Dreadlocks are ropes of hair. This style is also known as Jata, Sanskrit, dreads, or locs, which all use different methods to encourage the formation of the locs such as rolling, braiding, and backcombing.
Are the Terms Locs and Dreadlocks Interchangeable? Well, it depends on who you are talking to and their preferences.
I would definitely ask the person which term they prefer, out of respect to the person.
We’ve found that the best way to avoid a sidebar discussion is to just ask someone their personal preference.
However, throughout this article, the words are used interchangeably.
Locs have a long history dating back at least as far as ancient Greece and have been worn by people of various religions and cultures, including Hindus and ancient Israelites.
For decades, the term “dreadlocks” was used to describe the style in which hair falls into rope-like strands, made when the hair locks into itself.
The style is one with cultural and historical significance. It also happens to give a beautiful look, albeit one that’s not always easy to create—or maintain, for that matter.
How are locks Made?
During the locking process, hair tangles, which causes the strands to coil around themselves into fused units. Some people simply stop combing through their hair in order to form “freeform” locks, which tend to vary greatly in size.
Many others prefer a more cultivated look, with neat, even partings throughout and a uniform size to each unit.
However, when they’re formed, there’s an art to ensuring they stay strong and healthy.
If you’re new to the world of dreadlocks – or locks, as they are often called- then you need to know what you’re dealing with before deciding that they’re the next hair leap you want to take.
Before embarking on your loc journey, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the five different stages your strands will go through.
If you’re serious about having locks and can handle the upkeep, you should go for it.
Locs are believed by a good number of people to be high maintenance, but this is quite untrue.
However, patience is a major requirement when dreading your hair. Starting dreads, figuring out your perfect product assortment, and then waiting for them to grow can be time-consuming in the beginning.
But it will be worth it once you see your locks flourish.
So remain patient, and you will get the length and thickness you desire.
Overall, the whole process can take 18-24 months, according to loc experts. Factually, softer textured hair generally takes longer to lock than coarse hair.
Softer textures may take a year or longer to lock, while coarse hair can begin locking in only a few months.
The locking technique that is used plays a role as well. Some loc wearers believe the earlier stages of being the simplest, while some believe the latter stages are.
The middle stages generally come with their own challenges.
Cultivated locks can be started by coiling, braiding, twisting, or palm-rolling hair.
In the beginning, stages, make sure all dreads are twisted, and if they aren’t, twist them a little until they’re under a bit of tension.
To twist, spin the loc while applying some dread cream to the dread and work it around in a clockwise twist.
Once twisted, pin or attach the dread to hold it in the twisted position until dry.
Avoid twisting the same locks repeatedly, as too much tension can cause breakage.
The five different stages of locks are a starter, budding, teen, mature, and rooted.
The starter stage
The starter stage of the loc process can last anywhere from three to six months. This depends on your hair type and how fast it grows.
If you leave your hair in these styles past the allotted time (3-5 weeks), they will start to lock over time. Starter locks are freshly done and will not look very different from braids or normal twists.
In the starter stage, it may seem difficult because your hair keeps coming undone when shampooing.
In this case, there is a perfect daily regimen to use to keep your scalp and baby locks moisturized.
Budding is when hair becomes matted. There’s a lot of frizz and fuzz that comes in this stage that makes people frustrated.
This can be combated by using a Repairing Sulfate-free Shampoo infused with monoi oil that will help strengthen and smooth distressed hair, including frizz.
The teen stage is when there is a lot less unraveling of the locs. Teenage locs begin to harden and are fuzzy and often very messy.
The mature stage
The mature stage is when locs are long enough to hang. Mature locs are thick and long, fully locked, and lay down on your scalp.
The rooted stage
which is the fifth stage that comes several years later when your locs are firmly in place, hang differently, feel heavier, and at the same time more slender.
Maintaining Your Locs
There is a common misconception that dreadlocks are dirty. In reality, they are not dirty at all.
The process of keeping the hair clean and in good condition is important to have healthy dreadlocks.
In general, hair that isn’t fully locked should be washed about once a week or once every two weeks.
Use a natural shampoo without conditioner and ensure it is made with coconut or tea tree oil.
Chemically treated shampoos can damage the roots of your hair and prevent your locks from growing.
Gently wash your dreadlocks, and massage your scalp to get into the roots.
You should also use specially made oils and wax to moisten your dreadlocks and prevent the roots from drying.
Whether you’re years into your loc journey or new to the style, there are a plethora of loc care ways to care for natural hair locs and maintain a crown full of healthy dreadlocks.
The maintenance routine will depend on the age of your dreads and the method you used to start them.
Although hair is tucked away, washing your hair will still be part of your natural hair care routine. Washing, moisturizing, and protecting your dreads will ensure your hair grows well and stays healthy.
Normally, you should regularly (every two to three weeks) wash and detox your hair to remove any products, oil, or debris trapped in the strands and scalp.
If you are an athlete or you work out a lot, you are advised to wash more frequently. Washing your hair will also help to restore the pH balance necessary for healthy growth.
Like most natural styles, moisture will be key in maintaining dreadlocks at home. After all, dry hair is more prone to brittleness and breakage.
Your best bet is to use hair oil on top of a moisturizing spray to keep dryness away. You can opt for lightweight oils that won’t clog your pores or hair follicles and sleep with a silk or satin bonnet and pillow.
Wrapping dreadlocks at night will keep the style in place and help prevent frizz, dirt, and debris.
Avoid beeswax and petroleum jelly. These products cause build up which attracts dirt and lint.
Avoiding creamy consistencies will help keep your locs clean of white residue. Finally, using detangling products in the early locking stages will prolong the locking process.
Quick Tip from us: The best way to maintain locs is to ensure they have a strong foundation. The foundation must be strong; we suggest growing out your hair naturally versus using a perm, which can compromise the hair.
How Often Should You Get Your Locs Retwisted?
It’s a great idea to practice a re-twisting routine to keep the maintenance of the style of locs you choose or for you to transition in sizing your locs.
It allows you to get into a consistent routine while keeping up with the rapid growth process.
If you’re not comfortable with re-twisting or even choosing a starter loc hairstyle, you can always visit a professional loctician, who can guide you in the right direction.
Usually, the starter stage lasts 3-6months.
It may be tempting to re-twist often, but it’s important not to overdo it, as this can lead to thinning locs and breakage.
Frequent twisting tends to thin and break the strands of your hair. You should only retwist your dreadlocks every four weeks.
But this is only a general assumption, believed to work only if other variables remain constant.
Everyone’s hair reacts differently, so you should consult with a loctician, a hairstylist who specializes in grooming and treating dreadlocks.
Do this during the early stages of your dreadlocks to determine whether your hair needs to be re-twisted more or less frequently than every month.
Also, as your hair grows and matures, the frequency of re-twisting grows less as your hair thickens into the locs.
The stages of locs mentioned earlier can also be a determining factor in how often you have to retwist.
The time period to achieve fully locked hair varies from person to person.
For some people, it takes only a few months to lock, while for others, it may take a couple of years.
Dreadlocks look better and better with time, and as they mature, they will become tighter and smoother—requiring less maintenance.
This is why you discover that as you transition between teenage and mature locks. You may find that you need to retwist much less than in the baby locs stage.
How do you maintain locs between retwists?
Sometimes due to certain circumstances, you are left with a long period of time between re-tightenings/retwists. That means we have to do everything we can to maintain our own locks.
In a period like the early days of COVID outbreak that we were encouraged to isolate ourselves; some were even mandated to be quarantined because they were essential personnel; this means that if your retightening or retwisting appointment was coming up, you were out of luck.
One question that comes to mind from this scenario just painted is how do you maintain your locs between retwists?
Although it is not recommended that you retwist your loc without adequate training, you should consider retightening yourself.
You can have fun trying to figure it out, and hopefully, you don’t mess it up in the process.
During this period, the less hair manipulation, the better.
Here’s a short compilation of how you can maintain your locs in these periods:
- Drink enough water: Since you’re lessening the moisture applied from the outside, your hair will have to rely on moisture from the inside. Drinking water, therefore, becomes even more critical.
- Reduce how often you moisturize: It’s important to keep your locs moisturized, but constant moisturizing can also cause them to frizz.
- Wash like you have beginner locks: Simply put, to reduce the impact of missing your retightening appointment, you should wash to avoid as much frizzing as possible.
- Separate your roots after washing: This ensures that you separate any new growth before it gets too entangled with other locs. You can also lightly twist the locks at the front and back for a neater appearance. However, be sure not to overdo it and put too much stress on your roots.
- Loosely plait your locs: Braiding your locs will keep them neater longer, and you wouldn’t have to bother styling them every day. But remember, less manipulation is key.
- Keep your satin cap on at all times: This serves to protect your locs and retain as much moisture as possible.
There is a deeper spiritual connection as dreadlocks are believed to connect wearers to Jah (God) and “earth-force”, his mystical power, which is found throughout the universe.
Some even believe that the knotting or locking of hair keeps this power in the body. Preventing it from escaping through the head.
Dreadlocks can be an attractive hairstyle.
Just like any other hairstyle, dreads need to be washed, moisturized, and given their proper time and attention.
Dreadlocks are attractive when they’re well-maintained, clean, and healthy.