By Terez Howard

There’s no miracle solution to make locs loc overnight.  Locking hair is a process which takes time and patience.  Some don’t see mature locs for 2 years, while others have locked hair within 6 months.  If you want to encourage the locking process, there are a few things you should and should not do.

But first, let’s examine what locs are.  Locked hair forms when uncombed hair sheds and coils around itself into a fused unit.  Locs can be started and maintained many different ways on both natural and relaxed hair types.  Your natural hair type, including its thickness and density, as well as the method you use to maintain your locs dictate how long it will take your hair to loc.  Of course, you cannot control your hair type.  You can do, however, encourage locking.

Ways to encourage locking

1. Wash with residue-free shampoo regularly.  For some, regular washings might mean twice per week.  For others, it’s once per week, and still others wash every other week.  This depends on your daily routine, whether or not you work out regularly and sweat your hair out.  The more you sweat, the more frequently you should wash.

Regular washing encourages locs to expand and hair to shed.  This shed hair will intertwine around a forming loc to encourage the process.  Remember how water encouraged your loose natural hair to coil, curl and shrink?  It does the same thing with locs.

Be very gentle when you wash baby locs so that you can maintain your parting.  You might even want to shampoo with a stocking cap or braid and band the ends.  Then, squeeze in the shampoo and rinse thoroughly.  Also, keep the water pressure down to avoid unraveling.

2. Tend to new growth.  Regular maintenance to new growth by twisting, palm rolling, back combing or with the use of an interlocking tool keeps your new growth from creeping and crawling, or joining itself with other locs at the root.  Maintenance will keep your locs uniform and neat.

Of course, you don’t have to worry about new growth if you’re freeforming!

3. Then, leave your hair alone!  Over-manipulation by constantly stretching, twisting or apply heat early in your loc journey will prevent your natural hair from locking.  After you shampoo and tend to new growth, try to keep your hands out of your head.  Stick to gentle, infrequent styling during the baby stage to encourage your hair to loc.

4. Be patient.  Locking hair is a long process for certain hair types.  Looser, softer curl patterns will take longer to loc.  My Sisterlocks consultant said that my hair would probably loc in 6 months probably due to my hair texture’s very tight coils.  However, because of its softness, I am still not fully locked at 1 year.  Every loc journey varies.  Be patient with yours.

Things that prevent hair from locking

  • Not washing your hair!  Oftentimes, the misconception remains that unwashed locked hair encourages locking.  It only encourages dirt, dust, lint and build-up to stay in your hair.
  • Conditioners are meant to soften the hair cuticle, rather than raise it up the way it should do during the locking process.  Don’t use conditioner during the early stages.
  • Butters, heavy oils and waxes might make hair look locked, but they will cause build-up, that’s nearly impossible to remove.  Sticky locs can also harbor mildew.
  • Don’t put too many products in your new locs.  This will weigh them down and create build-up.

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