles that are more quickly achieved, there's a lot more prep work and consideration that you need to take before starting on your loc journey. This is because a lot of the "common knowledge" surrounding locs is just plain wrong and if you don't educate yourself, you could end up ruining your locs or even causing serious damage to your hair. Luckily, we're here to help you get started! Here are 5 things you should know if you're considering getting locs.
Your hair type
Before beginning your loc journey, take a moment to assess your hair. Is it thick or thin? What kind of texture do you have? How much length are you working with? While all hair types can form locs, some types might have a harder time accomplishing certain loc styles. For example, it'll be difficult or even impossible for thin hair to naturally form jumbo locs since they require a lot of hair to reach that thickness.
One of the best ways to choose the best loc style for you is to find people who have your same hair type and see what their locs look like. This will give you a good idea of what styles your hair can pull off and what they'll look like down the line.
Starting and parting
There's a few different ways you can start to form your locs and the method you choose will also depend on your hair type and what style you're going for. If your hair is on the thinner/straighter end of the spectrum, then you might need the help of some styling tools like a backcomb or a crochet hook to get your hair to loc with itself whereas thicker/kinkier hair can actually form locs without needing to do anything at all (i.e. freeform locs).
Another consideration you'll need to make at the beginning is your parting style. You'll need to be sure about the parting system you choose because once your locs start to form, you won't be able to go back and change it without having to start over completely.
Maintenance is key
Unless you're going with freeform locs, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a low-maintenance style. There's actually a good amount of maintenance that goes into keeping your locs healthy and looking good. You still have to wash your hair and more importantly, you need to make sure your locs dry properly between washes so that they don't run the risk of growing mold within. Since healthy hair starts at the root, your scalp will also still need plenty of TLC to stay clean and moisturized. Unlike loose hair though, you won’t want to lather your hair in heavy products since these can create buildup and really weigh down your locs over time.
One of the most important parts of maintaining your locs will be retwisting. There's not really a set standard for how often you should do it so it will largely come down to your own style and preference. You could do it once every month or once every year. In the earlier stages of growth, it's best to stick closer to monthly retwisting so that your hair can actually loc to itself. However, even in these early stages experts generally agree that you shouldn't retwist more often than every 3-4 weeks as this can damage and weaken your hair and can even lead to hair loss.
It's going to take some serious time to see your hair form fully mature locs, especially if you're starting out with short hair. On average it can take up to a year for your hair to form real locs and even then, there will still be a longer waiting period until your locs start gaining some serious inches. Even if you're starting off with longer hair, you can expect to see shrinkage as your hair becomes tangled with itself to form the hairstyle. While it might be frustrating to have to wait so long, the best thing you can do is just be patient and give every phase of loc formation the care and attention it requires. While it won't be a quick transformation, you will get there!
These 5 topics are some of the most important things to know about locs but they're really just the tip of the iceberg. Locs have a long history and the amount of knowledge that's out there for you to soak up is pretty extensive. It might seem overwhelming at first but just like it takes time to grow your locs, it also takes time to learn everything there is to know about them. Stay patient and stay committed and before you know it, you'll be the one giving out loc wisdom to others!
Interested in more? Check out 5 common misconceptions about natural hair.