There are so many different, and beautiful ways to start locs, maintain them, and wear them. The amazing part is, how they look when they are started is usually nothing like the end result.
One question I get a lot is “How do I know what stage of locking I’m in right now?”. All hair is unique, but I will give you a few pointers I use to get an idea of where someone is in their journey, and what they can expect.
I created these stages based on nearly 15 years of direct services experience, as well as my experience with my own Microlocs, which were started January, 2008. They are pulled from my direct experience as both a trained professional and client.
The stages are specific to interwoven microlocs, they may not be applicable to locs started in other ways, traditional locs, instant locs etc.
The sprout/seedling stage 0-3 months- the hair looks very much like it’s braided, twisted or curly even though it is neither. Your natural curls may still be very much elongated, they are still trying to shrink in this phase and get into that locking pattern. This is a fragile stage because they can still unravel easily. If you’re coming straight from a loose natural hair journey, your scalp and hair may go through a big adjustment due to lack of products. You may deal with a lot of flakiness and itching, as well as slippage.
There’s a detox that comes mentally when you can’t use your old products, and you can’t control the way that your hair locks. You literally have to learn patience through your hair!
Some of my clients even call this stage an initiation!
The Baby Stage, around 3-6 months- Some call this the “ugly phase”, but we don’t! You may have a lot more shrinkage and frizz in this stage, and your locs are starting to form into their pattern. In some places, you may have inconsistent locking due to a different hair texture. Any changes to your regimen like coloring, etc. still need to be cleared by your loctician.
Locs usually have plenty of volume still, and they are now swelling and expanding. This phase can definitely make you question your decision, and have to dig deeper to tap into your self-confidence. Remember to trust and surrender to the process! All of your loc crushes have been through the same stage.
This is a great time to have your loctician pay extra care to any refining of the locs that needs to be done.
The Adolescent Phase 6-12 months- Hair may be significantly locked, but not fully mature by this point, depending on your hair texture. Some frizz still continues. This is when you may find your hair really starts to “drop” and get some weight and hang time. The little balls of hair may start to hang on the ends, this is the loc budding. The texture of your locs may start to change from your loose natural hair.
You may start to feel more encouraged because you’ll be more used to styling, and handling your hair. You can see that something is changing.
The Teen Stage 1-2 years- Some hair textures are significantly, or fully locked by now. Fuzziness may decrease making your locs look a little neater. Retightenings may get easier, and faster because your locs are looking more uniform, and staying in the locking pattern now. By this stage, you may be more used to styling your locs, and feel confident in the look. Still experiencing shrinkage
The Adult Stage 2-5 years- Your hair is usually growing like crazy by this point, and you’re able to see the length because there’s not much shrinkage. This stage is where most people experience the freedom that comes with locs. The hair looks neat, and you will have more styling options since slippage is usually a thing of the past
The Mature Stage 5 years+ - The loc is consistent, the pattern is consistent. One concern in this stage may be fragileness at the end of the loc since they are older. You will still feel the liberation that comes with locs because if you have a good foundation, they will be pretty low maintenance and still look amazing.
These are the stages of locs that I see most often. I do know that depending on your hair texture, density, porosity and type, this may be different for each head of hair. This is what makes being a loctician a constant learning process. Comment below which stage of locking you’re in right now so we can all keep learning!
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