Natural hair is magical. We can curl, coil, straighten, braid, twist, and loc it. Locs have and will always be a beloved hairstyle and journey that people feel called to for many reasons. Like other forms of natural hair, locs are versatile, offering up a wealth of style options. Superstars like Whoopi Goldberg, Lisa Bonet, Erykah Badu, and Chloe and Halle Bailey continue to show how beautiful locs are, on and off the red carpet.
There are five stages of the loc process: starter, budding, teen, mature, and rooted. Altogether, the process can take between 18–24 months. "Locs are very versatile and can be styled in so many different ways such as braids, twists, buns, cornrows, and even curls," says loctitian Erinn Courtney. "Extensions can be added to locs to make them longer—and locs can even be disguised in box braids."
Check in with your specific loctician to ensure it's okay to style your locs without disrupting the magic that is locing. With that in mind, our experts weighed in on how to recreate these looks.
Meet the Expert
Check out these 12 loc'd hairstyles that are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and fun.
Fringed Loc'd Space Buns
This fringed space bun look is serving us the ’90s, and we love it. This style can work well for those in the teenage stage and beyond. "This is a great style for starter locs, as they tend to shrink as they mature," Courtney says. "Shorter locs make great bangs and are super cute in space buns. "
"The Bailey sisters are my favorite reference for the versatility in loc styles," says Geneva Fowler, the lead braid stylist at BEAUTYBEEZ. "Halle’s loc twist/high ponytail is super elegant and the best part is when she takes it down, it’s going to be wavy. So essentially, two styles in one!"
"This style is best for longer matured locs so that there's enough length to waterfall down from the high ponytails," Courtney says. "Be sure not to pull the ponytails too tight so that the edges aren't compromised."
Blonde locs paired with a gold hair accessory make this simple half-up, half-down style pop. "Coloring locs can be tricky because locs are an accumulation of living and dead hair," Courtney says. "This color is best for hair types that are thick and strong. Thin hair strands can get very weak and break when colored a lighter color."
Creating a loc'd top knot can take less than five minutes. However, the technique is important depending on the length of your hair. This tutorial from Be Spiffy Be You is perfect for anyone looking to try a top knot.
Avoid the temptation to re-twist often, as overdoing it can lead to thinning locs and breakage.
A bob works well on a variety of hair types, including locs. Here, Brittany takes her cropped locs up a notch with multicolored tips to add her unique perspective to the classic bob. You can recreate this multi-toned moment with a temporary color option like hair paint wax, but if you want a permanent look, bleaching the ends may be required. For that reason, we recommend consulting with your loctician to ensure your locs stay healthy.
Yellow Bubble Ponytails
These bright yellow bubble ponytails are showstoppers. If you look closely, each bubble is created by taking an individual loc and gently securing it down the length of the hair. "Bubble ponytails are great for locs that are small and long," Courtney says. "The smaller the loc is in size, the more it's able to mimic loose hair and can achieve this style. If your locs fall down your back in a high ponytail, this style is definitely doable."
One of the simplest ways to add something new to your hair routine is by adding accessories. In this case, beads are the "something new." These wooden beads are a perfect fit if you're ready to try on some accessories. To secure the beads, skip the rubber bands and go with Goody's Ouchless Polybands.
Pigtails aren't just for grade school. To re-create the texture we see here, try an overnight twist or braid-out. Then unravel the twists, create a side part with a face-framing bang section, and secure two ponytails. For added flair, add sliver or gold string or ribbon to accentuate each pigtail.
Janet Jackson's Poetic Justice look is forever iconic and can work with box braids and locs alike. If you're worried about dryness, wrap a silk scarf under the white fabric of your choice. "Wrapped locs will forever be a timeless favorite —just beautiful and elegant," Fowler says. "It's a great way to make your hair look cute while secretly deep conditioning it on the go."
These loc'd space buns have us green with envy. A bright hair color always makes a style stand out. "I love when people play with color with their locs. It’s so fun," Fowler says. "I think it’s important to remind people that locs aren’t a style where you’re stuck looking the same every day. There’s so much freedom to express yourself!"
For temporary color, hair paint wax will help you achieve a colorful look without the permanent commitment or potential hair damage.
Bantu knots are the ultimate protective style and are easy to recreate without much fuss. To keep the hair secure, add bobby pins to the length of the hair. "Bantu knots are great for locs that are thinner, smaller in size, and not so long," Courtney says. "The thicker/longer locs create too much mass for Bantu knots to be comfortable."
To add curls to your locs, refresh your style with a product of your choice and roll the ends with perm rods. To dry and set the look, sitting under the dryer or air-drying are both options, depending on your time constraints.
How long can you keep a loc'd hairstyle in?
"It's safe to keep a loc style for about four to six weeks," Courtney says. "Anything longer than that will run the risk of having the locs start to loc together to create bigger locs —which may not be the desired result."
What are the best hairstyles for starter locs?
"I’d honestly say cornrow locs or loc twists would be the best. While the hair is still loc’ing itself up, it’s best to have it in a secured style to prevent it from unraveling," Fowler says.
What hairstyles are best with more mature locs?
"When locs are more mature, that’s when you have the most freedom to do whatever style you want," Fowler explains. "I love a high ponytail or an updo, typically because more mature locks tend to be very long and you want something that will stay out of your face."