Sisterlocks: 5 Things You Need To Know Before Getting Them

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Other than the long hours you’d have to sit to get sisterlocks done, they are beautiful, flexible and most importantly give you a break from having to style your hair every day.

If you are considering sisterlocks, here are 5 things you need to know;

PS: Ignore the featured imaged 🙂 in the article, I have linked a youtube video of where you will see an amazing family of 3 talking about their sisterlocks journey.

1. What are Sisterlocks?

Sisterlocks are tiny sized locs where the hair is interlocked using a special interlocking tool. The hairstyle is trademarked and was founded by Dr. JoAnne Cornwell in 1993 and can only be installed by a certified sisterlock consultant. [1]

Compared to traditional locs, sisterlocks are much smaller, take longer to install and cost more. To install this type of locs, the hair is parted in a specific grid and then the locs are formed using an interlocking tool.

The tiny size of the locs allows you the flexibility to style them in several different ways.                   

Some people confuse sisterlocks and micro locs but there is a difference. Read this article to learn more about the difference between Sisterlocks and Micro locs

Here is video by lovely Imani Goodridge where she talks about her journey with sisterlocks. Pure inspiration!

2. Are Sisterlocks permanent?

Sisterlocks are permanent and therefore before you decide to have them, take your time to think through your decision and be comfortable with all the commitment that comes with sisterlocks.

Sisterlocks can 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.  

3. Advantages of Sisterlocks

  1. They are lightweight hence easy to style and manage.
  2. Installation and maintenance does not require a lot of products
  3. Can be done on relaxed hair
  4. Results is lesser tension to the roots as locking is done from the ends
  5. Results in a much neater look compared to traditional locs

4. Disadvantages of Sisterlocks

  1. High installation cost compared to micro locs and traditional locs.
  2. More prone to early-stage unraveling.
  3. The locs tend to thin and break if you go too long between re-tightening
  4. Takes long (24-36 hours) to install compared to other types of locs
  5. Must be done by a certified sisterlocks consultant hence not easily accessible to everyone.

Related Articles: Two Strand Twist Starter Locs , Starter Locs Dos and Don’ts

5. Sisterlocks Stages

Sister locks undergo different phases before reaching maturity.

The four main stages of sisterlocks are (i) pre-locking, (ii) budding, (iii) sprouting and (iv) contraction phases. At each of these four stages, the locs look and feel different.

Pre-locking phase

The pre-locking phase comes shortly after the sisterlocks have been installed.  The locks are tightly coiled which makes them look thin, neat and clearly defined.

The shaft of each loc appears smaller than the partings at the base.

Locks in this stage are called baby locks. They are vulnerable thus easily unlock when mishandled. To avoid this, extra care should be taken when washing and managing them. Be gentle when washing and avoid vigorous scratching.

Budding phase

This stage indicates the beginning of the locking or matting process. Small buds or knots of hair form along the shaft of the loc. Buds at the tips of the hair seals the end of the locks.

Once they form unraveling will no longer be an issue. Unraveling is a situation where the locks loosen from the tips towards the roots. For this reason, do not remove buds or try to pick them loose.

Apart from budding, the shaft of the locks also thickens. 

Thickening of the locks usually comes after several washes. During washing, hair strands experience expansion and contraction as they absorb and expel water. This action causes loosening of the interlocked loops that form the lock framework.

The amount of swelling locks experience depends on your hair texture, how often you wash hair and how tight the loops were packed during installation.

Thickening of the locks is noticeable 2 weeks to a month after installation. Styling, braiding or banding helps to control swelling/thickening of sister locks. Locks in this phase are known as ‘teen locks’ and they appear to be loosely locked.

In this stage locks may also look frizzy, an undesirable feature. The frizz can be tamed by:

  • Shampoo and rinse your hair in a downward direction i.e., from the roots to tips.  This avoids freeing more hair from the loc.
  • Twisting, braiding and banding the locks immediately after each wash
  • Wrapping or covering your locks before sleeping. Head wraps shield your locks from friction generated when you rub your locks against the pillows and sheets as you toss and turn in your sleep.

Shooting phase

This is the stage when the matting process takes place. Buds that were formed in the budding stage acts as nuclei around which the interlocking process takes place.

During the matting process there is continuous intertwining from the bud downwards to the ends/ tips of the hair and from the bud upwards towards the scalp. Hair closest to the scalp is not locked- this is where you experience new growth.

The amount of time it takes for your hair to lock depends on the starting length at installation.

The longer the hair at installation, the longer the shooting phase. This is because with longer hair matting stems will have more hair to work through.

The locks in this stage are known as adult locks. Adult locks usually last longest.

Contracting phase

This is the final stage where the locks mature. Locks in this stage are known as elder locks.

The locks are condensed hence they feel firmer. They look neat and uniform with their ends fully sealed.

Sister locks take 3 months to 2 years after installation to fully settle or mature. The time frame for dreadlocks to fully mature varies from one person to another due to the differences in hair texture.

That is it on sisterlocks. I hope you found the article useful. If you have any other questions, feel freel to let us know in the comments below.

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.

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