Natural Hair Mag

How To Remove Locs Without Cutting Them Off!

Find out how to remove your locs without cutting them off. |Natural Hairstyles for black woman |

NHM Model Pamela

Dreadlocks are actually one of the healthiest styles someone can wear for their natural hair. Think about it. Natural hair is at its best when you are not messing with it too much. That’s what makes dreadlocks an ideal style: they require far less maintenance than most other natural hairstyles.

On the other side, many people are stuck on believing that locs are something that you need to commit to forever and that they are not versatile.

We are going to put both of these myths to bed once and for all!

Locs are nothing more than “locked” hair, manipulated to make the hair grow in uniform pieces of individual hair. Most of the styles women adore in natural hair care can still be done with locs. Locs can be styled in bantu knots, twists outs and updos.

More importantly, locs, contrary to popular belief, are NOT permanent unless you want them to be. When most wear their locks for several years, even decades, they can be removing without buzzing your hair off entirely.

There are some things that are absolutely necessary to remove locs: 1. Patience and 2. More patience.

This is not an overnight job! You are unwinding hair that has tangled around itself for several years. It is an intensive job. This is why most people simply shave the locs off.

But if you are dead set on NOT cutting your hair, you will need the following supplies and a certain attitude before starting:

  • Understand you need A LOT of time and patience to remove your locs. Consider taking a few days off work for this!
  • You will need a ton of water and conditioner for this job. Both of them will have to be reapplied as your remove the locs one by one.
  • Have a comb, brush and a rat-tail comb available. Try to have a few rat-tail combs in case one breaks.
  • Have a spray water bottle handy too.

Once you have these supplies and are completely ready to remove your locs, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hair.
  2. Do not dry your hair too much. Keeping your locs saturated for this task is imperative.
  3. Separate your locs in sections. The prefer method is two sections at the top of your head and two towards the bottom.
  4. Take a loc from the back (or the front, whatever if your choice) and re-moisten it with the spray bottle.
    • Optional: You can add a little conditioner in the spray bottle to keep the hair moistened better and longer.
  5. Take some conditioner in your hand and rub it on the loc. You want the lock to be VERY damp.
  6. Take the pointed end of the rat-tail comb and gently pick out the bottom of the lock. Again, reapply water and conditioner as needed. (This part may take a LONG time depending on the thickness of your locks.)
    • Do not be alarmed if you lose hair. It’s to be expected. Hair has been shedding inside your locs for years; remember that.
  7. When you have unlocked the loc, spray water on the hair and with the regular comb, comb out any access hair.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 for each loc. Yes, you will go through a lot of conditioner and water!
  9. Once you have unlocked your entire head, wash it very well and then brush it out, braid it up or whatever you’d like. You may want to clip your ends in case you have splits as well.
  10. Take a nap! You will need it!

Here are some tips that may make unlocking your dreadlocks easier:

  • Do not buy expensive shampoo and conditioner. For this one task, a basic commercial conditioner will work just fine.
  • Have a friend (or two) help.
  • Save up some money because YOU WILL need to take time off from work to do this if you do it on your own.
  • Using the skinny end of a regular comb may unlock the hair faster than a rat-tail combing, depending on your hair type.
  • If you need a good tutorial, see below




Hello. I’m going to show you how to comb out dreads. Just to preface this I call my hair dreads. Feel free to replace the word dreads with locks, dreadlocks, whatever you want to. I’ve had my hair locked for about six years. It’ll be six years in June but I’m not going to make it to there so we’ll say five years and three-quarters, and I don’t want to cut my hair so I’ve started the process of combing them out and I’m going to show you how I did that.

I’ll just show you what I have combed out already. I’ve combed out 16 so each twist is not indicative of how many dreads I’ve combed out. Using the twists I have so far so I’d say about 1/4 to each one, there you go, four bits in each one. Remember, if our hair when it’s dreaded or locked, it’s way thicker because all this is not your hair. A lot of it is shed hair which I will show how much hair I have shed so far. The things you will need are water. Basically the key is to make each dread exaggerated as possible so that you can detangle it as smoothly as efficiently as possible.

What I usually do is just put some water in a cup and then just pick the one I’m going to work on and soak it in there. I mean, as long as it’s completely saturated it’s what I wait for and then I take some conditioner and lather it in conditioner. If I know I’m going to do more than one, then I go head and do the one next to it too. That way you can sit in the conditioner.

Since you’re going to be using a lot of conditioner, do not get expensive conditioner. I got this from the Dollar Store for like $2. Scissors, I have been cutting about two to three inches off of each one. Here’s some examples. They’re all over my room. My room is atrocious right now. I’ve just been cutting off the ends because mainly to save me a little bit of time and I don’t think any hair down here is still attached to my head anyway, and if it is then it’s probably damaged and scraggly or whatever, and I’m going to trim my ends anyway. So I just cut some of that off.

I have a mirror as well to look at while I’m doing it, and towel for my lap for all the hair that’s going on the fall on the floor. I figure I try to save some of it and get it on the towel. This is what everybody swears by. This is what I started out with, a metal rat-toothed comb, rat-tail tooth, whatever comb and you use the end of it and you put it in each dread and you pick and pick and pick and pick.

While that’s fun in theory, I find that this is really too big for that. My hair each of my dreads isn’t that thick but this is too blunt kind of and too thick to penetrate. I went to Walmart and got a pack of dental tools that came with these and it came with a little mirror and it was like $4.72. This is a lot more sharper and smaller to get in each individual locks, so that, you’re not supposed to do this on dry hair, all right, but remember I’m cutting this off anyway so it doesn’t matter.

This is awesome. This is what I’ve mainly been using. You poke yourself a lot so try to figure out a way around that. So yeah, those are the things I needed or I’m using.Now I’m just going to take one out and then I guess explain some tricks along the way and yeah, enjoy this long process. I think for this video I’m actually going to comb out my longest dread. For whatever reason these two points on the side of my head are like mutant and they grow a lot faster than the rest of my hair. These come down longer. Oh yeah, this has been with me, I can’t.

Just to show you how long it is, this, oh God, this ruler is 18 inches and if I have this at the base of my hair and I pull it down, so it’s about 19 inches. Awww, this is my long baby. All good things must come to a end. I’m feeling my hair. There’s like a thin part right here so I won’t feel too bad cutting that off. You gotta learn not to be too attached to your [00:04:30] hair once you’re doing this because you’re going to be doing a lot of snipping.

First I’m going to saturate my hair with water and while it’s in there, I’m untwisting my hair that’s twisted from the last time that I re-twisted my hair so basically I’m just twisting it the opposite direction to unravel it all as much as I can.

Then lather it in conditioner. You’re going to keep applying conditioner to it throughout like as it get drier, whatever. Just put as much conditioner on it as you want. I’ve also heard some people use oil. I have a little bit of olive oil actually right there and I have some black castor oil. Sometimes I use this on the ends so that I can get started good.

So, once it’s completely saturated and nice and gooey and gross and icky and you can hear all this, it’s simple. Your hair is just knotted, lots of knots, lots of shed hair. That’s all it is over and over and over for years. Essentially you’re just combing it out, so grab a movie, watch some TV. I just sit here and I just pick and pick and pick. You just want to pull every knot out. As soon as to get a knot you can’t go through, go down a little bit, pick some more until you can get through. Before I use that, I started with the comb.

All right, so it’s pretty messy. As you can see my hands are full with hair and conditioner and oil and water, and they usually end up pretty shriveled up but you can see I’m pulling it through and as soon as I get stuck, well you’ll see. As soon as I get stuck I just, like right there, you could stop and go back down until you can pull it through. All the hair that’s coming out is shed hair that I would have shed had my hair not been in dreads, so don’t alarmed by the amount of hair you lose.

Due to the tediousness, if that’s a word, of this that’s why I chose to do it myself because I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars going to a shop or sitting in somebody’s else or 40,000 hours while they try to pick at my hair. I’d much rather just do it on my own time, my own pace and save as much of my hair that I can.

You can feel that the end is near. I had like a month of new growth so I went ahead and untwisted that. You know how your hair is twisted after your re-twist? I just untwisted it as much as it could go so the whole inch up here isn’t dreaded yet and then I’ll have about this much more to comb out and then the bottom part is not dreaded anymore. So this part where you can feel both sides and you’re just trying to get out the last remaining knots which are looser because this part hasn’t had the opportunity to lock up yet but you’re like, oh God, I want to finish.

So yeah, your hair is definitely not as thick in the dreads obviously but this is what I’m left with and it’s still full of conditioner but this is the result of shrinkage. So now what I do is I comb it starting from the bottom of course. The bottom is already done. You just really want to make sure that last part, the last remaining knots is good to go. Remove any straggly, scraggly hair.

Then I take the twist that I’ve twisted up before, untwist it, untwisting, untwist that, and then I just add what I took out which I lost, oh, what I just took it into it and then re-twist it back up. There you go. As you can see, I still, I’m glad I trimmed my hair or have somebody do it, but one more down, 80 to go. I’ll be back with part two when it’s all done. Bye.

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  • Erika JM

    Thank You

  • Cynitha

    I recently took my little girls lots down. It took me close to a month. But she loves her natural. I’m joy to thrilled about it. Haven’t done hair in 5 years. Needless to say I’m ready to reloc.

  • Dana Moten

    I’m curious. Are there testimonials, before and after pics included, to this?

  • Masterpieced

    I’m ready to come out of my locs. I have been locked since 2001. I am ready to rock a ‘fro.

  • Kn

    Lawd have mercy. Something has gone horribly wrong :L

  • Latonya Smith

    Wow stylist here and i just learned something… Thanks for sharing