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Sisterlocks: Complete Guide to Cost, Installation, Maintenance, and Styles

Women wearing sisterlocks standing a field of grass.

If you’ve ever seen Sisterlocks, we’ll bet that you were enamored with the hairstyle.

The beautiful style was created in 1993 by Dr. JoAnn Cornwell, a well-known natural hair pioneer who wanted to create a style that celebrates naturally textured hair.

Ever since their inception, Sisterlocks have gained widespread popularity in the black community. In this article, we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about Sisterlocks. 

What are Sisterlocks?

Sisterlocks are miniature-sized dreadlocks. They are maintained using the interlocking method. The main thing that differentiates Sisterlocks from dreadlocks is their tiny size. 

Note: The terms “sisterlocks” and “locs” will be used interchangeably in this article. 

Want Sisterlocks? 14 Things You Should Know

Sisterlock Sizing and Amount

Your Sisterlocks consultant can make your locs as small as you’d like, within reason. Sisterlocks parts usually range from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch in width.

Your consultant’s ultimate goal is to create a style that you like. So, when you go for your consultation, speak with your consultant directly and ask them which sizes they offer. 

As a general estimate, most people end up with 250 to 400 locs. If you have a larger head, you may get more than 400 Sisterlocks, especially if you want them to be small.

For smaller heads and those who prefer larger locs, you may end up with closer to 250 locks.

How to Install Sisterlocks

Sisterlocks are installed by certified consultants who have been formally trained in the art of creating the style. The Sisterlocks company safeguards the specific method for installing the tiny dreadlocks.

They offer training to individuals who want to learn the coveted technique. 

When a certified consultant does your locs, they will go through the following general steps: 

  • Section your hair. Sisterlocks consultants section your hair according to the system taught in their certification class. While every consultant is trained to be systematic with their parting, there may be slight differentiation. The teeth on the comb are used to make sure that the sections are the correct size. 
  • Part each section in rows. After your hair has been parted in several large sections, the consultant will go back through and part each section into rows. These rows will act as a guide when parting the hair for each Sisterlock. They may flat twist each row to keep unwanted hair from getting in the way during installation. 
  • Install the locks. Using a special locking tool, the consultant will begin to interlock tiny sections of your hair from tip to root. 

The Cost of Sisterlocks

Sisterlocks are expensive. Most people can expect to pay at least $500 to $800 for installation.

In some cases, you could end up paying even more than $800. This does not include the consultation cost you must pay before getting them installed (around $50). 

Ultimately, the installation price will be determined by the following: 

  • The size of your head – The larger your head is, the more locs you will require. This will drive up the price.
  • Your desired loc size -- The smaller you want your locs to be, the higher the cost. 
  • The consultant you choose – If you choose a consultant who already has an established clientele, their prices may be higher than a new consultant’s prices.
  • The length of your hair – The longer your hair is, the longer it will take to do a single Sisterlock. Frequently, consultants will increase the price for every inch of hair on your head. 

Due to the very steep pricing of Sisterlocks, many people choose to go the more cost-effective route and get traditional dreadlocks. 

Sisterlock Maintenance Cost

Some make the mistake of not considering the cost of maintenance. 

After the initial installation, your natural hair will grow as usual, and this new growth will need to be incorporated into each loc.

To maintain your style, a consultant will need to interlock the new growth.

For professional retightening, it could cost anywhere from $150 to $200. You will need to retighten your locs several times per year (every 6-10 weeks). 

Can I Do My Own Sisterlocks? 

If you love Sisterlocks but don’t have the funds to get them professionally installed and maintained, know that there is an alternative. You can install your own version of Sisterlocks. 

You can part your hair into small sections and interlock each section with a miniature interlocking tool.

With a ton of patience and many hours, you may be able to create a look that is similar to Sisterlocks. This is a good option for some due to the money saved.

According to the Sisterlocks website, it is not recommended to do your own locs. The website goes on to mention that different locking techniques are required for different hair types.

They also say that using a Sisterlocks consultant gives you a better chance of having long-lasting positive results with your locs. 

Self-Retightening

While the Sisterlocks company doesn’t recommend that you do your own locs, there is a way for you to learn how to do your own self retightening. 

There is a retightening class that you can take to learn how to maintain your locs without a consultant’s help. Classes are offered by the Sisterlocks company and cost $250. 

Installation Time

Sisterlocks take a very long time to install. For mid-length hair, it could take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to get them installed.

If your hair is shorter, it will take less time. Conversely, if your hair is long, it could take 12 to 24 hours or longer to get a completed set of Sisterlocks. 

When you go for a Sisterlock (installation) appointment, make sure that you have a snack or two and something to keep you entertained.

You may also want to bring a neck pillow to prevent neck pain. Staring at a wall for several hours at a time can be maddening. 

Depending on how long your installation is expected to take, you should be prepared to see your consultant two or more times to complete your whole head.

Who Can Get Sisterlocks?

Sisterlocks were created for women with naturally curly, coily, and kinky hair textures. So, the style is best suited for women with afro-textured hair.

However, women who are transitioning from relaxers can get the style, per the Sisterlocks website. If your hair is relaxed, it is even more important to have your Sisterlocks done professionally.

Sisterlocks will also work for you if you have fine hair. The most important thing is that your hair should not be badly compromised.

Putting any extra stress on severely damaged hair will only exacerbate the issue. If your hair is damaged and falling out or breaking off, it is advised to wait until your hair is in a healthier state before you get it locked.

Is Breakage a Concern?

There is a long-standing misconception that Sisterlocks cause breakage, thinning, and balding. You may have even seen someone with thinning Sisterlocks.

According to the Sisterlocks company, the style does not cause breakage and thinning. Instead, they state that the technique is gentle to the hair and scalp and fosters hair growth.

According to Sisterlock gurus, the leading cause of breakage or thinning is lack of maintenance. The style requires tedious retightening several times per year.

Your roots should also be separated if they begin to intertwine. If you don’t get your locs maintained regularly, they will start to thin and break off. 

Longevity: How Long Do They Last?

Sisterlocks are meant to be a permanent hairstyle. They are intended to be installed and then allowed to mature over time with periodic retightening sessions.

While they are a permanent hairstyle, they can be removed without cutting the hair off.

Taking down each Sisterlock one-by-one can be a long, mind-numbing process. Most people would rather cut their hair off than spend time combing out each loc.

If you are not 100% sure that you want Sisterlocks, you should not get them. Wait until you are sure that you’re ready for a long-term commitment.

Can You Style Sisterlocks?

Quick & Easy Sisterlock Hairstyles

Sisterlocks are incredibly versatile, and the more length you have, the more you can do with your locs. However, if your hair is very short when you start your locs, you won’t be able to do much with them.

You will not be able to put them in a ponytail or a braided updo. But as your hair gets longer, you will be able to do updos, braided styles, braid outs, curls, or anything else that you can imagine.

The main appeal of Sisterlocks is that they are small enough to be manipulated into just about any style.  

Caring for Your Locs Between Retightening Appointments

In a perfect world, you would be home free once you’re done getting your locs installed. But like anything else that is worthwhile, there will be work necessary on your part.

You will need to take steps to maintain the style in between retightening appointments.

Washing Your Sisterlocks

Sisterlocks are relatively low maintenance, being that you don’t need to detangle or style your hair every day.

However, you do need to keep your locks clean for the best results. Washing your locs can be a tricky process because they can unravel, especially when they are new.

When washing your new Sisterlocks, you may need to put them in rubber bands to keep them from unraveling during the washing process. Take the following steps to band your locs before washing them:

  • Separate your locs into several 2-inch sections. Feel free to make them smaller if they are short.
  • Braid each section down to the ends and put a rubber band at the end to secure.
  • If you have the Sisterlocks brand shampoo, mix it with water in a spray bottle and spray the mixture onto each braided section. If you don’t have the name brand shampoo, you can use whatever shampoo you have.
  • Wash your hair as best as you can while it is in the braids. 
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly and allow your hair to air dry. 

Watch this video for a visual demonstration of how to wash your Sisterlocks. 

SISTERLOCKS - BRAIDING & BANDING WASH DAY

Oiling Your Scalp

If your Sisterlocks are already locked and don’t unravel easily, you can oil your scalp as often as needed. But when you first get your locs, oiling your scalp can cause them to slip. 

Pros and Cons of Sisterlocks

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of Sisterlocks can help you decide whether the style is for you. In this section, we will go over all of the pros and cons. 

Pros

  • Versatility. There is no natural hairstyle more versatile than Sisterlocks. Since they are so small, they can be manipulated into just about any style you can imagine. 
  • Freedom. Outside of retightening your locs, all you need to do is wash your hair and go
  • Fewer products are required. Sisterlocks do not like a ton of products. They look and behave best when they’re clean and free of product. This means that there’s no need to buy tons of stylers, serums, or other products. 

Cons

  • Cost. Within the first year of having Sisterlocks, you will have spent around $1,000 on the initial installation and maintenance sessions. 
  • Thin appearance. Your locs may start off thin, and this can be difficult for some to deal with. 
  • They require patience. Your hair will take time to get longer, which can be frustrating for some. But with dedication and regular maintenance, your locs will grow long and luscious.

Find a Sisterlocks Consultant

It is strongly recommended to find a Sisterlocks consultant to install and maintain your locs.

To locate a consultant in your area, go to the Sisterlocks website and select your state. You will then see a list of certified consultants and their contact information. 

We recommend scheduling an in-person consultation before going through with an installation.

Now you know a ton about Sisterlocks, how they are installed, the pros and cons, and more. If you have any additional questions, contact a Sisterlocks consultant.

We hope that this article is helpful to you as you seek out information about Sisterlocks. 

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