Discover 7 Incredible Methods to Start Locs That Every Beginner Should know!

dreadlock hair: Start locs

While we often stress the importance of maintaining locs, let’s flip the script and dive into that all-important starting point – the installation itself. You’ve made up your mind to join the loc community, but now comes the big question: “How do I start my locs?” Yes, your desired locking method is key, but just as crucial is figuring out the best locking method that works for you. 

Essentially, there are seven different starting points to begin your loc journey. The best one for you? Well, that really depends on your unique hair texture, length, and how you want your locs to look in the end. 

What’s important to understand is this: no matter your hair type, it can transform into beautiful locs with some time, patience, and love.

What’s common in all techniques is that your hair will traverse the phases of locking, but the way they appear during this evolution varies from method to method.

Let’s get started!

In This Article
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    Backcombing

    To really understand backcombing, picture the motion of a rake pulling through autumn leaves. It’s a similar motion with your hair. You start at the ends, combing towards the scalp, packing the hair into knots, creating a mesh network of interlocking hair. Over time, this tangled maze of hair consolidates into the mature locs we love.

    Upsides:

    • Almost instant locs: Unlike some other methods, backcombing gives you a close-to-final look on day one itself. It gives your hair volume and the texture resembles that of mature dreadlocks.
    • Works for all hair types: Whether you have straight, wavy, or curly hair, backcombing is a universal method.

    Downsides:

    • Labor intensive: Backcombing can be time-consuming, especially for longer hair, as you have to make sure each section of hair is thoroughly knotted.
    • Potential damage: Backcombing can cause stress and potential damage to the hair shaft, especially if not done properly. Gentle care is key!

    Backcombing indeed offers the thrill of instant results. However, the trade-off is the effort and care it demands. No pain, no gain, as they say!

    Comb Coils

    Well, here’s the scoop on Comb Coils! A notch up in complexity, the comb coil method is a favorite amongst professional locticians.

    Just like it sounds, comb coils are small spirals of hair that are created using a comb. This method is popular for its simplicity and effectiveness.

    Here’s how it works: You start by parting your hair into small, neat sections. Each section is then combed from the roots to the ends, while simultaneously twisting the hair around the comb. The end result? You get tight, neat spirals coiling down your head.

    Upsides:

    • Great for certain hair types: Comb coils work best on certain hair types. If you have kinky, curly, or coily hair, you’re in for a treat! Your hair’s natural texture works in harmony with this method, creating tight, durable coils that easily transition into locs over time.
    • Neat and uniform: The structured technique of comb coiling results in a neat and uniform appearance, which is ideal for those who want to maintain a clean look throughout their loc journey.
    • Fast Installation: One of the best parts? The installation is pretty quick! Once you get the hang of it, creating each coil won’t take more than a few minutes.

    Downsides:

    • Not suitable for all hair types: If you have straight or loosely wavy hair, this method may not hold as well, and the coils may unravel more easily.
    • Frequent maintenance: Coils can unravel, especially after washing your hair or during sleep. So, regular maintenance is required to keep them neat and intact.

    Comb coils are a popular method for starting dreadlocks, particularly for those with shorter hair or those who prefer a more natural-looking style. 

    Want to know more about Comb Coils? DISCOVER EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COMB COILS

    Two-Strand Twists

    Now let’s talk two-strand twists. This is one of the simplest, most intuitive methods to start your loc journey. As the name suggests, you take two strands of hair and twist them around each other. As time passes, the twisted hair begins to knot and lock – voila, you have locs!

    Upsides:

    • Straightforward and DIY-friendly: Two-strand twists are super easy to do at home. You don’t need a specialist or fancy tools, just your own two hands and a little bit of time.
    • Versatile and adjustable: This method is excellent because you can easily adjust the size and positioning of your twists to create your desired look.
    • Fast Install: With a bit of practice, you can get a full head of two-strand twists done in a few hours.

    Downsides:

    • Might unravel: Twists can come undone, especially after washing or vigorous movement. You’ll need to check and retwist them regularly.
    • Longer loc’ing process: The twists can take a bit more time to mature into locs fully, so patience is key.

    With two-strand twists, you have the ability to begin your loc journey independently and adjust as you go.

    Freeform

    The freeform method is all about embracing your hair’s natural texture and allowing it to lock on its own, without any specific guidance or manipulation from you. This method is as organic as it gets when it comes to forming locs. 

    With freeform, all you do is wash your hair and let it dry without combing, twisting, or manipulating it. Over time, your hair will start to mat and form locs naturally, resulting in a truly unique and personal pattern.

    Upsides:

    • Low maintenance: No twisting, coiling, or backcombing needed here. Just let your hair do its thing. It’s the epitome of “wash and go”.
    • Unique, organic result: Your locs will form naturally according to your unique hair type, density, and growth patterns, leading to a look that’s entirely unique to you.
    • Embraces natural hair growth and health: With less manipulation and no need for any hair products, freeforming can promote better scalp health and reduce breakage and tension related to other methods.

    Downsides:

    • Unpredictable results: Since your hair forms locs on its own terms, you’ll have less control over the size, shape, and direction of your locs.
    • Longer process: Freeform locs can take longer to form than other methods. You’ll need to be patient and comfortable with letting your hair go through the various stages of the locing process naturally.
    • Potential for a “messy” look: In the early stages, your hair may appear unkempt to some. It’s essential to be comfortable with this as your hair takes its natural course.

    The freeform method celebrates your hair’s natural beauty and the journey of locing. It’s less about the destination and more about embracing each stage of the journey.

    Interlocking

    Interlocking is a method of creating locs where you use a tool (often a crochet hook or a specialized interlocking tool) to weave or “interlock” your hair into itself, creating a locked pattern from root to tip. 

    Think of it like crocheting your hair into dreadlocks. Starting near the root of your sectioned hair, you push the tool through the root, grab the end of the section, and pull it through, creating a loop. Then, you push the tool through the loop and repeat the process, effectively “locking” your hair.

    Upsides:

    • Long-lasting: Interlocks are generally very secure and resistant to unraveling, making them a great long-term option.
    • Good for active lifestyles: Because they’re so secure, interlocks stand up well to activities like swimming or intense workouts, where other methods might start to unravel.
    • Scalp exposure: Interlocking makes more of your scalp visible, which can be a pro for some people who prefer that look.

    Downsides:

    • Complex process: The interlocking method can be somewhat difficult to master and time-consuming to complete. You might need a professional or a friend’s help until you get the hang of it.
    • Tension issues: If done incorrectly, interlocking can cause unnecessary tension on the scalp, potentially leading to thinning hair or even traction alopecia. It’s important to learn the right technique and not to over-tighten.
    • Maintenance: While interlocks are secure, they can still require regular maintenance to keep them looking neat.

    The interlocking method provides a sturdy, lasting form of locs, ideal for those who want to swim, work out, or otherwise put their hair through its paces without worrying about their locs coming loose. However, mastering the technique can take some time and patience.

    Loc extensions

    Loc extensions are basically artificial locs that are added to your existing hair. To make loc extensions, synthetic or natural hair is twisted into a dreadlock shape and then attached to your own hair, either by being braided into the ends or using a crochet hook to pull your hair through the extension, essentially blending the two together. This method gives you the appearance of fully formed, mature locs right from the start.

    Upsides:

    • Instant length and volume: Loc extensions provide immediate length and fullness, a great choice if you’re eager for long locs and don’t want to wait for your natural hair to grow out and loc up.
    • Versatility: Extensions can be added to natural hair of just about any length, and they can be removed or changed out for different styles or colors if desired.
    • Maintenance: With the right care, loc extensions can last a long time and are relatively low maintenance, requiring regular washing and occasional light re-twisting.

    Downsides:

    • Cost: Because they’re essentially a form of hair extensions, loc extensions can be quite expensive, especially if you opt for natural hair extensions or have them professionally installed.
    • Not for all hair types: While extensions can be used with most hair types, they tend to work best with medium to coarse hair. Fine or thin hair might struggle to hold onto the extensions and could be more susceptible to damage.
    • Attachment issues: Over time, the area where your real hair and the extension meet may become visible or feel different from the rest of the loc, which some people find bothersome.

    Loc extensions offer a unique blend of practicality and style, providing an immediate loc look while offering the potential for natural growth and development.

    Braiding

    Braiding, or plaiting, is another technique often used to start locs. Essentially, your hair is divided into sections and then each section is braided. The idea is that as new hair grows in, it will start to tangle and knot around the braid, eventually forming a loc. This method is more commonly used on longer hair since braids require a certain length to hold properly.

    Upsides:

    • Natural Look: Since your hair is starting in braids, it can have a more styled and “finished” appearance from the start, which some people prefer.
    • Suitable for Different Hair Lengths: While it’s best suited to longer hair, braiding can still work with medium-length hair.
    • Relatively Easy to Install: If you’re comfortable with braiding, this can be a good DIY method to start your loc journey.

    Downsides:

    • Time-Consuming: Braiding, especially if done tightly and neatly, can be quite time-consuming.
    • Transition Period: The transition from braids to locs can be noticeable and may not be to everyone’s taste. It can also take quite a bit of time for the braids to lock up fully.
    • Maintenance: While the braids themselves don’t require much maintenance, you will still need to take care of new growth, which may involve re-braiding or twisting to encourage the hair to lock.

    Starting your locs with braiding can give you a more styled look from the beginning, but the transition to fully formed locs can take some time and patience.

    Wrapping It Up: Choosing Right method for your locs journey

    From the simple but time-honoring Two-Strand Twists to the wild and free Freeform method, each comes with its unique perks and quirks. But they all share a common goal: to usher you into the fulfilling and transformative world of locs.

    Choosing the right method for your loc journey is all about finding a balance that suits your hair type, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Be guided by what feels most natural to you and fits comfortably into your routine.

    And while we’ve covered some of the most popular methods here, it’s worth noting that there are other ways to start your locs out there. Your hair journey is just that – YOURS. So, feel free to explore, experiment, and find the method that truly resonates with you.

    So here’s my final whisper of encouragement, loc lovers: Starting your loc journey might seem overwhelming at first, but keep in mind that it’s a journey of self-expression, individuality, and personal growth. 

    Trust the process, embrace the journey, and watch as your locs transform, mirroring your own personal evolution. Happy loc journey!

    Share Your Experience!

    Which method did you choose to kick-start your loc journey? Was it one of the seven incredible methods listed in this article, something different, or perhaps you haven’t started yet, so which method will you choose?

     I’d love to hear about your experiences and insights. Please leave a comment below and share your story!

    Here are the methods covered in the article for reference:

    1. Backcombing
    2. Comb Coils
    3. Two-Strand Twists
    4. Freeform
    5. Interlocking
    6. Loc Extensions
    7. Braiding

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