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Hair Locks And Dreadlocks - The Differences

I always believe in giving credit where credit is due.  For this topic I draw on my time at Velma B's Beauty Academy where I attended.

I loved my time at Velma B's so much.  Velma B's is a cosmetology college but offers a specialty in natural hair care, braiding, locks and other similar hair styling techniques.  My original goal in attending Velma B's Beauty College was to learn about braiding.

(Image of Whoopi Goldberg wearing Hair Locks - Nickelodeon's 19th Annual Kids' Choice Awards Arrivals - 04-01-06 - - All Rights Reserved).

While I was there I picked up some info on locking and traditional natural hairstyles.

Also, one of my all time favorite books is Everything You Need To Know About Hairlocking - Dread, African & Nubian Locks - by Nekhena Evans.  Awesome book and so informative.  Every time I reread this book I get even more inspiration.

Please note: While this books does provide lots of great information about misconceptions about hairlocking, it's not a HowTo or Instructional Manual.  For more information on HowTo books refer to and read all appropriate reviews of similar Hair Lock and Dreadlock books.

(Image of Chris Barnes wearing Dreadlocks - Courtesy of Wikipedia).

One of the errors that exist is the understanding of the difference between hair locks and dreadlocks.  There are a lot of misconceptions about the similar hairstyles.

Africans have been wearing hair locks, or locks, since the beginning of time.  As Nekhena points out, the Massai tribe of Tanzania are a perfect example of the locked hair tradition.

In fact, some of the best braiders who would visit Velma B's from time to time came from Africa to study other braiding techniques.  They were amazing in their knowledge, as well as seemingly having a natural talent for braiding and coiling.

Although hair locks were created in African tribes back in antiquity, the Rastafarians adopted the African tribe hair traditions helping to maintain and encourage the African hair traditions.  No, the Rastafarians did not invent locking hair but they did take the knowledge and spread it, keeping it alive and revered.

So what is the key different between hair locks and dreadlocks besides where they originated?  Nekhena, in her book,  explains the difference as "superficial".  She notes the differences can be as simple as "dreadlocks are organic" and "African Locks are cultivated".

What they both do have in common is that they are 100% natural, chemical free and rooted in a goal for achieving a sense of purity.  Whether it religious like in the case of some of the Rastafarians or the goal to show pride in hair in its natural state which is sometimes behind Hair Locks, the bottom line is that the goals are to allow the hair to be free.

Actually there are a myriad of reasons for people to adopt either hair locks or dreadlocks and these reasons can range from hard core spiritual and religious reasons or cultural pride to wanting to be fashionable or ease of hair care.  I could list all the possible reasons but I'm sure I would miss some and are the reasons really all that important?  I think not.

This goes back to feeling good about yourself and having the freedom to wear your hair in a manner that makes you feel fabulous.

One thing I learned at Velma B's about hair locking is the tradition for ornamenting the hair which has always been an important aspect of the African culture.

Nekhena explains in her book that the African culture believes in the importance of sharing time and positive energy while grooming and adorning the hair.

Another key distinction between hair locks and dreadlocks is that hair locks are cultivated and Dreadlocks are not, which may be part of the misconception some uniformed people have about the slightly similar hairstyles.

At Velma B's I was allowed to assist with the creation of locks and coils.  It was a fascinating experience but extremely time consuming.  Creating coils or locks involves carefully parting every section of the head and picking up the same amount of hair, applying the appropriate styling product and then using a special comb to coil the hair into a perfect formation.

I was in awe the first time I experienced the process.  To tell you the truth, I wish I had the option to spend even more time taking cosmetology classes.  If I could, I would be planted back at Velma B's sucking up as much information as I could.

It should also be noted the the creation of dreadlocks is different than the creation of locks.  Whereas locks are created to be very neat and tidy, when dreadlocks are started in a salon with a dread perm or backcombing, or similar techniques, the goal is to rough the hair up as much as possible to create specific dread textures.

For additional information about hair locks and dreadlocks refer to:


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