How To Care For and Maintain Your Locs

One way to rock a bold, beautiful and long-lasting look with your natural hair is by wearing locs. While it is a low-maintenance style, they still require a bit of maintenance and hair care, so they look great and last longer.

Maintaining your locs is a lot different from maintaining your natural hairstyles. To help you get a hang of it, in this article, you'll be learning everything you need to know about locs, how to care for them, and different styles you can try.

What Are Locs?

Locs, also called dreadlocks, is a type of protective style worn by both black men and women. To make this hairstyle, the natural hair is put in sections, then it is matted and knotted together to create a look that resembles a rope.

Locs can also be coiled, twisted, or rolled with the palm to give them their appearance. Locs typically go through five phases before they are fully formed and I will be explaining these phases below.

The Five Different Phases of Locs Growth

1. The Starter Phase (3 to 6 months)

starter locs



This is also known as the baby stage as its duration starts the first day you put your hair in locs to six months. At the starter phase of your locs journey, they will be small in size, their parting will be clean and clear and they're usually neat.

2. The Budding Phase (6 to 12 months)

budding locs


This phase is also called the sprouting phase and it is in this phase that your locs start to have that thick puffy look. It is also at this phase that the parting lines will start to be less visible and you may have to re-twist to maintain the original lines. Furthermore, you need to clean your hair and scalp weekly so as not to get build-ups or bumps. Don't worry, it's okay to wash them in this stage, your locs won't unravel when you do.

3. The Teen Phase (12 to 18 months)

teen ugly locs


Also known as the ugly phase or the locking stage, this phase is named after the rebellious and carefree behavior of the human teenager. At this phase, your locs will look puffier as they begin to take the true form of how locs should look. Another great thing about this phase is that you can now style your locs with hair accessories. But, be mindful that at this stage, you could be excited at how your locs look or you could be frustrated with its appearance. If you experience the latter, you will need to be very patient because it is only a matter of time before your locs will start to look its true form.

4. The Maturity Phase (15 to 18 months)

mature locs


This is the phase when your locs have grown longer, firm, and taken a good shape so that you don't have to re-twist them. However, it is important to mention that the length of your locs depends on how well you take care of them.

5. The Rooted Phase (18 to 21 months)

adult locs

Also known as the adult phase, your locs would have grown all out in equal length and will feel heavier. You may choose to leave them to grow to waist length or you can trim them to whatever length you desire.

What is the Difference Between Locs and Dreadlocks?

The Rastafarians, a Jamaican religious and political group, who are known for wearing long locs, call their locs "dreadlocks". According to them, the difference between locs and dreadlocks is that locs is a hairstyle and dreadlocks is a lifestyle. Rastafarians use the word “dread” to separate themselves from others in the society.

Do Locs Cause Natural Hair Breakage?

Yes, for some naturals, locs can lead to hair breakage, hair loss, or even baldness. If your locs begin to thin out or shed in huge chunks, then it is time to visit a hair consultant to help you deal with the problem.

Will Locs Grow out Your Hair?

When your hair is in locs, it will experience its normal growth. However, instead of your hair growing out straight, it will weave through the locs, thus causing the locs to grow longer.

How Long do Locs Last?

This depends on you. You can leave your locs in for as many years as you want. However, you should know that the older locs get, the rougher and "dirtier" they look. But when you take good care of your locs, they will look neat in appearance. Also, you can restyle them at a loctician (a person who specializes in making locs) to make them look like new.

How To Care For Your Locs

1. Wash Your Locs

Yes, that's right, you can wash your locs with shampoo - this process is called shamwashing. Like every other natural hairstyle, dirt and dust can settle on your locs and give them a dull brown look over time. Furthermore, sweat from your scalp can cause it to have a faint unpleasant smell or lead to itching on your scalp. Washing your locs will help you get rid of these dirt and product build-ups from your scalp, and restore the shiny look of your locs, as well. When shamwashing, remember that your focus should be on your scalp and not your locs. This is because shampoos are a cleaning agent and were manufactured to get rid of build-ups on the scalp.

It is also recommended that you do not shamwash baby locs, that is, newly installed locs. This is because your baby locs may unravel as they have not gotten firm enough. Give your baby locs some time to mature before you begin to shamwash. Don't over wash them too. This can lead to dryness, itching, thinning locs, and even breakage. It is better to shamwash your locs once every two weeks.

2. Condition and Deep Condition Your Locs

Now conditioning and deep conditioning are two different things. Let me explain: conditioning is the process of applying conditioner to your hair, letting it sit for at least 5 minutes, and then rinsing it out. Deep conditioners, on the other hand, require heat. This means that after you apply your deep conditioner, you have to cover your hair in a shower cap and/or with a towel for at least 15 minutes. You can also sit under a hairdryer for more heat.

Another major difference is their effects: while regular conditioners are surface conditioners that don't penetrate your hair but cleanse your strands, deep conditioners penetrate your hair and moisturize and soften your hair. The result is that the effects of deep conditioners last longer.

Yet another major difference is in their consistency: while regular conditioners have a running consistency, deep conditioners have a thicker consistency. Now, for your locs, you can condition and deep condition them (at different times, of course). You can condition your locs immediately after shamwashing, or just condition them if you don't feel like shamwashing. Simply apply the condition to your locs, leave it in for 5 minutes and rinse out. This will get rid of build-ups and keep your hair hydrated.

Then, you can deep condition your locs once every two weeks to keep them healthy and moisturized. This will also help give your locs a natural shine. However, it's recommended that you do not condition or deep condition on baby locs. This is because baby locs are still in a fragile state and can unravel if you condition or deep condition them.

3. Dry Your Locs Properly

After washing your locs either with a shampoo or a conditioner, the next step is to dry them properly. Now, if you don't dry your locs properly after washing, it may get an unpleasant smell. Also, it might cause your scalp to itch. So, how do you dry your locs properly? Wrap a t-shirt around your locs to absorb the water; do not run the t-shirt against your locs as they may get tangled.

4. Oil Your Scalp

After washing and drying your locs, the next thing to do is to oil your scalp. Many naturalistas often forget to oil their scalp after washing and this can lead to dryness and itching. To oil your scalp, use any lightweight oil of your choice and gently massage this into your scalp. This will help keep your scalp moisturized and also prevent breakage in your hair roots.

5. Give Those Locs Some Moisture

The truth is locs do not require as much moisture as your natural hair. However, this does not mean that you should allow them to stay dry. With your favorite hair moisturizer, you can moisturize your locs once every 3 days and then seal it in with any lightweight oil of your choice. The oil will help lock in the moisture and keep your hair moisturized for a longer time.

6. Don't be Heavy-handed with Your Hair Products

Locs can easily accumulate product build-ups because they are matted hair. When caring for your locs, do not use too many products or even heavy products on your locs. Instead, use lightweight products sparingly.

7. Wrap up Your Locs with a Satin/Silk Scarf

Finally, always wrap a satin or silk scarf around your hair before going to bed. This will help keep your locs moisturized at night and prevent breakage, dryness, or even damage to your locs.

For extra tips on how you can maintain your locs, watch this quick tutorial by Nique's Oasis below to see her haircare routine for her own locs:

Caring for your locs is necessary if you want it to grow and thrive. However, if putting your hair in locs for years doesn't appeal to you, you can try out our collection of natural-looking faux locs instead.