Maybe it's the fact that I have gone back and forth with the decision for years since going natural, or maybe it is just the way Black women's ability to Black women gets taken to goddess levels the second they enter any space rocking the style, but locs and the Black women who wear them will forever have a place in my heart. Anything a Black woman does emits a healthy dose of undeniable magic, but locs to me just hit different.
By definition, dreadlocks, or locs, are a hairstyle where the hair falls in rope-like strands that are created on coarse and textured hair types through palm rolls, twists, or coils. Usually, they are created on Black hair through styling and refraining from combing through the hair or the locs that are created.
The style that originated in ancient Egypt became popularized by the late Bob Marley in the 1970s and has only risen in visibility in the mainstream throughout the years being worn by the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and even more recently, rappers like 2 Chainz and J. Cole and entertainers like sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey.
'Natural hair' seems to default to loose naturals, but people who wear locs should be included more in those conversations, which leads me to the creation of this piece. From traditional locs to freeform, there is no one way to wear locs and the wearer often has the ability to own the style in a way that feels unique to the individual.
Below, Black women with locs discuss the inspiration behind their locs, how they feel about their hair, and the overall expansiveness of their loc journeys.
Ray Al-Nahdy @westindieray
Courtesy of Ray Al-Nahdy
Loc Type: Traditional
Length of Time: A little over three years
How Many: 117 locs
"I started my locs sitting in my childhood room at my parents' house in 2019. I started with two-strand twists and no parts but a slight idea of how I would probably like to style them in the future. Each one of my locs looks very different and they vary a little in size but they’re all a little smaller than the width of a pencil.
"I knew I wanted to get locs at 14 when I had a coil hairstyle done for my brother’s wedding. I literally begged my mom to let me start locs but she said no because I used to change my hair all the time and she thought that I would miss doing that. I eventually started my locs after I helped my mom start hers. I’ve had relaxed hair before and have done big chops three different times in my life but when I started my locs I had been a loose natural for years so I had some length already. I’m actually the 9th woman in my family to start locs and it has been such a beautiful experience to share my journey with the people who I love the most.
"When I put my starter locs in I remember being very satisfied with myself when I looked in the mirror. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many loc journeys over the years so I knew what to expect, but I wasn’t worried about how they would turn out at all. I was really intentional when I started them and decided that I would enjoy the whole journey regardless of how thin or shrunken my little baby locs looked at the various stages of my journey.
"I think that maintaining them myself for the past three years has definitely helped me connect with my physical self more and become more confident in the fact that everything I need is within me."
"In the following months after I loc’d my hair I experienced crazy shrinkage so I definitely had an 'awkward' phase where it was a challenge to put it all up in a ponytail so I was a little limited in what styles I could do or that I felt comfortable doing. I actually really liked that phase because it allowed me to live out my 'bob' era but when in doubt I always kept a headwrap on deck for the times I would rather not deal with my hair.
"I really love my locs and the journey I’ve gone on since having them. I think that maintaining them myself for the past three years has definitely helped me connect with my physical self more and become more confident in the fact that everything I need is within me. I feel like I trust myself a lot more because I approached the experience with the goal of growing my intuition and strengthening my relationship with myself.
"Although locs are definitely a commitment, no condition is permanent and hair isn’t an exception to that rule. If you decide it’s not for you in the future, you’ll always have the option to regroup or start over. Just set your intentions, do what you are being guided to do, and try to enjoy and learn from each experience as much as possible."
For more of Ray, follow her on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram @westindieray.
Melissa Chanel @melissachanel
Courtesy of Melissa Chanel
Loc Type: Traditional
Length of Time: Two years
How Many: 54 locs
"My journey started during the pandemic. I wanted something low-maintenance because I was tired of having my hands in my hair all of the time. I started rocking mini twists to see if I liked the style and the rest is history. I started my journey in November 2020.
"I was so over doing my natural hair. I was tired of twisting, braiding, and not knowing if the style would last or even look good the next day. I loved my afro but just didn’t have time for the maintenance anymore. I did not [do the] big chop and [I] started my locs with two strand twist[s]. I was happy to not have to worry about styling my hair anymore! I also felt excited to be on a different journey and try something new with my hair.
"It was the best hair decision I could’ve made. I enjoy the versatility and how I can work out, go swimming, and do all the things without having to worry about my hair. I was in the salon at a very young age growing up, so my hair has always been one of my favorite accessories. I love expressing myself through different hairstyles and trends.
"I feel like natural hair is a journey. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing an afro or locs because it still comes with different stages of growth. When I was in the starter stage it was a little awkward and I couldn’t get over how fuzzy they were getting, but I learned to embrace it quickly. I overcame it by trying different hair accessories for my locs like headbands, loc charms, hats, etc.
"It’s hair. Try different styles, take chances especially if you’re looking for versatility (just look at Chloe and Halle) and ease with your hair! There are many techniques to remove locs if you don’t like them. It takes patience and they’re not for everyone."
For more of Melissa, follow her on Instagram @melissachanel.
Ebony Zaire @heylocsister
Courtesy of Ebony Zaire
Loc Type: Traditional
Length of Time: Two years
How Many: 68 locs
"I have what you would call ‘traditional’ locs. I started my locs with two-strand twists. When starting traditional locs you want to make sure you part them exactly how you’d want your locs to be laid out and you have to consider how thick or thin they will be based on the size of your parts. After binge-watching a ton of loc videos, I had a friend come over to part out and twist my hair for me while I worked (I work from home). My loc journey took off from there.
"I’ve always had a love for locs. My love for them really grew when I started maintaining a friend’s locs in college. I knew I wanted to loc my hair when I realized that I had gotten tired of keeping up with my loose natural hair. I got my hair relaxed when I was super young and kept getting relaxers up until 2015. I did my big chop six months after my last relaxer and I was natural ever since. I can honestly say I was not prepared for the amount of work that went into being natural. I was natural for about six years before starting my locs so my hair was already pretty long when I started them.
"Truthfully, I didn’t really like how I looked [in the beginning]. It took me a while to adjust to the way my locs looked on me. When I got my first retwist I had a really hard time liking it. It was a two-stand twist style that just didn’t lay right and my locs unraveled because they were still so new. I did twist-outs on my natural hair all the time but this time was different. There was definitely an awkward phase!
"I love my hair! It has taught me patience and the beauty of watching something grow and mature. I’ve learned to find beauty in mess."
"Though I started with long hair, the frizz was the hardest part to adjust to. It took me a while to get used to the fact that locs aren’t always meant to look neat and tidy. I had spent so much time trying to tame my loose natural hair that I thought the same things had to be applied to my locs. I overcame it by intentionally not styling or covering my hair, trying new hairstyles, and being patient with locs as they grew and matured. Now I LOVE my frizz.
"I think deciding to get locs was the best decision I made in 2021. I love my hair! It has taught me patience and the beauty of watching something grow and mature. I’ve learned to find beauty in mess. My hair has helped me to grow as a content creator. It has made me more confident in front of the camera too.
"My favorite thing about my locs is their personality. I love that each loc is different. It’s a beautiful journey and everyone embarks on it for their own reasons. You don’t have to be spiritual or super knowledgeable on locs to get them. I knew very little about locs before getting them and it certainly wasn’t a spiritual decision. I would say laziness low-key pushed me towards embarking on this journey and I don’t regret it one bit!"
For more of Ebony, follow her on Instagram @heylocsister.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image courtesy of Ray Al-Nahdy