Difference Between Locks And Dreads

Here’s a helpful article that aims to shed light on the distinction between locks and dreads. While both styles are often interchanged, understanding the nuances between them can make a world of difference in your hair care routine. So, let’s get straight to the point: are locks and dreads the same thing? The answer is no. Although they may appear similar, locks and dreads are separate hairstyles that require different techniques and maintenance. So, whether you’re curious about trying out a new style or simply looking to expand your knowledge, keep reading to learn more about the differences between locks and dreads.

Difference Between Locks and Dreads

Are locks and dreads the same?

Locks and dreads are often used interchangeably to refer to a specific hairstyle. However, there are some differences between the two. Let’s explore the definitions, formation methods, maintenance techniques, and the desired look for locks and dreads.

Definition of Locks

Locks, also known as locs, are a hairstyle in which the hair is intentionally matted and twisted into rope-like strands. The formation of locks involves the natural clumping and tangling of hair strands over time, or the use of specific techniques to create the desired look.

Definition of Dreads

Dreads, short for dreadlocks, are another hairstyle where the hair is intentionally matted and knotted into long, cylindrical strands. Similar to locks, dreads can be formed through natural processes or with the help of various techniques to achieve the desired appearance.

Formation of Locks

Natural Locks

Natural locks occur when the hair is left to naturally clump and tangle over time without any external interference. This process can take months or even years depending on individual hair type and texture. Natural locks tend to have a more organic, free-form appearance.

Twist and Rip Method

The twist and rip method is a popular technique for creating locks. It involves dividing the hair into sections and twisting them while simultaneously ripping them apart. This method allows for more control over the size and shape of the locks.

Backcombing Method

The backcombing method involves teasing the hair towards the roots to create tangles and knots. The hair is then palm rolled to smooth out the tangles and encourage the formation of locks. Backcombing provides a more uniform and structured look to the locks.

Interlocking Method

The interlocking method uses a tool, such as a latch hook, to pull strands of hair through existing locks, creating a knot-like structure. This technique is often used for maintenance purposes to tighten the locks and keep them neat and secure.

Combining Methods

Many people choose to combine different formation methods to achieve the desired look. For example, starting with the twist and rip method and then maintaining the locks using the interlocking method. This allows for customization and personalization of the locks.

Maintenance of Locks

Regular Washing

Contrary to popular belief, locks require regular washing to keep them clean and healthy. However, a special technique called “no-poo” or “water-only” method is often preferred over traditional shampooing to avoid unraveling the locks. This involves rinsing the hair thoroughly with water and sometimes using natural oils or baking soda as cleansing agents.

Palm Rolling

Palm rolling is a maintenance technique that involves rolling the locks between the palms to smooth out any bulges or bumps. This helps to maintain the cylindrical shape of the locks and prevent them from merging together.


Retwisting is the process of re-creating the twists and knots in the locks to maintain their shape and tightness. This is often done using a twisting wax or gel, and it helps to keep the locks neat and prevent them from unraveling.

Separation of New Growth

As the hair grows, new growth appears at the roots of the locks. It is important to separate and gently pull apart the new growth from the existing locks to prevent them from merging together and causing matting.

Hair Texture for Locks

Any Hair Texture

Locks can be formed on any hair texture, whether it is straight, wavy, curly, or coily. The key factor is the ability of the hair to naturally clump and tangle, which allows for the formation of locks.

Curly or Coily Hair

Curly or coily hair textures are particularly suitable for locks as they have a natural tendency to form knots and tangles. These hair types often result in tighter and more defined locks.

Desired Look for Locks or Dreads

The desired look for locks or dreads can vary depending on cultural or personal style choices. Some individuals prefer a more natural and free-form appearance, while others may opt for a more uniform and sculpted look. The choice between locks and dreads ultimately depends on individual preferences and the desired aesthetic.

In conclusion, locks and dreads may have similar characteristics, but they also possess distinct differences. Locks are formed through natural processes or specific techniques, while dreads are intentionally matted and knotted. The maintenance and hair texture aspects also differ to some extent. Ultimately, the choice between locks and dreads depends on personal preferences and desired style.

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