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How to Start and Maintain Very Small Locks

Article Index
How to Start and Maintain Very Small Locks
Things to Consider Before Locking
Basic Principles for Starting Small Locks
Basic Tiny Lock Maintenance
All Pages

In this article I will be sharing with you how to start and maintain very small locks. Some might call it the Sisterlock-Look-for-Less. However, if you read my article on that subject, you will know that I really feel that if you want Sisterlocks TM you should save your money and get Sisterlocks TM. That way you will not go through all the trouble of starting and maintaining small locks but feel bad because they don’t look the same.

It is kind of like when you are in middle school. If your parents couldn’t afford name brand and you, like me, had to wear the latest Payless special, if you didn’t make a big deal about it most people would not try to make you feel bad. But if you tried to pretend that your “specialty brand” was the latest “name brand” you were just asking to be called out.

My point, if you want small locks just do it. Don’t do yourself a disservice by comparing yourself to others. In the end you will be happier and confident about your choice.


First we are going to look at small locks and I’m going to give you some things to think about before you jump into it. Then we are going to look at the basic principles that you need to know when putting in small locks. Then you will need to decide whether or not you want to do it yourself or get some help. We will look at how to wash and maintain them.


Things to Consider Before You Lock

The following points are some things that all small lock wearers should think about before they lock.

Why do you want small locks?

Do you see it as a quick fix for your current hair problem?

How do you take care of your hair now?

Do you understand that it will take some time for your hair to come into its own?

Do you realize that you will have to devote 6 or more hours to tightening your new growth every 4 to 6 weeks?

If you are planning to maintain at home: Are you accustomed to holding your arms above your head for long periods of time (have you ever done your own braids)?

If you are planning to have someone else help you: Do you understand that you may not be able to find someone to help you maintain your locks? (There are some SL Consultants who will maintain other types of small locks but many will not.) Do you feel confident that you can teach someone how to maintain your locks with a tool?

Do you understand that you will have to take time to separate your locks after washing them to make sure that they don’t join together?

Is your family supportive of your decision?

Are there any policies at your job against natural hair styles?


Basic Principles for Starting Small Locks

Principle 1: Part your base for the size you want your lock to be not for the size of the actual braid.

Your braids or twist will swell with time. If you want locks that are 1/8 inch in diameter you don’t want your square base to be much bigger than 3/16 inch square. If you want locks that are 3/16 inch in diameter you don’t want to make your bases much bigger than ¼ inch.

The actual braid will at first be much smaller than your final lock. Don’t worry about that just make sure that your base parts are the size you want and the rest will come in time.

Principle 2: Make the locks in the back ½ or ¾ of your head a little bit larger than the ones in the front.

There is really no need to do your whole head in micro tiny locks. It will be a pain to maintain them. If the front and sides of your head are in the smaller size it will seem like your whole head is full of tiny locks.

Principle 3: Part in a grid or at least in four sections of horizontal rows.

This is essential if you are planning to maintain your hair your self. Having your hair parted in an orderly fashion will make retightening and separating after washing so much easier.

Principle 4: If your hair is coily you can choose braids or double twists. If your hair is wavy it is safest to braid.

Coily hair locks up easier and faster than other hair types no matter what method you use. Wavy hair locks better with braids. If you have both types on your head go with braids.

Principle 5: if you plan to wash your hair a lot, want to set your hair on rollers often, are keeping your perm and just locking the new growth or just don’t want to worry about a lot of your locks coming undone, go with braids.

Principle 6: If you will be doing it yourself block out at least two days to get it done. If you are having it done expect at least 12 hours to get it done right.

You don’t want to rush. You are building your foundation. If you do it half hazard now you will regret it latter on. Take your time.

If you are getting it done at a shop, be sure to explain to the braider exactly what you want. You may need to bring in these principles and some graph paper so that you are certain that the two of your are own the same page.

Principle 7: Consider setting your new starter locks on rollers, especially if you have relaxed ends.

When you first put your tiny starter microbraidlocks in you may wonder if you made the right decision. Your scalp will show. Depending on your hair texture your braids may be sticking out. If you have relaxed ends you will just look like you really need to do something to your hair.

Wet setting your hair is the way to go. That way you will look nice and you don’t have to feel any regrets for how your hair looks for the moment.

{mospagebreak title=Small Locking: Getting Help}

Small Locking: Getting Help

The first time I decided to start small locks in my hair with braids. I decided to get a local African braider to micro-braid my hair for locks. I learned a lot with the whole experience.

Here Is What I Learned:

Visit your braid shops some time before you want to get your hair done. Don’t go on the day that you need it done. They may tell you that they can “fit you in.” You don’t want to be fitted in you want to find a braider that understand what you want done to your hair and is willing to take the time to do it right.

Ask how much she charges to do her smallest size micro braids. Make sure that you both are on the same page.

Tell her what size you want your parted sections not the braid, the part. (See Principle 1)

She will probably tell you that that is really small and that it will be hard to take out. Tell her you understand but that is what you want.

Make sure that you are on the same page and that she understands that you want the parted sections that small and you understand that the braids will be smaller than the parted sections.

You should bring in an example of some graph paper in the sizes that you want the back and front to be parted in. Let her know that you want the back in the larger size and the front in the smaller size.

Now be sure that she can do it for what she quoted or if she needs to change her price. It is better to know upfront now.

Find out how long she expects it will take. Ask her if someone will be working exclusively on your hair for that time.

Try to see if she can schedule you on a day when she will be able to do your head without having to stop and wait on other people.

If you feel uncomfortable about the situation or feel that she really will not be able to give you what you want don’t make an appointment. Let her know that you are very certain about what you want and you will get back with her. Take her info and try the next option.

Take Your Business Somewhere Else or Wait If:

She act like doing your hair in the way that you are asking will put her out or inconvenience her.

She is not willing to have you explain exactly what you want done. Be ware of the braider who brushes you off and says she knows what you want and is too quick to schedule your appointment.

There are clients sitting around the shop with their hair half done.

You can’t get a guaranteed block of time.

Some Other Things to Remember

It is really not wise to start talking about locks and locking with her unless she is a natural hair stylist. Many braiders are not sympathetic to lock wearers. Some are biased against lock or are ignorant about maintenance and care.

It is really not wise to talk about Sisterlocks TM, how much they cost, what is involved in doing them or any other aspects of tiny locks.

As she is doing your hair you may be able to tell whether or not you would like to come back to have her retighten your locks in the future. It is best to discuss this later on after your hair is done and you are satisfied with the job that she has done.

{mospagebreak title=Small Locking: Doing It Yourself}

Small Locks: Doing It Yourself

If you can find a braider who can or is willing to start your locks the way that you want the second best thing would be to find one that can do tiny straight back cornrows the width that you want. If you already know how to cornrow your hair you can do this yourself.

This is a good option for you if you don’t mind braiding your hair but don’t want to have to worry about the part size staying consistent

If you want straight vertical rows do two rows of straight back cornrows. You want the cornrows in the section in the back to be a little bit wider than the ones in the front.

Once that is done all you will need to do is take down a row and part it into individual braids. You won’t be able to do the perfect grid but you will be able to ensure that the braids are uniformly the size that you want. It will cost less and you will have neat vertical rows.

For neat horizontal rows do the same thing only cornrow (or get it cornrowed) going across your head instead of straight back. Just be sure to do the cornrows from your ears back a little larger than the ones from your ears forward.


Tiny Lock Maintenance

In all honesty locks started with braids are pretty low maintenance. You can rinse them wash them and curl them and they will stay braided. Here a just a few things to keep in mind.

If you have soft wavy hair that comes undone easily, stay away from conditioners and oils. They will hinder the locking process. You will be adding moisture to your hair through washing and other moisturizing product but you don’t want to do the conditioning thing until your hair has stopped coming a loose. If you feel you much use some type of oil try light one such as coconut, carrot, jojoba or sweet almond oil.

If you have coily kinky hair that is prone to tangle and mat you can use oil but do so sparingly.

Do spray your hair with water on the days that you don’t wash or rinse. You can add some aloe vera to it.


When you wash your hair it is best wet your hair and spray diluted shampoo on your hair.

Squeeze the shampoo through your hair. Think of washing your hair the way that you would wash an expensive cashmere sweater – gently. Massage your scalp with your finger tips. There is no need to bunch or muss your hair.

It is best to dry your hair with a dark towel or a towel the color of your hair. Blot your hair dry or use an extra absorbent towel.

Be sure to check your hair and make sure that there are no locks are hugging or sticking together. If you find some gently pull them apart.

This would be a good time to set your hair on rollers.


How often you tighten your hair depend on how fast your hair grows. Because you will be tightening using a tool you will not have to worry about having to retighten every time you wash like those who tighten with twisting or palm rolling.

For more information on tightening with a tool click here

Other General Info

You may want to tie your hair up at night or put a satin case on your pillow.

It may take up to a month for your braids to swell and stop looking spacey give them time.

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