Different Styles for Starting Locs

Updated 03/31/19
Willow Smith/Jacopo Raule  

Once you decide that you want to grow locs, you'll need to choose a starter loc style. Basically, this is a loc-friendly hairstyle that, with proper maintenance and time, will eventually grow into mature locs

Growing Locs

For some people, growing locs will be a breeze. Their hair maintains its growth pattern with only a little manipulation and before they know it, their locs are at their shoulders.

For others, growing locs can seem like a long, hard road. Thin locs may break off and buds may constantly come untwisted. It can be a frustrating process, but remember that growing locs does take time and patience.

Unless you opt for freeform locs and simply let nature takes its course on your uncombed hair, you also need to prepared to care for them as they grow. Locs are an ongoing process that will be worth it if you're persistent.

Any of the following starter loc styles will eventually result in a headful of neat and attractive locs. Which you choose will largely depend on your hair texture and the end style you're going for. Locs tend to work best on kinky hair or tight coils. The straighter your hair is, the more difficulty you're going to have.

You may find it helpful to consult with a loctician in your area if you're unsure which style best suits your texture as well as your lifestyle. For instance, you may want a loc style that's highly styled and neat if you work in a corporate environment. Likewise, one that is more washable will work better if you workout and sweat a lot or are used to washing your hair frequently.

Palm Rolls/Comb Coils

As its name suggests, this style is created by rolling sections of hair between the palms of the hands. It's great as a stand-alone style as well. By leaving your palm rolls in, your hair will naturally loc over time. Comb coils are very similar but are fashioned by wrapping small sections of hair around the tail end of a rattail comb.

These styles work well for thick, tightly curled textures. Comb coils may hold better for slightly looser tresses.

Decide how large you want your sections to be before beginning to palm roll. Make sure they are as uniform as possible. A light hairdress or gel is best for fashioning palm rolls. Beeswax should be avoided because it's too tacky, difficult to wash out of the hair, and will attract dirt and dust.

You'll probably find it necessary to twist your palm rolls and coils as new growth comes in. You or your stylist should be sure to continue twisting in the same direction so the locs stay tight. 

Two-Strand Twists and Twists

Just like palm rolls, two-strand twists are their own style but can be left in to grow into locs as well. They work best on highly textured and longer hair. You'll need at least a couple of inches of hair to form two-strand twists, though four inches is a good starting place for the best results.

Simple hair twists can be formed on shorter hair with the aid of a soft bristle brush. Brush over the head in a circular pattern in the same direction: clockwise or counterclockwise. As you brush, small balls or nubs will form. You then have the option of applying a light gel to help hold the twists in place.

You may find it necessary to hold your twists in place with rubber bands at the root and/or the ends until the locs begin to form so they don't unravel. You can use palm rolling or comb twisting to maintain the twists as they grow.

The twists will be visible for quite awhile. It may be six months or as long as a couple of years before solid locs are produced.


Braids (or plaits) may be the go-to starter loc style for people with a looser hair texture. This can be anything from loose waves to small curls.

The natural growth process that allows kinky hair to grow and mesh together when it's uncombed takes longer in hair that's not as kinky. Looser hair textures can also unravel in the beginning loc stages, particularly when the hair gets wet.

Naturally, braid locs will not be as circular as rolled or twisted locs. The braid is flat, so your locs will be as well. It's best to start with at least four or five inches of natural hair before braiding. Maintain your locs as they grow by palm rolling or interlocking.

Also, keep in mind that it may take a year or more for your braids to develop into actual locs as the braid pattern disappears slowly.

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