Are Locs Just Twists?

Are locs just twists? No, they are not. While twists and locs may share some similarities in terms of their appearance, they are different hairstyles with distinct characteristics. Locs, also known as dreadlocks, are formed by intentionally matting or knotting the hair, resulting in thick, long-lasting locks. Twists, on the other hand, are created by intertwining two strands of hair together, giving a neat, defined look. Although both styles involve some form of twisting, locs require a longer-term commitment and maintenance, while twists can be undone more easily.

Are Locs Just Twists?

Locs and twists are both popular hairstyles for people with natural hair, but they are not the same. While they may appear similar, there are distinct differences between locs and twists in terms of their definition, formation process, maintenance, and overall appearance. In this article, I will explain what locs and twists are, highlight their differences, discuss how they form, and touch upon the benefits of each hairstyle. By the end, you will have a better understanding of the unique qualities and characteristics of locs and twists, allowing you to make an informed choice when deciding which hairstyle is right for you.

What are Locs?

Definition of Locs

Locs, also known as dreadlocks, are a hairstyle that involves the matting and twisting of hair strands to create long, rope-like formations. The term “locs” is often used to describe tight, cylindrical sections of hair that have been intentionally grown and maintained over time. Locs can be formed naturally, without any manipulation, or they can be created through various methods such as palm rolling, interlocking, or braiding.

Characteristics of Locs

Locs are characterized by their tightness, thickness, and defined structure. When fully matured, locs can range in size and length, depending on the individual’s preferences. Locs tend to have a rounded or cylindrical shape, with each individual strand of hair tightly interlocked with neighboring strands. This results in a hairstyle that is versatile for styling and can be worn in various ways, such as updos, buns, or even free-flowing.

Features of Locs

The unique features of locs make them stand out as a distinct hairstyle. Locs often have a textured appearance, with each individual strand of hair coiled and woven together. This creates a visually interesting and multi-dimensional look that can be both striking and unique. Additionally, locs can be customized through the use of accessories, beads, or colors, allowing individuals to express their personal style and creativity.

What are Twists?

Definition of Twists

Twists, also known as two-strand twists or double-strand twists, are a hairstyle that involves the twisting of two strands of hair together to create a spiral pattern. Unlike locs, twists are typically smaller in size and can be formed by twisting the hair in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Twists are often created by dividing the hair into sections, taking two strands, and twisting them together from the roots to the ends.

Characteristics of Twists

Twists are characterized by their slimness, flexibility, and defined spiral pattern. Unlike locs, which have a more solid and tightly woven structure, twists have a more separated and individualized appearance. Each strand of hair in a twist is distinct and can be easily identified, giving twists a lighter and more airy look. Twists can vary in size, with smaller twists creating a tighter and more defined spiral pattern, while larger twists result in a looser and more relaxed look.

Features of Twists

Twists offer a different aesthetic compared to locs. They have a softer and more textured appearance, with the spiral pattern adding a visually appealing element to the hairstyle. Twists can be worn in various ways, such as loose twists, twist-outs, or twist braids, allowing for versatility in styling options. Some individuals choose to add extensions to their twists to achieve additional length or volume, further enhancing the overall look and feel of the hairstyle.

Differences Between Locs and Twists

Natural Hair Pattern

Locs form by allowing the hair to naturally mat and lock together, while twists are created by manually twisting two strands of hair together. Locs embrace the natural texture and pattern of the hair, resulting in a more organic and free-form look. Twists, on the other hand, involve intentional manipulation of the hair to create a specific pattern or style.

Intentional Manipulation

Locs form without any intentional manipulation, whereas twists require deliberate twisting of the hair to achieve the desired shape. Locs are a result of the natural locking process, while twists are a deliberate styling choice that can be easily undone by undoing the twists.

Resulting Texture

Locs have a denser and more solid texture due to the tight interlocking of hair strands, while twists have a more separated and individually defined texture. The resulting texture of locs is smoother and more uniform, while twists have a looser and more textured appearance.

Maintenance Requirements

Locs typically require less maintenance compared to twists. Once locs are fully formed, they can be left untouched for long periods, requiring minimal styling or upkeep. Twists, on the other hand, may need to be re-twisted periodically to maintain their shape and ensure longevity.

Appearance and Aesthetics

The overall appearance of locs and twists differ. Locs have a more mature and solid appearance, with the hair strands tightly interlocked and woven together. Twists have a more youthful and playful look, with the individual strands of hair visibly twisted and separated. Locs often appear thicker and more voluminous, while twists have a lighter and softer appearance.

How Do Locs Form?

Process of Loc Formation

Locs form through a natural process known as matting or locking. When the hair is left untouched and allowed to grow freely, individual strands of hair naturally interlock and tangle with neighboring strands over time. This leads to the formation of locs, as the hair becomes matted and tightly woven together.

Different Methods

While locs can form naturally, there are also various methods that can be used to speed up the process or create a specific loc pattern. Some common methods include palm rolling, interlocking, braiding, or the use of loc gels or creams to promote the locking process.

Time Required for Locs to Form

The time required for locs to form varies depending on various factors, such as hair texture, length, and maintenance routine. On average, it can take anywhere from several months to a few years for locs to fully mature and reach their desired length and thickness.

Factors Influencing Loc Formation

Several factors can influence how locs form. Hair texture plays a significant role, with kinky or coily hair types naturally locking more easily compared to straight or wavy hair. The thickness of the hair strands, as well as the individual’s hair care routine and maintenance practices, can also affect how quickly and effectively locs form.

How Do Twists Form?

Process of Twist Formation

Twists are created through a deliberate process of twisting two strands of hair together. The hair is divided into sections, and each section is further divided into two equal parts. The two strands are then twisted together from the roots to the ends, creating a spiral pattern.

Different Methods

There are various methods for creating twists, including finger twisting, comb twisting, or two-strand twisting with the help of styling products. Different methods may result in slightly different looks and textures, allowing individuals to choose the technique that suits their hair type and desired outcome.

Time Required for Twists to Form

The time required for twists to form depends on factors such as hair length, thickness, and the size of the twists. Smaller twists may take longer to form compared to larger twists. On average, it can take several hours to create twists, and they typically last for a few weeks before they need to be re-done or taken out.

Factors Influencing Twist Formation

The texture of the hair is an important factor in how well twists hold and how long they last. Kinky or coily hair types tend to hold twists better than straight or wavy hair. Additionally, the use of styling products, such as gels or creams, can help in enhancing the longevity and durability of twists.

Starting Locs with Twists

Using Twists as a Starting Point for Locs

It is possible to start locs with twists as a foundation. This method is known as “twist and rip” or “comb coils.” It involves creating twists in the hair and then ripping or combing the twists apart to encourage the natural locking process. The twists act as a guide for the hair to begin to mat and form into locs.

Benefits and Challenges

Starting locs with twists can provide a more uniform and controlled look during the early stages of loc formation. It can also make it easier to establish the desired loc size and pattern. However, this method may require more frequent maintenance and retwisting during the initial stages to ensure the twists lock and hold properly.

Tips for Starting Locs with Twists

If you are considering starting locs with twists, it is important to have a clear understanding of your desired loc size and pattern. Communicate your goals to your hairstylist or do thorough research if you are doing it yourself. Regular maintenance and retwisting are crucial during the early stages to encourage proper locking and matting of the hair.

Maintaining Locs vs. Twists

Maintenance Routine for Locs

Locs require a relatively low maintenance routine once they are fully formed. Regular washing with residue-free shampoos or natural cleansers is recommended to prevent buildup and maintain healthy scalp and hair. Occasional retwisting or palm rolling may be required to maintain the shape and neatness of locs. Oiling the scalp and locs can help to keep them moisturized and prevent dryness.

Maintenance Routine for Twists

Twists require more frequent maintenance compared to locs. Moisturizing the hair regularly with water-based products is essential to prevent dryness and breakage. Retwisting or redoing the twists every few weeks may be necessary to maintain their shape and neatness. Additionally, protecting the twists at night with a satin bonnet or scarf can help preserve the hairstyle and minimize frizz.

Products and Techniques

The type of products and techniques used for maintaining locs and twists may vary. Locs may benefit from the use of specific loc gels or creams to promote the locking process and provide hold. Twists can benefit from the use of styling products with moisturizing properties to keep the hair hydrated and prevent frizz. Additionally, protective styles such as buns or updos can help to prolong the lifespan of both locs and twists.

Long-Term Care

Both locs and twists require long-term care to ensure their health and longevity. This includes regular maintenance, moisturizing, and cleansing routines, as well as protecting the hair when sleeping or during physical activities. Avoiding excessive manipulation or harsh hairstyling methods can also help to prevent damage and breakage.

Potential Damage or Breakage

Improper maintenance or excessive manipulation can potentially lead to damage or breakage in both locs and twists. Pulling or tugging on the hair, using harsh hairstyling tools, or over-styling the hair can weaken the strands and cause them to break. It is important to handle and care for both locs and twists gently, using techniques and products that promote hair health and strength.

Benefits of Locs

Versatility and Styling Options

Locs offer a wide range of styling options, allowing individuals to express their creativity and personal style. Locs can be styled in various ways, from updos and braids to free-flowing styles. Accessories such as beads, wraps, or headbands can be incorporated to create unique looks.

Strength and Resilience

Locs are known for their strength and resilience. The interlocking of hair strands creates a strong and durable structure that can withstand daily activities and styling. Locs are less prone to breakage compared to loose hair, making them a great choice for individuals with fragile or damaged hair.

Natural Hair Protection

Locs provide a protective barrier for the underlying hair strands. The coiled and woven structure of locs helps to minimize external damage, such as friction, heat, or environmental factors. This can promote healthier hair growth and prevent breakage caused by external stressors.

Low Maintenance

Once fully formed, locs require minimal maintenance compared to other natural hairstyles. This can be a significant advantage for individuals with busy schedules or those who prefer a low-maintenance hair routine. Regular washing and moisturizing are typically the main requirements for keeping locs healthy and well-maintained.

Cultural Significance

Locs have deep cultural and historical significance for many communities around the world. They have been embraced as a symbol of identity, spirituality, and empowerment. Wearing locs can be a way to connect with one’s roots and heritage, celebrating the beauty and diversity of natural hair.

Benefits of Twists

Styling Versatility

Twists offer a wide range of styling options, making them a versatile choice for individuals looking to switch up their looks. Twists can be worn in various lengths, sizes, and patterns, and can be styled into updos, twist-outs, or twist braids. The flexibility of twists allows for endless creativity and experimentation.

Low Manipulation Hairstyling

Twists require less manipulation compared to other hairstyles, which can be beneficial for individuals looking to minimize hair care routines and protect their natural hair. The twisting process itself is gentle on the hair, as it doesn’t require heat or excessive pulling, reducing the risk of breakage or damage.

Protective Styling

Twists can act as a protective style, providing a shield for the hair and helping to retain moisture. By keeping the ends of the hair tucked away, twists can minimize exposure to environmental stressors and prevent moisture loss. This can lead to healthier and stronger hair.

Easy to Install and Maintain

Twists are relatively easy to install and maintain, making them accessible to individuals with different levels of hairstyling experience. With the right technique and products, twists can be created quickly and easily, and can last for several weeks with proper care. This makes them a convenient choice for those looking for a low-maintenance hairstyle.

Versatile for All Hair Types

Twists can be achieved on various hair types, including straight, wavy, and coily hair. Regardless of the natural texture, twists can create a beautiful and textured look that enhances the natural beauty of the hair. Twists can also serve as a transitional style for individuals who are transitioning from relaxed to natural hair.


Understanding the differences between locs and twists is essential when considering which hairstyle is right for you. While both hairstyles offer unique characteristics and benefits, they are not interchangeable. Locs are characterized by their matted and woven structure, versatility, and cultural significance. Twists, on the other hand, offer flexibility, styling versatility, and low manipulation hairstyling. Whether you choose locs or twists, it is important to consider your personal preferences, hair type, and maintenance routine to ensure that you achieve a hairstyle that not only looks great but also complements your lifestyle and individuality.

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