Protective styles such as sisterlocks and microlocs are gaining popularity thanks to the minimal effort required to style and maintain after installation.
But wait, what is the difference between sisterlocks and microlocs?
The difference between sisterlocks and microlocs is in the size, technique of installation, and cost. Sisterlocks are more intricate to start than microlocs. They are made by parting the hair in a specific grid then locked using an interlocking tool. For microlocs, a coil, twist or braid is formed then a product (waxes or gel) is applied while hand rolling to facilitate locking.
Think of microlocs as the in between of sisterlocks and traditional locks. Both microlocs and sisterlocks have a grid pattern but the sisterlock’s grid is more intricate. Unlike microlocs, installing Sisterlocks does not involve the use of waxes or gels.
Microlocs are also much larger than sisterlocks but smaller than traditional locks. Another significant distinction is the cost of installation. Sisterlocks are much costlier to install and require a special tool to install.
To better understand the difference between microlocs and sisterlocks we will cover the following in this article:
- What are sisterlocks?
- How are sisterlocks installed?
- Pros & cons of sisterlocks
- What are microlocs?
- How are microlocs installed
- Pros & cons of microlocs
What are Sisterlocks?
Sisterlocks are tiny sized locks that were started and developed by Dr JoAnne Cornwell in 1993. It is a trademarked hairstyle that can only be installed by a certified sisterlock consultant.
Before you begin your sisterlock journey it is crucial that you find a sisterlock consultant has been professionally trained on the sisterlock technique.
PS: I started my sisterlocks journey in November 2021. If you would like to learn from my journey, feel free to follow me on instagram @winneymosingi. See you there 🙂
During consultation your sisterlock consultant will use the interlocking tool to install a few locks. This is when you will see which pattern works best on your hair type.
Sisterlocks have a defined a grid pattern and interlocking technique which should be followed when installing. They are created using a special interlocking tool, that builds the locks from the ends of the hair to the root.
The locking of hair from the tips to the roots ensures there’s minimum tension at the root of each lock. The technique does not require the use of hair styling products like oils, waxes and gels. The installation time can be between 24 to 36 hours or more.
It’s recommended that you make a follow up visit to your sisterlock consultant 2-4 weeks after installation.
How well your locks mature depends on how well you take care of your locks after installation and the texture of your hair. It may take up to 6 months.
Sisterlocks require maintenance after 4-6 weeks using the sisterlock (interlocking) method. It is recommended to not go longer than 2 months without retightening because it would leave your locks vulnerable to thinning and breakage.
Sisterlocks Pros and Cons
Pros of sisterlock
- Sisterlocks are unique to each individual adorning them. They are customized for your specific hair texture and pattern. The type of lock done on your hair depends on the texture of your hair.
- Easy to style and manage. Sisterlocks have been said to be a lot easier to style because they are light weight and have a flatter root texture. Sisterlocks are thin which makes it easier to style them in a variety of ways.
- When compared to other hair styles, Sisterlocks are relatively cheaper to maintain. This is because they do not require a lot of hair products.
- They look neater than traditional dreadlocks.
- Can be done on relaxed hair though the transitioning to natural would take longer.
- Due to the fact that locking is done from the ends there is minimum tension at the root.
Cons of sisterlocks
- High initial cost. When compared to microlocs, installing sisterlocks can be more expensive.
- Early-stage unravelling. This happens especially when you always have your hands on hair.
- Thinning and breaking of the locks if you go too long between retightening
- When compared to microlocs, sisterlocks may take a longer time to the install. Installation time is longer than that of microlocs because of the intricate weaving technique done to lock the hair using a patented latch hook tool (interlocking tool). The installation time usually ranges between 24 to 36 hours. The exact amount of time it takes to install them depends on your stylist, length and density of your hair.
- Installation of Sisterlocks must be done by a certified sisterlock consultant. Finding a competent person who would guide you in your hair journey is hard. Remember any mistakes made in the early stages definitely affects your hair outlook later on. Since Sisterlocks are made to be thin improper installation can lead to further thinning or even baldness.
What are microlocs?
Microlocs are locks smaller than traditional locks. The average size of mature traditional dreadlocks is the diameter of a pencil. This means microlocs are locks whose sizes are smaller than that of a pencil.
Installation of microlocs is similar to that of traditional locks. First, it starts with a twist, braid or coil then wax or balm is topically applied to facilitate locking.
Creation of microlocs can be done without any formal training. Depending on how fast your hair grows, you may need to maintain your locks after every 4-8 weeks to keep the roots tightened. Maintenance of microlocs can be done using interlocking or palm rolling techniques.
Pros and Cons of Microlocs
Pros of microlocs
- They are easy to install. They do not require any expertism when installing, you can even install them yourself.
- They are generally cheaper than sisterlocks. This is majorly because they do not require certification or specific products to install and manage.
- You can combine microlocs by two stand twisting to form bigger strands in the future.
- Retwisting process isn’t complicated. This helps preserve the style.
- It takes a shorter time to install between 2-4 hours when doing the coil technique. This though is purely dependent on the pace of your stylist and the size of your locks.
Cons of microlocs
- Because there is no defined grid pattern, it can lead to asymmetrical head of locks with uneven partings.
- Due to the fact that it does not require any training it may lead to mistakes or even holes along the strand that can cause breakage.
- Styling microlocs can be somewhat challenging. Also, the longer they get the heavier they become and this affects your ability to style the locks.
You may have guessed already… This is the first article I am doing on locks and that definitely means I have been considering installing them.
No rush though, I am still in between decisions. Back in 2017, I installed traditional locks and removed them a week later. So this time around I have to take my time and do my homework before deciding.
Before you leave, you may find this recommended products page useful. Here you will find the natural hair products that my friends & I have found to be very good for natural hair.
Please, please, please do NOT use wax on your locs. Wax attracts dirt and doesn’t wash out easily, leaving it to build up inside the loc over time. You don’t want those problems.
Thanks for you comment. What should you advise to be used as the locking agent?
Thank you so much for writing this article! I have been thinking of getting the sister locks for years and I really didn’t know the difference of the micro locks and why I was so bent on the sister locks. Now, I truly understand the reason I am leaning more towards the sister locks through you articulating the pros and cons so beautifully.
Thank you dear!
I also have sisterlocks
Can sister locks be removed without damaging your hair
Hey hey – Sisterlocks can only be undone successfully within the first 6 months of installation. Undoing sisterlocks after this initial phase is possible but it’s a very tedious process that takes so long and you are likely to experience a lot of breakage and damage.
Hope this helps!
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This article is in desperate need of an update 🙂
After speaking with 17 Microloc Professionals and 22 Sisterloc Technicians, I’d like to add a couple things…
1) There are 3 main techniques to loc your hair… Sisterlocs, Microlocs, or Palm Rolling
2) Microloc Technicians ARE trained
3) Microloc installs do not require products(they advise against it)… only Palm Rolling requires products to install
4) Trained Microloc Technicians also use an interloc system of retightening every 6-8 weeks
5) Microlocs are not heavy
6) Microlocs installs take the shape of your head into consideration when forming a grid pattern, everyone’s pattern may be different… whereas all Sisterloc grids are the same for every install
NOTE: Please interview your install technician before deciding to loc your hair and ask for photos or visit their salon
Thank you for taking your time to do a detailed comment based on your recent conversations with the different professionals.
We will also do our homework and an update will be up soon.