Do you have any tips or techniques to start my dreads?

Interlocking technique

I am 12 years old. My mom and I have been natural for quite some time now.

My mom about 5-7 years and me all my life and my hair has began to take

up to much time to do in the mornings and I DON’T want to get a relaxer.

Interlocking techniqueSo I considered dreads. I was just wondering if you have any tips or techniques to start my dreads.

I also wanted to know if there might be a place I could go to get my hair set to lock.

Hello Elana,

Thank you for your visit and your excellent question. I applaud you for making the decision to choose locs over chemicals. Especially at such a young age relaxers can have serious damaging consequences. The fact that you do your research and ask this question, tells me that you are off to great start.

Locs can be started in many different ways. The most common way is to start locs with palm rolls, comb coils, twists or braids. Since dreadlocks became fashionable, old techniques are being revived and new methods have been developed. Back combing is one of the old techniques with a new name while Nappy locs and Sisterlocks are newly developed salon methods to start dreadlocks.*

I am not sure in what area you are but it’s a good thing that you look for a loctitian. Even if you want to take care of your locs yourself, it is recommend to start your locs by a professional or someone with experience. This is important because the way your hair is parted and the size of the sections will determine the look of your future dreadlocks. If you are not satisfied when your hair begins to loc, you will need to take them down and start all over again.

Starting loc techniques
Think about the kind of locs you want before starting them. Do you want big or small locs, do you want free form or cultivated locs. Your choice to select one of these methods should not only be determined by your hair type and your hair length but also, if not primarily, by your convenience.

Starting locs with coils or palm rolls
Coils and rolls are a most common way to start locs. The little kinks in tight to medium type-O curls, keep a strand together and cause them to loc naturally. If you want to start small, smooth looking locs coils or palm rolls should be your choice depending on the length of your hair. Start with comb coils if your hair is short, one to three inches, start with palm rolls if your hair is longer.

Disadvantage: high maintenance, takes a long time before hair locs
Comb coils and palm rolls are the most challenging way to start locs because they don’t hold very well and easily frizz in a humid environment. These styles last until the next wash. Water will cause coils and rolls to unravel which is why it will take much longer for hair to locs. Frequent grooming is also required to keep the coils shaped; at least once every two weeks and certainly after every wash.

Starting locs with two-strand twists
Advantages: Looks like a loc from the start, self maintenance is doable
Twists are an ideal way to start locs for most kinky hair types. They enhance the curly structure of nappy hair while looking like locs from the start. The kinky curls bind the hair together naturally which is an advantage during the process of locing.

Disadvantage: Frizziness
Frequent grooming may be necessary to keep your hair looking neat if your hair easily frizzes. This will depend on your hair type as well as the environment you live in because twists tend to get frizzy in humid weather. They can also unravel and unwind when hair growing or during washing if the hair is short or of the looser type S. In this case frequent grooming will be required but be careful and don’t over twist the hair. Too much twisting will damage the hair and will cause breakage.

There are two ways of using twists as a basis to start locs. The most common way is to let the two strands grow to be one loc. The second way is to separate and re-twist the hair until the single strands are fully locked. It takes a little more maintenance, and it will take longer before the individual stands mash together, but this way one can grow thinner locs.

Dreadlocks started with braids
Advantage: durability, less grooming

Braids are ideal to start locs if it is difficult for one’s hair to hold a twist or a coil. This method is also ideal if you want to start locs quickly without a lot of maintenance. Braids keep hair strands together rather tightly allowing hair to locs fast with hardly any frizz. Washing hair may cause a little frizzier braids but that’s all. They won’t unwind so you won’t have to wait two weeks before the first wash.

Disadvantage: scalp exposure
The only disadvantage is that a little more scalp will be exposed in the beginning when the style is fresh because braids are tighter in stitch than coils or twists. This will end quickly as the hair begins to grow.

Advantage: very thin locs, less change of breakage

Sisterlocks is a locing method developed by Dr. JoAnne Cornwell designed to create a new style based on the unique texture of Afrikan hair. The locs are thinner than the usual ones so they allow more flexibility than the common, thicker locs.
Most typical about this technique is that you can keep your length; you don’t have to do the big chop to start these locs. Sisterlocks can be done with one and a half inches of new growth and the straightened ends can be cut off over time.
Another advantage is that, like with the braids-method, Sisterlocks, the hair strands keep well together allowing hair to loc fast with hardly any frizz because the locs are created according to one’s texture. A certified consultant will instruct you how to wash your hair until the locs are set but the locs-to-be won’t unwind easily so you won’t have to wait for weeks before the first wash.

Disadvantage: Dependency, expensive
The main drawback is that you need a certified consultant trained by the proficiency standards of Sisterlocks . This is costly and you will be dependent until your hair is fully loced and you learn how to maintain the style yourself.

Nappy locs
Advantage: DIY, Affordable

Nappy locs is very similar to Sisterlocs in that you also use a tool to maintain the locs, you can start your loc by using the tool and you can also create tiny dreadlocs if you like. However, you have to be skilled to be able to this.
I know a few people who started their locs with tiny braids and then use the Nappy Locs tool to maintain their hair. The site offers information on how to start and maintain the locs. 

For more tips and tricks see the article by Michelle George, author of the Knotty Truth:

Good luck and please keep us posted if you like.
Stay beautiful,
Mireille Liong home of America’s Next Natural Model
* From the book Going Natural How to Fall in Love with Nappy Hair

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