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Dreads Vs Locs – What’s The Difference?

Dreadlocks and locs often get interchanged with one another. But, if you look closely enough, there really are differences between the two – both in terms of style and meaning.

I’m going to share a comparison of dreads vs locks, to give you an idea of the differences between the two hair styles. So, keep on reading to find out all about dreads and locs…

Dreads Vs Locs - What's The Difference?

What Are Dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks, a traditional African hairstyle, consist of matted or locked strands of natural hair. This style can be traced back to ancient civilizations, but it has also become popular in Rastafarian tradition.

Dreadlocks can be worn by various ethnic groups, but they have a distinct cultural significance for people of African descent, especially since the days when enslaved people were transported to the Americas.

When you wear dreadlocks, your hair becomes locked or matted together, forming ropes or coils.

This can happen naturally or through intentional techniques such as twisting and rolling.

Deadlocks may appear unkempt and dirty, but with proper care and maintenance, they can look clean and neat.

Rastafarians, a religious movement that originated in Jamaica, have been known to use the term “dreads” to describe their locked hair.

This is because they view their natural, uncut hair as a symbol of their deep spiritual connection to their roots, their faith, and their resistance against oppressive forces.

They have vowed never to cut their hair, and many Rastafarians grow their dreadlocks long to honor this commitment.

Traditionally, those who wore dreadlocks, particularly among certain African tribes, were seen as warriors.

They embodied strength, courage, and a steadfast dedication to their beliefs and values. Today, dreadlocks continue to be a symbol of cultural pride, personal expression, and a connection to one’s roots.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Having Dreadlocks?

When considering a new hairstyle, you may be curious about the pros and cons of dreadlocks.

Dreadlocks are a popular style that can be achieved through various methods such as braiding, twisting, or coiling your hair.

The Rastafari movement, among other cultural and spiritual groups, has embraced this iconic style.

One significant advantage of dreadlocks is their durability. Your hair becomes tightly matted, making it more resistant to breakage and damage.

If your hair is thin or fragile, dreadlocks are an excellent option.

Dreadlocks promote hair growth and health by serving as a protective style with minimal wear and tear.

This locked style allows your hair to retain moisture, strength, and growth, since every strand is literally locked on your head.

Dreadlocks also give you a unique fashion statement that goes with your personal style. They can be versatile and adapted to various looks, making them suitable for both men and women.

Besides their stylish appearance, dreadlocks hold deep cultural and spiritual significance for many people. This connection can give your hairstyle an added layer of meaning.

However, there are also some downsides to dreadlocks. The term “dread” in the name can carry negative connotations, although the hairstyle itself has transcended these associations in many ways.

You may face possible judgment or prejudice based on the hairstyle, particularly in more conservative settings.

Keeping your dreadlocks neat and tidy requires proper hair care, which can be time-consuming. You’ll need to regularly wash and maintain your locs to ensure a clean and healthy scalp.

Combing or detangling your hair will not be an option once you choose to have dreadlocks, as the process forms knots within the hair strands.

If you decide to remove your dreadlocks, you’ll have to cut or painstakingly comb out your hair, which can be a lengthy and challenging process.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Having Locs?

What Are Locs?

Locs are a hairstyle that is created by intentionally manipulating your hair to create a series of uniform, matted sections.

They can be considered as a type of cultivated, natural locs that differ from dreads or dreadlocks in both their process and maintenance.

Locs are an African hairstyle that has gained popularity in American culture.

When creating locs, your hair is first divided into small sections. These sections are then twisted or interlocked to encourage the hair to mat together.

Over time, your hair will continue to mat and grow, forming locs. This process can be done on various hair textures and can result in a wide variety of different hairstyles.

Compared to dreadlocks, which can form through natural neglect or intentional techniques, locs require a more hands-on approach in terms of maintenance.

You will need to routinely retwist or palm roll your locs to ensure they maintain their uniform, locked appearance.

This maintenance is key in differentiating locs from dreadlocks, the latter often being associated with the Rastafarian movement and icon Bob Marley.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Having Locs?

When considering a new hairstyle, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons.

Locs, often associated with the Rastafari movement and Jamaican culture, are created through a structured and deliberate process of sectioning and twisting the hair to form rope-like strands.


  • Cultural significance: Locs have deep roots in Jamaican culture and the Rastafari movement, symbolizing a sense of identity and pride for those who wear them.
  • Low maintenance: Once your locs are well-established, they require less upkeep compared to some other hairstyles. No need for regular brushing or styling – just proper cleansing and occasional retightening will do.
  • Versatility: Locs offer various styling options, such as updos, ponytails, and braids. You can also experiment with different loc sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • Natural hair growth: Since locs are formed by twisting your natural hair, they promote healthy hair growth, reducing the need for harsh chemical processing or heat styling.


  • Commitment: Locs are a long-term hairstyle, requiring patience during the maturation process, which can take several months or longer. Removing locs can also be time-consuming and may require cutting your hair short.
  • Limited styling options: While locs offer some versatility, you may find your options more restricted compared to un-locked hair, as it can be challenging to achieve certain hairstyles or change the appearance of your locs frequently.
  • Potential hair damage: If locs are not properly maintained, they can become susceptible to hair damage, such as thinning, breakage, or scalp issues. Ensure you follow a proper care routine and consult with a professional if needed.
  • Social perception: Depending on your location and social environment, there may be stigma or stereotypes associated with locs. Be prepared to navigate potential questions or misconceptions from others.

Dreads Vs Locs – What Is The Difference Between Dreads And Locs?

Both dreads and locs are popular hairstyles worn by people of different backgrounds. However, there are key differences between these two hairstyles that you should be aware of before deciding on which one to choose.

Locs – also known as “dreadlocks” in some regions – are created through a more structured and deliberate process.

Your hair is sectioned and twisted or interlocked to encourage the formation of cylindrical or rope-like strands.

Locs tend to have a more uniform and maintained appearance due to the conscious effort put into their creation.

One of the major differences is that although locs require more maintenance, they form naturally on their own.

On the contrary, dreads require an alternative process for creation. Whereas dreadlocks begin with neatly sectioned and twisted hair, creating dreads involves backcombing or rolling hair into ropes.

This technique often results in a less uniform appearance, as individual sections need to be re-formed regularly to ensure even distribution and growth.

They are made up of several pieces individually attached.

To summarize the differences between the two hairstyles:

  • Locs are created through a structured process, while dreads use backcombing or rolling
  • Locs have a more uniform and maintained appearance, whereas dreadlocks have a looser, less consistent look
  • Creating and maintaining dreads requires more regular reformation of individual sections
  • Locs form naturally on their own, while dreads are made up of several pieces individually attached

The biggest difference between the two, though, is that one is simply a type of hairstyle (locs), while the other (dreads) may carry a significant religious or spiritual meaning behind it.

It is essential to be aware of that difference before deciding which hairstyle suits your personal style and beliefs best.

How To Tell The Difference Between Locs And Dreadlocks On Other People

How To Tell The Difference Between Locs And Dreadlocks On Other People

As you encounter people with varying hairstyles, you might wonder how to differentiate between locs and dreadlocks.

Both styles are unique, but knowing the differences will help you better understand and appreciate these expressive hairstyles.

To begin with, consider the roots of each hairstyle. Locs are cultivated and intentionally formed by sectioning hair into small parts and using various methods like palm rolling or interlocking to maintain their shape.

Locs are well-defined from root to tip and can be worn by people of any ethnicity or race. They are typically not associated with any specific religious beliefs.

Dreadlocks are directly linked to Rastafarianism, a religious movement with strong ties to reggae music and Jamaican culture.

Dreadlocks symbolize a connection to spiritual beliefs and serve to separate practitioners from mainstream society.

They are typically formed naturally over time with minimal intervention. Historically, dreadlocks can also be found in the hair of slaves whose hair had locked naturally due to the lack of care and moisture.

Keep in mind the following aspects to distinguish between locs and dreadlocks:

  • Cultivation: Locs are cultivated with specific techniques, while dreadlocks can form naturally or as a result of intentional neglect.
  • Roots: Locs usually have well-defined roots, whereas dreadlock roots can be less distinct.
  • Religious connections: Locs don’t typically carry religious significance, whereas dreadlocks are connected to Rastafarianism.
  • Cultural associations: Locs are a versatile hairstyle without specific cultural ties, while dreadlocks are linked to reggae and Jamaican culture, reflecting the roots of the Rastafari movement.

What Type of Hair is Best for Locs vs Dreadlocks?

When considering locs or dreadlocks as a hairstyle, it’s essential to understand that they can work for various hair types.

Locs are a cultivated hairstyle, often involving braiding, rolling, or backcombing with the goal of having neat, even strands.

This hairstyle is popular across different cultures and has evolved commercially, with many salons offering loc services to help you achieve and maintain the desired look.

Locs can be ideal for those with naturally textured hair, such as curly, kinky, or coily hair types. The locing process can help protect your hair from external elements and damage caused by heat or excessive styling.

Dreadlocks are more of a lifestyle than a mere hairstyle. The term “dreadlocks” often stems from Rastafarian beliefs, intending to separate believers from the rest of society.

Unlike locs, dreadlocks are not cultivated and are allowed to form with minimal interference.

Many people believe that the word “dreadlocks” refers to the dread or fear that they could instill in others due to their association with this cultural and spiritual movement.

Dreadlocks can work on a wide range of hair types, but they are best suited for those with naturally textured hair.

It’s easier for curly, kinky, and coily hair types to lock compared to straight hair because the hair’s texture provides a better grip for the strands to intertwine and form locks.

However, with patience and proper techniques, straight hair can also form dreadlocks.

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Dreadlocks and locs are two popular hairstyles that share some similarities but also have distinct differences.

Locs require a more hands-on approach for their creation and maintenance, usually involving a structured process of sectioning the hair and maintaining uniformity.

Dreadlocks are formed naturally or through intentional techniques like backcombing or rolling with minimal grooming.

Be aware of the roots behind these hairstyles and understand the cultural connections associated with them before deciding on one over another. Both dreads and locs work for different hair textures, although they’re easier to form in curly, kinky, or coily hair types.