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Know This: The Straight Truth about Locs & You

So you want to grow locs. Maybe you’ve already made the Big Chop, or maybe you’re considering it. Maybe you’ve seen a woman rocking some really great twists, coils, or braids, and you’re ready to make the jump, too - but you don’t quite know where to start.

Well, rest easy. That’s why we’re here! This article, the beginning of a four-part series, will help you think through and carry out the whole process of locing your hair, from the very first things you should consider through routine maintenance. It’s everything you need to know about locs, starting with a little mythbusting about this much-misunderstood hairstyle! So know this…

  • Locs are not innately “dirty.” Many people believe that locing your hair means that you cannot wash it for extended periods of time. Not true! Depending on your hair texture, you may even find yourself washing your hair more often than before your locs, and all locing methods involve regular shampoos and conditioning. If you see someone with dirty locs, it’s probably because they had dirty hair and bad grooming habits to begin with!
  • Hair can loc up in under a month. Again, there is a misconception out there that locs take forever to form. The truth is, different hair types loc at different rates; tresses that are already naturally very tightly coiled or kinky can loc in less than a month, while straighter hair can take up to half a year.
  • There is no one “best” way to loc hair. Many factors go into choosing your loc style. Just as no two women can wear the same outfit or makeup the same way, most women will need to personalize their locs. Don’t feel pressured into trying to imitate someone else’s style, or disappointed if the style you’ve admired for so long doesn’t fit you. An experienced loctitian should be able to guide you toward the style that works for you, and nothing less.
  • Your locs can be as groomed and polished as you want them to be. Everyone has seen the stereotypes of people with locs as marijuana-smoking Rastafari with a wild look both in their hair and their eyes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. People from all walks of life, from CEOs to secretaries to entertainers, sport locs in a wide variety of styles. Your locs can be thin, evenly parted, and sleek or thick, different sizes, and bushy - it all depends on what you want. And yes, professional, licensed stylists can do them any way you please!
  • Locs are pretty permanent. Once your strands have “married” into locs, you can usually style them many ways. However, the only way to get rid of them and go to a more free-form look is to cut them off. There are some reports of people who have “untwisted” their locs, but this process is time consuming and usually results in enough hair loss and shedding that a clean break would be better in the end anyway.
  • Locs are not an easy way to get a carefree hairstyle. They require regular maintenance and re-twisting, along with trims and washings just like any other hairstyle. Drying loced hair can also be tricky, as you must dry all layers thoroughly to keep mildew at bay. (Yes, mildew, unfortunately. :( )
  • Locs are not necessarily cheap. If you are an experienced hairstylist - or know someone who is and will give you a discount - then locing and maintaining your mane can be pretty cheap. Ditto if you have free-form locs and simply let your strands do their own natural thing. But no matter how you slice it, a polished, tailored, salon-style look is going to cost salon-style money. Evaluate what kind of locs you want along with the financial costs.

Whew! And that’s just the beginning! Check back later for more info on different locing methods and styles, along with tips for choosing the best kind of locs for you.

Take care of yourselves,


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