Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hair Locks, Twists, and Coils

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hair Locks, Twists, and Coils

The decision to transition into a hair locks, twists and coils lifestyle can be very daunting. With that in mind, we ask one of the top natural haircare cosmetologists in the United States if they could help us answer the major questions most people have when they are considering the natural lifestyle. Airaina Griffith-Knight DPC has over 20 years’ experience in the natural hair industry. She’s created a list of the top 15 myths about hair locks, twists, and coils. In this article, Airaina guides us through the many misconceptions about natural hair and uses her expertise to steer you in the right direction.

1.) Water is an enemy to hair locks.

Water is only an enemy if you do not plan to twist them immediately. In the world of styling, there are two methods; wet and dry styling.  Locks are considered a wet hairstyle technique; since they are cultivated on damp hair. You apply products, apply the twisting method and allow it to dry. This drying form a hydrogen bond. Hydrogen bonds are broken by water, combing or brushing, therefore, refrain from wetting Locks if there is no chance of retwisting. Except in the case of free forming.

Locks Hairstyle with Hair Color

Stylist: Airaina Griffith-Knight / Salon: the LocksHouse / Model: Kyaire / Makeup: Deirdre Clay

2.) Locks can be combed out.

The longer the hair is locked, the more difficult it will be to dismantle the Lock. Especially if the proper technique of incorporating the shedding hair has been employed. Beware: once you get through detangling and dismantling of your Lock, understand your loose hair will be significantly shorter and still will need to be trimmed or in some cases cut. This is because Locks are formed by the hair your body loses naturally during its shedding phase.

3.) Locks and dreads are the same.

Locks and dreads are the same in word only: Dreadlock. Hair Locks find a reference in the Bible. They were referred to at least 3 places in the “good” book. The story of Solomon, Sampson, Nehemiah all speaks about Locks. Locks are simply gatherings or groups of curls that have begun to mesh together for some time. It is what hair will do naturally if left untouched, this is where the term free form comes from. The term Dread was added to Locks to denote how derogatory the hair appeared to the Europeans. Bob Marley coined the term Dreadlocks exclaiming to be the “Natty Dreadlock Rasta”.

Over the years Dreadlocks has lost its origins and been stuck with “Dread!”  Well, you tell me what’s Dreadful about a head full of healthy Locks. Locks have struggled to maintain its individuality and has even lost its “K” over the years in the effort resulting in Loc. I have even seen it spelled Lok also. Please, Lock is fine, it has roots that originate from hair belonging to a wooly bronze type person. So, it is proper to refer to them as Locks. To keep referring to Dreads is insulting to some.

4.) Honey makes Hair Locks stick.

This works only if Locks didn’t gain girth from your body’s natural shedding hair cycle. Honey is a very thick syrup with a high viscosity. Which means it can crystallize and block moisture out. Prolonged use of honey will cause Locks that will lackluster. The only thing honey is good for sticking because the nutrients it possesses will only benefit the shaft if it can get into the cortical layer. Which is good if you want your Locks to lay flat but who wants hair stuck to their head. I certainly don’t. I want hair that has hold but I also want volume and body.

Honey offers great benefits by being maybe a third or fourth ingredient in a product. There is no speeding up the Lock process! Take your time.  It will take at least 24 months to cultivate mature Locks. In which the locks will go through various stages of growth and development. It doesn’t matter whether you begin with Insta-locks, lock extensions, traditional or interlocking there is still a development process and it doesn’t matter honey or not, there will still be frizz.

Locks Hairstyle for Men

Stylist: Airaina Griffith-Knight / Salon: the LocksHouse / Model: Darren / Makeup: Deirdre Clay

5.) The smaller the braid or lock the more you can do with it.

This is only true if that is your desire. Although it’s the American way, everyone does not aspire or desire to be itty bitty or small. There are a lot of sizable things that are great. Size is a personal preference that doesn’t dictate whether a style will last longer or be more palatable. What helps make that determination is the craftsmanship of the work: Has the technician used scientific theories to construct the artwork,  ex. Is the stitch balance and taught, is there consistency, are the strands equal?

Also is there enough product to hold the work together, and whether the work can dry properly without mildew. The last characteristic to determine if work will last is based on the section: Is the size of the base enough to support the weight of the work. If the stem of the work is smaller than the base then the worker will appear spacey or gappy or if the stem is larger than the base, it will eventually lead to breakage.

 6.) Interlocked is the best Lock method if you want to have knots and lumps in the Lock.

Since interlocking is about taking a metal tool and crisscrossing strands of hair to form knots that are irremovable within a section of hair. It is hoped to form a lock. It is built on the myth that suggests you can instantly lock hair and that Locks are no more than knotted hair. A Lock is formed by encompassing the shedding hair and intertwining them into a cylindrical structure.

I tell people all the time I use interlocking as a band-aid. What do I mean? I mean if a lock is damaged, I can use the tool to mend or repair the lock so that it will begin to hold on to the shedding hair. One more interesting fact regarding the interlocking method. You must be careful not to use so many rotations as it will become too tight and cause tension alopecia. Be careful not to stay in a pattern that will offset the hanging of the Lock because when the clients try to style and lifts it off the base, there will be breakage.

7.) Metal clips keep the hair from unraveling but will cause breakage.

Metal is a conductor of heat. Placing a metal single or double prong clip on a wet head and turning on a dryer to high heat will begin to burn after about 10 minutes of direct heat. It is almost the same thing as taking a curling iron and holding it to the hair. If you continue this process, over time you will notice your lock will become thin. This is your hair burning off.

Maybe you have been subscribing to this practice and didn’t understand why your Lock was heavier towards the bottom and lighter towards the root. It is because the hair burnt out at the root but remains in the lock. Now you have it. Remember using metal clips is not a bad idea however you should allow for air drying. What we do at the LocksHouse if we must employ metal clips is air dry about five minutes for the bond to set. Remove the clips and escort the client to a hot dryer.

Check out our gallery of over 5,000 Black Hairstyles

8.)   You can instantly lock by using a tool.

Going in and out and back and forth will cause a mesh, but a mesh is not a Lock. A mesh is only the first step in the Locking process. The instant Lock that you create with that method will still need to develop to mature. The more mature a Lock becomes the more development that it has endured. If it goes thru a phase it carries that phase, for example, an instant Lock will have a customer going out of the door looking like their hair has been locked for at least 24 months however in 4 weeks they will have about a quarter to half-inch of new growth (keeping in mind that you leave about a quarter to half-inch of hair at the scalp).

When they come in for their first retwist: the hair is wet, (because retwisting is not done on dry hair) cleansed, conditioned, rinsed and retwisted. This fresh twist begins the first stage. A person should come back at least 3 times in three months to cultivate the Lock. So after six months, the Locks will enter the second phase meanwhile you still have the instant lock on the bottom portion, after 12-14 months you will have entered the third phase of “adulting” until the lock matures after the 24 months you will still have to maintain it.

The picture I am painting is that it is a process and that it is never instantly locked unless that mesh will serve as a base for free forming Locks, meaning it will never be cultivated only grown and split or Interlocked. Keep in mind, if you interlock them it will take on another characteristic altogether.

Twist Hairstyle with Hair Color

Stylist: Airaina Griffith-Knight / Salon: the LocksHouse / Model: Micaela / Makeup: Deirdre Clay

9.) Hair must be blow-dried before braiding.

If you want to result in tension alopecia. The process of blow-drying is to remove curl and moisture the more moisture you remove, the higher degree of curl you will remove from the hair. It is important to incorporate principles of elasticity to the construction and or science of braiding. According to elasticity, the hairs’ ability to stretch and return, wet hair stretches 50% of its length.

While dry hair only stretches one fourth its length. What this means for braiding is that if you are dried before beginning the process, once you construct the braid it will only get tighter thus promoting too much tension especially in the nape and or the hairline.  Whereas, if you were to leave some moisture in the hair, as the process concludes the style will dry at a higher comfort level and less stress on the hair.

10.) Textured hair must be dried before it’s cut.

This may cause split ends. Please cut curly hair wet! Cosmetology procedure recommends trainees to cut curly hair wet. The procedure instructs us to shampoo the hair, section the hair, part off, and cut. We are also mandated to have a water bottle handy to keep the hair wet as we move toward the front and top. The notion that natural hair must be blow-dried and pressed to see where it needs to be trimmed is a farse. A trained stylist can see the ends that need to be cut with the hair wet. Besides, you will create split ends by cutting dry hair!

11.) Every Lock must look the same.

This is only true if you are creating artificial Locks for aesthetics only. We are wondrously and miraculously created! There is not a lot of things about us that are symmetrical. Our follicles being one. The average head has different textures and that is dictated by the follicles. Some follicles are closer together producing sections with higher density.

Some follicles are slanted or shaped in such a way that the hair comes through curlier while some follicles are more rounded and the hair may come out straighter. With those facts present an explanation for various textures on a single scalp exist. If various textures exist, then it is impossible to produce the same size lock throughout the hair. If you where adding artificial hair and using the same strands for every single braid or faux lock, you will then expect to have aesthetically symmetrical braids.  

12.) I can’t Lock my hair because I get dandruff quick.

This may be true since the first stage can be a fasting stage. Traditionally the fasting allows the hair to mesh comfortably and I have also learned that it provides a mirror to what is going on within the body. Dandruff results from a sulfur deficiency. I have seen people correct this by adding more sulfur in their diet and by receiving sulfur rinses. Over the 22 years I have been practicing, I have seen a lot of conditions found just by fasting from shampooing. So while you have a lot of dandruff you can still Lock you just have to work extra hard on scalp care.

Locks Hairstyle for Kids

Stylist: Airaina Griffith-Knight / Salon: the LocksHouse / Model: Solari / Makeup: Deirdre Clay

13.)  I should oil my scalp and hair only during a hot oil treatment.

Oils should be applied warm to the hair and scalp, allow time for absorption of the minerals and vitamins to its source and then rinse the excess off. Coconut and olive oils are enriched with vitamins and minerals that the hair can benefit but are too heavy to remain for a prolonged period of time.  You may think that it is making your hair softer but what it does is causes the cuticle to lay flat to the cortex and medulla. When this occurs, it is impossible to get products inside the cortical layer, therefore the hair will begin to dry out. Are you one of those persons that used coconut oil and wondered why it seemed as though your hair has gotten resistant or that your scalp environment has changed and is drying out or producing more dandruff?

Chances are you have been misusing coconut oil. Coconut oil is cooking oil. It is full of benefits, but it is used with heat to change the texture of meat. What is the flesh? Exactly so it does what it was designed to do when temperatures are high, changes the scalp.  When it is cold though it hardens, so it moves from liquid to solid so then you know there are changes there also. For great hair and Locks please apply oils at a warmer temperature and cover with plastic, apply endothermic procedure or wear it around the house for a while and then rinse it away using warm water concluding with cool water to close the cuticle.

14.) Grease can be an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for the hair and scalp.

They are lighter on the scalp than oil. Parting, applying grease, and massaging the scalp is an excellent source of stimulation for the muscles beneath the scalp that promote hair growth. If you think about agriculture, the soil is a valuable source of nutrients for the crop. The hair and scalp share the same relationship and the grease can also protect the strands of hair. Brushing should also be combined within the relationship at a rate of 75 to 100 strokes a day. A grease, a brush, and our hand are an excellent conglomeration for sheen, nourishment, and luster.

15.) Cream-based products should not be used on locks.

Cream-based products could form buildup or have dull-looking Locks. Creams are designed to be massaged, rubbed or brushed in. Locked hair has many layers in its fabrics that prohibit the absorption of the cream into the strands. Typically, they sit on the structure of the Lock causing it to form a film that makes it look dull and only allows it to pile up. The creams are generally not water-soluble, so it forms debris and sediment deposits within the structure which causes it to look like a “dreadlock” with all sorts of white stuff imbedded in the shaft.

Conditioners are supposed to be protein fillers for strands of hair which cause them to be stronger and more resilient to prevent tangling and friction, it feeds the shaft by providing protein. Locks do not have this prerequisite.  You should be able to thoroughly nourish a Lock with a good hot oil treatment and it will be easier to remove the excess oil after the lock is fed.

Introducing Airania Griffith-Knight from The LocksHouse in Fayetteville, NC

Airaina Griffith-Knight is a professional cosmetologist located at The LocksHouse in Fayetteville, NC. She specializes in Locks, Twists, and Coils.

Airaina Griffith-Knight DPC has over 20 years’ experience in the Natural hair industry as a founder of Cosmetagriculture as a Licensed Cosmetologist. She was the catalyst for chartering the natural hair industry in Fayetteville, NC. In 1997 Airaina established the state’s first natural hair salon. In the early 2000’s she helped to create the first Natural Hair curriculum for adults taught at Fayetteville Technical community college also. Airaina was a Natural hair lobbyist for the Natural Hair Bill in the NC legislature. Since the late 90’s Airaina has been a local ambassador in making people feel good about how they look naturally. She is passionate about transposing beauty from within to address hair conditions such as Hair loss, texture, and growth.

Hair Locks, Twists, and Coils FAQ

Is water is an enemy to hair locks?

Water is only an enemy if you do not plan to twist them immediately. In the world of styling, there are two methods; wet and dry styling.  Locks are considered a wet hairstyle technique; since they are cultivated on damp hair.

Can locks be combed out?

The longer the hair is locked, the more difficult it will be to dismantle the Lock. Especially if the proper technique of incorporating the shedding hair has been employed.

Are locks and dreads the same?

Locks and dreads are the same in word only: Dreadlock. Hair Locks find a reference in the Bible. They were referred to at least 3 places in the “good” book. The story of Solomon, Sampson, Nehemiah all speaks about Locks. Locks are simply gatherings or groups of curls that have begun to mesh together for some time. It is what hair will do naturally if left untouched, this is where the term free form comes from. The term Dread was added to Locks to denote how derogatory the hair appeared to the Europeans. Bob Marley coined the term Dreadlocks exclaiming to be the “Natty Dreadlock Rasta”.

Over the years Dreadlocks has lost its origins and been stuck with “Dread!”  Well, you tell me what’s Dreadful about a head full of healthy Locks. Locks have struggled to maintain its individuality and has even lost its “K” over the years in the effort resulting in Loc. I have even seen it spelled Lok also. Please, Lock is fine, it has roots that originate from hair belonging to a wooly bronze type person. So, it is proper to refer to them as Locks. To keep referring to Dreads is insulting to some.

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