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Palm-rolling vs Interlocking: Dispelling myths about loc maintenance in 2022!


My new client had her hair locked about 1 year ago with comb coils, and received maintenance with palm-rolling every 4 weeks. In the interim she wore wigs, braids, and faux locs mainly due to her dissatisfaction with the progression of her loc journey. Since her locs were usually kept in protective styles, they matured at a slower pace, with comb coils still visible in about 1/3 of her locs. During our first meeting I explained that locs are very similar to plants; they need ample sunlight,  water, and nourishment. If a plant is denied any of those things they would not flourish. So I recommend that she discontinue protective styling and allow her locs to grow freely 🪴.

My client also expressed that she wanted to try a different method for loc maintenance that lasted longer than palm-rolling. After doing her own research she decided to try interlocking. Before I began the service I informed her about the advantages and disadvantages of both methods:

Palm-rolling produces a spongy and irregular shaped loc that expands in size over time.  Maintenance is usually recommend every 3-8 weeks.
Pros: the roots appear neater initially. It's great for clients who prefer to leave their hair styled until the next appointment. It's a widely accepted method for loc maintenance,  making it easier to find a loctician for this service .
Cons: the unlocked roots unravel when the hair is saturated in water. People with softer hair or looser curl patterns usually experience more slippage. Over twisting with too much tension can result in thinning, especially at the crown and perimeter. 

Interlocking produces a firm, relatively straight loc, that initially resembles a braid.
Maintenance is usually recommend every 6-8 weeks. 
Pros: the roots remain manicured until there is newgrowth. The previously interlocked sections do not unravel even when saturated in water. The hair can be shampooed and conditioned often without a high probability of slippage. 
Cons: if done improperly (eg interlocking repeatedly in the same direction) or with too much tension, may result in holes in the locs and breakage at the roots, respectively.

Here comes the soapbox... 😩

There is quite a bit of misinformation online suggesting that palm-rolling is better or healthier for locs than interlocking, but its clear that there are major biases in the loc industry. Most stylists prefer to offer palm-rolling and I can definitely understand why... The appointments are typically shorter,  the stylist is able to multitask while the client is under the dryer, and the style looks more crisp👌🏾.  But when the client shampoos their hair at home they have to choose whether to leave the roots as is, or time their wash day at the moment when they need maintenance. For clients who need their hair to look "a certain way" for work, or need to clean their scalp often due to severe dandruff and/or other conditions, it may be difficult to manage their hair with palm-rolling. For such clients interlocking is a better solution. The stylist should be informed and experienced in both methods, to give their clients the opportunity to choose which option works best for their unique case.

I can admit that I do have a bias when it comes to loc maintenance.  I prefer to do interlocking because it actually lasts for my clients. They can delay maintenance until there is newgrowth, and they are free to take care of their scalp without worrying about the roots coming undone.  The decision to use one method over the other really just depends on the client's lifestyle and preference. Both methods are beneficial.

For my client the decision to continue her loc journey with interlocking was simple. After the service was complete she was satisfied with the overall appearance of her roots, and decided to wear her locs down for the first time 🥰. Before leaving she booked her next appointment for maintenance with interlocking. I will see her in 6 weeks 🤗.

Which method of loc maintenance do you prefer and why?

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  • I really appreciate the breakdown for palm roll and interlocking. It gave me a clear view on which direction I want to take. Thanks for clarifying that myth.

    • Sharon McC.
  • I’ve been following you for quite some time, and am really impressed with your knowledge and skills. I started my locs unintentionally from faux locs that were being used as a protective style. The texture of my hair is so curly and soft and after 3 months of the style, my hair started loc’n into the hair. I decided to leave it, and cut the faux locs away from my hair. I started off twisting and palm rolling, but honestly my hair is so soft, the new growth keeps slipping away from my loc. It’s frustrating me very badly. My locs are mature at this point since I started this journey in Dec 2019, but I’m honestly wondering if interlocking is a better choice for me. I hate wash day because my hair is curly at the roots, and if I don’t do anything with my locs after washing them, they become puffy curls. It doesn’t look great at all, just makes my hair look super full. Honestly, the palm rolling doesn’t appear to last long for me. It’s cute and neat, but too much slippage. Any advice?

    • NiCole JB
  • You are very right ma. I started with interlocking, then got a high brow dreadlocks salon where they use the palmrolling method. It was good at first cos it would stay for a month, but because I have very soft hair, things went haywire. I’m back to interlocking and it is better, plus palmrolling with time wouldn’t allow pin enter those places that have merged together, so it doesn’t allow for people to know that my hair is longer than it loos

    • Hannah