Dealing With the 5 Stages of Loc Hair

If you want long, beautiful locs, you have to start somewhere. Unless you get loc extensions, it's a long process to achieve those enviable locs you want. Once you make the decision to lock your hair, expect to go through these five stages. Some loc wearers find the beginning and ending phases to be the easiest, while the middle stages may present a challenge, particularly depending on where you work (because let's face it, not all employers see locs as a "professional" hairstyle). Loc wearers who start from scratch tend to truly appreciate their hair because it's a real journey to get from the early stages all the way to well-established locs that can be the envy of many.

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Woman with baby locs
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There are several styles you can choose to begin your locs, unless you go with a freeform look (where you don't "cultivate" or control section size and simply allow your hair to be). Braids, two-strand twists, comb coils and palm rolls are all styles that can eventually grow into locs. Starter locs will simply look like whatever style you begin them with. It's important not to create sections that are too small, however; as locs grow if they're too thin, there's a possibility that they'll break off. More »

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Budding locs
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You notice that your new growth is puffy and your starter style is fuzzy. This is a good time to practice a re-twisting routine for new growth. Make sure to keep track of the original section partings when re-twisting to maintain a consistent and uniform size. It may be tempting to re-twist often, but it's important not to overdo it. Too much twisting can lead to thinning locs and breakage.

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Locs in the teen stage
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Like real-life teenagers, this may be the stage where you wonder what's going on with your hair. Too short to lie down easily, your teenage locs may seem to sprout all over your head and go in the direction they want to go. This can be a tough stage (especially if you have to put up with negative comments), but if you can persevere, you'll enjoy what's coming. You can always invest in cute accessories like scarves, headbands, and head wraps -- including beautiful loc jewelry or cowrie shells -- if your growing locs need to be "contained" or jazzed up a bit.

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Woman with mature locs
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About 18 months after beginning locs, you should be at this stage, where your locs are long enough to lie flat or hang down. You don't have to re-twist your new growth as often. Locs should be thick enough to support themselves. You'll probably be very comfortable with your locs by now and enjoy a regular shampooing and conditioning routine. Don't worry if you're a year and a half in and you don't feel your locs are mature yet. Hair textures that are looser often take longer to get to this stage, but with time and patience, will eventually become mature.

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Woman with long, rooted locs
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Once you reach this stage, your locs are firmly in place. While super-long locs are the envy of some, hair that falls past your waist can be heavy and cumbersome. You can trim your locs to a manageable length if needed. Your hair care routine can be as simple or complex as you like, but rooted locs require little more than regular cleansing, conditioning and moisturizing.