What Is The Difference Between Manicured And Freeform Locs?

In the world of locs, there are many styles and variations. It’s very difficult to put locs into a specific category because everyone’s locs are unique and nobody’s locs are exactly the same.

In this article, we’ll be looking at opposite ends of the loc spectrum. Freeform and Manicured. Please don’t let these titles allow you to overlook all of the variations of locs in the middle. It is possible to go through all of the levels of the loc spectrum in one journey.

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For example, you could start off with manicured locs then stop twisting and let them grow freely for the remainder of your journey. Many people often refer to these as semi-freeform locs.

So don’t look at it as freeform vs manicured, look at it as different levels of the loc spectrum that have significant differences.

What Style Locs Are TRU To You?



Manicured locs are formed by manual manipulation, such as twisting or interlocking.

If you have locs then you have probably came across a few YouTube Videos on “How to rewtist your locs”. Although some techniques may vary, the general concept is the same. Some people use gels, some use waxes, some just use water and oil.

The main concept of manicured locs is that you manipulate the “locking” process to make your locs the way that you want. You can manipulate the number of dreads you have, the thickness, the neatness, and the overall style.

The most attractive characteristic of this style is the instant dreadhead benefits. You don’t have to wait years for your hair to loc naturally through an organic process.

You could literally go into an appointment with a loctician having an afro and come out with locs. The reality is they should actually be considered twists until the sections that were separated becomes matted together officially creating locs.

This style of locs is great for people who have a particular vision of neatness and demand quick realization of their hair goals.


  • Maintain control of desired look
  • More flexibility in style options


  • Requires frequent retwists
  • More overall maintenance
  • Tends to lead to thinner locs
  • Higher potential of locs falling out in mature stages
  • Buying “locking” supplies: clips, gels, etc.



Freeform locs are just how they sound, free forming.

It is the process of allowing your hair to naturally separate and form coils which eventually become the rope of knots, the locs. This process is low maintenance to no maintenance. All you really need to do is keep your hair clean, and as chemical free as possible.

The only additional duty would be to separate your locs as you see fit. However, this is an option not a requirement. It is a matter of personal preference.

I would recommend separating your locs because if you do not then you risk going through a painfully patient growth process only to realize all of you hair has matted into a few locs. If that is your desire, then by all means go for it. If that’s not what you were looking for then I hope my warning was useful.


  • Low maintenance to no maintenance
  • Cheap, potentially free
  • Confidence building journey of self-acceptance


  • Less control over outcome of the locking process
  • Takes longer to completely lock up
  • Hats may not fit anymore
  • Categorized as unprofessional in many work places


I personally don’t believe one style is better then the other, or that one is right and another is wrong. It is a matter of personal preference and if you are being tru to yourself.

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If you are still struggling with what direction you want to go in for your loc journey, I’d recommend starting with freeform locs.

I say this because this process is much slower which would give you plenty of time if you want to change your mind.

If you were to start with manicured locs, you’ll never be able restore your hair to a freeform position. You could stop twisting and manipulating your hair, but if you have already been twisting for 2 years its highly unlikely you’ll regain the thickness of your locs that you would’ve had if you were free-forming the whole time.

However if you start with freeform locs and decide 2 years later that you want to twist your locs then that transition is much smoother. Depending on your loc development and the skillfulness of the person doing your hair, its very possible that you can get your hair looking neat and maintained without resorting to desperate measures. At the end of the day, you are going to have to decide what is best for you and your situation.

All I’m suggesting is, if you are unsure what type of locs you want to have then just be natural. If you have a coily, gravity-defying hair texture then all you literally have to do is keep your hair clean, and separate the thick groups of coiled hair. Those buds will form locs in time.

Not only that, you can’t beat nature. The natural processes associated with freeform locs typically produce thicker roots, healthier locs and unique forms that can not be recreated from manipulating your hair.

If I were to start my loc journey over today, I would definitely have freeform locs without a doubt. I would only keep them clean and gently separate them as I see fit.