Dread vs Locs Hairstyle

Dreads and locs look the same; the only difference lies in how the locs are cultivated and the meaning it holds for the wearer.

Locs are remarkably much more stylish and put together than dreads, with well-defined roots and uniform sizes. While dreads, on the other hand, are given a much freer room to thrive and look less tidy compared to locs. In this article, I’ll be sharing the methods of installing dreads and locs and the differences between them.

What are dreadlocks? Dreadlocks also referred to as locs or dreads are rope-like strands of hair formed by locking or braiding the hair.

Origin of Locs

Dreadlocks hairstyle

Dreadlocks were worn to express different beliefs in various cultures and civilizations. Maasai warriors in Africa are distinguished for having long, thin red dreadlocks.

In Nigeria, children with natural dreadlocks are known as “dada” and are considered unique. Dreadlocks can also be traced back to ancient Greece.

Some Rastafarians also sport dreadlocks because they consider them a scriptural hairstyle that the Nazarites wore as a sign of their devotion to God. A small group of Buddhists and Hindus view locked hair as a spiritual symbol representing authority and responsibility.

Similarities between Dreads and Locs

  • Dreads and locs can last for a long duration of time.
  • They stand out and require low to minimal maintenance.
  • Both are do-it-yourself friendly.

Differences between Dreads and Locs

  • Locs have a generally more tidied appearance than dreads.
  • With locs, you have control over the loc sizes and how you want them to appear.
  • You’d have little to no control over how the dreads look and unevenly looking dreadlocks would be formed.
  • Dreads tend to have a deeper meaning for folks while locs might appear to be for aesthetics.

Method of Installing: Locs Vs Dreads

Locs Vs Dreads

Installing Locs

The initial stage of the loc process is known as starter locs, or “baby locs.” Depending on your hair type and hair growth rate, the starting loc phase might last anywhere from three to six months. Starter locs can be created using various techniques, including comb coils, palm rolls, braids, and two-strand twists. 

Coiling Method

Apply gel, cream, or oil to the roots or individual hair strands after sectioning your hair into little pieces. Use a spray bottle to keep your hair moist during the procedure. Take a portion of hair, put it on a comb, and twist it to the right. 

Continue to twist to the right while dragging the comb downward along the entire hair length. If there is any friction, hold the loc while pulling downward. Use a clip to hold down the loc as you proceed throughout the entire section and that’s it! 

Two-Strand Twists

Another technique for beginning locs is a two-strand twist. Organize your sections first using a grid pattern or the parting style you like. Take a section of hair, divide it in two, then twist it by stacking the two halves together. 

Braiding Method

Braids are a fantastic technique to begin locs. But first, prepare your parting style and grid design. Next, pick a section of your hair, cut it into three pieces, and begin braiding by laying one piece on top of the other. It can take between 3 and 6 months to loc, and another 6 to 12 months to resemble dreads.

Use a crochet hook to pierce the roots of the twist, insert the ends of the twisted strand, and pull through to interlock the twist. Repeat this process twice. Note that your hair texture will determine how quickly locs form using any of these techniques.

Dos and Don’t of Starting Locs

  • Wait at least 4 weeks before washing, and even then, you shouldn’t wash as frequently to keep the locs from unraveling.
  • Avoid over-styling because it could damage your hair by putting too much tension and stress on your scalp.
  • Do not add in heavyweight styling products as they could leave in a product buildup and weigh down the hair.
  • No retwisting sooner than 4 weeks.


  • Use in a lightweight oil, jojoba, and almond are excellent choices.
  • Wash your locs with the wig method or banding method.
  • From time to time separate your locs at the root to stop them from merging.
  • Styling helps keep your hand out of your hair and reduces the tension on your scalp.

To keep the locs appearing neat and maintained after four weeks with the starting locs, you might need to get a retwist. You must wash your hair, and this should be your initial wash, before retwisting.

During the process, ensure your hair is damp, then add some oils to keep it moisturized by locking in moisture and styling products. 

Here’s how to Retwist:

Take a section of your locs, brush up the roots a little, and use your fingertips to twist the hair or wrap the locs in loose hair if you find that they untwist easily. Secure with a clip. You could blow dry in medium heat for a couple of minutes or leave them to air dry before taking the clips out.

There are three techniques: the neglect technique sometimes referred to as the natural or free form technique; the backcombing technique; and the twist and rip technique.

Method of Installing Dreads

Neglect Method

For the neglect method, your hair length doesn’t matter, you only need to stop combing and the dread will grow out.

Back Combing Method

This process involves using a metal wide tooth comb and backcombing clean non-conditioned hair. Make sure to brush your hair up till the day you need to backcomb. Not doing this allows knots to form, making the entire process difficult.

How do you start the backcombing process?

First, section your hair. Sectioning is when you square off your head into a chess board type of arrangement.

Next, hold the sections down with an elastic band to keep the sections together but these should be removed as soon as you’re done because the hair band restricts movement and movement is exactly what the hair needs to loc.

Make a short backward brush stroke close to the root holding the ends of the hair, and alternate where you are brushing. You should be able to see a little knotted patch forming, now start working your way back.

Twist and Rip Method

The twist and rip method is also known as twist and pull, twist and tear, rip and twist. Thankfully, there’s no actual tearing and ripping involved.

After sectioning, twist the hair around. Grab two pieces apart and pull. And as you go, knots form, keep doing this as you work your way up to the tips. The friction is coarse as the hair pulls past each other causing knots to form. 


You must first deduce your motivation for wanting locs before embarking on your loc journey; knowing this usually determines if you should go for dreads or locs.

You should visit a loctician to get the locs done because they will know exactly what product to use, how to part and style. Caring for locs requires patience, you have to be certain that it is what you want and above all embrace the transitioning process.

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