The Very Real Appeal of Faux Locs

Everything you need to know about the ideal protective style for the commitment-averse.

The Very Real Appeal of Faux Locs
Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Locs have always had an indelible air of cool. Several episodes into Hulu’s new series Conversations With Friends, I became so enamoured with star Sasha Lane’s locs that I found myself contemplating whether or not I could see myself sporting the style. I’ve tried just about every hairstyle, from blonde sew-ins to bangs to bobs to box braids—could locs be my new hair frontier? Perhaps, but it’s not something one should just dive into. Unlike some other hair choices, locs are meant to be a long-term commitment.

Once the style takes on its final form, or once the locs lock, they’re meant to stay put for the foreseeable future. It’s not uncommon for someone to keep their locs in for decades or even a lifetime, although they can still be combed out in some circumstances—it’s just not as easy as gliding a wide-tooth comb through them. When my cousin decided to comb out her waist-length locs after 10 years, the unravelling process took days. The other option for removal is to snip them off, which many choose to do when they’re ready to move on to another style.

Since neither of those options sound appealing to me, I’m drawn to faux locs—easy-to-apply extensions meant to mimic the appearance of dreadlocks—so that I can enjoy the look without the commitment. If the idea of non-committal locs piques your interest, read on for expert insight on all of your faux locs questions.

Conversations With Friends star Sasha Lane at a New York premiere.

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Lane at a Bottega show last fall.

Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Bottega Veneta

How Are Faux Locs Installed?

In the same way that traditional locs can be applied in different ways, faux locs can also invoke a few different techniques. First, you can use a crochet hook to fasten pre-made faux locs to a braided base—kind of similar to how you would install crochet braids, celebrity stylist Dhairius Thomas explains. “Another method is to box braid the entire head, then wrap each braid in synthetic Marley extensions or any kinky-textured hair of your choice,” he adds.

How Do I Maintain Faux Locs?

Like all natural styles, keeping your faux locs—and your hair underneath them—moisturized is key to preserving the style. “A refresher spray like Sunday II Sunday or the Roots Braid Sheen is great for faux locs, as it keeps them moisturized throughout the shaft of the loc but not too weighed down,” natural hair expert and StyleSeat hairstylist Erinn Courtney tells Coveteur. She recommends stocking up on coconut oil or jojoba to keep the scalp soothed while your faux locs are in. With proper care, Courtney says that faux locs can stay in for as long as eight to 10 weeks without causing damage.

Are Faux Locs Heavy?

Yes, faux locs can get heavy, but there are ways around that extra weight. “Using a lighter texture synthetic hair or human hair creates a more lightweight loc,” Courtney explains. “Being sure not to use too much hair is also key.” They can become particularly heavy when they’re wet, but Thomas says that a high, loose bun or pony on top of the head can ease the pressure. “My other suggestion is to flip your head upside-down, tie a head wrap or scarf around your locs, then flip your head up—this should also eliminate extra weight,” he advises.

Can Faux Locs Work on Any Texture?

Not quite. Faux locs might not be the best choice for those with finer hair. “The weight of all the added hair may pull and break more fragile hair,” Courtney says. This tension could also trigger bigger scalp issues, like traction alopecia, Thomas adds, so it’s important to get a thorough consult if you’re on the fence.

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