If you’ve spent any time looking at different types of dreadlocks, you’ve probably come across microlocs (or micro locs).
Microlocs are unique among dreaded styles because they combine the look and convenience of dreadlocks with the flexibility of loose hair.
Whether you’ve had your microlocs for years or are just now thinking about getting them, we’ve got all the information you’re looking for! This article will dive into everything you could possibly need to know about microlocs and how to take care of them. Let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Microlocs?
- 2 How to Install Microlocs
- 3 How to Take Care of Microlocs
- 4 How to Style Microlocs
- 5 Pros and Cons of Microlocs
- 6 Dos and Don’ts of Microlocs
- 7 How to Remove Microlocs
What Are Microlocs?
As the name suggests, microlocs are an extremely thin form of dreadlocks. They are neat and less dense than regular dreads. While traditional dreads involve large sections of hair, microlocs are typically no bigger than the width of a shoelace.
Because of their thin size, microlocs often look like well-defined curls from a distance. For that reason, microlocs are the perfect choice for someone who wants to get dreadlocks without sacrificing the look and versatility of loose natural hair.
Microlocs are installed the same way as traditional dreads, just on a much smaller scale.
Microlocs vs. Sisterlocks
While sisterlocks (or sister locs) and microlocs look similar, they are two very distinct hairstyles. Here are some ways that microlocs and sisterlocks differ:
- Size. Sisterlocks are smaller and lighter than microlocs.
- Installation. You’ll have to go to a certified Sisterlock consultant to get sisterlocks installed. Your Sisterlock consultant will first create a perfectly symmetrical and precise grid to make sure each loc falls perfectly into place. It can take well over 36 hours to complete a full head of sisterlocks. On the other hand, microlocs can be done at home and take much less time than sisterlocks.
- Tools used. Sisterlocks can only be created with a patented latch hook tool.
- Cost. While both styles are more expensive than traditional locks, sisterlocks are by far the costliest of the two. You could spend up to $1000 or more for a sisterlock install, especially if your natural hair is long. Both cost a pretty penny to install and ongoing maintenance cost. This is due to the time, precision, and expertise that goes into caring for them.
It’s best to think of microlocs as the go-between of sisterlocks and traditional locs.
Despite the differences, sisterlocks and microlocs require similar care and upkeep to look their best. They also look alike and have similarly vast styling options.
How to Install Microlocs
Microlocs may look intricate but installing them is a relatively painless and straightforward process. At the same time, it’s incredibly time-consuming.
Make sure you set aside enough time, so you can focus on keeping everything neat and even. Still, want to give installing microlocs a try?
In this section, we’ll provide detailed, step-by-step directions on installing the perfect microlocs.
Get Your Materials
Installing microlocs is a lengthy and tedious process. But you can ensure everything goes smoothly by preparing yourself with everything you’ll need.
Wash and Condition Your Hair
You should start off your microlocs on a clean head of hair, so begin your dread installation by shampooing your hair like usual. If you can, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to ensure your strands are squeaky clean and product free.
Then, condition your hair and rinse well with cool water.
Quickly towel dry your hair and get ready to install your locs. It’s going to take a long time, so make sure you’re in a comfortable position and environment.
Section Your Hair
Part your damp hair into four or more sections and gently detangle them as much as possible. Secure each one with a hair tie and pick one of the back sections to start with.
That way, you’ll be able to hide your dreads if you have to rush out or take a break before you get a chance to finish your hair. Take out your hair tie, and make sure you’ve worked out all the knots and tangles.
Create the Locs
Take the end of your rattail comb and create one small, even section across the length of your nape. Check your part in a mirror to make sure it’s perfectly even.
You won’t be able to go back later and straighten it.
Break the section up into smaller pieces, with each portion of hair representing one microloc. Depending on your preferences, there are a few different ways to do your parting.
Your parts can be:
- Organically shaped
- Crescent moon
When it comes to starting your locs, there are a few different options. You can either braid the section or create your locs with two-strand twists.
While braided locs are less likely to come unraveled, twisted locs are faster to install.
Either way, your braid or two-strand twist will become matted over time and form your loc. Twist or braid each section from roots to tips and repeat the process until you’ve completed the entire row.
Then, separate another thin horizontal section of hair and break it into smaller pieces. Keep your sections small and as neat as possible as you make your way through your entire head.
Once you’ve finished, give yourself a big pat on the back and admire your new hairdo! Now is the time to make adjustments and fix your parts, so go back and adjust things as needed.
Take Care of Your Starter Microlocs
Although you’ve finished installing your starter dreads, only time will turn them into true locs. Over the next few months, you will be able to see your twists and braids transforming into the classic loc shape and appearance.
Just make sure you’re taking care of your starter dreads in the meantime.
Rebraid or twist any starter locs that come undone and manipulate your hair as little as possible. Limit your use of styling products, and be careful not to overwash your hair in the beginning.
Ultimately, your main priority should be leaving your locs alone while they do their thing.
How to Take Care of Microlocs
For the most part, you should take care of microlocs like you did your loose hair. Make sure they’re clean and moisturized and avoid anything that’s too damaging.
Protect your locs while you sleep with a silk or satin pillowcase, bonnet, or scarf. Silk and satin are much gentler on your strands than cotton and can reduce sleep-related breakage and dryness.
Although you don’t necessarily have to detangle your hair, you will have to make sure your locs don’t clump together.
If they do, unravel them as gently as possible and make sure each individual loc is still twisted or braided. You can help cut down on matting by getting your locs retwisted every four to eight weeks or interlocked every 6 to 8 weeks.
It’s also essential that you keep product buildup to a minimum.
Avoid anything that’s too heavy or leaves behind a visible residue. Instead, use lightweight oils and silicone-free leave-in conditioners to keep your locs soft and hydrated.
Another thing to be cautious of is overwashing your hair. While you can wash and condition mature locs like usual, you should take a gentler approach with baby locs.
Wash your hair no more often than once every week or two in the beginning stages. Then, you can gradually increase the frequency once you see your locs starting to take shape.
How to Retwist Microlocs
Retwisting is the process of combining your new growth with your more established dreads. It is one of the most critical aspects of your microloc journey.
You can either get your locs professionally retwisted or retwist them yourself to save time and money. It is essential to keep your dreads neat and perfectly parted.
Here’s how to retwist microlocs:
- Wash and dry. It’s better to retwist your locs when they’re freshly washed and damp, so start by shampooing and conditioning your hair. Towel dry to get rid of excess water.
- Apply gel. Apply a lightweight, residue-free botanical gel to each dread.
- Twist the loc. Then, section off your locs and pick one area to start with. Separate your first lock and twist the loc clockwise. Keep twisting until the loc lays flat against your scalp. Pin the loc down so it won’t get in the way. Pinning your freshly twisted locs down will also help them maintain their new shape and keep them stretched while you wait for your hair to dry.
- Repeat the process on all of your locs until you’ve finished your entire head.
Note: Interlocking dreads is another way to maintain them. The method is often difficult for beginners to complete, but the main appeal is that interlocking maintenance doesn’t have to be done as often as retwisting. If you want to know how to interlock your microlocs, watch this video.
How Long Does It Take Microlocs to Loc?
The length of time it takes for your hair to loc depends on your hair length, texture, and thickness, as well as how you maintain your starter dreads.
You can expect it to take anywhere from six to twelve months before your starter locs move into the budding stage. Also referred to as sprouting, the budding phase is when your locs start to form.
The lines from your twists or braids will be less noticeable, and your new, untwisted growth will be more apparent. It’ll take another year to two for your locs to fully mature.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Microlocs?
The cost of professionally installed microlocs can vary widely depending on your hair type, length, geographic region, stylist, and much more. You can often get microlocs professionally installed ranging from $200 to $800. There are also ongoing maintenance expenses ranging from $50 to $100.
How to Style Microlocs
Microlocs are incredibly versatile when it comes to styling. You can wear them loose or pull them into ponytails, buns, updos, and braids.
Because microlocs are so small, you have endless styling possibilities! You can also play around with texture and create some curls with rollers, braid-outs, or twist-outs.
Although it’s not necessarily recommended, you can even play around with hot tool styling. Just make sure you avoid using heat too often and take the necessary precautions to protect your locks from heat damage.
Always apply a heat protectant first and set your tools to the lowest heat setting possible.
Because of their extreme flexibility, microlocs are one of the best dread types for anyone who likes to change their hairstyle often. They leave your hair looking full, with plenty of gorgeous texture.
Pros and Cons of Microlocs
Although microlocs are the perfect style for some people, they aren’t for everyone. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the best and worst aspects of wearing and installing microlocs.
Use this information to help you determine if they’re right for you.
There are several reasons why microlocs are one of the most popular dreadlock styles. Here are some of the top microloc pros.
- Microlocs are one of the most versatile types of dreads.
- Smaller dreads are more lightweight and don’t create as much scalp tension.
- The microlocs installation process is easy enough for beginners to do.
- Microlocs look fuller and more voluminous than larger dreads.
- Microlocs can make styling your hair quick and easy.
- You can combine your microlocs to make them thicker if you want to try out a new style in the future.
While microlocs have a lot of pros, there are some drawbacks you should be aware of. Here is the downside of getting microlocs.
- Microlocs are incredibly time-consuming to install.
- Your microlocs can come unraveled before they loc up.
- Removing microlocs takes much more time than other dreadlocks.
- You’ll have to make sure your microlocs don’t clump together.
- If your locs aren’t parted correctly, you‘ll be left with asymmetrical, uneven microlocs.
- Because of their small circumference, microlocs are incredibly fragile and can break or fray easily.
Dos and Don’ts of Microlocs
Want to give microlocs a try? Before you do, take a moment to read this section. We’ll review a list of dos and don’ts to make sure you can avoid a loc-related disaster.
Locs are a beautiful, low-maintenance style: but only if you install and care for them correctly. Here is a list of dos to help ensure your dreadlocks always look their best.
- Do get your locs professionally installed if possible.
- Do avoid hairstyles that are tight or put too much tension on your locs.
- Do detox your locs if you ever need an extremely deep clean.
- Do curl the ends of your locs around your fingers to help them stay together.
- Do clean your dreads with a clarifying shampoo once a month.
- Do avoid product buildup.
- Do avoid deep conditioning treatments until your hair has already started to loc.
Now that you’re familiar with the dos, it’s time to review some of the things you should avoid. Keep these don’ts in mind so you can prevent a microloc failure.
- Don’t retwist your dreads while they are dry.
- Don’t use wax on your locs because it can be difficult to remove.
- Don’t bleach or lighten your hair unless you’re sure your hair can handle it.
- Don’t get microlocs unless you’re willing to commit to them for a few years.
- Don’t go too long without getting your dreads retwisted.
- Don’t comb or brush through your starter dreads, or you may cause them to unravel.
- Don’t forget to wash, condition, and moisturize your hair.
How to Remove Microlocs
Although microlocs are a long-term styling option, they don’t have to be permanent. If you want to get rid of them, you can cut them off, twist them together to create larger locs, or comb them out.
Although combing them out is painstakingly tedious, it will help you retain the most length. Want to learn how to do it?
- First, soak your microlocs in warm water, then smother them with a conditioner that gives you plenty of slip.
- Starting at the back of your head, grab your first dread and carefully unravel the ends with a fine-tooth comb.
- Keep combing while you work your way upwards.
- Once you reach and detangle your roots, you’ve completed a dread. You don’t want your hair to get tangled, so put your newly loose strands into a quick twist or braid.
- Repeat the process on each loc until you’ve completed them all, rewetting your hair and applying more conditioner as necessary.
Note: You’ll also want to keep a sharp pair of hair scissors nearby just in case you run into any knots. Depending on how long you’ve had your dreads, don’t be surprised if you experience a lot of shedding.
On average, each person sheds about 100 strands of hair daily. These strands get stuck in your microlocs and fall out when you comb the locs out.
The combination of new and previously shed hairs can make it look like more of your hair is falling out than there really is. Overall, the process of removing your locs can take up to 2 hours per loc, so make sure you set aside plenty of time.
- Starter Locs Dreadlock Size Chart
- Starter Locs Women
- Interlock Dreads vs Palm Roll
- How to Grow Dreads Faster
Microlocs are a stunning, relatively low-maintenance hairstyle that can help cut your styling time in half. They also help you retain your hair growth, so reaching new lengths is easier than ever.
If you decide to give them a try, just remember to stay patient, and all of your strenuous efforts will pay off.
We hope this article has answered all your questions about microlocs and given you all the information you need to keep your locs gorgeous, healthy, and perfectly styled!
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care.