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What is the Different between Dreadlock and Locs?

  • 5 min read

What is the Different between Dreadlock and Locs?

Knowing the differences between locs and dreadlocks means knowing their meaning, origin, culture and dissimilar hair looks. People mainly consider the matted hair as "dreads", which were left to grow out with a bit of care, but in reality, dreadlocks often hold spiritual meaning. So, here we are to help you differentiate between locs and dreadlocks. Continue scrolling and learn more about the differences and origin of these two. 

What are Locs?

Locs is an African hairstyle that contains hair strands ha have been coiled, twisted, braided, or palm-rolled to get a rope-like appearance. The hairstyle originated from people of different cultures and nationalities. It has deep roots with Hindus and Israelites who have worn locs in the past. 

Locs can be easily created on African or Nubia hair because they are already curly and hold moisture for a long time, resulting in the hair's locking. It is an artificial hairstyle that hair professionals mainly create. Once the hair is locked, it isn't easy to unlock the hair. 

One thing that makes them unique is that the roots of the locs are well-defined, unlike the dreads, which are merged. This characteristic is most beneficial in their differentiation from dreads, wicks, and other similar hair looks. Further, this factor significantly impacts the different hair looks and hairstyles. 

What are Dreadlocks?

Dreadlock is a hairstyle in which the average hair is sculpted into ropes using different tools and techniques. The hairstyle gained popularity during the commercial evolution of Reggie's music. The dreadlocks have merged roots on the scalp, which are less defined and cannot be segmented easily. 

History reveals that when enslaved people were transported from Africa to other countries, they could not care for their hair properly. As a result, their hair became natural locs, and dreadlocks came into existence.

In Jamaican Rastafarian tradition, people started wearing dreadlocks in 1930, which influenced people all around the globe. With time, western culture opted for this hairstyle, and later, Africans and Nubians opted for dreadlocks as their hairstyle.

Names and Connotations

Dreadlocks emerged from the word "dread", which means respect. It has an extensive historical background with many cultures. There is a huge misinterpretation of the term "dread" as dreadful in American culture, but those who wear dreadlocks are traditionally seen as warriors in other nationalities.

The dreadlocks are still called as the hair of slaves whose hair had locked naturally due to a lack of hair care during their journey. In pre-Columbian America, Africa and Oceania, dreadlocks were used as a social symbol associated with shamanism. The hairstyle represented a spirit realm and a symbol of strength for warriors and chiefs. 

In American culture, people have problems with hairstyle names such as dreads or dreadlocks. "Rasta" is another term used for dreads referring to its Jamaican roots. 

Whereas the locs originated as a sign of respect for their God. It stems from the ancient history of Greece and people of other cultures, such as Hindus and Israelites. Rastas in Jamaica were known to wear locs as a way of life instead of a hairstyle. 

Similarities among Locs and Dreadlocks

Although the locs and dreadlocks are entirely different in terms of history, culture and perception of the hair look. Along with so many differences, there are some similarities between these two hairstyles that make people confused between these two. Here are some common things between locs and dreadlocks: 


One of the most common things about these hairstyles is that both locs and dreads are both unique hairstyles in their way. Dreadlocks and locks are easy to make with some simple techniques. Apart from other traditional hairstyles, these two give you a different and bold look that differentiates you from other individuals. Depending upon your style and personality, you can transform the locs and dreads by braiding hairstyles and other methods. 

In addition, both are easy to make and maintain by following basic tips in washing, covering, and combing locs. One of the drawbacks of choosing the locs or dreadlocks is that you need to be patient, as it is a lifetime commitment to your hair. Plus, you must follow some essential hair care tips to keep their uniqueness intact. 

Last long:

The hairstyles are long-lasting. Both locs and dreadlocks can be installed in hair. They have different growth phases, including teen, maturation, and more. Once the locs grow and mature, the locs stay for many years. If you choose to unlock the dreads, it still takes months to years to disappear the locking patterns. 

Versatile styling options:

Both hairstyles come with a variety of styling hair. Depending upon your style and comfort. You can style these locs. If you have long hair locs, you can go for ponytails, Bantu knots, and braids. But, if you like short hair locs, you can easily style the locs by coloring them or highlighting a few locs.

Major Differences between Locs and Dreadlocks

So, now you may be wondering what the differences are between dreadlocks and locs. Dreads and locs are differentiated as one is a hairstyle while the other is a lifestyle. 

Locs have a tidy look as compared to dreadlocks. With more defined roots, locs look neat and well-kept. Amazingly, both dreadlocks and locks don't need to be only for natural hair. Dreadlock extensions are available in the market ha can be added to natural hair. Furthermore, some significant differences make them unique in their ways. 

1: Physical appearance

Although locs and dreadlocks appear the same from a distance, a professional can easily differentiate between them. Locs are cultivated, whereas dreadlocks develop naturally. Physically locks are thinner and tidier than dreadlocks which are thicker and have an untidy appearance in the beginning. 

Dreadlocks grow with time and allow you to change your lifestyle according to hair care and maintenance demands. For instance, to grow mature and soft dreadlocks, you will have to cover and moisturize them. 

2: Spiritual beliefs

Due to the slave trade's historical background, dreads have a negative impact that implies unkempt hair. On the other hand, locs are thought to be grown intentionally, belonging to those of African descent. 

3: Roots

Locs have more defined locks that make them appear as well-maintained hairstyles. But dreadlocks come with merged roots, which give them a messy look. Additionally, both looks can be carried with different hairstyles depending upon the length, thickness and patterns of hair strands. 


To summarize, you may now know the significant differences and similarities between locs and dreadlocks. Locs and dreadlocks have different histories, cultures and practices in the past. Nowadays, with the influence of social media, locs and dreadlocks are considered the same. Adding loc extensions and the latest locs installation techniques have erased the differences between locs and dreadlocks. 

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