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Locked Hair Guide

Locked hair can vary in size from Micro to Free Form.

Micro is like the size of a single piece of acrylic yarn, and then the sizes go up from there. Free Form locs can be as thick as a thumb to the thickness of ones wrist! In some cultures, Free Forming is normal and natural.

Starting Locks

Achieving micro locks can be done in various ways. One of the most unique ways to achieve them is by installing

Sisterlocks. Created  by Dr. JoAnne Cornwell,These locks are small, like the size of micro braids, and range a bit, but not usually to a very large size. Hundreds of locks are installed on natural or relaxed/chemically treated hair, and maintained utilizing a special tool and method. To learn more about Sisterlocks, please visit the website. It is also important to know that Sisterlocks are installed by professionally trained individuals and are not meant to do on your own. The greatest thing about them are that you don’t have to cut off all of your relaxed hair in order to start Sisterlocks. Nappylocs is a trademarked interlocking method that uses a tool to maintain the new growth. This method can be done on your own as the kit comes with a book, DVD and tool to help you get started and learn to maintain your locs.

Sisterlocks founder JoAnne Cornwell

Interlocking the hair is a great way to begin smaller locks. Interlocking is not hard to do once you learn how to do it. There are various videos that offer demonstrations on how to interlock the hair to form locks. Desired sized sections of hair are parted and then “locked” by starting at the very end of the hair by tying it in a knot. Then you slide your finger from the scalp down, separating the hair into two sections. You grab the end of the hair and pull it through each loop you create from the bottom to the top. You work your way up the section of hair until it looks like it has been crocheted, you can also use a latch hook to perform this method. Describing it in writing makes it sound more difficult than what it is.

Bradelocz is another method whereby you can achieve locks from micro sized to large by simply braiding the hair in the desired sized sections. The key thing to know about this method is that a latch hook is used to maintain these locks. A latch hook is a small metal tool with a plastic base, that has a latch (like for crocheting). It can be purchased for under $2.00 depending on where you go, and visiting the website will offer you a book on how to use the latch hook in order to maintain the locks. The Bradelocz method was created by Cherie King and she offers an extensive look at her own process. There are also videos that demonstrate how to use the latch hook and how to tighten new growth.

Creating braids that eventually turn into locks is a very simple method. The benefits of using this method is that the hair is braided among itself, so shampooing hair on a regular schedule is possible. Also various styling methods are possible using this method almost immediately! One negative about braid locks is that it takes a long time for the braids to grow out and “look” like locks. They don’t matte right away and look like braids for at least one year or more. It may look odd when your hair is growing out and from the scalp, the hair is locked or looks more like locks and the ends are braided. See photos of braid locks here.

Two strand twists is a way to create locks as well. This is when hair is separated into two sections and twisted together. This method is simple and has the ability to last during shampoos, however, there may need to be more fuss each time you wet your hair. Two strand twists are prone to coming loose more frequently than with Sisterlocks or Bradelocz. This method also takes a long time to look like locks. The twists are more obvious as the hair grows out than with braids.

Single twists is probably the most common way that locks are started. This is how I started my own. I simply shampooed my hair and applied a leave in conditioner. I then used a non alcoholic gel to twist small sections of my hair around my finger in one direction. I used my finger to part the sections and made the locks small in size. Locks will almost double in thickness as they go through a plumping stage and mature. These locks are maintained by shampooing the hair and re twisting the new growth near the scalp. This method takes a longer time to lock up because there was no interlocking or braiding involved, something that keeps the hair tighter or wrapped around itself. You can create single twisted locks in any size on the hair.

Back combing to create locks is when hair is sectioned in the desired size. Next, the hair is combed with a small toothed comb, from the top of the section to the bottom. It can also be called “ratting” because appears to be like the fur of a mangled rat. Once the hair has been back combed, it then is twisted upon itself in knots with wax, and palm rolled to create a lock. This method gives the immediate appearance of locks, but still takes time to truly matte together and be a lock.

Singer Valerie June’s Free Formed Locs

Freeform locks can either be started by any of the aforementioned methods, then allowed to grow out without grooming and maintaining them thereafter. Or you can simply let your hair grow out for as long as you like, however you like.  Free Form locks are also known as dreadlocks, organic locks or neglected locks. The sizes will vary on each lock and they often are quite large, even the size of your own wrist. Free Formed locks can be cleaned, but are harder to keep clean because of the size and the lack of grooming.Free Forming has long been linked to the ways of Rastafarians for religious reasons.

Genie Locks/Nu Locks/Yarn Braids– This is a temporary method to locking hair. It looks natural but doesn’t have any stages or waiting period for them to look like locks. There are a few methods that have been recognized by Black Hair magazines in the 90s, but you don’t see it as often now. Nevertheless, Genie Locks or Nu Locks are locks created by using yarn. Hair is braided just like you would for braid extensions and the yarn is braided onto the hair. It can also be twisted. Once the hair has been braided to the desired length, the braids can be knotted and burned at the ends or wrapped with more yarn to create a smooth appearance and eliminate the appearance of braids.  This is good when you create yarn braids on hair that isn’t the same color as the yarn. They can last up to 3 months without the hair locking, depending on the texture, and it is a great protective style in the winter months.


  1. LaShaun P.

    This blog is very helpful. Do you braidlock hair? I love what you did to your daughters hair!

  2. LaShaun P.

    Do you braidlock hair? This has been very helpful

  3. Sh"Ray B


    • admin

      Hello and thank you for visiting!

      I started mine with coils, not done by a comb, but the result was the same. I started my locks with a non alcohol based gel. Once I started my locks, I waited 2 weeks for the first shampoo, but then after that it was once a week. After I towel dried my hair, I used a cream pomade to retwist the new growth. A good product is the Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking Gel. It runs about $5 and should last you a couple months, depending on how often you shampoo your hair, swim or perspire. There may be some unraveling but that is normal, and still over time, the hair will lock.

      Congratulations on your journey!

  4. Shamekia

    Great article! This has helped me out tremendously. I was considering giving up on locking because I was afraid that I was doing it wrong and going in the wrong direction. It is good to have sites like this for sharing and encouraging one another. I have started my locs through the single twist method and using non-alcoholic gel. It has been a month and really, I do love them! In any case, do you offer anymore suggestions? How often should I wash my hair in this beginning stage? When my hair unravels, should I retwist with gel or leave it? Again, thanks for your post! Have a great day!

  5. T. Marshall

    I really enjoyed this article. It has answered a lot of my questions about Dreadlocks, as far the type of locks thats suitable for your hair. I didn’t have knowledge of the various types of dreads. I had in my mind that I was go try the Sisterlocks but after reading this article I believe that I would like to go with the braidlocz instead.I am really considering taking the next step I have been wearing braids for the last couple of months and I kinda like the natural look. Its really great that they have websites like this, willing to take the time and get in detail with the nature of the topic….Thanx a bunch

    • admin

      Hello! I am glad that you were able to find this guide and use it as a resource. When I went Natural, I didn’t know much about the internet and when I finally found something, there was only one site. Now I have found so many resources-each offering a different perspective and experience 🙂 Braid locks are a wonderful way to start your locks. That is what I did for my daughter, and her hair is growing beautifully. Feel free to email me any questions you may also have, I’d be happy to help. Happy Holidays to you and yours and Congratulations on your decision to lock your hair! It’s a journey that is SO worth it!

  6. Faahla

    It’s also wise to change your products with the change in climate.
    Summer:Peppermint shampoo/soap
    Queen Helen mint shampoo
    Alomond shampoo/soap
    Jamican lime & mango all products ie. shampoo,conditioner,catus root
    Winter:Creame of nature most all products

    Doo Grow most all products as well
    Black Earth most all products
    Organic root stimulater styling pudding good for braid outs and roller sets.
    I have used all of these products and like them and they work for me just have to find which one works for you:)

    • admin

      Thank you for visiting and sharing your product choices, I will also make this a post. Doo Grow products worked well for my daughter and I use Jamaican Mango and Lime products also. I used the Organic Root stimulator when I was a loose natural as well. These days, the simpler, the better for me. My leave in conditioner and coconut oil have been working well with my locs.

      Happy New Year!

  7. Faahla

    Here is some info on a new product I found:
    Creme of Nature with Argan Oil.

    Indigenous to Morocco, Argan Oil is a precious and rare oil that has supplied radiance and nourishment to hair for centuries. “Liquid gold” as it is lovingly referred, Argan Oil is organically grown and rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids that are good for hair and skin. It is also light-weight and said to have restorative and age-defying effects, making it one of the hottest ingredients introduced into the beauty industry as of late.

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