How Long Will it Take My Hair to Loc?

It may take several months or more for hair to lock.
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It can be awe-inspiring to see someone with a head full of thick, healthy locs trailing down her back. You're anxious for the day your hair looks the same, but how long does it really take to grow locs? What factors influence how quickly or slowly your locs will develop?

How Long Will it Take My Hair to Loc?

The process of hair "locking" and the process of these locs maturing aren't the same thing. Your locs will develop and take shape long before they're actually mature, or rooted.

The time frame for the locking process, which happens first, can range from six months to one year. There are a number of factors that contribute to how long it will take your tresses to loc.

Hair Texture

In general, the thicker and more tightly coiled your hair's natural texture, the quicker your hair will loc. Hair that's typically considered "type 4" in the hair typing system will have a much easier time locking than "type 2" or even 3. While people with straight or wavy hair can achieve locs, they may need some help in the product department. In some cases, products that aren't very healthy for the hair, such as beeswax, are used to hold looser textures together. Loose hair textures can take up to a year to fully loc, while kinky hair textures can achieve locs in several months.

Starter Loc Style

There are several hairstyles that will start you on the road to 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 appear loced. The tighter the starter style, the quicker your hair will loc. If your hair's texture is wavy, you might want to opt for braids as a starter style because twists and rolls can unravel easily when you shampoo and condition your hair.

Care and Handling

Locs do best when left alone as much as possible. Although part of keeping locs healthy and clean is regular cleansing and conditioning (contrary to some people's beliefs), you shouldn't overdo the shampooing and conditioning early in the locking process, especially if your hair isn't tightly coiled to begin with. Use a moisturizing cleanser, but you may want to skip the slippery, creamy conditioners until your locs are more secure and less likely to unravel under a regular shower stream or with the action of simply rubbing the scalp.

Loc Maintenance

You'll eventually find a retwisting schedule that works for your set of locs, but as with care and handling, you can have too much of a good thing. Retwisting too often can thin out your locs, so only retwist when necessary; in the beginning of your loc journey, this may be once or twice a month. Sticking to a routine for tightening your roots -- instead of taking the occasional, haphazard approach -- will help your locs develop in a healthy fashion.

Practice Patience

Waiting months or even a year for your hair to loc can seem like a long time, but part of growing locs is appreciating each stage of the journey. You'll learn a lot about your hair along the way, and you might even be able to educate others about what locs are and the care and feeding of them.

You could also be a positive influence on someone who's not sure if she wants to take on the task of growing locs. Enjoy each stage of the process and before you know it, you'll be the one with the enviable hair.