When it comes to hairstyles, dreads and locs are two popular choices that have gained significant attention in recent years. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but there are actually some key differences between the two styles. In this comprehensive comparison article, we will explore the distinctions between dreads and locs, delving into their origins, methods of creation, maintenance requirements, and cultural significance.
By the end, you will have a clear understanding of what sets dreads apart from locs, allowing you to make an informed decision about which style might be right for you.
Table of Contents
What are Locs?
Locs are a natural hairstyle that involves the intentional matting and twisting of hair. This style originated from the Rastafarian culture in Jamaica, where it was used as a symbol of spiritual and cultural identity. Locs are created by separating sections of hair and twisting them tightly, either with the fingers or a tool known as a “loc hook.”
Locs are a low-maintenance hairstyle that can be worn for years. Unlike other styles that require frequent washing and styling, locs require minimal maintenance. They can be washed and conditioned regularly, but overwashing can lead to dryness and breakage. Locs can also be styled in various ways, including updos, ponytails, and braids.
What are Dreads?
Dreads also known as Dreadlocks are a hairstyle that involves the matting and knotting of hair. This style originated from various cultures, including ancient Egypt, India, and the African continent. Dreadlocks are created by allowing hair to grow and mat naturally, or by backcombing and twisting hair into sections.
Dreadlocks require more maintenance than locs. They must be washed regularly and maintained to prevent matting and knotting. The process of creating dreadlocks is also more time-consuming than creating locs, as it involves backcombing, twisting, and separating sections of hair.
Dreads vs Locs: Comparison Table
Here is a table illustrating the key differences between Dreads and Locs:
|Creation||Intentional twisting and matting of hair||Can form naturally or be created through backcombing and twisting|
|Maintenance||Low maintenance, requires less frequent washing and styling||Requires more maintenance, regular washing, separating, and styling|
|Appearance||Neater and more uniform appearance||More varied appearance, can be thin or thick, short or long|
|Length||Can be any length, typically longer||Can be any length, but often shorter|
|Cultural Significance||Traditionally worn by various African tribes and Rastafarians||Worn by various cultures, including Hindu holy men, and gained popularity in the US among African Americans in the 1960s and 70s|
|Styling||Limited styling options, typically worn down or in a bun||Can be styled in various ways, including updos, braids, and twists|
|Maintenance Products||Natural oils and butters, avoid using wax or gels||Can use locking gels or wax, but avoid using too much to prevent buildup|
Key Differences Between Locs and Dreads
Dreads and locs are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between these two popular hairstyles. Understanding these distinctions can help you choose the style that best suits your preferences and lifestyle. Here are the main differences between locs and dreads:
The process of creating dreads and locs differs in terms of technique and intention.
Dreads: Dreads are typically intentionally formed by tangling or matting the hair using various methods such as backcombing, palm rolling, twist and rip, or the neglect method. These methods involve manipulating the hair to encourage the formation of knots and tangles.
Locs: Locs, on the other hand, can form naturally or be intentionally cultivated. Natural locs occur when the hair coils and interlocks on its own without deliberate manipulation. However, many people choose to use techniques like palm rolling, two-strand twisting, or braiding to assist in the formation of locs.
The maintenance and care routines for dreads and locs differ in terms of frequency and techniques used.
Dreads: Dreads require regular maintenance to keep them tidy and prevent them from unraveling. Maintenance techniques for dreads may include palm rolling, interlocking, or using a crochet hook to tighten loose hairs. Depending on the method used and the desired appearance, dreads may need to be maintained every few weeks to a few months.
Locs: Locs generally require less maintenance compared to dreads. While regular washing and conditioning are still important, the emphasis is on allowing the hair to naturally coil and lock without excessive manipulation. Less frequent retightening is typically needed, and locs may only require maintenance every few months to a year, depending on the desired look and hair texture.
Dreads and locs have distinct visual characteristics that set them apart.
Dreads: Dreads often have a more structured and defined appearance. They tend to be cylindrical or rope-like in shape and can range from thin to thick depending on personal preference and the method of creation. Dreads can be styled in various ways, such as updos, ponytails, or accessorized with beads and other adornments.
Locs: Locs have a more organic and natural appearance. They can vary in size and shape, with some locs appearing thicker or thinner than others. Locs tend to have a more freeform texture, and their appearance is influenced by the natural pattern and texture of the hair. Locs are often left to hang freely or styled in simpler, more natural-looking ways.
Both dreads and locs hold cultural significance and are associated with different communities and historical contexts.
Dreads: Dreads have historical and cultural ties to various civilizations and spiritual practices. They have been associated with ancient Egyptian, Indian, and Greek cultures. In modern times, dreads have become a symbol of rebellion, counterculture movements, and individuality.
Locs: Locs are deeply rooted in Rastafarian culture, which emerged in Jamaica in the 1930s. Locs are seen as a natural and unaltered hairstyle that represents African heritage, spirituality, and resistance to societal norms. Locs are often associated with reggae music and the teachings of Marcus Garvey.
Understanding these key differences between dreads and locs can help you make an informed decision about which hairstyle aligns better with your personal style, maintenance preferences, and cultural values. Whether you choose dreads or locs, both styles celebrate the beauty and diversity of natural hair and offer a unique and meaningful way to express your identity.
How to Maintain Locs
Locs require minimal maintenance, but they still need to be cared for properly to ensure they remain healthy and strong. Here are some tips for maintaining locs:
- Wash regularly: While locs don’t need to be washed as frequently as other styles, they still require regular washing to keep them clean and healthy. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner to prevent dryness and breakage.
- Keep them moisturized: Locs can become dry and brittle over time, so it’s essential to keep them moisturized. Use a leave-in conditioner or oil to keep them soft and hydrated.
- Avoid over-manipulation: While locs can be styled in various ways, it’s essential to avoid over-manipulating them. Excessive twisting, braiding, or pulling can lead to breakage and damage.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for maintaining healthy hair, including locs. Make sure to include plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals in your diet.
- Protect them while sleeping: Sleeping with a satin or silk scarf or pillowcase can help prevent breakage and maintain the shape of your locs.
How to Maintain Dreads
Dreads require more maintenance than locs, but with proper care, they can be worn for years. Here are some tips for maintaining dreadlocks:
- Wash regularly: Dreadlocks should be washed regularly to keep them clean and prevent matting. Use a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup and a moisturizing conditioner to keep them soft.
- Use a locking gel or wax: To maintain the shape of your dreadlocks and prevent them from unraveling, you can use a locking gel or wax. Be careful not to use too much, as it can cause buildup and make your dreads look greasy.
- Separate them regularly: As your dreadlocks grow, they can start to merge together, leading to matting and knotting. To prevent this, it’s important to separate them regularly, ideally every two to four weeks.
- Protect them while sleeping: Sleeping with a satin or silk scarf or pillowcase can help prevent breakage and maintain the shape of your dreadlocks.
- Be gentle when styling: Dreadlocks can be styled in various ways, but it’s important to be gentle when styling them. Avoid pulling or twisting them too tightly, as this can lead to breakage and damage.
History of Dreads and Locs
Dreads and locs have rich histories that span various cultures and time periods. These hairstyles have evolved over centuries and hold cultural significance for different communities around the world. Understanding the historical context of dreads and locs helps us appreciate their cultural importance and the meanings they carry today. Let’s explore the history of dreads and locs:
Dreads in History
The origins of dreadlocks can be traced back to ancient civilizations and cultures, where the hairstyle held different meanings and served various purposes.
Ancient Egypt: Dreads were worn by ancient Egyptians and were often associated with spirituality and religious practices. Priests in ancient Egyptian society would grow their hair long and let it lock and mat naturally, symbolizing their devotion to their deities.
India: Dreads have a long history in India and are closely linked to the religious sect of Sadhus. Sadhus are wandering ascetics who renounce worldly possessions and embrace a life of spirituality. Their long, matted dreadlocks symbolize their detachment from worldly concerns and serve as a reminder of their spiritual journey.
Greek Civilization: Ancient Greeks, particularly the Spartan warriors, were known to wear dreadlocks as a symbol of strength and power. The Spartans believed that their dreadlocked hair would intimidate their enemies in battle.
Rastafarian Movement: In more recent times, dreads gained significant visibility and cultural importance through the Rastafarian movement. The Rastafari religion originated in Jamaica in the 1930s and emerged as a social and spiritual movement. Rastafarians embraced dreadlocks as a symbol of their African identity, resistance to Western societal norms, and connection to their African roots. For Rastafarians, dreadlocks represent natural, unaltered hair and serve as a visible sign of their faith and commitment to their beliefs.
The popularity of dreadlocks expanded beyond religious and cultural contexts and became associated with counterculture movements, rebellion, and individuality. In the 1970s, the reggae music scene, particularly artists like Bob Marley, helped popularize the hairstyle and its association with Rastafarian culture.
Locs in History
Locs, similar to dreads, have a historical significance deeply rooted in cultural and social contexts.
Ancient Africa: Locs can be traced back to ancient African civilizations, where they were commonly worn by different ethnic groups. Locs were a practical hairstyle in many African societies, as they provided a way to manage and protect natural hair from the elements. They were also associated with cultural identity, spirituality, and social status.
Rastafarian Movement: Locs gained prominence in modern history through the Rastafarian movement. Rastafarians embraced locs as a way to express their African heritage, reject Western beauty standards, and promote self-acceptance and naturalness. Locs became an integral part of Rastafarian identity, reflecting their philosophy of living in harmony with nature and resisting oppressive systems.
The influence of Rastafarian culture, along with the rise of reggae music and the global spread of Jamaican culture, contributed to the popularity of locs as a distinct hairstyle with its own cultural significance.
Today, dreads and locs continue to hold cultural and personal significance for individuals around the world. They are celebrated as symbols of self-expression, cultural identity, and natural beauty.
Dreads and locs have also sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and discrimination. In some societies, individuals with dreads or locs have faced prejudice and biases in professional settings or have been subjected to discriminatory practices. Advocacy efforts continue to challenge these biases and promote understanding and acceptance of diverse hairstyles and cultural practices.
Dreads and locs have a long and diverse history that stretches across continents and cultures. From ancient civilizations to modern-day movements, these hairstyles have symbolized spirituality, cultural identity, resistance, and self-expression. Understanding the historical significance of dreads and locs helps us appreciate their cultural importance and fosters a deeper understanding of their meanings in today’s world.
In conclusion, dreads and locs are distinctive hairstyles with their own histories, creation methods, maintenance routines, and cultural significance. Dreads offer a more stylized and manipulated look, while locs embrace a natural and unaltered aesthetic. By understanding the differences between dreads and locs, you can choose a hairstyle that aligns with your personal style, cultural identity, and lifestyle. Whichever path you choose, both styles celebrate the beauty and diversity of natural hair, empowering individuals to express their unique selves.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Why are locs called dreads?
The term “dreadlocks” is believed to have originated from the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica, where the hairstyle is seen as a symbol of spirituality and resistance to oppression. The word “dread” was used to describe the way that non-Rastafarians viewed the hairstyle with fear and confusion.
What is the difference between locs, dreads, and twists?
Locs and dreads are similar in that they involve matting and twisting the hair, but locs are created intentionally, while dreads can form naturally or be created through backcombing and twisting. Twists, on the other hand, involve twisting sections of hair around each other to create a rope-like texture, but do not involve matting or locking the hair.
Are locs permanent?
Locs are a semi-permanent hairstyle, meaning that they can be removed if desired, but they can also last for many years if properly maintained.
Are locs actual hair?
Yes, locs are created by matting and twisting strands of hair together. They are a natural hairstyle and are often worn as a way to celebrate and embrace natural hair texture.
Do dreadlocks smell?
Like any hairstyle, dreadlocks can develop an odor if not properly maintained. Regular washing and use of natural hair products can help prevent unpleasant odors from developing.
Are locs better than braids?
The choice between locs and braids is a personal one and depends on individual preferences and hair type. Both styles offer unique benefits and can be worn in a variety of ways.
Are dreadlocks natural?
Dreadlocks can form naturally if the hair is left to mat and tangle over time. However, many people choose to create dreadlocks intentionally by backcombing and twisting the hair.
Are dreadlocks religious?
While dreadlocks are often associated with Rastafarianism and other spiritual movements, they are not inherently religious. Many people choose to wear dreadlocks for cultural or personal reasons, rather than religious ones.