Growing locs takes a lot of time and dedication. So if you want to embrace this style, you need to get clued up on the process! Patience is key. Despite starter locs appearing as a low-maintenance natural hairstyle, they require continuous upkeep. But all of this TLC is worth it in the end when you have beautiful locs that even Bob Marley would be jealous of!
Here’s all you need to know about how to start locs.
What are starter locs?
During the locking process, the hair tangles together. Which causes the strands to coil around themselves into fused units known as locs. Typically, the process from starter locs to rooted locs takes around 12-24 months depending on your hair type and the technique used. However, there are five main stages that everyone will experience.
- Starter locs 3-6 months – Everyone has to start somewhere and the starter or baby stage is very important. You can use braids, twists or rolls to start your locs and create a parting. You also need to keep your hair very moisturized to ensure that your locs don’t break off easily!
- Budding 6-12 months – During the budding phase you’re likely to experience noticeable growth that looks puffy or fuzzy. this is also the stage where your locs may be at an awkward length. Continue to wash your locs every week so they are able to take form. Also, practice retwisting from the root to control the new growth.
- Teen 12-15 months – As you head into the teen stage, your locs may appear to be growing in different directions. Hang in there and stick with it as you’ll really begin to see your locs taking shape. This is also a great time to experiment with accessories such as head wraps, hair cuffs and beads for a more styled look.
- Mature 15-18 months – You’ve made it to the mature stage! Your dreads should have some weight therefore encouraging them to drop rather than stick out. Any new growth will tend to grow directly into the lock instead of puffing up but you still need to maintain a good washing and conditioning routine.
- Rooted 18- 24 months – Once your starter locs are firmly in place you’ve reached the rooted stage. Your hair will have entered the lower maintenance phase due to new growths slowing down. You may notice that your locs get thinner as they get longer but that’s completely normal. Remember to keep them hydrated and retwist them as needed.
How to start locs
If you’re wondering how to start locs then you should know that you’re in for a long ride! But, don’t let that put you off as maintenance will get easier at every stage. There are many different ways of getting started. The two main ones are using at-home techniques or visiting your local loc stylist. Either way, your hair should be at least 2 to 5 inches long. which is usually enough length to begin the starter loc process.
Which techniques can be used for starter locs?
- Two strand twists – If your hair is at 4 inches then twists are a great DIY option that also suits longer hair or looser curls. You will need to be patient as it can take a long while for solid locs to form using this technique.
- Braids or plaits – For those who have an oily scalp and need more air in this area, braids and plaits can be a great way to create starter locs. This is a quick method as long as you keep the ends well maintained so they don’t unravel.
- Combs locs – Did you know that locs can be formed using comb coils? Shorter hair will lock fairly quickly using this technique. It involves placing hair between the teeth of the comb and twisting from the root to the tip to create uniformed coils.
- Backcombing – Using a comb to tease the hair then palm rolling them into shape, backcombing is usually used on looser curl patterns or straight hair. Some people see this method as ‘instant locs’ but they still need to be well maintained.
- Organically – Freeform locs allows your hair to naturally loc itself. You can start by shampooing your hair and not detangling it. Your hair will dictate its own look and while you won’t know exactly what the end result will be, this can be an exciting part of the journey.
Should you DIY locs or visit a salon?
There’s no harm in doing your locs at home if you know how to start locs. After all, you’re going to be the one maintaining them. However, visiting a salon is also a good option especially since the beginning stage is very important in how your locs will look going forwards. In a salon, the process could take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours but during this time you can learn expert tips on how to care for your locs too.
How to wash starter locs
Even when you’re learning how to start locs you need to keep your hair clean with regular shampooing. A clean scalp will encourage your hair to grow. This ensures that your locs are in the best possible condition for growth.
Here are some top tips on how to wash starter locs:
- Wash your starter locs within the first month anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks.
- Use rubber bands to section out your locs so that way you can get to every part of your scalp. This ensures that no areas are missed.
- Create a regular shampoo regime between every 7 to 21 days. You don’t want to wash your starter locs too often as you will remove your hair’s natural oils. On the flip side, not washing your hair enough will result in product build-up.
- Try diluting your shampoo with water and using an applicator bottle to rinse it through.
Can men and women wear starter locs?
Locs are not gender-specific so anyone with any hair type can rock the style! Due to the natural hair movement and celebrity influence, locs have picked back up in terms of popularity with A-listers such as Whoopi Goldberg, Zendeya, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa embracing the individuality of locs and looking amazing doing so!
Best products for starter locs
- Locking gel – Keep new growth in check or retwist your mature locks with a strong hold gel. The long-lasting hold makes maintenance that little bit easier without flakes or dandruff.
- Clarifying and hydrating shampoo – Apple cider vinegar is known for its balancing and cleansing properties on the scalp. Full of natural ingredients this combo is effective enough to keep your scalp clean but nourishing enough to ensure it’s packed full of nutrients.
- Refresher spray – When your starter locs need a little pick me up a good refresher spray will moisturize and hydrate them.
- Tea tree oil – Not only is tea tree oil a great anti-fungal for maintaining good scalp health but it can unplug your hair too so product build-up doesn’t cause irritation in between washes.
So, what are you waiting for? Get stocked up on the best products for starter locs and begin your natural hair journey!