Now that you know the truth about locs, it’s time to get down to business. What exactly are locs, and how are they made? Here are the six most common methods used to start the style, along with information to help you choose one.
These are probably the most prevalent type of locs out there; you can see them on men, women, and children, including stars like T-Pain, Goapele, and many of Lauryn Hill’s looks. Thin palm-rolled locs are very versatile and can be rolled, twisted, styled in almost any way straight hair can, and are great for those who want a look that can easily go from office to dance hall. As the name implies, palm-rolled locs are formed by taking sections of hair – as narrow or wide as you want – and twisting them between the fingers or palms to create a thicker strand.
Recommended for: Any hair type, although kinky or coiled hair locks more easily. Straighter hair will need heavier styling products, more frequent maintenance, and more time to loc properly.
Usually thicker than other loc styles, free-forms are the typical “Bob Marley/Rasta”-type locs. And again, the name says it all. Free-form locs are made by simply leaving the hair alone: wash and dry tresses without detangling or combing, then let things follow their own patterns. Nature will dictate which strands lock together and the way the locs fall, although some people do “pluck” hairs apart or do minor palm or finger twisting to help define each loc. Essentially, this is the ultimate no-worries hairstyle. However, there is a lot of controversy surrounding free-form locs, since many people – especially in the corporate world – consider them dirty, unkempt, and even disturbing to look at. Special care must be taken to keep lint from towels, clothes, and linens out of free-form locs.
Recommended for: Type 4 or 3c hair. The tighter the curl pattern, the better.
Described in detail here, two-strand twists give the hair a bit more structure while still giving the hair plenty of volume and movement. Many women love two-strand twists for the way they blow in the wind and give tresses an interesting texture. Suitable for almost any situation and very easy to style in updos, this locing method has only two catches: first, you’ll need at least one inch of hair to do the twists, and second, you cannot use this technique to maintain new growth (see our upcoming article on maintenance for tips on what to do).
Recommended for: Type 3 (a, b, and c) and 4 hair. Straight or wavy hair will just unravel.
This familiar childhood hairstyle can also be used to form your locs. Parting hair as small or large as you like, just braid hair and let it be, and you’ll get locs. There are several advantages to locing hair with the braiding method, especially for people with straighter locks, since braids hold hair firmly in place, preventing slippage and unraveling and allowing you to wash your hair more often during the locing process. However, as with two-strand twists, you’ll need a bit of length before the hair can be braided, and you will have to find another method of tightening up your roots.
Recommended for: Any hair type. May be best for Type 1 or 2 tresses, which need extra hold.
This is a trademarked process that uses special tools and a “grid” on your head to create uniformly tiny, customized locs. Available only from certified stylists, Sisterlocks are probably the smallest locs and most closely imitate the look of straight strands. You can curl and style them endlessly, and the process is done without the use of any creams, gels, or other styling products. So that should be easy on your budget, right? Unfortunately, though, installing Sisterlocks can be pricey, and you’ll need at least 1 ½ inches of new growth to start the process.
Recommended for: Type 3 and 4 hair. The kinkier the curl pattern, the stronger the locks!
Ideal for starting locs right after the Big Chop, comb coils are simply made by winding hair around a comb or other cylindrical object and setting until dry. The technique creates tiny, cute-as-a-button coils that are easy to rock as a temporary style, but somewhat difficult to transition into permanent locs. Comb coils rely heavily of pomades, gels, and styling products to hold the hair in its shape, and this makes washing hair during the locing process difficult. Also, because your mane would not normally fall into this pattern, tresses will usually start to unravel and frizz quite quickly. However, if you keep in mind that this method is just a way to start your locs – they will not look the same way once they mature at all – then you can go on to have a great head of hair anyway, with a little work.
Recommended for: Any hair type, although medium-curly (Type 3) hair may be best suited to holding the style.
In the end, the best loc style for you will depend on many things, and our suggestions are meant only as a rough guide. You can experiment and try different looks, after all; all of the styles mentioned in this article are reversible, so you can rock some palm-rolls for a week, then try twists, braids, or even free-forms! Stay tuned for more info on how to choose your loc hair style, and take care of yourselves,