Interlocking, also known as “latch hooking” or “root flipping” has come into popularity in the recent years as celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, Rihanna, and Zendaya don the red carpet with this carefree and unique look. This hair maintenance process enhances new growth by hook interlocking rings and can be done simply using your fingers.
In this article, we will discuss the process of interlocking, the pros, and cons, and how often you should do it – if you choose to. If you are wondering how to interlock your dreads and whether it is a technique for you, continue reading!
What is Interlocking Locs?
Interlocking is typically done with a latch hook, like the type of that is used for crochet braiding. You may recognize this hook to be like a regular crochet hook. Whether done at a salon, by a loctician, or on your own, the hook is inserted at one end of the dread and then inserted into the root to pull through.
The idea is to pull your roots tightly to keep your locs in place. This method is quick and easy, allowing your roots to be tightened and clean loose hair from the scalp.
The interlocking technique can help enforce the dreadlock style for those whose hair might be subject to breakage. It also prevents the hair from getting tangled. Tightening the loc for regrowth moves the dreadlock closer to the scalp.
Does Interlocking Make Dreads Smaller?
A common question about interlocking is whether it makes your dreads smaller. It’s not necessarily that interlocking can make dreads smaller, it’s that this process it typically used for smaller locs in both size and density. Interlocking requires pulling the root tightly, which can be hard to do if you have a thicker hair texture or larger locs to begin with.
Those with larger dreads should steer away from interlocking because it can leave a thin braided appearance. Interlocking thicker, larger dreads can cause them to bend in a way such that the hair will never truly dread. Although interlocking is a quick method, it’s best for short term results regarding maintenance and growth. Long term intentions could stress your hair and roots, causing irreversible damage. You can read more about this in the Pros and Cons of Interlocking Dreads section of this article.
Is Interlocking Good For Locs?
When done correctly, interlocking your dreads can contribute to clean, uniform-looking dreadlocks that will enhance growth. Interlocking is not good for your dreads if you or a salon does them incorrectly.
As you will see in the pros and cons list, interlocking can cause irreversible damage (and pain!) if your hair type is not suited for this style, or if not done with care. On the contrary, a style that is meant to enhance growth for certain hair types can stunt the growth of others.
How Often Should You Interlock Your Dreads?
This will mostly depend on your hair type and the rate at which your hair grows. The beauty of interlocking your dreads is you don’t have to do it that often to have a clean, maintained look. Many people go at least 8 weeks without having to go back to get them redone, with others citing they can go a couple of months without having to re-lock dreads.
Here are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your interlocked dreads:
- Wrap your locs in a bandana at night.
- Limit activities that make you sweat.
- Wash your dreadlocks no more than 2-3 times per week.
- Put your hair in an updo style when you can to prevent as much unraveling as possible.
Maintenance Vs. Starting New Locks
Interlocking for maintenance tightens new hair growth to the scalp, locking it over time. Whether it’s done with a special tool or just your fingers, it is common to pull your root in all four directions. Keep in mind, depending on your hair type, this can stress your roots and you won’t want to do this all the time.
Interlocking to start new locs is slightly different. With hair repeatedly interlocked from ends to roots, it can take anywhere from six months to two years for the dread to form properly and look mature.
Interlocking your dreads can be a time-consuming process. If you choose to get this style done, make sure to bring something to read! In comparison to other maintenance methods that take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, interlocking can take up to three or more hours. This makes sense because interlocking requires an intense amount of concentration to thread the loc properly. Here are a few other things that impact the time it takes to interlock dreads:
- Technique: The four-point loc pattern of pulling the root in all four directions takes time and care as it could contribute to damage if sped through.
- Length: Starter dreadlocks will be completed much faster than mature locs for the same interlocking technique.
- Texture: Thinner hair texture will require more attention to prevent slippage and breakage. While this won’t be a major difference, it is worth mentioning.
- Tools: As stated before, interlocking can be done with a hook or your fingers. The tool used will certainly impact how long it takes to completely interlock your hair. It is recommended to go with whatever your loctician is comfortable using since there will be less mistakes.
Interlocking Dreads – Pros & Cons
With any hair method, there will benefits and disadvantages. The same is true for interlocking your dreads. As you read through the pros and cons, consider how your hair currently behaves with new methods before you jump into trying a new one. Keep in mind how changing hair styles frequently can affect your dreadlock size, growth, and overall health.
The upside to interlocking your dreads could mean less maintenance, which means less trips to the salon! Interlocking allows you to go up to at least 8 weeks before having to get them re-done. Of course, this will depend on your hair type and how fast your hair grows, which will vary from person to person. Interlocking is also useful for anyone wanting to prevent the unraveling of hair, as the style encourages your locs to stay in place.
Here are some additional benefits to interlocking your dreads:
- With practice, the method can be relatively easy to do once learned.
- Interlocking achieves a uniform result.
- The tightness of the method allows you to forgo any special hair products to keep locs in place.
- Interlocking allows people with a smoother, silkier hair texture to achieve the dreadlock look.
- If you are particularly active or sweat a lot, you will appreciate that the tight nature of interlocking will not allow your hair to unravel as it does with other methods.
Interlocking is best suited for small and thin locs, due to the nature of pulling and tightening. This can be painful for people with thicker, courser locs.
If you are considering interlocking your dreads, it is highly recommended that you get it done by a professional before doing it yourself. While it might seem easy, this process of tightening can potentially damage your hair – leading to breaking and thinning. If done incorrectly, this can lead to irreversible problems such as thinning locs, split roots, and damage to the loc that prevents it from properly forming. You will want to watch out for residue that gathers long term around the area where the interlock was created because this weak spot can also contribute to breakage.
It’s important to note that most problems that occur from interlocking are because they are not maintained for an extended period, leaving them to lock naturally or another method is used amid interlocking. If you choose to interlock your dreads, you will want to commit to it and if you choose to get a different style done, do so with care!
Here are some disadvantages to consider when interlocking your dreads:
- When not done correctly, interlocking can create holes in your dreadlocks that can trigger traction alopecia.
- While this is a quick method, speeding through this process can contribute to irreversible knots in dreadlocks.
- It can be rare to see thicker sets of dreadlocks maintained with interlocking. If this describes your hair type, it may require higher maintenance that can potentially be switched out for another method.