The Best Starter Locs Guide – Installation, Maintenance, Re-twisting and More

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Stater Locs

After posting the article on Microlocs and Sisterlocs, a lot of you reached out to find out more about starter locs. In this article we will therefore answer the following questions on starter Locs:

  1. What are starter locs?
  2. What is the best way to start locs?
  3. How to maintain starter locs
  4. How often should you wash starter locs?
  5. How often should you retwist starter locs

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What are starter locs?

Starter locs, also known as ‘baby locs’, are the beginning phase of locking your hair. This stage can last anywhere from 3-6 months depending on how fast your hair grows and the hair texture.  

Before your hair locs completely you will need to be very patient and take good care of your starter locs.

What is the best way to start Locs?

There are several ways to start locs i.e installing starter locs. Here are 7 best ways to start locs:

  1. Two strand twists starter locs
  2. Starting locs with braids
  3. Starting locs with comb coils
  4. Backcombing
  5. Interlocking
  6. Using loc extensions
  7. Starting locs organically

1. Two Strand Twist Starter Locs

With hair as little as 4 inches, one can begin locking their hair using the two-strand twist method.

Two-strand twist starter Locs holds hair together and allows hair to start locking itself from the roots. With time, the hair in the strand twist loosens and then it starts to lock against each other too.  

Hair texture plays a key role in the speed at which your hair will loc. The kinkier your hair is, the faster it will begin locking but this does not mean that less kinky hair will not lock, it will just takes longer.

As the locs begin to mature, they will swell up and get thicker, therefore as you part your twists, be mindful of the size.

How to install two-strand twists starter locs

  • On clean hair, section your hair into small square boxes. This box partitioning allows the dreadlocs to grow round.
  • From the roots, smoothen and separate the hair section you are working on using your desired locking product into two strands.
  • Twist each strand of hair and rotate against the other strand in the opposite direction of the individual twisting. Repeat this process till you get to end.

Pros & Cons of Two Strand Starter Locs

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Can be a DIY at the comfort of your home
  • It is affordable compared to other methods.
  • Can be done on hair as low as 2 inches.

Cons:

  • It takes 6 months to 2 years for the twist pattern to disappear.
  • Twists may open and split leading to ill-formed locs.
  • Locs may end up thicker than expected.

2. Starting Locs with braids

Another methods for starting locs is the braiding method. These are called braid locs.

This method is great for people who intend to maintain their locs with the interlocking method or palm rolling.

After your hair begins locking, the part that has been braided should be trimmed off. This is because the braided parts do not loc properly and discourage volume due to the tightening effect that comes with braiding.

Short hair is highly recommended for this to allow for trimming off the braided part once your hair starts locking without feeling as if you are setting yourself back.

How to start locs with the braiding method.

  • On clean hair, part hair into square boxes.
  • Using your desired locking product, smoothen the strand of hair you are working on.
  • Part the hair into three parts then lay each of the three parts on each other tightly until you get to the end.

This method of locking hair results to flatter locks than rounded locs. The braid pattern also takes about a year to disappear.

3. Starting Locs with Comb Coils

These are also referred to as gel twists. This style is not recommended to begin locs on hair that is over 4 inches longer as it will take longer to from the locs.

How to start locs with comb coils

  • On clean hair, you hairdresser will part your hair into square boxes.
  • With the use of a comb, your hairdresser will use a comb to form twirls/coils on your hair till the end using a locking product. Most people use wax.
  • At the end, your hairdresser will clip your hair near the roots to prevent it from opening or becoming loose.
  • You will then be put in a hair dryer to allow the product to dry up.
  • Your locs are all set.

You can watch this video on how to install starter locs using comb coils to understand the whole process.

4. Backcombing

Backcombing can be done on hair as short as 3 inches and as long as 6 inches.

How to install starter locs using the backcombing methods

  • On clean hair, your hair will be parted into square boxes by your hairdresser.
  • Each section will be backcombed using a comb or a hairbrush towards your scalp.
  • Once done, your hairdresser will incorporate palm rolling method to keep your hair together using your preferred dread wax or gel from the roots to the ends.

5.  Interlocking

In this method an interlocking tool is used. Most hairdressers use a crocheting tool nowadays.

How to install starter locs using the interlocking method

  • Your hairdresser will make square partitions of hair on your head.
  • On every partition, your hairdresser will first of all tangle up the ends of the hair part they are working on.
  • Once the tangle is made, with the use of an interlocking tool or finger, they will insert or crotchet the tangled bit into the untangled part on top of it forming a lock.
  • This is repeated in different directions till they reach the root of your hair.

NOTE:

  • It will take about 6 months to 2 years for your locs to look mature.
  • This method allows for consistent washing by yourself at home as they do not get undone.
  • If you previously had palm rolled your hair, you can interlock your hair occasionally to allow for permanent locs.

Here is a video on the interlocking method of strating locs

6. Using loc extensions

One can use natural hair or synthetic hair extensions. Natural hair locs extensions are recommended especially if you have natural hair. Check this one out: Loc extensions made from human hair.

Once the loc extensions are installed, you can maintain the growth with the palm rolling, interlocking or comb twisting methods.

How to install loc extensions

  • Your hairdresser will part into sections of your preference.
  • Then with your preferred extension, your hairdresser will use a crotchet tool to crotchet your hair and the extension together wrapping every strand together.
  • Once all extensions are in place, your roots will be twisted using a comb like in the comb coils process.

7.  Starting Locs organically

This can be done either by washing your hair and never detangling it or by using a sponge curler if your hair is short.

The major challenge with this is that you have no idea how your locs are going to turn out. The pattern may be very difficult to maintain as its not done systematically.

How to wash starter locs

Once you have your starter locs installed, your next step is to know how to and how often to wash them.

  • Wash your starter locs 3 – 4 weeks after you have had the installed. This allows your hair to regain its natural oils.
  • Focus on your scalp every time you wash your head.
  • Be gentle when washing your locs to avoid unravelling
  • Do not use a conditioning product when washing your starter locs

You have probably been advised not to wash until 3 months are passed but you do not have to wait that long.

If you are sceptical about washing your starter locs when they are bare, you can wear a stocking cap, especially one that has holes on it. This will help you avoid unravelling your starter locs and help you focus on your scalp more.

If you want to obtain a consistent routine, you can wash them after every month. This in return will prevent excessive build up of oils and dandruff.

How often should I retwist my starter locs?

This can be done every month or every time you wash your hair.

How to maintain starter locs

Depending on the method you have used to install your starter locs, maintenance may vary with slight differences. Here are general standards that will work for most methods and allow you enjoy your dreadlocks journey.

1. Refrain from manipulating the locs

Refrain from touching your hair frequently once you have your starter locs installed. Allow it to grow peacefully. This will allow newly grown hair to lock itself and give your locs a mature and healthy look as time progresses.

If your locs are long, you can style them as this will reduce the urge to touch them and prevent constant manipulation by styling them daily.

2. Avoid conditioning early on

Avoid using conditioning products at the beginning stage of your starter locs. Using conditioner on your starter locs may lead to them unravelling before they get to a mature stage.

3. Protect the locs when sleeping

When you sleep, ensure your locs are protected. You can use a satin scarf, satin bonnet or lay on a satin pillowcase. This will help your hair retain its moisture and prevent hair from breaking off.

4. Take care of the scalp

You can use natural oils such as black castor oil, olive oil or coconut oil on your hair and scalp. This will prevent your hair from drying up and will help your scalp retain moisture as well. In return, your locs will grow healthier and stronger.

5. Monitor progress

Ensure you visit your dreadlocks hairdresser every 4 to 6 weeks to help you monitor your growth progress and resolve any issues that may arise.

How often should I moisturize my starter locs?

Moisturize your starter locs on a need basis or when feel that they are starting to up.

You can do this using a homemade moisturizer. You can make your moisturizer using:

  1. Ordinary water, rose water or aloe vera juice
  2. Essential oils such as rosemary oil, almond oil, black castor oil or tea tree oil
  3. Vitamin E
  4. A little bit of glycerine

Put all these in a spraying bottle and you are ready to go. Ensure that you make only what you need at that moment because it may go bad, or it may start to smell. Let us know in the comments below.

Did you find this article helpful? What are your thoughts on washing starter locs? Should wait at least 3 months or wash immediately?

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.

Featured Image credit: Photo by Larry George II on Unsplash

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