The great thing about starting and maintaining dreadlocks is that there isn’t just one way to do it. Your hair type, length, thickness, and overall goal for its appearance all determine how you start and maintain your unique and beautiful locs. Interlocking is a controversial method that can start your locs and maintain them later. There is some debate about whether or not it is safe for locs. But here, we will discuss how to interlock dreadlocks, its benefits and drawbacks, and why some locticians promote it.
What is Interlocking?
Interlocking, also called latch-hooking or root-flipping, is a method of knotting the hair to start locs and maintaining tidy roots after your locs have formed. It requires that you pull the ends of your hair or your dreadlock through the roots of the section. This is pulled gently through and tightened, and it follows a four-point interlocking pattern. The hair is pulled through the roots in these four directions - north, west, south, and east. This method creates tight knotting that can’t be reversed.
While interlocking can be done on any hair type, it is particularly effective for finer hair that may take a long time to lock on its own.
There is a little confusion around the terms crocheting and interlocking. If you go into a loctician’s salon, you may ask for crocheting and instead get interlocking. This is because some professionals use a latch-hook for both. So you’ll have to be specific in your request.
Why Professionals Use Interlocking
Many loc care professionals swear by interlocking, and here are some of the reasons they do.
- It is a quick method for maintaining tidy roots.
- It is easy to perform. No special skills are required.
- This method works with kinky and non-kinky hair types.
- The hair can’t unravel with this method, keeping the roots tight.
- The results are immediate.
Interlocking to Start New Locs
Interlocking may be used to begin your locs. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, it can be the way to get the look of locs immediately while you wait for your hair to loc on its own.
Your loose hair is repeatedly interlocked from the ends to the root until the whole length is eventually knotted. This may be a long process, or it may be quick - depending on your hair. Over a couple of years, this will lock naturally and begin to look like mature locs.
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Interlocking for Maintenance
As your hair grows, interlocking is an effective method of tightening the new growth to the scalp in a way that won’t unravel like retwisting. You can do it with your fingers or specialized tools.
Related: How to Get Your Locs Thicker
The Tools for Interlocking
You can use several tools for interlocking.
Though these tools vary in style, they all do the same thing. The end of the loc is secured in the hook or the loop, and then gently pulled through the middle of the new growth. If you’re careful, you can even use your fingers to produce the same result.
The Benefits of Interlocking
- It is easy to learn to interlock.
- It works well for all hair types, including softer and straighter hair.
- Interlocking holds even when you sweat or wash your locs - unlike retwisting.
- The locs produced by interlocking are uniform in appearance.
- You don’t have to use sticky products to achieve the needed result. This is great for avoiding product buildup in your locs.
- The result of interlocking can last a couple of months.
The Drawbacks of Interlocking
- Though the method is easy to learn, it is also easy to damage your locs at the root, causing severe breakage.
- Interlocking forms thinner, tighter locs than other methods.
- If you use hair products, the residue can buildup in the divots in the interlocking pattern.
- The pattern formed by interlocking isn’t a ‘true’ loc.
- Interlocking can create weak areas in your loc.
How Often to Interlock
How often to interlock your locs depends on how active you are and how fast your hair grows. But every six weeks to 3 months is a good guide.
Here are a few things you can do to keep your locs neat and extend the time between interlockings:
- If you can, limit activities that cause you to sweat in your scalp.
- When you go to bed, wrap your locs in a satin scarf or bonnet to keep it smooth and avoid friction while you sleep.
- Wear your locs in an up-do often.
- Avoid washing your locs more frequently than every two weeks.
- Don’t tighten your roots too much.
- If your scalp gets itchy, scratch it carefully.
Will Interlocking Hurt Your Scalp
The interlocking process entails slight pulling of the loc, the new growth, and stray hairs. So, it can be painful or uncomfortable if you have a sensitive scalp. Because interlocked hair can not be reversed, be careful not to pull it too tight. If you’re in a salon, pay close attention to how each loc feels as they do the interlocking. If it starts to feel tight, speak up. Otherwise, you will be stuck with uncomfortable tightness until your hair begins to grow out a bit. And that’s too long to have a sore scalp.
There is controversy around interlocking. Some people swear by it to start and maintain locs, while others think that it is the worst thing you can do to your locs. Both sides have good points. Ultimately, you will have to decide what’s best for your dreads. But if you do choose to interlock, learn to do it well. Research the things that can go wrong and avoid them. Above all, enjoy your beautiful locs as they grow into a creative expression of you.
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