What’s The Difference Between Dreadlocks And Locs

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between dreadlocks and locs? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I’ll provide you with a clear and concise answer to this question. The answer is yes, there is a difference between dreadlocks and locs. While both involve the same process of allowing hair to coil and intertwine, the term “dreadlocks” is often associated with a more freeform and natural approach, whereas “locs” typically refer to a more maintained and cultivated style. Understanding this distinction is crucial to finding the hairstyle that best suits your personal preference and hair care routine. So let’s dive in and explore the nuances between dreadlocks and locs!

What’s the Difference Between Dreadlocks and Locs?

Definition of Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks, often referred to simply as “dreads,” are a hairstyle characterized by matted or twisted strands of hair that form long, rope-like locks. They are typically created by intentionally allowing the hair to become matted or by using various methods to encourage the hair to lock together.

Definition of Locs

Locs, short for “natural locs” or “dread locs,” are a similar hairstyle to dreadlocks, but with a slight variation. Like dreadlocks, locs are formed by allowing the hair to mat and twist, but they are maintained in a more deliberate and controlled manner. The word “locs” is often used to denote a more polished and styled version of dreadlocks.

Origin of Dreadlocks

The origins of dreadlocks can be traced back to ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Greeks, and various African cultures. In these cultures, dreadlocks were often worn for religious or spiritual reasons, representing a connection to one’s divine nature or a symbol of strength and individuality. The practice of wearing dreadlocks has since spread to other parts of the world, becoming a popular hairstyle among people of diverse backgrounds.

Origin of Locs

Locs, as a distinct variation of dreadlocks, originated within the Rastafari movement in Jamaica during the 1930s. Rastafarians, who advocate for the unity and empowerment of people of African descent, adopted the hairstyle as a way to embrace their African roots and reject Eurocentric beauty standards. Locs became a symbol of cultural identity, rebellion against societal norms, and a spiritual commitment to natural living.

Hair Texture and Formation

Both dreadlocks and locs can be formed with various hair textures, including straight, wavy, and curly hair. The natural texture of an individual’s hair plays a role in the formation process, as certain hair types may lock more easily than others. However, both styles require the hair to be free from chemical treatments and excessive heat styling to allow the hair to develop its natural texture and form mats or locks.

Maintenance and Styling

Dreadlocks and locs require different maintenance and styling techniques. Dreadlocks are often left to form and grow on their own, with minimal manipulation beyond occasional washing and separating any fused strands. On the other hand, locs are maintained by regularly twisting and re-twisting the hair at the roots to create a neat and uniform appearance. Locs may also be styled using various techniques, such as braiding or twisting individual locs or accessorizing them with beads and other adornments.

Length and Thickness

Both dreadlocks and locs can vary in length and thickness depending on an individual’s preference. The length of the hair and the time dedicated to allowing the hair to lock play a significant role in the overall length of the locks. It is not uncommon to find individuals with dreadlocks or locs of varying lengths, ranging from short and shoulder-length to extremely long locks that reach the waist or even the floor. Additionally, the thickness of the locks can be influenced by the natural thickness and density of an individual’s hair.

Social and Cultural Significance

Dreadlocks and locs hold social and cultural significance in various communities. In some African cultures, dreadlocks have been traditionally associated with spiritual practices, royalty, or warrior status. They may also be seen as a symbol of cultural pride and resistance against societal expectations. Similarly, locs within the Rastafari movement represent a deep connection to African heritage, spirituality, and a rejection of societal norms rooted in Eurocentric standards of beauty. Both styles can also hold personal significance, serving as a form of self-expression and a celebration of natural hair.

Perception and Stereotypes

Throughout history, dreadlocks and locs have been subject to stereotypes and misconceptions. Some people may associate these hairstyles with uncleanliness, rebellion, or criminal behavior. However, it is essential to recognize that these stereotypes are rooted in ignorance and prejudice. Dreadlocks and locs are a valid form of self-expression and cultural pride, and should not be judged based on narrow-minded assumptions.


In conclusion, the main difference between dreadlocks and locs lies in the level of maintenance and intentional styling. While dreadlocks are often allowed to form naturally, locs are regularly maintained and styled to create a more polished look. Both hairstyles have rich cultural and historical significance, representing a connection to African roots, spirituality, and personal expression. It’s important to approach these hairstyles with respect and appreciation for the cultures and individuals who choose to wear them.

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