While it can be awe-inspiring to see those with a head full of thick, healthy locs trailing down their back, it's normal to wonder when yours will look the same. Let's face it: The process of waiting for you hair to loc can be both lengthy and frustrating. Below, we're outlining everything you need to know about how long it takes for hair to loc, including the various factors that influence how quickly or slowly they develop to how to upkeep maintenance.
What Are Locs?
Locs are a hairstyle where the hair that one would normally comb or shed locks into itself, creating rope-like strands.
How Long Will It Take My Hair to Loc?
Often, the length of the locking process can range from six months to one year. The process of hair "locking" and the process of these locs maturing are different. Locs develop and take shape long before they're actually mature, or rooted, but the length of the process varies from person to person.
Your Hair Texture
In general, thicker and more tightly coiled hair locs faster. Hair that's typically considered "Type Four" in the hair typing system will have a much easier time locking than "Type Two" or even "Type Three." Loose hair textures can take up to a year to fully loc, while curlier hair textures can achieve locs in just a few months. And while those with straight or wavy hair can still achieve locs, they may need to use additional hair products throughout the process, such as a locking gel. This will help keep the hair healthy, shiny, and twisted.
Starter Loc Styles
There are several hairstyles that serve as the perfect starting point on your road to achieving locs. Palm rolls, two-strand twists, individual braids, and comb coils are all effective ways to begin the locking process. You can also move right into a loc look with a process like Sister Locks—the hair won't actually loc for some time, but it will give the appearance of being locked. The tighter the starter style, the quicker your hair will loc.
If your hair's texture is wavy, opt for braids as a starter style, as twists and rolls can unravel easily when you shampoo and condition.
Care and Handling
Locs do best when left alone. Although part of keeping locs healthy and clean is regular cleansing and conditioning, avoid overdoing it with the shampoo and conditioner early on in the process—especially if your hair isn't tightly coiled to begin with. Use a moisturizing cleanser, but skip slippery, creamy conditioners until your locs are secure and less likely to unravel under a regular shower stream or by rubbing your scalp.
You'll eventually find a re-twisting schedule that works for you and your locs, but there is such a thing as too much twisting. Re-twisting too often can thin out your locs, so it's best practice to only retwist when absolutely necessary. During the beginning of your loc journey, this may be once or twice a month. Stick to a routine to tighten your roots (instead of taking an occasional, haphazard approach), as this will help locs develop healthier.