Microlocs 101: 5 Stages and Micro Locs Maintenance

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!

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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.

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Photo from GETTY IMAGES

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.

Starting Microlocs

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.

Interlocks

Interlocking Microlocs

Photo from IG/familyhairbraiding

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 Microlocs

There 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. Dreadlock Maker Machine Kit with all its necessities for making perfect locs, are available today. This allows you to make micro locking easy as well as chemical-free.

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

Two Strand Twist Microlocs

Photo from IG/_napsarethenewblack

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.

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.

Micro locs Maintenance: Care Reminders

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.

Retwisting Microlocs

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.

Washing Microlocs

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.

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.

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Carol's Daughter Wash Delight Shampoo

Aloe-infused, transforms for quick, gentle cleansing without stripping. Ideal for curls, reduces detangling time. Born in 1993, Carol’s Daughter offers effective hair care with love.

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Carol's Daughter Wash Delight Conditioner

Jelly-to-cream magic for instant moisture, easy detangling, and quick wash days. Infused with Glycerin and Aloe, it’s vegan, paraben-free, and delivers effortlessly beautiful, moisturized curls.

Best Microloc Hairstyles

Now that you know, how to start micro locs, let’s see some of the best micro locs styles.

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:

Styling

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

Locticians usually charge $200 – $400 to install microlocs. Some may charge up to $800, depending on the salon and your hair type.

Depending on your hair type and growth rate, microlocs may take 3-6 months to lock.

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.

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.

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. 

Conclusion

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

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!

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