Photo Courtesy of Gina

If you haven’t noticed faux locs have been everywhere over the past year and has quickly made their prominence as highly sought out protective style. However, many seem to confuse faux locs and loc extensions, sometimes using the term interchangeably. So, before you run to the nearest beauty supply store to pick up a few packs of Marley hair or go to a stylist, here is the full scoop on the difference.   

Faux locs

Faux locs are a temporary protective style similar to box braids whereas loc extensions are intended to be a permanent extension of your hair. Faux locs are installed by twisting or braiding the real hair and then wrapping additional hair around the shaft of the braid/twist. Usually installed with Marley hair, Kanekalon hair, or yarn, the wrapping technique creates the appearance of locs. This is temporary protective style similar to box braids whereas loc extensions are intended to be a permanent extension of your hair.

Loc extensions

Loc extensions on the other are more extensive, so I reached out to a professional to make sure all the correct details are provided. According to Paulette Anderson, owner of LocStar! Natural Hair Salon and Spa, loc extensions are installed with only human hair, and it is important that the density ratio of the attached hair matches the ratio density of the real hair growing from the scalp. Also, when properly done loc extensions can be left in permanently as the natural locs grow.

Which style is best for me?

Faux locs are great for those who want the appearance of locs without the permanent commitment. This style is also a great way to try a new protective style if you are going on vacation or have thought about getting permanent locs and want to test out the style first.

Loc extensions might be for you if you have always wanted locs but were hesitant to make a full commitment. Extensions will allow you to achieve your desired length immediately. These are also perfect for the person who has had a difficult time in the past transitioning from loose to locked hair. They are also great if you currently have locs that are damaged due to color or thinning.

How should loc extensions be maintained?

Maintaining your loc extensions mimics the real locking process. Maintenance is normally done every 2-4 weeks: cleansing the scalp, palm rolling the new growth, drying, hydrating, and then locking in moisture with a light oil. But, the best thing you can do is actually leave them alone.

“Although loc extensions are a quick fix for an immediate desired look, they still need to mat and intertwine just as if it was the customer’s real hair.” says Paulette. “Less is more, meaning the less the manipulation the better.”

Best practices for maintaining loc extensions, according to Paulette 

  • The first 3-4 months the focus should be on scalp health and hair growth. Keep the hair extremely clean with witch hazel, Sea Breeze, or a sulfate-free shampoo.
  • Use a spray bottle with water to keep the scalp hydrated and moisturize with conditioning spray like Amazing Botanicals Aloe Mint Spritzer, Obia Natural Hair Care Curl Hydration Spray, and LRC Hair Care Shake N Go. This is important after using extremely drying products like witch hazel and Sea Breeze.
  • Lock in moisture with light oils and cover the hair at night with satin scarf or bonnet. Try Amazing Botanical Blend Oil, Alikay Naturals Loc OilAlikay Naturals 17 Essentials Hair Growth Oil, vitamin E oil, argan oil, or jojoba oil.
  • After installation your stylist should do the first saturated shampoo around week 8. At this time the stylist is checking the progress of the matting and intertwining of the loc extensions and overall growth. By this time the new growth hair should now be able to start palm rolling, beginning the locking process on the client’s natural hair.

Finding a salon or stylist to install faux locs or loc extensions

Remember consultations are your best friend. Take time to really research the stylist to know if they are qualified and trained in performing these styles. Ask about past clients, look for reviews, and pay attention to pictures.

“Although the faux loc and loc extension installation process is similar, just because a person can do faux locs doesn’t mean they understand the concept of properly installing permanent loc extensions.” – Paulette Anderson, Owner of Loc Star! Natural Hair and Spa

Be sure to seek out pictures of how the style looks after extended periods of time like after 6 months, 12 months, and over a year. Schedule a consultation and have the stylist demonstrate an install of at least one loc extension so that desired size, length, and look can be agreed upon.

What are your thoughts? Will you try either one of these styles?

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Charlene Walton

Charlene Walton, known on social media as @TexturedTalk, is a Dallas based blogger and lover of all things hair. After years of styling her and several friends' hair as a hobby, offering healthy maintenance tips, she decided to combine two of her favorite things...writing and talking about natural hair!

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