Nappily Natural Hair 101: All about locs

At Nappily Naturals we are often asked for loc advise, hair 101 goal is to talk about everything locs related. Whilst we don’t claim to be experts, nor locticians however, often knee deep in research on styles, products and maintenance practices.

To loc or not to loc? Personally I see my hair as an accessory and am prone to experimenting with different styles, colors and lengths (including shaved bald). My choice to loc up the first time was purely aesthetic. I have a few friends that have been loc-ed for what seems like eons and I loved the way their hair looked and felt.

You can’t wash your hair. This one still baffles me. Yes you can and absolutely should wash your hair or it will get filthy and people standing close to you will scrunch up their faces in reaction to the odor.

Locs require no maintenance. For most of us this is not true. Unless you are choosing to completely freeform, you will need to twist or coil your hair to start them off and then to re-twist your roots to keep your locs maintained.

Locs are unprofessional. *sighs like a steam engine* As long as you wear your locs tidy and in a work friendly style there is absolutely no reason why your hair should not look professional.

It’s funny how a ratty looking weave that should have been taken out a month ago can sometimes be seen as more acceptable than a tidy natural updo. All I can say to that is keep it looking neat and tidy and keep fighting the good fight.
Chescaleigh is one of my favorite locs video bloggers; check out her response to the ‘unprofessional locs’ question here

You have to shave your head if you decide you no longer want locs. Whilst shaving your head will definitely make the whole process much faster, you don’t have to go bald to remove your locs. You may, however, have to cut the locs to a manageable length to begin unraveling the hair. It is a very time consuming process.

Loc Stages Your locs journey will take you through five stages: starter locs, baby, teenage, mature and rooted Stage 1 -Starter Locs And so it begins…  Depending on how you choose to start the locing process, your hair will be in two strand twists, comb coils, single braids or loc extensions. People won’t notice a difference yet and may even ooh and ahh at your cute hairdo.

Stage 2 – Baby Locs Also known as “sprouting” or “budding”. Individual comb coils/twists/braids may seem puffy as the hairs start to intertwine. It is important to keep the original scalp partings, to maintain neat and (as near) uniform locs in the later stages. Try to avoid redividing and overtwisting at this stage, they are meant to be puffy and will settle down later. Care has to be taken during shampooing not to unravel the hair. People will begin to notice and ask if you are locing up. Personally, I enjoy the baby phase; they are a little fuzzy but they look cute.

short locs hairstyles

Stage 3 – Teenage Locs As the name suggests, your locs are a little older, they are starting to form but also have a mind of their own! The intertwining extends further down the loc, causing some to drop but some will still be loosely meshed and choose to defy gravity. Fewer locs will unravel during shampooing. At this stage you are learning to re-tighten the base so it will look neater. This is a real love/hate stage. There will be days when you adore your hair; followed by days when you are convinced it is doing the opposite of what you want just to spite you. This is the phase when a lot of people turn back; the key is to embrace it. You will not always be able to get the look you are going for but you can have fun with it and if you relax and allow yourself, this is where you gain more confidence with the locing process.

Stage 4 – Mature Locs Your locs are thickening up and have finally dropped. They don’t need as much re-twisting and have settled in. You will begin to see more consistent growth because each loc has intertwined and contracted into a cylindrical shape. Some loosely coiled hair textures may retain a small curl at the end of the locs (as in my case), but most will probably be closed at the ends.

(This stage is usually reached within 16-18 months)

Stage 5 – Rooted – Beyond Mature locs Your locs don’t need frequent re-twisting because your hair is mostly now growing from the base directly into the loc. By this stage, your locs should be strong, thick and healthy.

Starting Locs There are a variety of methods to start your locs depending on the length and texture of your hair.

Comb Coils Hair is sectioned and is twisted into coils using a comb. This is usually done on shorter hair. 

Single Twists Hair is sectioned and rolled between the palms or twisted round the finger. This is usually achieved on hair that is longer than 2 inches. 

Two-Strand Twist Hair is sectioned and is twisted using a two-strand method.  This can be achieved on hair of any length, usually more than 2 inches.

Braid Extensions This method is achieved on hair that has been styled in braids or twists that have hair extensions added to it.  When the hair has grown out, the new growth is twisted using palm rolling or a similar twisting method.

Loc Extensions In this method, hair is braided and extension hair is wrapped around the braid to resemble a loc. You can keep the extension in or trim it as your locs grow out. Many people like this method because it gives the look of a matured loc instantly.

Freeform Locs  This method is achieved by separating the hair into clusters and leaving the new growth to its own devices. With this method, locs can sometimes end up marrying at the root (when two or more locs fuse together at the root).

Washing Starter and Baby Locs There is a lot of misguided information out there regarding the frequency of washing your locs during the early stages of your journey. The initial coil, twist or braid will obviously hold its shape for longer if you don’t wash your hair for three months but the goal is to LOC YOUR HAIR, not hold a perfect comb coil for as long as possible. That aside, dirty hair is just… gross!

Some locticians will suggest that you avoid washing your hair in the first four weeks. The key word here is “avoid”. Depending on your lifestyle this might not be an option. You could do a herbal rinse or clean your scalp with an astringent like witch hazel or Sea Breeze but overall my personal belief is that its better to wash your hair than spend weeks raking your nails into your scalp due to dry sweat and oil buildup.

For starter locs, the easiest way to wash your hair will depend on your hair texture and how you started them. I have a fairly loose curl structure and I started comb coils with a loctician the first time around. During the first wash (about 2-3 weeks after the initial styling) we thoroughly washed my scalp, while avoiding too much disruption of the comb coils. The shampoo was scrunched into my hair and then rinsed and scrunched out after thoroughly rinsing my scalp.

This time around I started my locs myself with a two-strand twist and washed my hair a week later. I started off by wetting my hair completely, then applying the shampoo to my scalp with my fingertips, taking care not to use too much but distributing it well.

I then put my hair into four ponytails and applied a little shampoo to each one before massaging gently but thoroughly with the palms of my hands. Once finished, I removed the ponytails and rinsed my hair by scrunching the water out, taking care to disrupt the twists as little as possible. You can of course leave the ponytails in while rinsing depending on your preference. Two of my smaller twists unraveled during the initial wash but I simply retwisted the ends before palm rolling.

Another option if you are worried about your hair unraveling is to use a stocking or mesh cap over your starter locs. Apply the shampoo using a nozzle bottle and then agitate with the palm of your hand instead of your fingertips, before rinsing well through the cap. Obviously this technique is not as thorough as having access to your whole head but it’s cleaner than avoiding water together.

After washing, I palm roll and clip my hair and then air dry or sit under a hooded dryer. Air-drying usually means that I have washed my hair in the early evening and I’m staying home, as my hair takes aaaaaages to dry.
Finally, some tips to get you started
I avoided using a conditioner in my locs the first two months after starting the second time around because I have a fairly soft hair texture (conditioner is a detangler, and its purpose is to do the opposite of locing). However, this was not strictly necessary.

After washing, make sure your hair dries completely. Constant damp hair can encourage mold in your locs and believe me you do not want that!

Don’t retwist your hair too often or you will end up with breakage.

Always sleep in a satin scarf/stocking cap to avoid losing moisture and natural oils into your cotton pillowcase.

DON’T USE BEESWAX. I cannot stress this enough. Beeswax is horrible. It’s too thick and heavy for natural hair, prevents proper airflow within the loc and will often trap lint causing your locs to look dirty. If your loctician pulls out a jar of the buzzy wax, scream “Oh no you di’int!” while running in the opposite direction.

Use a dark towel when washing your hair to avoid light colored lint sticking to your locs.

An apple cider vinegar rinse will help soothe an itchy scalp and has the added benefit of balancing the pH of your hair and removing buildup that can result from the use of styling products. Rinsing will also close the cuticle scales, which cover and protect the surface of each hair shaft, leaving it smoother and shinier.

is to talk about everything locs related. Whilst currently on my second locs journey, I am by no means an expert, nor am I a loctician. I am, however, often knee deep in research on styles, products and maintenance practices, as I generally prefer to do my hair myself (despite my, sometimes, extreme laziness when it comes to said hair. I know you know what I’m talking about).

Share this post: