Butterfly Locs, Everything You Need To Know

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Photo: The Chic Natural

Butterfly Locs have been trending on social media for months now but you might not have noticed at first. Here’s everything you need to know about the new boho style on the block.

At a glance:

What are Butterfly Locs? (And what they aren’t).

This new style of locs look very similar to a protective style staple: distressed locs. Distressed locs are the bohemian cousin of the neat faux locs that became popular a few years ago, but the one difference between distressed and Butterfly Locs are the curly loops created in the Butterfly Loc, giving them their signature look.

Butterfly Locs are like the perfect mix of goddess locs and passion twists. The messy, bohemian style is ethereal, low maintenance, and very natural looking. For those of us that want a style that changes over time, doesn’t require much fuss to make it work, and celebrates curls and coils while still protecting our own hair, this style may be for you.

What Type of Hair to Use and How Much

Depending on how long your natural hair is and how long you want your locs to be, you may need two types of hair. If you  want locs that aren’t longer than your own hair, you’ll need need roughly 6-8 packs of some type of water wave hair in 22-28 inches. This hair is curly and bouncy and that’s what will give you the characteristic loops that give Butterfly Locs their name.

If you decide to go with locs that are longer than your own hair, you’ll need filler hair. Technically, you can use the wavy hair to fill the locs too and can buy more of it for that purpose. But many tutorials use Marley hair to create an individual braid that you’ll then wrap with the wavy hair. Simply braid the marley hair into your hair to the desired length.

You’ll also need

Most stylists create 40-50 locs and you want to make sure they aren’t too bulky. Longer styles tend to have thinner locs vs the jumbo locs seen in shorter styles. This helps cut down the weight of the hair and thus the tension on your scalp.

How to Do Butterfly Locs

There are a couple different methods for installing Butterfly Locs, but regardless of the method you use, you may want to start by first soaking the hair you’ve purchased (if it’s synthetic) in an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. Usually one part vinegar, two parts water suffices. Soak the hair for a couple of hours and rinse thoroughly. This helps avoid itching if you have a sensitive scalp.

Braid and Wrap Method

There are a variety of ways you can achieve Butterfly Locs, depending on how much time you have, your skill level, and your patience. The great thing about this style is you don’t have to be a master hair braider to achieve a beautiful result. Most people can do this style in 3-6 hours, but the longer the length the more time consuming it may be.

Step 1: Braid or twist your hair.

Choose a parting pattern and braid or twist your hair. Use Shine and Jam or any edge control to keep the parts neat. You can choose to use rubber bands as seen below in The Chic Natural’s video below, but you don’t have to. (If you’re adding to the length of your hair, be sure to braid the Marley hair in at this point or you can braid the water wave hair in as The Chic Natural does in her tutorial.)

Step 2: Prep your Water Wave hair.

This step can be done as you go or you can do it all in the beginning. Simply take two pieces of the water wave hair and separate them. You want the result to be fluffy but still relatively together.

Step 3: Crochet the Water Wave hair into the base of your braid.

Take the crochet needle and place it through the base of your braid, by your scalp. Put the separated water wave hair in the needle’s hook, close it and pull it through less than halfway. You’ll want about ¾ of the water wave hair on one side to start wrapping. If you’re familiar with faux loc techniques, this is very similar to how you’d start the box braid extension that goes under the faux loc.

Step 4: Begin to wrap.

Now grab the shorter piece of the water wave hair and hold it with your braid. Then begin wrapping the braid, and the shorter piece against it, with the longer piece of water wave hair. You’ll want to wrap the root 5-6 times to make sure it is secure against the scalp. (This will help keep your style looking neat for a longer period of time.) But try not to apply too much tension. As you wrap, use the thumb technique to create the loops.

The great thing about Butterfly Locs is that it’s ok to be messy. Be messy while you’re wrapping the hair, they don’t have to be tight or controlled, the beauty is in the loops and fuzziness of the loc. These locs also look better over time, again the messier the better so don’t be afraid to embrace the frizz as they age.

The Thumb Technique

As you wrap the water wave hair, wrap a portion around your thumb loosely as you continue wrapping down two or three times. This will give the loc the signature loops. Some stylists suggest doing 3 normal wraps and then inserting the thumb to “pick up” some of the hair before returning it to the wrapping section.

Step 5: Seal the Ends.

Once you reach your desired length, you’ll need to close off the loc and seal the ends. You can achieve this by creating a small loop with your finger at the end, then wrapping the remaining hair back up the braid until you run out of water wave hair. You can use nail glue as you’re wrapping the remaining inch or two for extra hold. The loop is very important, it will give you a nice end to your loc and keep the loc secure. Do NOT burn the ends.

The Crochet Method

If you’re more comfortable with the crochet method–which takes less time–you can cornrow down your hair, but I suggest leaving the front and back out for individual braids/twists so your style has some versatility. Adanna Madueke does a great job of showing how she incorporates both techniques here. (Here are the pros and cons (mostly pros) on using the crochet method to create box braids and styles like it.)

THIS tutorial 👇🏾 is probably the BEST one to watch if you’re into the crochet method. Mary K Bella shows how she uses the crochet method with hair that isn’t pre-Loc’d, which is helpful right now as there aren’t a TON of already loc’d Butterfly Locs hair. She’s also really funny. I recommend watching the whole video.

Butterfly Locs on Longer Hair

If you have long hair but want to rock bob-length locs, it’s actually easier than you think –no haircut necessary! Check out the tutorial below on how to fold your braids before wrapping.

Maintenance & refreshing Butterfly Locs

Keeping your style well maintained and your scalp healthy is a very important part to having a protective style. Make sure your hair is washed, deep-conditioned and well moisturized before installing the locs, and you’ll also need to do periodic maintenance with this style.

Check out Naturally Sunny’s video below on maintenance and how to refresh locs at the two-week point. Essentially, to maintain your locs:

  • Keep oil on hand to massage your scalp and make sure it’s clean and moisturized.
  • Use mousse to keep flyaways at bay and to give your Butterfly Locs a “finished” look.
  • You may need to re-wrap a few locs here and there, and use some edge control on new growth.

Read the quick guide we created with industry experts on installing, caring for and taking down protective guide.

Can you wash Butterfly Locs?

The short answer is yes, you can wash Butterfly Locs, but you’re not going to get a “real” wash. If you’ve use the braid-and-wrap method, your own hair is wrapped around the synthetic hair. So you won’t have full access to it. With the crochet method you have relatively more access to your own hair but still not full access. So most people focus on keeping their scalp clean as you’ll see in the video below. Not having full access to your own hair is the #1 reason for not leaving these types of styles in for too long; 4 weeks is a general rule of thumb. As oils and product builds up, your hair can become a breeding ground for bacteria. So even though these styles (with proper maintenance) can look great for more than four weeks, the longer you go without washing your hair, the more you’re putting the health of your scalp and hair at risk.

Also, keep in mind that if/when you do wash your locs, you’ll want to make sure you dry them THOROUGHLY. Remember you’ve got layers of hair in this style–a braid wrapped up in more hair–so, it’s easy for the moisture to linger within all that hair.

That said, cleansing your scalp (this cleansing water works great) and using a dry shampoo like this one is a great way to maintain some level of cleanliness when you have your locs in.

The Takedown

As mentioned, as general rule of thumb, we suggest only keeping in protective styles for four weeks, especially if you won’t be washing you the style while it’s in. When it comes to taking down your Butterfly Locs, patience is key. Give yourself enough time to take down your locs, as you usually first have to unravel them and then unbraid the braids underneath. Have some oil and a spray bottle ready to loosen any build up and take breaks if you feel yourself getting tired or frustrated. You’ll need to cut the end of the loc, unravel the hair, and slip it out of the base of the braid. Below’s how The Chic Natural’s no fuss way to remove her locs.

Also, Adanna Madueke has another easy way to remove the locs, if your braids are small enough.

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Want more information on Butterfly Locs? Vlogger Nisha Eberhard put together a great Q&A on her locs. She answers everything from how heavy they are to how to wash them. Check it out here:

If you’re thinking about getting Butterfly Locs or doing them yourself make sure you watch the videos we’ve included. Have all of your supplies ready and a great show to binge watch. Good luck and let us know how they turned out, tag us on Instagram!

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Morgan Gilliam
Morgan Gilliam
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