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How To Care For Locs

It’s easy to think that knowing how to care for one protective style gives you the knowledge to take care of them all, but loc care comes with its own process.
06 Jan 2023
Locs, also known as dreadlocks or just dreads, are a great protective style and a versatile way to wear natural hair. This hairstyle involves sections of hair being matted and knotted together to create a rope-like appearance. Although the style is fashionable, there is a lot you should know about the process and maintaining the look before you get started.

Whether you’re years into your loc journey or new to the style, there are a plethora of loc care tips to care for natural hair locs and maintain a crown full of healthy dreadlocks. Like all natural hair routines, moisturizing locs will be paramount, and surprisingly quite easy to do. If you prefer a low maintenance routine, there are products for you as well. Ahead, discover the best products for locs and tips and tricks for maintaining dreadlocks styles.

What Are Locs?

Dreadlocks hairstyles are braids that require stray hairs to be tucked into the dread and locked up to the rest of your hair. The maintenance routine will depend on the age of your dreads and the method you used to start them.

Typically, there are four main stages of growing or creating locs: starter, budding, teen, and mature or rooted locs.

Starter Stage

The first stage of locs are called starter or baby locs. If you’re starting locs, begin with coils and double-strand twists. If you leave your hair in these styles past the allotted time (3-5 weeks), they will start to lock over time. This stage usually lasts the first three to six months of dreads.

Budding Stage

Budding is when hair becomes matted. This is usually when people become frustrated because there is a lot of frizz and fuzz that comes in this stage. To combat it, make sure you are using a sulfate-free shampoo like the Monoi Repairing Sulfate-Free Shampoo. It’s infused with monoi oil that will help strengthen and smooth distressed hair, including frizz.

Teen Stage

Teen stage is when there is a lot less unraveling of the locs. When your locs are in this stage, they may seem puffy, and that’s okay. The teen stage is when your locks will begin to take their true shape.

Mature Stage

Mature or rooted locs are when locs are long enough to hang, are firm to the touch and maintain a good shape without being retwisted or manipulated.

Rooted Stage

Voila! Your locks are fully-grown and looking totally fabulous. At this point, your locs are all the same length and they may feel a lot heavier than the previous stages. Since your locs are fully formed, you can style and cut them however you please.

What are the different loc styles?

Not all locs are created equally. Here’s a quick debrief on the most popular loc styles out there.


Sisterlocks are like microlocs. They are quite small and the actual installation can be very lengthy. The nice thing is that they are very easy to style and can be versatile. For sisterlocks, you’ll have to retighten them every four to six weeks.

Traditional Locs

Traditional locs are standard-size locs that are no bigger than a medium-sized box braid. These types of locs require very minimal upkeep.

Free form Locs

Free form locs are created naturally, requiring little twisting and manipulation

Are dreadlocks and locs the same thing?

The answer to this is complicated, but essentially dreadlocks and locs are the same thing in theory. This hairstyle originated amongst the Rastafarian Jamaicans who originally called their locs dreadlocks. Even though locs and dreadlocks are the same hairstyle, the Rastafarians refer to dreadlocks being a complete lifestyle and locs solely being the way the hair is styled.

How To Care For Dreadlocks

So now that you’re familiar with the different types of loc styles, what type of loc care is needed? What are the best products—hair moisturizer, hair oil or others? How often should you wash your locs and how do you dry locs? And what are the different types of loc styling? Perfecting your loc game comes down to a few key areas:

  • Shampooing and conditioning
  • Proper drying techniques
  • Routine moisturizing
  • Maintaining new growth

What Are The Best Products For Locs?

It’s important to narrow down your wash day essentials. But what exactly are the best products for locs? Light oils and shampoos will be ideal for growth. Creamy shampoos will cause build up because of their oils and conditioning agents; ultimately, they will stick to your dreads and turn into gunk.

Instead, shampoo for locs should clarify and moisturize. The most important thing to remember when selecting a shampoo is residue. Since locs are literally locked up, you will want to try Monoi Repairing Sulfate Free Shampoo, which is great for thin or thick hair and free from PPG and PEG ingredients that tend to leave behind residue. When locs experience residue, it can cause itching and make it harder for thicker locs to dry properly and tighten. Luckily, this shampoo will prevent dryness, build up, and odor.

How To Moisturize Your Locs

Like any hair texture or style, the most important part about loc care is keeping your dreads moisturized. Even though hair is tied up and locked in, dreadlocks can still get dry and break easily if not properly moisturized. Moisturizing locs will require a good scalp oil on hand. The best oil for locs? Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil. It’s infused with castor oil, perfect to wrap strands with moisture.

How Often Should You Wash Locs?

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. You will want to regularly (every two to three weeks) wash and detox hair to remove any products, oil, or debris trapped in the strands and scalp. Of course, if you workout a lot, you might want to wash more frequently than every two to three weeks. Washing will also help restore the pH balance necessary for healthy growth.

To wash dreads, wet the locs and scalp very well. You will want hair to be sopping wet. Next, pour a bit of shampoo in your hands and work it into your hair. Feel free to add more as needed, but focus on water more than product. Once shampoo is in, massage the scalp gently but thoroughly. Then rinse until hair is completely free of suds.

How Do You Dry Locs?

You might be wondering, “What is the best way to dry locs?” The answer is pretty straight-forward: stick to air drying. Direct heat can damage dreadlocks, whereas air drying will properly dry hair and prevent it from mold and poor odor. However, due to the structure of locs, drying and making sure locs don’t unravel or retain water, especially in the starter stage, can be difficult. The rule of thumb is to squeeze dreads after washing and to use a microfiber towel to absorb some of the water before styling or wrapping hair. Microfiber towels are also great because they won’t leave any lint in your locs like regular cotton towels might.

The good news is dreads will begin to dry faster and faster after each washing, making the style very convenient and a great way to prevent mildew. Dry locs will shine better once air dried properly.

How Can I Maintain My Dreadlocks At Home?

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.

The scalp is skin and needs the same protection that the skin on your body or face needs. Opt for lightweight oils like the Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum. Just don’t forget to 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.

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 locs repeatedly as too much tension can cause breakage.

How To Style Your Locs

When loc-styling, you want to avoid thinning, bald patches, and traction alopecia from the tension from twisting. The top methods for styling your dreads are below:

Comb coils

Use a small-tooth comb to twist small sections of the hair until they form coils.


Take small sections of hair and roll them in your palms to help tighten and lock up dreads.

Braids or two-strand twist

Great for longer hair as you can start your loc method journey by braiding.

Free form

If you stop detangling your hair altogether, it will eventually become locs.

Are Locs High-Maintenance?

Short answer: no. 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 locs flourish. So remain patient and you will get the length and thickness you desire. Also, dreadlocks look better and better with time, and as they mature, they will become tighter and smoother — requiring less maintenance.

Do Dreadlocks Ruin Your Hair?

All in all, dreadlocks, like all protective styles, help protect your hair from environmental stressors. The only way locs styles will ruin hair, is if you don’t dry them properly or retwist them too often. As long as you invest in the right natural hair care products and look after your dreads, any type of loc-styling will yield to a healthy scalp and locs.

Learn one of the best ways to provide your hair with moisture in our article: What Is The LOC Method Hair Care Routine?

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