Although there are many methods for starting the locking process, there are essentially about three ways to tighten or re-twist your maturing locs: finger latching, latching with a tool, and palm rolling. Each method has its advantages, disadvantages, and special steps, so it takes a knowledgeable loc-wearer to know which one is best for them. Luckily for you, we have all the information you need right here!
Basically the same technique used to start many locs, including those once sported by Lil’ Jon, Lauryn Hill, and India.Arie, palm rolling is just twisting the hair together between the palms or fingertips. This method requires the use of some type of holding product, since most hair needs the extra help to stick together, as well as many small clips to keep the new growth in place until it dries. This means that you run the risk of product buildup when palm rolling locs. However, palm rolling also gives locks a sleeker, more finished look with fewer stray hairs to account for and is great for tightening up any loc style.
If you prefer to avoid holding products, or if you have Sisterlocks or any other latched loc style, latching the hair is probably a better way to go than palm rolling. In essence, “latching” the hair is simply weaving the new growth together, similar to crochet or rug making.
For finger latching, you will need enough new growth to fit your finger between the loced portion of your hair and your scalp. Slide your forefinger into the new growth of the loc you are latching, making a hole large enough to slide your loc through. Use that finger and your thumb to grab the end of the loc and pull it back through to the other side, looping the hair underneath to latch the new growth closed. Create a new hole in a new direction and repeat this process until all of the new growth has been latched and you cannot fit your finger beneath the locked hair.
Latching with a tool follows the same motion and principles as finger latching; the hair is still “stitched” or looped together, down to the scalp. However, tool latching can usually achieve greater precision, simply because the tools used are generally narrower than a finger and can fit through smaller holes.
To begin, choose some sort of tool with a looped end. The Sisterlocks company offers specially-made tools for sale, and you can also buy Nappylocs tools (pictured). However, many women on a budget get more creative and use bobby pins, paper clips, crochet needles, and even pencils to get the job done.
Once you’ve chosen your tool, slide it into the new growth of the loc you want to latch, pushing it about halfway through the unloced hair. Next, thread the end of your loc into the looped end of the tool and pull the tool and your loc through the hair, closing the gap. Continue pushing your tool through the new growth at different angles and repeat this process until the hair has been loced down to the scalp.
In general, either latching method can be used to maintain any kind of loc look, although Sisterlocks will almost certainly require the use of a tool. Latching creates a very neat, secure base for your locks, eliminating any fuzziness at the scalp that may bother some women. However, latching does little to neaten up the length of the hair, so some women may prefer to use this method for new growth and palm roll the matured ends of the hair.
Got any more questions about locs or how to maintain locs that we haven’t covered? Feel free to ask, and we will answer! Until then,
Take care of yourselves,