Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kari Williams
Loc extensions are becoming a more popular styling option. People are now able to experience a loc style without going through the locking process, which can take six months to a year. You can also wear locs without the commitment that is inherent with the style. When you are ready to change your look, you don’t have to cut your hair or spend weeks combing them out. You can simply remove the extension and transition to another fabulous style.  

Before installing loc extensions it is important to have information about how to properly prepare your hair, the process of creating the style, maintenance, and how to properly remove the style so that you do not damage your hair. Here are tips for the best overall experience starting from preparation to removal.

Read more: Watch How to Get Meagan Good's Goddess Faux Locs

1. How to prep your hair for success

Before going into any long term protective style, I highly recommend making sure your hair is in healthy condition. Wearing a protective style typically means you are not manipulating your hair, thoroughly cleansing your scalp, or infusing moisturizers and protein in your hair strands to prevent damage for at least four weeks. With loc extensions, your hair is completely wrapped and covered for at least eight weeks, leaving your hair strands vulnerable to matting, excessive dryness, and ultimately breakage when you take out the extensions.

To prevent this, you first want to thoroughly detangle your hair by removing all knots and matted areas. Next, thoroughly cleanse your hair and make sure you remove all dirt and buildup from the scalp. Follow up with a deep conditioner that will replenish the moisture balance in your hair strands and strengthen the hair. Last, seal the moisture into your hair with natural and essential oils. I recommend the AnnCarol Essentials line, which includes products formulated to establish a foundation for healthy hair.

2. How to install loc extensions

Creating loc extensions is a two-step process that can take 6-12 hr. based on the length and density of your hair, the size and length of the loc extensions that are being created, and the speed and technique of the technician. The base of the loc is first created with a braid, twist, or a combination of the two. Human or synthetic hair can be used. If you are interested in starting locs with loc extensions, human hair is recommended. After the base is installed, it is wrapped with more hair that completely covers the braid or twist and creates a cylinder shape that resembles an authentic loc. Locs created with synthetic hair can be heavy, so I do not recommend loc extensions that are longer than your shoulder blades. The weight of the extensions will make it difficult to style and can cause hair loss due to tension and traction. Wrapped correctly, the end of the loc will be sealed, but some stylists will burn the ends. Burning the ends can only be done with synthetic hair.

3. How to maintain your style

Maintaining loc extensions is very simple. The style can typically last 10-12 weeks. A touch up is highly recommended between 6-8 weeks. This involves taking out 2-3 rows of the loc extensions around the hairline and re-installing them. This will eliminate the hair loss and damage that can happen with the manipulation of the extensions around the hairline, especially as they get older. To keep the hair healthy while in the style, mist light oil on the scalp and hair. Refrain from using heavy greases, pomades, or cream conditioners on the hair because they will embed in the loc and create buildup and residue. To keep the scalp free of dirt and debris, use a clean cloth with witch hazel or sea breeze. If you need to shampoo your hair, I recommend going into the salon so that if any of the extensions come out they can be repaired immediately. Additionally, you must make sure the locs are completely dry to prevent mildew, so sit under a dryer for 30-60 min.

4. How to remove the extensions

Taking down loc extensions definitely requires assistance so that you do not cut your hair by accident or cause excessive breakage. Depending on how long you have worn the extensions, there will be a considerable amount of dirt that has accumulated at the point where the extension starts. This accumulation creates a matted section of hair that requires a lot of patience and the right product to properly detangle the hair. To eliminate excessive breakage and make it easier to detangle, massage AnnCarol Cleansing Conditioner into the matted section. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then gently start to separate the hair using your fingertips. If the area is really matted, use the end of a rat tail comb to slowly pick through the matted section. Make sure you are detangling each section of hair as you remove the extension. Do not shampoo your hair until the entire head is thoroughly detangled to avoid the risk of hair matting more.

This information will help you prepare to enjoy your loc extension style while preserving the health of your hair.