Your Guide to Maintaining and Styling Locs

African American woman with shoulder-length sisterlocs - your guide to styling and maintaining locs

To Loc or Not to Loc

Have you been thinking of getting locs?

Well, if you are, you’re not alone. Locs of all shapes and sizes have woven their way into the mainstream and taken root in contemporary pop culture across the globe. Despite heavy debate on the precise origins of the majestic hairstyle, one thing is for sure; its emergence in many distinct cultures around the world has left countless people spoiled for choice.

That is where we come in. We have put together five loc styles with details on what to expect and how to maintain them.

Let’s get into it!

1.Freeform/Semi Freeform Locs

Stemming from the Jamaican and Rastafarian cultures and popularized by the likes of Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill, this style carries with it an appreciation for one’s African heritage. It’s no wonder that black women the world-over continue to seek it out.

Known, particularly, for their volume and free form aesthetic, Freeform locs evoke the aura of a woman in touch with her roots. The kind you could spend hours having a deep meaningful conversation with.

African American woman with long, freeform locs - your guide to maintaining and styling locs


How to Maintain Them

Wash – Using low residue shampoo, be sure to wash your locs at least once in two weeks, deep conditioning once a month.

Moisturize – With freeform locs, water is your best friend. Hydrate your locs weekly using a spritz bottle and seal the moisture using light oils like olive, avocado or jojoba. This avocado oil is a great option.

Maintenance – Freeform locs are not meant to be retwisted regularly. Initial twisting can be enough as over time, your hair is meant to grow as it is, taking on its natural free form.

Sleep in silk – Make sure to sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase to protect them from moisture loss and buildup from your beddings. Alternatively, you can use this sleep cap made for locs!

Keep your scalp healthyThese locs are particularly heavy and require more regular scalp massages. We recommend massaging your scalp twice a week with your preferred light oil for the best results. Jojoba oil most resembles our natural scalp oil and is a great choice.

African American woman with shoulder-length sisterlocs - your guide to styling and maintaining locs

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2. Sisterlocs

This style is younger than most of the other entries on this list. Sisterlocs were trademarked in 1993 as a self-empowering and culturally expressive solution for women of African heritage. This style is a textured style solution that is self-affirming and beautiful. Today, sisterlocs continue to take the world by storm, becoming immensely popular with Kenyan women in particular.

These locs are known for their thread-like thinness and regular maintenance through crocheting.

Unlike the others on this list, they allow for maximum styling versatility. With this style, you have more options for how you want to wear your hair with all the protective and hair-growth benefits of traditional locs.

How to Maintain Them

Discipline is key – Sisterlocs require regular trips (every 4 weeks after installation) to a specialist for a retightening. Once you’re a year or so down the line you can opt for going in every 6-8 weeks.

No oils– Because of the nature of these locs, using oils can cause slippage and prevent your hair from locking up efficiently. However, moisturizing is still very important so you can spray your hair at least once a week with plain water.

Wash sparingly – After installation it’s important not to wash your hair more than twice a month to avoid unraveling. Use a simple clarifying and moisturizing shampoo like this one with minimal residue.

2. High Top Locs

The style is characterized by having the locs on the crown of your head with your sides and back shaved down.

High Tops are known for their edgy and youthful aesthetic that really shows off one’s bold personality.

African-American woman wearing high top locs - Your guide to maintaining and styling locs

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How to Maintain Them

The maintenance routine for this style depends on the type of locs you wear on your crown and as such can vary between any of the ones on this list.

Wash – Just like with freeform locs, washing it regularly is important to prevent accumulation of dirt and buildup. Use a low-residue shampoo and deep conditioner at least once a month.

Retwisting – The locs should be retwisted once a month, depending on how ‘neat’ you’d like them to be.

Remember, the concept of ‘neat locs’ is unfounded. Locs are one of our hair’s natural ways of growing and thriving. Your maintenance routine depends on the look you want to achieve!

African American woman wearing faux locs - Your Guide to Maintaining and Styling locs

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4. Faux Locs

Faux Locs are perfect for people who want to experiment with locs but are not yet willing to make the full commitment. It’s a fun way of seeing how you’d look with locs and reveals some interesting styles you can try out.

They are slowly gaining popularity over box braids as the number one Protective Style, due to the fact that they are unique and look more natural with age.

How to Maintain Them

  • Cleanse – Unlike traditional locs, these do not need to be washed during the time that they’re worn. However, we advise that you cleanse your scalp once every two weeks with apple cider vinegar or witch hazel toner to keep your scalp’s PH balanced.
  • Hydrate the hair beneath – Apply natural oils like avocado oil or sweet almond oil to the roots and scalp to make sure the moisture reaches your hai
  • Sleep on silk – Use either a silk or satin pillowcase or this sleep cap for locs to prevent moisture loss and unraveling.
  • Consult a loctician you trust – Faux locs require more maintenance and professional assistance (particularly when re-twisting) than the other styles and so we recommend getting a stylist you trust to be doing and re-doing your locs.

5. Bohemian/Distressed Faux Locs

Being a variation of the faux locs, distressed locs give a more ‘carefree’ and youthful look that sometimes comes with freeform locs.

The more they age the frizzier they become and therefore, the more natural they look.

African American woman wearing distressed butterfly faux locs - Your Guide to Maintaining and Styling Locs

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How to Maintain Them

  • Clean your scalp – Do this using a dry shampoo or a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel toner.
  • Use anti-itch scalp oil – Because of their frizzy form they can begin to itch every now and then, so look for a product – as close to natural as possible – to moisturize and fight the urge to scratch.

With locs, there are so many hairstyles to choose from. The possibilities are endless! But with this guide to the 5 styles and how to maintain them, we hope you are closer to choosing a style for that will work for you. Which one are you willing to try out? Let us know in the comments or on our Instagram page!

If you’d like to know more about hair maintenance and care, we’re right here to give you all the information you need. Visit us at Glisen today and get tailored hair care advice in minutes

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