Dreadlocks are eye-catching, but they require years of commitment. Soft locs deliver a stunning look without any of the dedication of traditional dreads.
In our complete guide to soft locs, we’ll discuss soft locs vs. faux locs, how to install soft locs, how to maintain soft locs and much more. We will review the different types of soft loc hair, including crochet, afro kinky, and water wave passion twist, as well as the different installation methods. If you’re wondering what you can expect from any aspect of wearing soft locs, you’ve come to the right place.
What Are Soft Locs?
Soft locs are faux locs that are attached to the base of your real braids. They are softer and looser to the touch than other types of faux locs, because the faux hair is wrapped around the natural braid for enhanced softness. There are a few techniques you can use to achieve soft locs, including crochet or kinky wrapping techniques.
Faux Locs vs Soft Locs – What’s The Difference?
Both faux locs and soft locs are hot hair trends right now, but which option is best for you?
Before the invention of soft locs, faux locs tended to be a bit stiff and unnatural-looking. Soft locs are more flexible and have more movement than other types of faux locs.
However, the two styles have lots of similarities. Both soft locs and faux locs…
- Are protective hairstyles
- Deliver the appearance of dreads without the commitment of waiting months or years for the hair to lock
- Offer more freedom than braids
- Look more natural as the weeks progress
That being said, soft locs are installed differently, resulting in a different final look. For both styles, you start by parting and braiding the hair individually. When you begin to add the extensions, faux locs require wrapping the hair from roots to the end of the extensions, but soft locs involve wrapping hair from roots to where the natural hair ends. In many cases, soft locs are faster to install than faux locs.
The type of hair used for faux locs versus soft locs can also be different. Faux locs are usually made with marley hair, whereas soft locs usually involve crochet locs or afro kinky wrap hair.
Faux locs usually feel stiffer or more tense than soft locs, especially at first. Soft locs give you the freedom to style your hair immediately after installing soft locs (for example, in a bun). After a few days, the faux locs will loosen up, and you will be able to do the same updos with faux locs as well.
Are Soft Locs Damaging?
Before you decide to move forward with soft locs, you want to know if they will take a toll on your natural hair. Soft locs are not intended to be damaging, but rather protective of the natural hair. However, any hairstyle can be damaging. If there is too much tension in the hairstyle, it can pull on the natural hair. If your new hair is too heavy or tense, it can weaken or even break the hair. Here are two ways to safeguard your real hair while you wear soft locs…
Don’t wear them too long: Be sure not to leave your soft locs in for too long (more than 4-6 weeks). Redoing them too many times may also cause too much tension and damage.
Don’t go too heavy: Heavy hair can pull on the head and may even cause neck pain. If a stylist does your hair, work with them to determine the right size and weight of extensions that will not cause lasting damage to your hair or neck.
As long as your soft locs are installed properly, they can protect your hair from constant brushing, stretching, and knotting.
What Types Of Hair Are Available For Soft Locs?
Soft locs used to be a well-kept celebrity secret, but thanks to social media, we now know the key to a beautiful soft loc: choosing the right type of hair! Here are your best options for extensions if you’re going for the soft loc look.
Crochet Faux Locs
Crochet soft locs require a crochet hook to pair real hair with the new hair. When it is not wrapped too tightly, crochet locs look soft, flexible, and natural. They only need to be wrapped to the natural hair’s end – not all the way to the bottom of the faux hair.
Kinky Wrapping (Afro Kinky)
Kinky wrapping can produce a variety of different looks. It can look like traditional smooth faux locs, just a little softer, or it can take on a distressed and messy appearance. This hair is relatively easy to use, and delivers a kinky wave or soft curl. This type of hair is less likely to unravel than other soft locs.
Water Wave Passion Twist
Water wave hair gives a smooth and textured look. It is not as distressed, messy, or tangled as other hair types. However, water wave hair is a little more difficult to use, because you might have to wrap the hair more than once to get the right look. You may be better off paying a stylist to install water wave passion twists. If you want to do it yourself, prepare to spend extra time on this particular style.
Getting Soft Locs
You can get that soft loc look by 1) choosing the right soft hair and 2) using a crochet or wrapping method. Here are some other FAQ about achieving a glamorous and flexible soft loc style.
How much do soft locs cost?
The final cost of your locs will vary based on:
- The type of hair you choose
- The installation method
- The length of the hair
- Your location and stylist
You can expect to pay somewhere between $150 and $300 for your soft locs.
Can You Do Soft Locs On Yourself?
If you want to save a little money, you might wonder if you can do soft locs yourself. There are a couple of methods you can use to do soft locs, including the braid method (braiding your natural hair and then wrapping hair extensions around every braid) and the crochet method (braiding your natural hair and then crocheting the extensions at the top of the braid).
Many people prefer trusting an experienced professional with their soft locs, but if you’re committed to doing it yourself, it’s definitely possible.
How Long Will It Take?
If you’re heading to the salon, bring a few things to do, because the appointment may take up to nine hours. You can expect to spend a minimum of four hours in your stylist’s chair.
If you plan to do them yourself, the process may take even longer. You may want to set a few days aside to work on your locs. The crochet method tends to require a little less time (about 4-5 hours), and while the wrapping technique takes longer, the outcome may be more realistic.
How Many Packs Will You Need?
For a basic soft loc look, you’ll need at least 4-5 packs of hair. If you want a very big and full look, you should purchase even more packs.
How Do You Prepare Your Hair?
If you’re ready to commit to soft locks, it’s time to get your hair ready. Here are a few ways to prepare your hair for a protective style like braids with soft locs.
Clarifying wash: Get your hair nice and clean to help your style last as long as possible. Use a deep clarifying shampoo to scrub out all the dirt and buildup.
Deep condition: A protein or deep conditioning treatment is also essential before applying a new protective style. This will help you avoid any breakage from heavy or tense locs. Apply a good treatment, leave it in for at least 20 minutes, and then rinse well.
Moisturize: Directly before applying the new hair style, you should apply a leave-in moisturizer, cream, and/or oil to help you maintain as much moisture as possible. Hydrated hair will be healthier during and after your soft loc style.
Stretch: Before installing your soft locs or any other protective style, stretch out the hair. You can stretch the hair by blow drying it (be sure to use a heat protectant), braiding it, or twisting it.
Trim: If your hair has some dead ends, get a trim before applying the soft locs.
Once your hair is looking healthy and ready, it’s time to design your soft locs!
How Do You Put In Soft Locs?
To create soft locs with the crochet method…
- Part your hair. The foundation of the soft loc look is the box braid, so you’ll need to start with neat grid parts. Part the hair in the desired size sections all over the head. Keep in mind that smaller parts will lead to more locs and therefore a bigger, fuller final look.
- Braid the hair. Grip each strand of hair with a good braiding gel product, oil, or moisturizer, then braid it all the way out to the end.
- Crochet the new hair. Get your new hair packs. Notice that each false loc has two ends – one end will fall, while the other end is meant to be crocheted. Put the loop end on the crochet needle, close it, and pull both the needle and section of faux hair through the loop. Push the false loc down through the braid. Grab the faux hair and the real hair with two different hands – the natural hair goes up and the soft loc goes down. Pull it as tight as it can go. Then wrap and overlap the real and false hair together to the end, without leaving any gaps.
- Fluff the hair. Fluff out the hair for a softer look, separating the fake loc at the tip.
If you choose the wrap method, follow steps one and two, and then wrap the synthetic strand around the braid. Hold the first 1 ½ inches of the bottom of the synthetic strand against your natural braid with one hand, and use the other hand to wrap the strand around the braid tightly, starting at the root and going all the way to the bottom. Trim off any excess hair with a razor comb, and seal the hair with a lighter or a drop of nail glue. Repeat the process with all of your braids and faux locs. Work in sections or row by row, and leave yourself ample time to get the job done.
Maintaining Soft Locs
Soft locs last about four to six weeks, so you can enjoy the look of real locs without the lengthy commitment. Do not re-twist new growth on your soft locs as you would with real locs. Re-twisting will damage the natural hair. Keep reading for a few more tips on maintaining your hairstyle.
How Do You Care For Them?
The most important step of soft loc hair happens before the style is complete. Be sure to wash, trim, and thoroughly moisturize the hair before installing the soft locs.
Soft locs do not “need” to be washed while you are wearing them, but you can do so if you notice buildup in your hair. You should only wear the style for 4-6 weeks before you take the soft locs out.
- If your soft locs need a wash, rinse the scalp with an apple cider vinegar solution or a sulfate-free shampoo.
- Keep the roots and edges moisturized with a nourishing oil or conditioner. You can apply hair oil once a day or once a week with your fingers to keep frizz to a minimum.
- Avoid headbands and hair ties that can put unnecessary tension on the faux locs. Choose silky scarves instead.
Can Soft Locs Get Wet?
Yes! It is safe to get faux locs wet, so you can sweat and swim normally. Keep in mind that the hair will be very heavy when wet, and will take a long time to dry.
How Do You Sleep With Soft Locs?
In order to prevent frizz, dryness, and breakage, try sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase. Alternatively, you can sleep with a silky scarf covering the hair.
Have more questions about rocking the soft loc style?
Can You Swim In Soft Locs?
Swimming with soft locs is completely fine, as long as you are OK with your locs feeling a bit heavy and taking a while to dry out. You can also put your locs in a high bun to avoid the drying period.
How Do You Keep Soft Locs From Unraveling?
When you install your soft locs, wrap and overlap them tightly to prevent unraveling. If your hairstyle begins to unravel, here are a few options:
- Spray the locs with a setting or hydrating spray
- Pat the locs with a flat iron (on the lowest setting)
- Remove the hair and re-wrap the faux hair back with the natural hair
It’s perfectly normal for soft locs to unravel a little bit. Avoid re-wrapping too often, as it may cause damage to the hair.
How Long Do Soft Locs Last?
When soft locs are well-executed, the hairstyle can last anywhere from 6-12 weeks. Some people wear it even longer, but 4-6 weeks is the maximum recommended wear time. If you keep any protective style in too long, it can begin to break your natural hair grow-out.
Are Soft Locs Heavy?
Prepare to feel a little heavier after installing soft locs. Faux locs can be heavy, so it’s important to seal in plenty of moisture when you put the locs in. Moisture will prevent tension breakage.
Are Soft Locs Painful?
Tight wrapping is key to a good soft loc, but wrapping that is too tight can cause pain. If your locs feel too stiff and tight, rinse the scalp and hair with hot water. Keep in mind that the locs will loosen over time, but if the pain is unbearable and the hot water rinse doesn’t help, remove them immediately.
When done well, soft locs shouldn’t hurt much, and you can enjoy them for 4-6 weeks. Soft locs are long-lasting, low-maintenance, and fashion-forward. Skip the obligation of dreadlocks and get in on the beautiful soft locs trend!