Long Dreadlocks: how to retwist locs

How to Retwist Locs & More on Growing Them

(Keep reading until almost the end for a video showing you how to retwist locs.)

Can I let you in on a secret?

Although I absolutely love the look of dreadlocks, I don’t have the patience nor the commitment necessary to grow them.

It’s true: I’ve tried four times so far and no matter what I do, about six months into the locking process, I simply wash out my dreadlocks and do something else with my hair.

Still, every so often, I decide to try again.

As you can probably infer, I am flirting with the idea right now hence this post.

Want to flirt-with-the-idea along with me?

How about it?

Today, let’s talk about dreadlocks!

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First, I’ll share with you a little of what I’ve learned on my previous four dreadlock journeys, including what I know about how to retwist locs and then you, by leaving a comment on this post, can share what you know about growing dreadlocks.

Let’s begin!

What’s Your Motivation?

First things first, let’s talk about the motivation to grow dreadlocks.

For those of you who sport dreadlocks (or have done so in the past), what was your main reason for beginning to grow them?

Was it simply about fashion, or did you have a deeper, more meaningful reason to start growing locs?

For me, the very first time was because I was going through some sort of phase.

I was at university and was simply tired of all the effort that we women were going through to alter ourselves and our appearances, so I decided to go natural.

This first time, I kept it simple: I simply stopped combing my hair (among other things that I stopped doing 😆 ).

That was an interesting experiment!

On subsequent dreadlock journeys, my reasons were a little less radical.

For the most part, after that, I started to grow dreadlocks for aesthetic reasons.

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Starting Your Dreadlocks

Once the decision is made, there’s the small detail of getting started.

As I mentioned before, the first time I started to grow dreadlocks, I decided to use the “neglect" method.

The second time, I opted to begin my dreadlocks by twisting my natural hair, at home, on my own.

The third and fourth times, I acquiesced to saner methods and visited a loctitian.

How about you?

How did you get your dreadlocks started?

If you’ve had the opportunity to try different methods, which do you recommend? (I recommend visiting a loctitian! 🙂 )

(Interested in more articles about afro hair? Read Hairstyles: The Beauty of Plaits & Braids.)

Black woman professionally dressed with dreadlocks

Dreadlock Maintenance

The first day you begin your dreadlock journey is just that—the first day of a long (gruesome) journey to getting your dreadlocks looking the way you’ve always pictured them in your mind 🙂 — so let’s talk about the process of nurturing your natural hair as it grows to form beautiful, fully-locked dreadlocks.

For those of you who have been down this road before, what was your dreadlock maintenance routine during the early months?

Did you go to a hair salon to wash and retwist your dreadlocks, or rather did you opt to take care of your dreadlocks yourself?

I’ve used both methods with varying results.

Going to a loctitian can be relatively hassle-free, but at the going rates I’ve seen in East Africa, it can be quite expensive.

That as well as it means putting your dreadlock-fortune into the hands of someone who may not necessarily share your dreadlock-vision.

What do you say?

Would you recommend maintaining dreadlocks by visiting a salon regularly, or is DIY (do it yourself) the way to go?

For those who recommend visiting a salon, do you have loctitians/salons anywhere in East Africa that you would like to recommend?

With what frequency do you recommend visiting such salons?

(Have you ever considered wearing color in your hair but are not quite sure how to? Here are 5 Fun Ways to Rock Maroon Hair.)

How to Retwist Locs

If DIY is your preference, then let’s get to the nitty-gritty: What is/was your personal dreadlock maintenance routine?

How and when did/do you wash and retwist your dreadlocks?

Do you have any particular way in which you do this?

What products have yielded the best results for you?

Personally, I like to wash and retwist my dreadlocks once a week.

I do this because I like the manicured look.

I am not picky about what shampoo I use, but I do skip conditioner to avoid difficult-to-remove residue.

My best retwisting results have been achieved by using a mix of honey and ordinary (no-alcohol) styling gel , which I was careful to apply early in the day so it could air-dry before I went to bed at night.

As for my twisting technique, I basically used the one in this video minus the hair clips.

Instead, I simply laid down my locs and wrapped a scarf around them to make sure they dried that way.

Oh yeah, that and I always made sure to tie my hair in a scarf before going to bed every night.

How about you, do you have any tips on how to retwist locs successfully?

I never had to change routines for when my dreadlocks were fully locked (I never kept my locs in long enough) but maybe some of you did.

Are you one of those people? If so, what did you do differently at this stage of your dreadlock journey?

Do you have any tips to share about how to retwist locs once they are locked and longer?

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That’s all I have for you today.

Now, It’s Your Turn

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

What do you have to share about your dreadlock journey(s)? What loctitians or salons do you recommend in your city?

How about products? Maintenance routines? Tips for how to retwist locs? Styling options?

I want to hear it all.

Don’t be shy, drop me a comment below.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Until the next time,
Biche

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(Does it matter where you go to have your nails done? Is a manicure or pedicure essentially the same regardless of the establishment that provides the service? Read my thoughts on that in Are All Pedicures Equal?)

Photo Credits: locsrevolution.com

43 thoughts on “How to Retwist Locs & More on Growing Them”

  1. Hiya Biche, haven’t been by in a while, but I’m glad to see that you are still chatting away! 🙂

    (I am curious to know what you gave up along with combing your hair in college – but that is for another day I guess! :-))

    Anyway. About (my) dreadlocks. Not being the most dexterous with hair dressing, I went to a salon to get started (Feb 2007) – and you are right, the cost is rather prohibitive but perhaps that is because there are still relatively few loctitians and yet the trend is catching on quite fast. Nevertheless I stuck with it for a month or two, but they looked so messy all the time that I finally quit and braided over them. Three months later I tried again, upon which I tried the self maintenance stunts – THAT didn’t work out – at one point I washed the hair and could no longer find the twists as the hair was all tangled up – so basically I had to start over YET again, and this time I just tried to go to the salon whenever I needed a touch up; when I balked at spending the money at the salon, my sister, who has kept dreads for five years or so, helped me re-twist them.

    As we speak, I have some decent looking locks – about eight months ago I decided to get bigger ones by sewing two or three together, and I really love the size now, although they do not stay neat as long as smaller ones!

    Perhaps what nags me a little sometimes is the limited variety of things one can do with locks – I hear that one can find all kinds of funky ways to dress locks up on the internet but I have yet to go there – perhaps I am not that nagged – I am just happy I don’t have to give ANY thought to hair for weeks at a stretch, and if I have a special function or something, I just make sure I have them professionally done the day before, and then make sure I have some nice make up on 🙂

    What I would say about successfully growing locks is that one needs a lot of patience and 100% commitment! OR, be 100% fed up with processed hair AND have unmanageable natural hair (like me) – I think all these factors combined made me stick with it. One should also be comfortable with not having perfectly slick hair all the time, unless they are willing to get it redone very often (at least once a week) – I usually do it every three weeks, and sometimes I’ll push it to four and wear a bandana, but that is my outside limit. I am toying with starting to twist them myself but for now I have put them on my monthly beauty budget and they haven’t broken the bank yet.

    Ofcourse they do not look REMOTELY like the ones of the ladies in the photos you put up… but, ONE day! 🙂

    1. Hi Vive,

      Thanks for sharing your loc journey! Coming to think of it, I haven’t seen your locs in ages though the last time I saw you, they were coming along quite nicely. Responding to your comment point by point:

      – Trust me to still be chatting away! 🙂 Isn’t that so like me even outside cyberspace? 😉

      – About the things I gave up, without saying too much, allow me to tell you that your Dad was my inspiration. More on that on email. 🙂

      – Where in Kampala do you get your locs retwisted? How much are you charged? Is this the same place where you got your locs stitched? I thought that was really well done!

      Hoping to hear more from you soon.

      Love,
      Biche

  2. The main reason why I grow dreadlocks is
    I love locs realy in deep. Wherever I see locs Iwas wishing to have the same or more than that. Second I decided to look natural no more chemicals on my head and
    aviod hassle of burning/ qeuing at the saloon. So I let my hair grow long enough to make big puff. Soooo I started by plating them the way we plate normal rasta
    (ie by making small portions the size you want you locs to be.Then let them stay long enough so that when you open them are separated. This stage is real a long journey and tiresome if you are not in love you might
    give up.Did not aply any oil inorder to make
    them very dry and easy to loc. Just used to wash them with normal hair shampoo and start to roll them one by one
    This is a continous processes everytime after washing.
    Sometime I had to use thread to tie them from the root and I was doing this to prevent them mixing.But if you have someone to help it is good.
    I started to enjoy my locs when they were well locked.
    This stage I started to apply oil of my choise
    preferable liquid.
    I did not go to any saloon washing and retwist
    I was doing it by myself with the help of
    my husband who realy love them.So if if your not doing it by your self it is better to get someone who knows about locs to help or better DIY this is my opinion
    Aslo I think it could be better if I knew any loctician to advice how to treat the new growth which for me I just usd to twist them wherever I wash them and roll them the same direction as they are. My favorite liquid oil
    is sunsilk and I have never leave them open during the day to pervent dust and sun burn which change the colour
    My dreadlocks are seven yrs old.At this stage
    more concentration is onthe new growth which I need to rool them as usual coz if you leave them they will stick together and form thick branches of locs. I dont like these branch locs. SOOOOOOOOOOO I least have to roll them once a week.I dont know any saloon or loctician to recommend coz I have never use them. But I would like to try if there is one you recommend. This is all about ma DREADLOCKS.

    1. Hi Halda,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown! Thanks so much for sharing your loc journey. I can vouch for your locs in person: they are simply gorgeous!

      I like the way you started your locs. I had never thought of that. I’ll have to consider that method if ever I start another loc journey.

      Once again, thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing more of you here on ChickAboutTown.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Biche

  3. Hi Biche. Pseudo here giving you a shout out from Quito, Ecuador. Man I can’t believe I’ve been away from Nai for almost over a year. How is the party scene lately? Any new interesting lounges? The Hood, Soho’s et al…. Holler Bueno y suerte.

    1. Hi Pseudo Intellectual,

      Karibu tena ChickAboutTown (Do you speak Swahili? :-))! It’s nice to see you here again. And all the way from Quito! How do you find Quito? Is it very different from Nairobi? Better? Worse? I’d love to hear all about it.

      I wish I could tell you more about what’s happening in Nai, but alas, I haven’t been there in a long while myself. Nowadays, I know what’s kicking in Dar es Salaam – that’s where I’ve spent most of 2009.

      When I get back to Nai, be sure you’ll hear all about the places I visit. From all the reports I receive from readers of this blog as well as from friends off the blogosphere, I have a list of jaunts to check out as soon as I get back to Nairobi. When I do, be sure that I’ll be posting about them.

      It’s nice to hear from you after so long.

      Cheers,
      Biche

  4. Locs: can someone say chic 🙂 and easy maintenance? (The latter ofcourse after they have locked)
    Let me just say that one of the most painful experiences in my not so short life was starting my locs. It so happened that at that time I was a gym fanatic, did I have many bad hair days or what! Before the hair locs, (read 4-8 months) it untwists at any slight hint of wetness. The sweating was not helping. But don’t be discouraged it is about how badly you want that look. Anyways at that point in time there was a lot of advise like buy natural/artificial hair locs and put them as extensions as I await my hair to loc, wear a wig, honestly it was a small nightmare for me. The idea of manufactured hair or somones hair on my head freaks me out. Never the less I braved it, the secret is in finding an affordable loctitian 🙂 (for the Kenyans, there is a salon in Natu court, opposite prestige plaza, called clique), check it out. Fast forward we are 6yrs old, and loving it. I wash my locs myself every one and half weeks, and have them locked every three weeks. I am okay with any beeswax as long as it is mixed with honey. I believe honey acts as a leave in conditioner. Along the way I’ve learnt a few things: I can “treat" the locs using guinness, yes guinness the drink. (The locs are doused in guinness and put under the steamer). If I wet the locs a little and make conrows overnight, the result is a beautiful head of wavy locs. To give the locs a healthy look, I spray them with an oil moisturizing sheen.

    1. Hi Eshitialo,

      Do you have the name/number for the hairdresser at Clique? I would like to talk to them before checking it out, I am still shopping for the perfect hairdresser for my locs.

      Thanks for the tips, especially the Guiness one, I will have to try it out sometime.

      Thanks,
      SC

      1. Hi, sorry to for the delayed response but I was having a technology free month. The number of the hairdresser at clique is 0720234709 her name is Josephine.

        1. Hi, SC and Eshitialo.

          SC – I am not sure whether or not you’ve already tried to contact Josephine, but I can vouch for her personally too. She’s really good at being meticulous with her hands and is willing to listen to the client. Give her a try!

          Eshitialo – thanks for sharing the number. Also,you had me roaring with laughter with your whole tech-free month. Hehehehe….Way to go, girl! 🙂

          Cheers to you both,
          Biche

    2. Hi Eshitialo,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown (and please, no comment about how long it’s taken me to respond to your comment – that we can discuss in person ;-))! Thanks for sharing your loc story!

      Beeswax and honey? So that’s your secret! In all our discussions about locs, I never knew you used honey nor why. Now I do. Do you find that honey makes your locs somewhat sticky?

      Biche

  5. Hi Biche,

    Just wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed reading all the stuff you have written about. I have been away from Kenya for about 6 years and just moved back late last year so sometimes still feel like a visitor here. If I’d come across this site soon after I got here it would have been so helpful, not to say that it is not helpful and fun to read right now. Keep up the great work! How are the locs doing? I’ve had mine for a little under two year now and I totally love them.

    SC

    1. Hi SC,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown! Thanks for your feedback, and sorry that it has taken me so long to respond to your comment.

      I am glad you are enjoying my blog. Hopefully, even though you’ve been back for a year, you’ve still discovered something new and interesting on ChickAboutTown. Have you tried any new places or products after finding a recommendation here? How are you finding Kenya since your return?

      My locs – I tried to learn from experience and didn’t try growing a new set. Rather, I double-strand twisted my hair for a while (close enough ;-)) and then China Bump-ed/Bantu Knot-ted it. So far so good! 🙂

      I look forward to seeing more of you around here on ChickAboutTown.

      Biche

  6. Soz folks I’m well late to this. Just wanted to add…I’m two years into my second set of locks and finally settled. There’s a thing I had done in Dar last year that apparently is pretty common in the Uk called latch locking. They pass the end of the lock through the growth around the root so almost like a backstitch and then gel (or whatever) the root and pass the end through again. It was dramatically painful for me and I’ve pretty small locks so it was a nightmare but if you’re just starting out it secures the lock immediately. And you can wash swim etc at will for three months. If you’re in TZ the salon I went to was down wind from the Mayfair (big mall) in Micocheni before you get to Mwinyi’s house. Also washing locks with Coke gives the locks a bit more volume. And I’m told you shouldn’t twist them that often it stresses the hair. I do it every five weeks and about twice a year I take a break and leave it about three months. It’s looking much better if you can stand a bit of growth but I find some olive oil gloss really improves the look of it generally. And I use Vaseline unperfumed to twist the hair wet. No fuss. I love them!

    1. Hi Akitelek,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown! No worries about being late to the discussion; that’s the beauty of the Internet: everyone gets to the discussion at their own time! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing this information. The method you describe (which I’d heard about vaguely before) sounds very interesting – especially that it allows you freedom to do whatever with your locs almost instantly! Do you remember the name of the salon (because that’s near where I live in Dar es Salaam and would love to check it out). Is that where you started your locs? Do you remember how much the latching cost you?

      I like your use of Vaseline. Simple! How do your locks look when you give them a 3-month rest from retwisting? 🙂

      Biche

  7. Twice a month I go to a salon to get them retwisted, 4 days into the twist I can start washing them, regular shampoo and the occasional fancy oil natural thing and spray to make them look and smell good. Huge hug, biche….Citizen of the World

    1. Hi My Dear,

      I hope all is well with you. Thanks for your comment. Now, I’ve got a couple of questions for you: 1. Are there particular salons that you recommend in Kampala? 2. What is this fancy oil you mention? 😉

      Biche

  8. I find it soo funny that you posted that picture of the lady with the updo. When I saw that picture about 5 years ago, I knew that at some point I was going to lock my hair.

    Now that being said, I started my locs only 3 weeks ago with two strand twist. I dont think I had any real vision of what mine were to look like in the end, yet I knew that they were always what I wanted, so not an extreme spiritual experience or anything like that.

    I did know that I’m a broke educator and I was going to diy, so I did lots of research on the net. My final results. I’ve had the twist for almost 4 weeks now, and I’ve washed about 2x’s a week and retwist slightly, I have an overly oily scalp, so I have to wash often!!! That being said I think it has only helped everything along.

    1. Hi JudgingABookByItsCover,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown!

      The beginning of your loc journey sounds extremely interesting. Good luck with that!

      I have a question about the method you are using to start your locs: You say that you started your locs as double strand twists. How do you retwist them then? As a double stranded unit, or do you take the strands apart and then re-double strand twist them again?

      Also, what products are you using for your locking process?

      Biche

  9. Hi, its now 3 mnths ever since i started da loc journey bt ma hair has failed to loc al it does is to flatten. It is also so soft its realy naging. Some 1 advise me on how to look after it esp da tightening gel,conditioner , sort of.

    1. Hi Faridah,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown!

      Are you starting your locks on your own, or did you go to a professional to get them started?

      Biche

  10. Hello my name is Melissa and I wanted to know how often do I have to retwist my dreads. I just started them on the first of this month (November). And how long does it takes them to lock up. This is my first time starting my dreads.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown! In the past, especially when I was working in the corporate world, I retwisted my hair every weekend for the first few weeks and after a while, I would make that once every two weeks. Once they were longer and locked (which for my hair takes about 2.5 months), then I could do it once a month.

      How is the experience for you so far?

      Biche

  11. Hiiii! I know I’m really late but today makes 1 week since I started my Loc journey using two strand twists. I’m really impatient and I just want to know is there any method I could use to make them lock quicker? Any products or anything? I started them at home using ORS Twist and lock gel. I haven’t washed them yet and they haven’t started budding. Thanks ahead of time!

    1. Hi Malea,

      Welcome to Chick About Town! It’s never too late to join the conversation.

      I had never considered starting locs as double strand twists. Would the eventual loc then be made up of the entire double strand twist, or would a twist end up being two separate locs?

      Whatever the case, I am sorry but I think you are just going to have to be patient–I don’t know of any way to make your locs lock faster–you just have to let them do their thing.

      Congratulations on starting locks! I did a quick search on starting locs with double strand twists and found this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ecUzWQJjYw Have you seen it yet? If not, I think it might answer some questions I am sure you have!

      Enjoy!

      Biche

  12. Hi Biche,

    I started my loc journey August 13, 2015 7.5 months in. My locs took 6 months to lock.however, my hair is spongy/puffy it’s fine to the toucn. It seems like the growth process is just as slow as the local process and patience is my future. I have not publicly worn my locs out yet but I do take care of them. I made a promise to myself that I will release my locs at 10 months which will be June 13th. I do have a loctition who maintains them every 3_4 weeks. I wear a satin cap then a wig cap with a little dab of oil on my scalp.

    Please give me some suggestions your advise is awesome. My hair is still short

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Welcome to Chick About Town! How come you don’t wearing your locks out? Baby locs are half the pleasure and are their own look. That’s my advice to you: wear them out today. I am sure they are gorgeous! 😉

      Biche

    1. It sure is a lot of work, but so much pleasure if you persevere. Last night, I was playing with my cousin’s locs that she’s been growing for 12 years (in fact we started growing them about the same time but I gave up after a couple of months). They are down to her bum and GORGEOUS!

  13. Late to the party but I started my dreadlocks myself 4 months ago. After being a loose natural for 10 years, it was just time. I two strand twisted them myself as best as I could, then used a latch hook at the base and on retwist sessions, so that I’m not tempted to undo the locs. Loving the journey thus far, and the bonus is I don’t need to get anyone to retwist my hair.

    1. Hi Jamaicanblaq,

      Welcome to Chick About Town, and thank you for your comment. It’s never too late to join the party!

      I’ve never used the latch hook method before, but it does make for very neat dreads. Is it easy to do on yourself? How long does it take you to “retwist” your whole head?

      Biche

      1. Hey there. First time was a mission but I have since mastered it. Trick is to not loop in the same hole twice. It usually takes me about 2-3 hours, but the results last quite long. That’s why I love interlocking at times 🙂

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