Locs come in all shapes and sizes. While most people opt for medium-sized traditional locs, others prefer to keep things on the smaller side. Though you could go with small traditional locs, you should definitely consider microlocs or Sisterlocks!
Wondering what makes these two loc variations different?
Keep reading for a comparison of these two loc types and helpful tips to help you decide which type is right for you. Let’s get right into it!
What Are Microlocs?
Microlocs are a style created via comb coiling, braiding, twisting, or otherwise manipulating hair into dreads. These locs look similar to traditional locs, but what makes them unique is their small size, hence the term “micro.”
Microlocs are usually smaller than a #2 pencil but can be smaller. There are microlocs as thin as a string of yarn. There’s no defined parting grid or locking technique for this loc type.
When it comes to installing microlocs, you have a lot of options to choose from. You can get them by twisting your natural hair up in sections, making tiny braids, instant locking your hair, or more.
For more information on how to install microlocs, read this article.
No matter how you start your microlocs, one thing will be true: your starter locs will be extremely small. How small you want your locs to be is entirely up to you, but most people end up with more than 150 locs in total.
Pros and Cons of Microlocs
With that information in mind, there are some microloc pros and cons to be aware of before taking the leap, and we’ll go over them in this section to help you decide whether microlocs are your speed.
- Microlocs can be installed at home. As long as you can braid, twist, interlock, comb coil, or instant lock your own hair, you can do microlocs at home. Of course, there will be times when a given person will need to enlist the help of a professional. If you aren’t confident in your hairstyling abilities, you should consider going this route.
- Microlocs can be as cheap as you want them to be. Since you decide whether you want your locs started with comb coils, braids, twists, or otherwise, you have the power to keep costs down. All you need to do is choose a method you can start and maintain yourself at home. Then, you won’t have to shell out cash for professional starter locs or maintenance.
- Microlocs can be combined to create larger locs. Though, if you’ve never combined locs before and aren’t sure you’ll be able to do it correctly, we recommend contacting a stylist in your area for professional help.
- Microlocs aren’t as neat-looking as Sisterlocks. Since many people do their microlocs at home without any professional training, it’s common to see microlocs without a consistent grid pattern. This won’t be a con for everyone, but it will be for those who value part cleanliness.
- Microlocs run an elevated risk of damage. Since microlocs are usually an at-home project, they may result in more hair damage and bad hair days than professionally-maintained locs. This risk will not apply to everyone (some get their microlocs installed and maintained professionally), but the risk remains.
- Microlocs take a long time to install. The locs take 8 hours or more to install. In some cases, it can take days from start to finish.
What Are Sisterlocks?
Sisterlocks are a style composed of very small dreadlocks, but they’re not just any small dreadlocks. They’re created using a proprietary technique that’s only taught in a Sisterlocks certification class or boot camp and require a specialized Sisterlocking tool.
So, when you opt for Sisterlocks, you’ll go to a Sisterlock Consultant for the initial installation and required re-tightenings (to maintain your roots as they grow in).
When you go to get your Sisterlocks installed, you’ll go in to see your Sisterlocks consultant. They’ll cleanse, condition, and dry your natural hair before starting the locking process.
The locking process entails intricately parting and painstakingly locking your hair.
Getting Sisterlocks installed is incredibly time intensive. Since Sisterlocks are the smallest locs of all, you’ll be sitting in your Sisterlock Consultant’s chair for many hours.
Some people have to return to their stylist for several days to complete their installation. The longer your hair is, the longer your install will take. The process usually takes 12-24 hours or longer but varies widely based on how long your hair is.
After the initial install is complete, you’ll need to go back to a stylist to get what’s called a retightening, where they’ll Sisterlock your grown-out roots.
Pros and Cons of Sisterlocks
Sisterlocks have some very real benefits that keep people trying them out and coming back for retightening after retightening. But there are some very real drawbacks that drive people to other options, like microlocs.
Here are some of the pros and cons to know about:
- Sisterlocks are neat. Those who like neat locs will find that Sisterlocks are everything they’ve been looking for. The Sisterlocking technique results in super uniform locs free from bumps or irregularities.
- Sisterlocks are versatile. Being that Sisterlocks are so incredibly small, they almost take on the look of small clumps of curls. This means you get to style them however you’d like.
- Sisterlocks cost a pretty penny. The initial installation of Sisterlocks is usually several hundred dollars, and if your hair is long, you play much more than that. Some have paid well over a thousand dollars for their Sisterlocks. The cost can certainly be prohibitive, and on top of that, you’ve got to pay for periodic maintenance. Though these Sisterlock retightening appointments don’t happen often (every month or so), you’ll still have to tack on this cost.
- With Sisterlocks, you’re dependent on your Sisterlock Consultant. While some people like the idea of leaving their hair in the hands of a professional, the truth is that some Sisterlock Consultants just don’t know what they’re doing. Whether they never got the technique down or they forgot how to do it, sometimes mistakes are made during the initial installation or retightening. The client has to pay for those mistakes. Styles you create yourself often allow much more autonomy than Sisterlocks do.
- They are very much permanent. Once you get your Sisterlocks in, you won’t want to take them out, even if you hate them. They are so small that cutting your hair off will almost always be the best overall option.
Microlocs vs. Sisterlocks: A Quick Comparison
You’ve got a good idea of what both Sisterlocks and microlocs are. Now, it’s time to compare the two and help you choose which one is best for you.
How They’re Similar
Microlocs and Sisterlocks are similar in that they’re both variations of dreadlocks, and they’re both smaller than traditional locs.
In addition, they’re both considered to be non-freeform. You have to maintain your roots to ensure the style is adequately maintained over time.
How They’re Different
Microlocs and Sisterlocks are much more different than they are similar. Here are some of the most overt differences between the two:
- Microlocs can be created using various methods, and Sisterlocks are only created using a single proprietary method.
- You can do microlocs at home using the method you are most comfortable with, whereas you’ll have to go to a Sisterlocks Consultant to get authentic Sisterlocks done.
- Microlocs can be very affordable, especially if you start them at home. Sisterlocks are much more expensive. Most people cannot afford to get Sisterlocks installed.
- Microlocs are often larger than Sisterlocks, though some may make their microlocs as small as Sisterlocks on occasion.
- Sisterlocks don’t require you to use any hair product during installation or retightenings. That’s not the case with all microlocs.
Which Style Is Best for You?
We’ve come to the overarching question you likely have, “which loc type is best for you?” The answer to that question depends on your desires and budget.
At first glance, the hairstyles look alike, but Sisterlocks often look a bit more put-together than microlocs. If that’s important to you and you have the money available for installation and ongoing maintenance, go with Sisterlocks.
Go for microlocs if you’re looking for a loc variation you can do at home and maintain on your own. This loc type is also good for anyone strapped for cash.
So there you have it–everything you need to know about Sisterlocks and microlocs, what makes them different, and how to select the right loc variation for you. We hope you found this article to be helpful, and we wish you the best with your hair!
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care.