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Microlocs 101: Your Guide to Starting & Styling

Microlocs 101: Your Guide to Starting & Styling

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If you love the look of locs but prefer a slightly more delicate, lower-maintenance look, microlocs may be for you. Essentially tiny locs (about the width of a shoelace), microlocs offer gorgeous detail & voluminous shape.

If you’re considering trying out the microlocs, look no further! Read on to learn how to prepare your hair for microlocs, styling techniques & which loc products you should invest in.


How Do Microlocs Work?

Starting microlocs is similar to how regular locs begin, typically by twisting each strand of hair using a variety of products. That said, microlocs are created with more precision in a grid pattern (any grid pattern, as opposed to the perfectly symmetrical grid pattern used for sisterlocks). This creates a detailed look while also allowing you freedom when it comes to parting your hair & adding volume wherever you’d like.

Any locs installation technique can be used to create microlocs—braiding, twisting, coiling, or palm-rolling each strand of hair. (Meanwhile, an interlocking tool is typically used for sisterlocks.) 

Microlocs are visually stunning—they’re the queen of dimension & detail—& are relatively easy to maintain. They can be done by yourself or a professional, & the process can be split up over a few days to slot into your schedule. 


Preparing Your Natural Hair for Microlocs

When preparing your hair for microlocs installation, the first step is to deep condition your hair. About a week before your first appointment, use a deep conditioner, such as the PATTERN Intensive Conditioner, to add moisture & strength to your hair.

The night before or morning of your appointment, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo, such as the PATTERN Cleansing Shampoo, paired with a nourishing conditioner of your choice. Be sure to rinse out all the product before your appointment & arrive buildup-free. 

It’s also best to install microlocs on damp hair, so towel dry after washing & leave your hair a bit wet (or spray it with a spray bottle before beginning installation).

Be sure you’re comfortable & have a plan for how you’ll schedule the installation, as this style can take anywhere from a few days to a week. (Good things take time!) 


Step-by-Step Guide to Initiating Microlocs

Ready to install your microlocs? This hairstyle falls somewhere in between traditional locs & sisterlocks in terms of intricacy, so it’s up to you whether you make an appointment(s) with a professional or install your own microlocs at home. 

The DIY route means that scheduling your installation can be more flexible, while a professional will have experience with microlocs & can offer a variety of techniques for maintaining & styling locs.

If you’ve decided to DIY your microlocs installation, first prep your natural hair using the steps above, & then proceed with the following step-by-step process.


Step 1: Section Your Hair

Section your hair into as many pieces as you’d like. At least four is a good rule of thumb—microlocs are tiny by nature & you might be able to fit hundreds on your head within these smaller sections.

Secure each section with a hair tie. This way, you can always come back to work on the rest of your head at another time.

Next, detangle each section with a comb like the PATTERN Wide Tooth Comb, paired with our Detangling Nectar. Pro tip: If you start with a section in the back first, it’ll be easier to hide between sessions until your style is complete.


Step 2: Form Your Locs

Taking the end of a rattail comb, carefully create a small, even section, & divide the section into smaller microlocs. You can create any shape you like with your comb at the base of each loc (like square, round, pointed, or freeform).


Step 3: Braid or Twist

Carefully braid each microloc. Alternatively, you can split each microloc into two sections & twist them around each other. Over time, these tiny braids or twists will become matted, achieving the “locs” look.


Step 4: Repeat

When you finish your section, move on to the next one until you’ve completed your entire head. Don’t forget, it’s completely fine to take breaks or complete your locs over a few days. Your microlocs will likely take a few hours—be patient & trust the process!


Understanding the Maintenance Routine for Microlocs

In the coming days, be gentle with your starter locs. Don’t overwash them, use minimal product on your hair & redo any braids that come undone (but try to limit your fidgeting with the locs otherwise).

Once your microlocs are in place, for the most part, maintaining them should look similar to your natural hair routine. Wash your hair on the same schedule. Sleep with a silk or satin bonnet, scarf, or pillowcase to prevent unwanted frizz & breakage. The PATTERN Satin Cap is a must-have for ensuring your curls look as fresh as the night before. Then, while you won’t have to detangle your hair much, be sure to prevent your locs from clumping together by gently unraveling them & re-wrapping stray hairs around their designated loc.

As your hair grows, you’ll need to retwist some locs. Do this immediately after a wash & dry using the PATTERN Curl Gel. Simply unravel & retwist the entire loc, incorporating your new hair, & then pin it to your head, allowing it to hold its shape as your hair dries.


Essential Products for Healthy Microlocs

There are several protective hair products that will be your best friend in helping maintain your locs. You’ll likely need similar products to the ones you used on your natural hair (like leave-in conditioner or gel), but use them a bit more sparingly to prevent any excess buildup.

Additionally, it’s smart to invest in some products for braiding natural hair, such as pins or a wide-tooth comb, whether you’re using them for your initial DIY installation or for retwisting your textured hair as it grows.

Of course, keeping your locs healthy means keeping your hair healthy. So make sure to invest in products that help add moisture & nutrients from root to tip. Loc products like our Scalp Serum, Leave-In Conditioner & Deep Scalp Detox can be used to keep your locs fresh & clean without the buildup of visible residue, while locking in moisture. 

The best way to ensure your microlocs hairstyle has plenty of dimension & volume is by caring for your scalp. Pay attention to your roots & invest in a scalp serum or oil. Keep your hair washed & moisturized with a cleansing shampoo & lightweight conditioner, & tame & secure locs by palm-rolling them with a product like the PATTERN Styling Cream.


Styling Techniques for Versatile Microlocs

Styling your locs is all part of the fun! There are so many versatile hairstyles available to you with microlocs. With your products on hand to style & shape, form your locs into any style you like & enjoy the instant, intricate detail.

Some of our favorites? We’re so glad you asked: 

  • Top-knot
  • Half-up, half down
  • Space buns
  • High ponytail
  • Braided crown
  • Pinned up to one side

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Natural Hair Beneath Microlocs

It’s crucial to maintain healthy natural hair beneath your microlocs in order to prevent damage when you transition back after 4 to 8 weeks. Trim your locks about half an inch every two to three months & deep condition once a week to continue your healthy hair journey. 

Massage your scalp with a cleansing shampoo every 1 to 2 weeks (& consider co-washing between washes). You can also consider a hot oil treatment, like our Jojoba Oil Self-Heating Packs, to revive your scalp if it feels like it’s becoming especially dry beneath your locs.


Common Misconceptions about Microlocs Debunked

In the world of hair care, there are a couple of misconceptions about this specific loc style. We’re here to debunk those so you can feel empowered & excited to initiate, style & love your own! 


Misconception #1: Microlocs are the same as standard locs or sisterlocks

Reality: Microlocs are thinner & more intricate than standard locs, but don’t require the perfect grid system that even-thinner sisterlocks do. When comparing microlocs vs sisterlocks for your next look, just think about how much detail & structure you want in your hairstyle.


Misconception #2: Microlocs are permanent.

Reality: Microlocs can be removed at any time. They should be retwisted every 4 to 8 weeks, which invites refreshed creativity to the party. 


Misconception #3: You can’t style microlocs

Reality: Microlocs can be styled in a variety of ways. They add a beautiful intricacy & texture to many of the hairstyles you likely already wear.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, microlocs are a flexible & versatile hairstyle that can be installed or taken out at any time. You can rock your locs anywhere, anytime & they’re easier than other types of locs to initiate yourself at home.


Style Your Microlocs with PATTERN

Whether you’re new to microlocs or you’re ready for your 4-week refresh, PATTERN is your partner in healthy, heavenly locs of all kinds. From cleansing shampoo & lightweight conditioner to styling tools to scalp treatments, we got you covered throughout your entire locs journey.

Here at PATTERN, every product we make is designed to celebrate the beauty of natural, textured hair. We know your hair & how you style it is a key part of your personal expression—& we’re here to empower whatever that looks like. 

Ready to cherish your microlocs or other exquisite style? Take our curl quiz or shop our entire collection of locs products & join our community of thousands of people embracing their own joyful locs, too. 



Sources: 

  1. Penn State. The History of Natural Hair. https://sites.psu.edu/napturally/2019/01/24/the-history-of-natural-hair/
  2. DreadLab. Dreadlocks History. https://www.dreadlab.co.uk/pages/dreadlocks-history#:~:text=The%20first%20piece%20of%20written,basically%20the%20same%20as%20dreadlocks).
  3. Augustwife. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/2462974789690275/
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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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