The history of different hairstyles spans multiple cultures through thousands of years. A hairstyle isn’t just a fashion statement—it’s also a part of who you are and where you come from.
Knowing the differences between locs and dreadlocks isn’t just about what they look like; it’s also about their meaning and culture of origin. Some people think “dreads” are simply matted hair that was left to grow out with little care, but in fact, dreadlocks often hold spiritual meaning for the wearer. Let’s look and see what locs and dreadlocks are from a physical and historical standpoint.
What Are Locs?
Locs are an African hairstyle that consists of hair strands that have been coiled, braided, twisted, or palm-rolled to create a rope-like appearance. Locs stem as far back in history as ancient Greece; people of various cultures and religions, such as the Hindus and ancient Israelites, have worn locs.
This hairstyle is easier to create on Nubian or African hair than on straight Caucasian hair. It prevents the strands from losing moisture and can last for a very long time.
What Are Dreadlocks?
Dreadlocks have an extensive history in many cultures. American culture has misinterpreted and appropriated the term “dread” as meaning “dreadful,” but those who wear dreadlocks in other cultures are traditionally seen as warriors.
When enslaved people were transported overseas from Africa, they were unable to properly care for their hair. As a result, natural locs came to be. People also began to wear dreadlocks in the Jamaican Rastafarian tradition beginning in the 1930s. Western culture eventually influenced these practices, and people of African or Nubian descent adopted dreadlocks as their own.
So, what are the differences between locs and dreadlocks? A notable difference between locs and dreadlocks is that one is a hairstyle and the other is a lifestyle. Locs are cultivated, but dreadlocks aren’t. Dreadlocks also often stem from Rastafarian beliefs, which use the style to separate believers from the rest of society.
As for physical differences, locs have a well-kept and tidier look to them compared to dreadlocks, which have a more natural appearance. Additionally, locs have a more defined root compared to dreadlocks.
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