One reason people love dreadlocks is because they’re low maintenance. However, some people may not know that dreads aren’t always low maintenance—the ‘starter’ phase, right after getting dreads, can be difficult, and the same goes for the ‘teenage’ phase. In these early days, it’s more likely for dreads to unravel and look unruly. Mature locs tend to look the best and are the type of locs most people want, but with a traditional coil method, it can take years to reach the mature stage.
If you’re someone interested in trying locs, but you don’t want to deal with the awkward early stages, there’s a perfect solution for you: instant locs.
What Are Instant Locs?
Instant locs are a type of dreadlocks that are created instantly, as the name implies. Hairstylists use a unique, intricate crocheting method to knit the hair together, creating the look of mature dreadlocks immediately.
The process of creating instant locs may vary a bit from stylist to stylist, but typically a crochet hook is used to help with the hair knitting (which is why instant locs are also referred to as the crochet method).
First the stylist will section off the hair into equal sections, then they will begin knitting the hair by each individual section. The hair is knitted together into tiny knots made with the small crochet needle. Depending on your hair type, your stylist might also backcomb the hair to encourage the dreadlocks to form.
This is the technique to use if you’re starting with longer hair and want instant results (hence the name instant locs). While it can take years and years to grow some of the other starter loc styles into mature locs, instant locs give you the look right away. This technique requires the use of a crochet hook to loc your loose natural hairs together.
Are Instant Dreads Permanent?
If you choose to get instant locs, you should know that removing the hairstyle can be very difficult to do without damaging the hair. With the right approach (and a skilled hairstylist), the locs can be removed, but there’s no guarantee that your hair won’t be damaged.
Immediately after getting the style done, it may be easier to unravel the dreads, but as time goes on, your locs will only become more and more solidified, making it harder to remove them without significant damage. It’s safe to say instant locs are a permanent hairstyle.
If you got instant loc extensions, removing the extensions will be much easier; however, your natural hair may still be damaged in the process. Likewise, if you have shorter hair, it may be easier to remove instant locs.
Are Instant Locs Bad for Your Hair?
Any hairstyle can be bad for your hair if you don’t properly take care of it and maintain it. As a rule, people with bleached and/or damaged hair should avoid the crochet method for instant locs—it may be too rough for their hair and cause breakage. Unlike other locs, instant locs put less tension on the roots of the hair, meaning thinning hair and alopecia is less likely.
To prevent damage before your instant loc appointment, use natural, moisturizing products in your hair, ideally for a month leading up to your appointment. Also be sure to wash several times prior to your appointment to ensure product buildup and chemicals are rinsed from your hair. The healthier your hair is going into the appointment, the less damage you’ll walk out with.
Pros of Instant Locs
There are many factors that make instant locs a great hairstyle. The first obvious benefit is that you can achieve the look of mature locs quicker than any other method.
Additionally, instant locs can be created on any hair type, even straight hair that doesn’t respond well to other forms of dreadlocks. Instant locs also won’t unravel as easily as other types of locs, like those made with the coil method.
Instant locs are a great option if you’re a busy person who’s always on the go, and they’re also good if you’re someone who is very active and needs to shower and wash your hair frequently. With instant locs, no amount of sweat will unravel your locs, and after the first few weeks, you can wash them as frequently as you need to.
- Immediately have the look you want
- Works for all hair types
- Relatively low maintenance style
- You can wash whenever you need to without worrying your locs will unravel
What are the Cons of Instant Locs?
Though there are a lot of great things about instant locs, it’s important to also know about the potential downsides of this style. One of the major problems is not so much about the hairstyle, but about finding a skilled stylist.
Unfortunately, the instant loc method isn’t widely used or recognized by the hair industry as an effective way to install dreads. This means that it may be hard to find a skilled stylist near you who is familiar with the instant loc process.
As far as the hairstyle goes, initially your instant locs will probably be very stiff. But this is completely normal, and in a short time the hair will relax and be less stiff. If you’re self-conscious or your hair isn’t laying flat, wearing a hat or beanie for a while will help relax the locs and help to shape the style to look the way you want it to.
Lastly, the cost of instant locs may be a negative for some people. Because the style takes hours of work by a skilled hairdresser, the cost of installation can be pretty steep.
- Hair should be at least three inches long when pulled out straight—shorter than that may cause problems with installation
- Can be damaging
- Can be hard to find a good stylist
- Can be expensive
How Much Do Instant Locs Cost?
The price of getting instant locs can vary greatly depending on the length of your hair and the salon you go to. Average prices fall between $300 and $750+.
Though the price may seem high, people with long hair who get instant locs can expect to be in the hairdresser’s seat for up to ten hours. That’s a lot of work for a hairdresser to do in one day! The shorter your hair is, the cheaper the installation will be.
Can You Do It Yourself?
Don’t let the cost of instant locs deter you from getting them done at a salon—this hairstyle is not a great option to try at home.
It is very unlikely that you will be able to successfully create instant locs on your own hair. Unlike other methods like palm rolling, the instant loc process is intricate, and you need to be able to see what you’re doing the whole time.
This means doing the back of your hair by yourself would be nearly impossible. Additionally, doing instant locs at home means you need access to the right tools including a crochet hook and a professional dreadlock backcomb. Attempting to do this style by yourself, without the right tools and skill, could definitely lead to a lot of damage.
At the end of the day, you could certainly try creating instant locs at home, but without some help, it is unlikely you will get the result you’re looking for. In general, this is a hairstyle best left to professionals.
Instant Locs vs Starter Locs
Starter locs are exactly what they sound like—dreadlocks in the beginning stages. Starter locs can be made using braids, twists, backcombing and coils.
Most starter locks are made using the coil method, in which small sections of hair typically wrapped around a small comb in a downward motion until a unified coil is formed., while instant locs are usually formed using a crochet needle.
With coiled starter locs, the hair shrinks into itself, making it a bit difficult to tell the length of the hair and how much it’s grown out since the initial loc installation. With crocheted instant locs, the length is much more visible.
Additionally, coiled starter locs don’t have the look of mature locs, while instant locs, like the name suggests, gives the look of mature locs right off the bat.
Instant locs vs Interlocking
Some salons and hairstylists who aren’t familiar with instant locs may confuse the style with interlocking locs. Interlocking locs, also called sisterlocks, latch-hooking or root flipping, involves pulling a lock of hair through the root of the same section.
This interlocking process allows the locs to stay in place as they form, and it’s a good option for people with looser hair types who struggle with dreads unraveling. Interlocking, like instant locs, can be quite expensive.
Interlocking locs are a good option for people with straighter hair types and those who want a low-maintenance style, but it’s important to note that the tension at the root can lead to scalp irritation, and in some cases, alopecia. Additionally, product buildup can easily gather at the divets at the root of the loc.
While interlocking is a great option for some people, it is definitely not the same as instant locs. If a salon says they can ‘crochet’ your locs, you may think they’re referring to instant locs, but often they are referring to interlocking locs.
It’s important to show your stylist a picture and video of the instant loc process to ensure they know how to give you the style you’re looking for.
Overall, instant locs is a great hairstyle option for people who want the look of mature dreadlocks without waiting the months or years it takes to get mature locs.
There is usually not a lot of damage done by instant locs, and with proper care, the low-maintenance hairstyle can last as long as you want it to.