Microlocs are the newest trend in dreadlocks, and they’re taking the world by storm! These small, delicate locs are perfect for those who want to experiment with their style and try new looks. With microlocs, you can pretty much do anything you want with your hair! You can cornrow it, braid it, sculpt it into updos, dye it pink or purple, and even cut it to a bob or wear it long.
Ready to try microlocs? Check out this guide for everything you need to know, including how to start and maintain micro locs, and the best microloc hairstyles!
A Brief History of Dreadlocks & Microlocs
Dreadlocks (locs, locks, dreads, Jaṭā in South Asian language) are rope-like strands of hair that are formed by braiding, twisting, or coiling (and in some cases with the help of special interlocking tools).
Locked styles have existed globally and have been depicted in ancient civilizations as far back as 1500 BC. Locs are worn for spiritual, religious, cultural reasons, and have become a popular aesthetic in modern beauty, music, and fashion. Throughout the times, the techniques and products used to form locs have also evolved. One of these evolutions is the famous microlocs.
What are Microlocs or Microdreads?
Microlocs, tiny locs or microdreads is a hairstyle inspired by the iconic dreadlocks. They are smaller and less voluminous, thus becoming a great option for those who want to acquire a dreadlock look but prefer less bulk.
Dreads range from about 10mm or larger in diameter, whereas microlocs typically range from about 6-9mm in diameter, just about smaller than the size of a pencil. The number of individual microlocs can range between 300 to a thousand locs. But this will, of course, depend on your preference, hair density or hair thickness.
Microlocs and traditional locks are similar in many ways. You can style both by twisting, coiling, braiding, or with a tool that allows the hair to be interlocked, a method that pulls the end of the loc through the base of the root.
Microlocs have gained popularity widely due to their smaller sizing, allowing for more flexibility in styling. Microlocs can be cornrowed, braided, roller set, sculpted into updos, dyed, and cut into various shapes such as layers, bobs, and one-length. Microlocs are great for people who desire the appearance of fullness or who seek endless styling options.
An important part of styling your hair into any kind of loc is the method by which you start. These three methods are the most notable ways of starting your microlocs. Beginners are encouraged to contact their best black hair salons or nearest loctician and/or take classes to familiarize themselves with the techniques of styling into locs.
Because of the flexibility in styling microlocs, there are different ways to start them. The most common method is with interlocks.
Microlocs Grid Pattern
Generally, there are 4 grid patterns that you can use for creating locs. You can do square, diamond, crescent moon, or organic sections.
Microlocs, on the other hand, don’t have to follow a precise parting grid. Rather, the parting can be wherever you desire. Some locticians start with a square section or a certain grid pattern to make the process more systematized.
Special Interlocking Tool for MicrolocsThere are several types of Microlocs tools for interlocking. Here are some of the most used types: Nappylocs Tool, Interlocking Ring, Dual Interlocking tool, and Crochet Hook. Electric dreadlock tools like KlixerPro are available today to make micro locking easier and chemical-free as well.
Aside from interlocking tools, you will also need a lot of alligator clips to keep your hair in place. You will also need a styling product to hold your locs.
How to Interlock Micro Locs
When starting microlocs with interlocking, it’s basically a locking technique whereby the end of the hair is pulled through the root to tighten the hair all the way to the scalp. This technique can be done with a tool or with just your fingers.
Interlocking is a technique that can be used to start and maintain any texture of your hair because it reinforces the hair to stay in place and prevents unraveling. This method is quite useful for people who have relaxed, permed, or chemically treated hair.
Two-Strand Twists Micro Locs
If the interlocking technique is too difficult for a beginner such as yourself, a starting technique that might suit you is the two-strand twist.
A two-strand twist can be achieved by splitting a section of hair into two and then creating a rope-like appearance by wrapping each section around the other. You have the option of achieving an even smaller loc size than any other starting method with this one.
Interlock vs Two Twist Strands
Interlocking is a more time-consuming process, but the results are worth it—your microlocs will last longer and be less likely to come undone. This method is ideal for people who are active and might sweat or swim frequently.
Two-strand twists, on the other hand, take less time to achieve but usually only last for a week or so. Nevertheless, this method can create some gorgeous results. Ultimately, the best method for you will depend on your lifestyle and preferences.
You can also start your microlocs with braids. This technique is most suitable for people with looser or relaxed hair.
This is also a good option for loc styles for short hair. With braiding, your hair won’t experience as much budding, leading to less body or volume. This also means your locs won’t experience much shrinkage and fizz.
Types of Microlocs According to Hair Type
Microlocs 4c Hair
4c hair is the best type for any type of hair locs. If you’re tired of the traditional locs, microlocs will give you more hairstyling options!
Microlocs on Fine Hair
People with fine hair can also get microlocs. It will not cause further thinning or damage if your locs are well maintained and taken care of.
Microlocs on Relaxed Hair
Permed or relaxed hair will not usually hold a loc but you can still install microlocs on relaxed hair by interlocking or starting with braids. It will have a different look and texture though compared to microlocs on natural hair.
You can use a loc extension to make this possible. Another way you can do this is by micro locking your natural hair and leaving the relaxed hair untouched. You can then trim or chop your relaxed hair when your locs grow out.
Best Microloc Hairstyles
Now that you know, how to start micro locs, let’s see some of the best micro locs styles.
Micro Locs on Short Hair
Colored Curly Microlocs Style
Half Tuck and Roll Half Down with Microlocs
Microlocs High Bun with Head Bands
Low Bun Micro Locs Style
Micro Locs for Men
The 5 Stages of Microlocs + Maintenance
Like traditional locs, micro locs go through five stages of maturity, and with each stage comes with its own set of maintenance practices:
Starter or Baby Lock Stage
This is the beginning stage of the development of your locs. It can last anywhere from three to six months depending on your hair type and the rate at which your hair grows. What’s important at this stage is that your hair is able to form coils entirely through from roots to ends.
How to Care for Starter Locs
Here are some tips to take care of your starter locs at this stage:
- Try to wait at least two weeks before your very first shampoo
- Use a residue-free shampoo or the best shampoo for locs whenever you wash your hair to keep your scalp clean whenever your locs get itchy
- Apply conditioner daily to your hair to keep your scalp and baby locs moisturized
- Never detangle them again
- Leave your locs alone and let them grow
Sprouting or Micro Locs Budding Stage
This is the stage where hair begins to bud or loosely mat and signs of frizz and some swelling of the locs occurs. Your hair will start to intertwine at the tops of your coil after shampooing, and the coils will start to have some thickness.
You will also notice that at this stage your starting patterns will start to diminish. But there’s no need to worry because this is all part of the process.
Here are some tips to maintain your budding stage locs:
- Cleanse and cultivate your hair regularly
- Shampoo regularly but be careful, so you don’t unravel the hair
- Don’t re-divide your budding locs or twist them to death
- Practice a light re-twisting routine to promote new growth
- Refrain from frequent re-twisting as it can lead to thinning locs and breakage
A lot of people refer to this phase as the locking stage. Many others see it as the ugly phase. It is the exciting time when the buds and sprouts truly begin to look like locs as they have swelled up to almost twice their original size.
This is also an excellent time to rock your hair by investing in accessories so you can play around with a few styles. At the moment, shampooing can no longer loosen locs since the growing stage of your locs development is where your locs have developed enough to hang down.
At this stage you might find these tips important:
- Be highly selective of products you use to avoid buildup since your locs are just starting to lump
- Experiment often with pressure styles (such as rope twists and curly sets) to control some swelling
- Wash your locs regularly and keep them moisturized with the best hair growth oils for dreadlocks
Shooting or Adult stage
This is where locs can swell to double the original size, matt, and shrinkage where hair retracts in length which is common in textured hair. The duration of this adult stage is around 1-2 years, but the speed at which your locs will grow depends on your hair’s texture, your hair care regimen, and the products you use.
Microlocs Before and After
You know you have reached the mature stage when your locs are closed at the ends, and they are finally long enough to lie flat or hang down. At this point, your locs are firm, and there’s no more reforming, so you don’t have to re-twist your new growth.
For this stage, it is recommended that you:
- Engage in a regular shampooing and conditioning routine
- Use the right products to prevent buildup and unraveling
- Properly re-twist your hair to avoid weak locs and excessive frizz once they are mature
Contracting or Elder Stage
At this point in time, your hair is denser, ends become more sealed, minimal to no frizz and the hair grows exponentially. This stage is akin to the shedding stage of hair growth, and it happens after the second year.
Normally, by this time, your locs should have all grown to the same length and will feel heavier and at the same time, more slender. You can choose to let them go below your waist or trim them if you want a more manageable style. After a few years of wearing your locs, there’s a good chance that some locks may begin to think and break off at the ends.
Don’t let your proud locs deteriorate by following these tips:
- Use natural oils (such as Argan oil and Avocado oil) to keep your tresses moisturized, long and shiny
- Get regular trims to control deterioration at the ends of your locs
- Deep condition your locs every 1-2 weeks
- Wrap your locs at night with a satin scarf to prevent breakage and dry locs
- Dry your locs thoroughly to prevent odor
Micro locs Maintenance: Care Reminders
Depending on how fast your hair grows, it is recommended that microlocs should be re-twisted every 4-8 weeks to maintain consistency throughout the loc. When maintaining the microlocs with interlocking, the time you have to wait between maintenance sessions is remarkably longer unlike other forms of starting. With the interlocking method, you can go anywhere between two to three months before your next maintenance session.
There is also a misconception that locs do not need to be washed often. Washing is encouraged, especially during the early stages as water promotes the matting and maturing of the loc. And it is also important to keep the scalp free of product residue and buildup. Light, natural oils or leave-in conditioners can also be used to hydrate and keep hair feeling soft.
Best Shampoo for Microlocs
The best shampoo for Microlocs that I’d recommend is Carol’s Daughter Wash Delight Shampoo and Conditioner. The shampoo comes with an easy-to-use applicator nozzle which is perfect for people wearing dreads and microlocs. It also has a water-to-foam formula that deeply cleans your locs without the need for scrubbing or friction.
This bundle also comes with a jelly-to-cream conditioner, that is easy to apply and provides instant moisture to the scalp and hair. Both products contain aloe vera and are paraben, sulfate, and silicone-free.
While styling possibilities are endless, it is important not to over style and create too much tension at the root. Too much tension can lead to traction alopecia. Waiting too long between maintenance appointments can also weaken locs. Locs are strengthened by the ability to encapsulate new growth. In other words, there is a fine balance between over-styling and neglect.
FAQ about Microlocs & Microdreads
How often to retie microlocs?
To prevent locs from breaking or merging together, microlocs should be retied or retightened every 4 weeks. After week 4, your locs may look a bit wild because the base of your locs is weaker. If you don’t have the budget/time to visit your loctician every month, you can go up to 8 weeks at most.
How to Retwist Microlocs?
Retwisting microlocs is very delicate and time-consuming but doable. If you have the time and patience or if you don’t have the budget to get it retwisted, here is a detailed video on how to do it.
How much do micro locs cost?
Locticians usually charge $200 – $400 to install microlocs. Some may charge up to $800, depending on the salon and your hair type.
How long does it take for microlocs to lock?
Depending on your hair type and growth rate, microlocs may take 3-6 months to lock.
How to keep loc retwist from unraveling?
Maintenance is the key to preventing microlocs from unraveling. If you have baby locs, avoid washing hair for 2-4 weeks. When washing your locs, use clarifying shampoos to remove all dirt and residue. Then, make sure to use a good hair conditioner to keep your scalp moisturized and keep locs in place.
Should Budding Locs be Frizzy?
Frizzy microlocs are very common during the maturation period of your locs. This may be natural and will go away once the locs mature. On the other hand, chemicals from hair products and heat can damage your hair and cause frizzy microlocs as well. This may be easily corrected by conditioning your hair regularly and avoiding harsh hair products.
Is Sister Locs the same as Microlocs?
So microlocs vs sisterlocks—are they the same? Sisterlocks and microlocs might look similar, but they are quite different. Sisterlocks are a more intricate form of microlocs that were invented by Dr. Joanne Cornwell. To install sister locks, you need to have formal training or be a certified sister lock consultant.
Before you go on with your microlocs journey, be sure to have the necessary tools and accessories required to take care of those precious locs. Consult with your nearest loctician so you can be best prepared. Take classes on styling with locs if possible.
Microlocs are a simple but stylish offshoot of traditional locs. Its volume, versatility, and ease of maintenance are suitable for people with active lifestyles. Microlocs are also a good starting point for beginners about to don their first locs.
Much like traditional locs, microlocs are a loud and proud personal statement. This style of hair is a testament to your commitment to your chosen way of expressing yourself to a world that can often discourage standing out. But this power comes with great responsibility. Microlocs demand regular maintenance and care.
And even then, it will take over a year before they show their full potential. This much style just can’t come easy. But don’t let that discourage you. Rather, it should be a point of pride to be able to commit to your style.
Diana used to work as an Assistant Salon Manager in Los Angeles, CA before she started writing for Union of Barbers. With over 10 years of experience, she has tried hundreds of hair care products and has seen, styled, and treated all types of hair. Now, she shares all of the things she has learned in the hair industry and gives advice on everything about hair. When she’s not writing, you can find Diana at the beach on her yoga mat!