Difference Between Dread And Locs

When it comes to hairstyling, the terms “dread” and “locs” are often used interchangeably, but are they really the same thing? In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between dreadlocks and locs, shedding light on their unique characteristics and debunking any misconceptions. Whether you’re considering a new hairstyle or simply curious about the distinction, I’m here to provide clarity and help you make an informed decision. So let’s dive into the world of dreadlocks versus locs and discover what sets them apart.

Difference Between Dread And Locs

What is the Difference Between Dread and Locs?

Dreadlocks and Locs are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between the two. Understanding these differences can help individuals choose the hairstyle that best suits their preferences and desired look. In this article, we will explore the definitions of dreadlocks and locs, their methods of formation, maintenance, size and shape, versatility, cultural significance, historical background, popularity and trend, as well as product and styling options. By the end of this comprehensive article, you will have a clear understanding of the distinctions between dreadlocks and locs.

Definition of Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks, also known as dreads, are a hairstyle characterized by matted or loc’d strands of hair. These strands are intentionally allowed to take on a rope-like appearance, which can be achieved through various methods like backcombing, palm rolling, or using a crochet hook. Dreadlocks are often associated with spiritual or religious practices and have been worn by different cultures throughout history.

Definition of Locs

Locs, short for “natural locks,” are a hairstyle formed by the natural process of the hair tangling and matting together over time. Unlike dreadlocks, which are intentionally created through specific techniques, locs form naturally without any manipulation. The formation of locs involves the hair strands intertwining and fusing together, resulting in thick and matted ropes of hair. Locs are seen as a celebration of one’s natural hair texture and can be worn by individuals of various cultural backgrounds.

Method of Formation

Dreadlocks Formation

Dreadlocks can be formed using different techniques, depending on the desired result. One common method is backcombing, which involves teasing the hair from the root to the tip. This process creates knots that eventually develop into dreadlocks. Palm rolling is another technique where the hair is rolled between the palms to encourage the strands to mesh and form dreadlocks. Lastly, the crochet method involves using a crochet hook to pull the hair strands through themselves, creating a tightly knotted appearance.

Locs Formation

Unlike dreadlocks, locs form naturally without any intentional manipulation. This process occurs over time as the hair strands tangle and merge together. The hair typically goes through an initial stage called the “baby loc” phase, where the hair is loose and forming into small sections. As time progresses, the sections grow thicker and become fully matured locs. The formation of locs requires patience and allowing the hair to naturally progress through its locking journey.

Difference Between Dread And Locs


Dreadlocks Maintenance

Dreadlocks require regular maintenance to keep them looking neat and prevent them from unraveling. Maintenance routines may include palm rolling the dreadlocks to tighten them, applying natural oils or wax to keep the hair moisturized, and re-twisting or re-crocheting any loose strands. Regular washing of the scalp is also crucial to maintain clean and healthy locks. It is important to note that while dreadlocks can be low maintenance in terms of styling, they still require attention and care to keep them looking their best.

Locs Maintenance

Locs generally require less maintenance compared to dreadlocks. The natural formation of locs means that they do not require constant manipulation to maintain their shape. Individuals with locs often follow a simple maintenance routine that includes regular washing, moisturizing the hair and scalp, and separating any fused strands to prevent the formation of larger, merged locs. Additionally, some people choose to retwist or interlock their locs periodically to achieve a more uniform look.

Size and Shape

Dreadlocks Size and Shape

Dreadlocks can come in various sizes and shapes, depending on personal preferences and styling techniques applied during their formation. Some individuals prefer thick, chunky dreadlocks, while others opt for thinner, more delicate strands. The shape of dreadlocks can be cylindrical or flattened, depending on the rolling technique used. Overall, the size and shape of dreadlocks are highly customizable and can be tailored to reflect an individual’s unique style.

Locs Size and Shape

In contrast to dreadlocks, which can be manipulated to various sizes and shapes, locs have a more organic and natural appearance. Locs tend to form thicker and maintain a cylindrical shape due to the hair strands tangling and matting together naturally. While locs can differ in size based on the individual’s hair type, they generally have a consistent width throughout. The shape of locs is determined by the hair’s natural growth pattern and the fusion of strands over time.

Difference Between Dread And Locs


Dreadlocks Versatility

Dreadlocks offer a high level of versatility in terms of styling options. They can be worn loose, pulled back into ponytails or buns, decorated with beads or accessories, or even braided into intricate patterns. The length of the dreadlocks allows for creative and expressive hairstyles that can be adapted to various occasions and personal preferences. Additionally, the texture of dreadlocks provides a unique voluminous look that can enhance one’s overall style and fashion statement.

Locs Versatility

While locs may have a more limited range of styling options compared to dreadlocks, they still offer versatility in their own right. Locs can be styled into updos, half-up hairstyles, or left down in their natural state. Some individuals may choose to adorn their locs with decorative hair jewelry or wrap them in colorful fabrics. Despite the fewer styling possibilities, locs have a distinct and elegant appearance that showcases the beauty of natural hair.

Cultural Significance

Dreadlocks Cultural Significance

Dreadlocks have a rich cultural significance and are often associated with various communities and belief systems around the world. In many African cultures, dreadlocks symbolize spiritual growth, wisdom, and a connection to one’s ancestors. Rastafarianism, a Jamaican religious movement, has made dreadlocks a prominent symbol of their faith and resistance against societal and cultural oppression. Dreadlocks have also gained popularity among individuals embracing a bohemian, free-spirited lifestyle, reflecting a desire for authenticity and non-conformity.

Locs Cultural Significance

Locs also carry cultural significance within different communities. In many African cultures, locs are seen as a display of African heritage, embracing the natural texture of Black hair. Locs represent the beauty and strength of Black identity, challenging societal norms and promoting self-acceptance. Beyond Africa, locs have found appreciation among individuals of diverse backgrounds who choose to wear them as a form of cultural appreciation and a celebration of their own natural hair journey.

Difference Between Dread And Locs

Historical Background

Dreadlocks Historical Background

The history of dreadlocks dates back thousands of years and spans across various continents and cultures. Ancient Egypt provides one of the earliest recorded instances of dreadlocks, with mummified remains displaying the hairstyle. Dreadlocks have also been found in ancient Greece, India, and among indigenous peoples in the Americas. The more recent association of dreadlocks with Rastafarianism emerged in the 1930s, with followers adopting the hairstyle as a symbol of their faith and resistance against Western influences.

Locs Historical Background

Locs, as a natural hair formation, have a historical background deeply intertwined with the African diaspora. During the transatlantic slave trade, enslaved Africans often had their hair forcibly shaved or covered to suppress their cultural identity. The resurgence of locs among Black individuals in modern times reflects a journey of reclaiming their heritage and embracing the natural beauty of their Afro-textured hair. The historical background of locs is rooted in the resilience and pride of Black communities worldwide.

Popularity and Trend

Dreadlocks Popularity and Trend

Dreadlocks have experienced periods of popularity and trendiness throughout history. In the 1970s, the reggae music scene, along with the rise of Rastafarianism, helped propel dreadlocks into the mainstream consciousness. Bob Marley, an influential reggae artist and Rastafarian, played a significant role in popularizing dreadlocks internationally. More recently, dreadlocks have gained popularity among celebrities, athletes, and individuals seeking a unique and bold hairstyle.

Locs Popularity and Trend

Locs have also seen a surge in popularity and have become a growing trend in recent years. With the natural hair movement gaining momentum, many Black individuals have chosen to embrace their natural hair, including the formation of locs. The increased representation of locs in media, such as movies, television shows, and fashion campaigns, has helped shift societal norms and broaden the acceptance of locs as a stylish and fashionable choice.

Difference Between Dread And Locs

Product and Styling Options

Dreadlocks Product and Styling Options

Dreadlocks require specific products to maintain their appearance and promote healthy hair and scalp. Specialized shampoos and conditioners designed for dreadlocks help to prevent residue buildup and keep the hair clean. Beeswax, natural oils, or dreadlock wax are commonly used to moisturize and maintain the locks’ integrity. In terms of styling options, individuals can use rubber bands or hair ties to create different hairstyles with their dreadlocks, such as ponytails, buns, or braids.

Locs Product and Styling Options

Locs, being a more hands-off hairstyle, generally require minimal product usage. Regular shampooing and conditioning with products suitable for locs are essential to keep the hair clean and moisturized. Natural oils, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, can be applied to the scalp and locs to maintain their health and promote shine. In terms of styling, locs do not require additional products but can be adorned with accessories like hair jewelry or silk scarves for added flair.


To summarize, while dreadlocks and locs share similarities, they have distinct differences in their formation, maintenance, size and shape, versatility, cultural significance, historical background, popularity and trend, as well as product and styling options. Dreadlocks are intentionally created through specific techniques and offer greater versatility in styling, while locs form naturally and require less maintenance. Both hairstyles hold cultural significance and represent a celebration of one’s natural hair. Understanding these nuances can help individuals make an informed decision when choosing between dreadlocks and locs, allowing them to express their personal style and embrace their unique journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

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