Think soft locs should be your next style? Learn everything you need to know about this trendy protective style in our guide. We’ve got cute examples, style and installation tips, and all the info you need to decide if faux locs’ boho sister style is the right look for you.
What Are Soft Locs?
- Soft locs are looser and offer more natural movement than faux locs
- Protective hairstyle that keeps natural hair healthy and strong
- Create tons of style options and looks with soft locs
Soft locs are the less-stiff, looser, and more freeform version of faux locs. Soft locs are done with pre-formed crochet faux locs wrapped with kinky, afro, or water wave hair extensions that take less time to install than traditional faux locs.
The result is a looser-looking, more freeform loc that feels softer than a faux loc and has more movement. Soft locs are the latest trend in protective styles for natural hair.
With this style, your natural strands are braided part-way down and enclosed inside each loc for protection from heat and other sources of damage. You also get the benefit of having ready-to-wear styles without worrying about adding products and styling your natural hair!
You have tons of options when it comes to rocking soft locs. From the type and color of hair you use to the styles and ways you wear them, you can make your locs as unique and individual as you are!
While crochet faux locs are the starting point, you can alter the finished look of your soft locs by using different types of extension hair to wrap them. Kinky, afro kinky, or water wave hair are the most popular choices for casual, freeform soft locs.
You can also switch things up by choosing hair extensions in different colors. Try natural colors, wrap in small sections of lighter hair for highlights, or use vibrant fantasy colors for a bolder style.
Once your soft locs are installed, you can wear them almost any way you’d style loose hair. From high ponytails and buns to loose braids and half-up styles, there’s no limit to what you can do with your locs!
Since this protective style can last anywhere from 4-6 weeks, you’ll get tons of enjoyment out of your soft locs and love how easy they make it to manage and protect your strands.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits to rocking trendy soft locs. After that, we’ll show you a few examples of different ways to style soft locs and share some helpful tips!
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The Benefits of Soft Locs
Soft locs have so many benefits and very few drawbacks. If you’re looking for a protective style that’s fashionable and won’t damage your hair, this is definitely one to consider. Here’s why.
Natural-Looking, Freeform Style
Soft locs aren’t stiff and rigid like faux locs. They’re softly textured since they’re wrapped with hair extensions and create a finished look similar to butterfly locs (with a slightly more polished/less loopy texture).
Since this style uses wrapped crochet faux locs, you get a more forgiving loc with lots of movement and no stiffness (especially when you rinse them with hot water initially). This helps soft locs act more like natural hair and less like rigid dreads.
You Can Wear Them for Weeks
We love a good soft loc because the style can last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks when cared for properly. Imagine a month or more of quick, easy styles and practically zero damage to your natural hair in the process!
While your soft locs are in, you can take additional steps to protect them and help them last as long as possible. Wrapping your locs while you sleep is essential!
Use a satin or silk bonnet for the best results. You can use small scissors to snip off frizzy pieces closer to the 6 week mark and try a little gel and leave-in conditioner to keep them looking fresh.
Read Next: How to Wear a Hair Bonnet in 2023
Amazing Damage Protection
Soft locs envelop your natural hair in crochet faux locs that are then wrapped with hair extensions. The only part of your natural hair that will still be exposed are your roots!
This means while you’re rocking this style, your natural hair will be totally shielded from damage from heat styling, chemical processing, UV rays, and snagging/breakage.
Universally Flattering Style
While tight, close-to-the-head protective styles like cornrows and Bantu knots do a great job protecting hair from damage, they don’t always look great on all face shapes. Soft locs are one of those rare protective styles that are universally flattering and genuinely look great on everyone.
Since these looser locs hang freely and can be styled in almost any way loose hair can, they’re a super-flattering style choice that will help you put your best features forward.
Quicker to Install
While other protective styles can take forever to get done, soft locs are a relatively quick install session by comparison – usually around 2 hours to 5 hours, depending on the length and how many locs you want.
Unlike faux locs, most stylists (professional and DIY) don’t start soft locs with full cornrows that take a lot of time. Instead, you can part and braid your hair in box braids that are woven a couple of inches down.
You can leave the rest of each braid undone since it’ll all be crocheted into the faux locs! Start with thicker box braids for fuller locs, or spend a little more time creating smaller partial braids for thinner locs.
The Disadvantages of Soft Locs
We wouldn’t lie to you and tell you there are no drawbacks to getting soft locs! While there are several important benefits, it’s good to know the potential downsides of getting this protective style.
Can Be Heavy and Create Tension
Soft locs use both crochet faux locs and a good amount of wrapping hair (usually 5-7 packs), they can get pretty heavy compared to faux locs. All that weight and heft clinging to your natural hair can create more tension on your scalp than other, lighter-weight protective styles.
If you’re trying to baby your hair and give it a break from tension to avoid breakage and snapping, soft locs may not be the right choice.
Take a Long Time to Dry
The additional wrapping hair used in soft locs not only makes them heavier when they’re dry, but can also make them a nightmare to wash or get wet.
All that extension hair and the faux locs underneath act like a sponge, absorbing water and holding onto it for hours. It takes a long time for soft locs to fully dry and that can make regular washing a pain.
May Be Stiff and Rigid at First
While soft locs are supposed to be the opposite of rigid faux locs, they don’t always start out soft and pliable. You might find that it takes your locs a few days to loosen up and adopt that freeform, moveable feel you’re after.
The good news is that rinsing your locs with hot water will instantly loosen them up a bit and make them more pliable, as will wearing styles that stretch and bend the locs (like buns and loose braids).
8 Pretty Soft Locs Styles to Try
Getting soft locs is just the beginning. Once you’re rocking this trendy look, you’ll be able to try so many different styles with them to create a variety of looks! From half-up casual styles to quick buns and loose braids, there’s no shortage of ways to style your soft locs. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Mid-back Auburn Soft Locs
Soft locs really lend themselves to longer lengths. Choosing a unique color for your locs will also make them stand out and can change up the look. We love how medium auburn tones look with a natural dark root, and opting for colored soft locs means you can leave your natural hair undamaged and healthy!
2. Wavy & Accessorized Soft Locs Updo
A lived-in texture is key for soft locs to take on their signature casual, freeform look. Waves, beads, and metallic threads accessorize these locs. Dress them up a bit with a half updo for a different style!
3. Loosely Braided Soft Locs With Spiral Highlights
When you’re wrapping your soft locs, using a lighter color as a highlight is a pretty way to make yours look unique. Here, a dark caramel blonde color is wrapped around a few locs to create a hypnotic spiral pattern. Try loosely braiding your locs in a single 3-strand braid for a cute, everyday look.
4. Wavy Short Soft Locs
Shorter soft locs are more lightweight and less of a hassle to style and manage. With that casual wavy texture and tapered length that creates a stair step look that keeps the style relatively polished.
5. Half-Up Messy Braid Soft Locs
When you first get soft locs, they might be sort of stiff like the locs above. Warm water will loosen them up to take on a more freeform look, and wearing them for a few days will further loosen that texture. Try a half-up messy braid like this for a cute way to style brand-new soft locs!
6. Chunky Magenta Soft Locs With Open Ends
Want your soft locs to make a bold statement? Opt for a thicker, chunkier loc size and use a vibrant fantasy color like magenta! You can’t beat open ends if you’re going for a carefree, casual look for your locs.
7. Half-Up Soft Locs Top Knot
This is a great way to start loosening up new soft locs to help them adopt a wavier, looser texture. Gather the top half into a high ponytail and wrap it around the base to form a quick top knot. It’s a pretty style and a great way to wear new soft locs when you want to show them off, but keep your hair out of your face!
8. Loose Soft Locs Side Braid
Weaving your soft locs into a loose, chunky side braid is another easy and cute style option. This look creates a really interesting texture with tons of smaller locs woven into a larger braid pattern. Pop on a pretty hat and you’re instantly chic.
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Soft Locs Tips and Things to Consider
What else should you know about soft locs and making this protective style work for you? Take a look at some of the helpful tips and considerations to keep in mind below.
- Loosen up your locs with hot water. Freshly done soft locs aren’t always so soft. To make brand-new locs a little more pliable, you can do a quick hot water rinse. Rinse your scalp and the full length of your locs and make sure to dry them fully (pat – never rub – with a towel).
- Make sure to use the right wrapping hair. After installing your crochet faux locs, you’ll be wrapping them with extension hair to get the casual, slightly-messy soft loc look. You want kinky, afro kinky, or water wave/bohemian curl hair to create the right loose and freeform texture for your locs.
- Don’t try to wear them longer than 2 months. If your locs are still looking good after the 6-week mark, you may be able to wear them for as long as 8 weeks. But don’t try to keep the style longer than that! Since these locs are heavy and can create more tension on your scalp, the longer you wear them, the more damage you can do to your natural hair.
- Wear a shower cap in the shower. Unless you’re doing an intentional scalp scrub and wash, you should make sure you’re covering your soft locs in the shower. Getting them wet will make them very heavy and can cause the faux locs to slip down the hair and reveal more of your roots.
- Sleep in a satin bonnet. Soft locs will frizz up and tangle if you try to sleep without a bonnet. A silk or satin bonnet provides a slippery surface for your locs to glide against, unlike a scratchy cotton pillowcase. Satin pillowcases can work for some styles, but you’ll want to keep these locs fully contained in a bonnet for the longest-lasting results.
If you’ve had your eye on trendy soft locs and want to give them a try, you have every reason to do it! They’re universally flattering, easy on your hair (when you wear them for 2 months or less), quicker to install, and have such a beautifully loose and pliable texture.
They’re not without disadvantages – they can be heavy with all the hair used in the style, can lead to damage and breakage if worn too long, and may take a little time (or hot water) to loosen up.
But overall, this is one of the best protective styles you can get if you’re looking for a feminine, boho texture that balances chic with casual.
We think you’ll love the way you look with soft locs, but if you’re not 100% sold on this style, you have tons of other options. Read about other styles like goddess locs, butterfly locs, and cute natural hairstyles – these are just the beginning of all the possibilities for your strands!