Dr. Joanne Cornwell was inspired to find a hairstyle alternative for black women that didn’t rely on weaves, wigs, bundles, and relaxers. When she created Sisterlocks in 1993 it did exactly that and remains a popular styling option for women 30 years later.
Cornwell proclaims sisterlocks to be more than a hairstyle, but a lifestyle. “Sisterlocks invites women who are interested in self-empowerment and cultural self-expression to embrace a natural hair care system that is self-affirming and truly gorgeous.”
What are Sisterlocks?
“Sisterlocks” is the name of the original micro interlocking system made specifically for afro-textured hair. Dr. Joanne Cornwell trademarked and copyrighted the system in 1993 however there is no patent for either the technique or the tools.
A certified sisterlocks consultant (or qualified trainee) will help you through your initial establishment process and set expectations for re-tightening and general maintenance.
What is the purpose of Sisterlocks?
Sisterlocks is a natural hair styling and management technique that allows women with tightly coiled hair the ease of low-maintenance day-to-day styling. With sisterlocks in place, versatile no heat no product styling is easily accessible without chemical alteration of natural hair texture.
What are the pros and cons of Sisterlocks?
Pros: Sisterlocks is a trademarked system that requires certification of its consultants and the use of uniform tools and techniques from one stylist to another. While more expensive compared to similar alternative techniques, you are buying into a lifestyle, not a hairstyle so the added expense may be worth it.
The locs are customized to your hair type and once established styling is super versatile and low maintenance. The finished product is neat, uniform, and free-flowing without the need for the use of a lot of hair products.
Cons: Sisterlocks are expensive ranging from $500 upwards to $1000+ for the establishment of the style, $150-$200 for retightening sessions every 4-8 weeks, and a consultation fee to start it all off.
The style cannot be installed or maintained by yourself and you have to follow a prescribed routine of maintenance, care, and follow-ups to ensure the longevity of the style. Some women experience hair loss, breakage, and loc shedding
Are there alternatives to the Sisterlocks brand?
Microlocs, Braidlocs, Interlocs, and Nappylocs are non-trademark varieties of mini-loc styles. These techniques will vary from stylist to stylist however they are generally cheaper and easier to install, even by yourself, and come in a whole range of sizes.
Can sisterlocks be undone?
Technically yes, but it is not an installation process you should go into lightly. The uninstall process can be tedious and is best attempted within the first six months.
How long does it take to install sisterlocks?
The initial establishment of sisterlocks can take anywhere from 16-20 hours to complete. This is usually split up over 2-3 days and varies with hair texture, and length.
How long does it take for sisterlocks to loc up?
Again, depending on the texture of your hair, it can take 2 weeks to a year for hair to loc up and settle into place
Finally, what are some sisterlocks Do’s and Dont’s?
Do research your loctician, and have a conversation about expectations before you begin your journey. Read over ratings, and look at their previous clients’ style.
- Do begin a loc journey for yourself, not for anyone else.
- Do cover your locks at night with a satin scarf or bonnet.
- Don’t over-shampoo your hair, and avoid cheap shampoos. Use Sisterlock brand shampoo or a well-researched quality cleansing product.
- Don’t heat style your hair. Opt for braid outs, perm rods, or flexi rod sets instead.
- Don’t color your hair in the initial year, and seek out professional colorists when you do.
- Don’t overhandle your hair in the beginning. Excessive touching and raking can prolong the settling-in process.
Below you will find 40+ Sisterlock, and Sisterloc adjacent styles, that are sure to inspire you to make that first consultation appointment. From new locs, to big bold curly locs, to waist-length locs graying with time, this post has them all. Enjoy!
These pictures are all sourced online. To be credited for your personal picture, please contact me with the exact picture, and I’ll be sure to credit you. This post also contains affiliate links which means that I earn a small commission if you make a purchase with my link, at no additional cost to you.
1. Firey Red Ombre Sisterlocks
Sisterlocks are so versatile you can color, style, curl, and braid them just like natural unlocked hair. As with all Sisterlock maintenance, it is important to talk to your certified consultant about maintaining hair health within the coloring process.
2. Jet black shoulder-length sisterlocks
Protect hair by avoiding overtightening along hair edges and cover hair with a satin bonnet at night to promote and maintain growth along the hairline.
3. Short micro locs half up half down
Microlocs are one of many non-trademark variations of a micro interlocking hair system. Microlocs can come in many sizes. Thicker locs make for quicker work and even a DIY approach is doable for installation and upkeep. You can’t get Sisterlock brand tools online, but similar retightening tools are available to the public.
4. Shoulder-length auburn sisterlocks
This rich red-brown chocolatey color adds depth and dimension to these beautiful locs.
5. Blonde highlighted bob wedding updo
Sisterlocks behave like free flowing hair. Here the bride’s bob is gathered into a stunning half up half down style with a radiant rhinestone headpiece incorporated into the curve of her updo *
6. Naturally gray shoulder-length sisterlocks
Sisterlocks are a great option to help increase or maintain volume over the years. Sticking with a consultant that understands your hair growth patterns and challenges will help to minimize thinning and loc breakage.
7. Medium Length Sisterlocks
Maintain length with regular retightening sessions. Online retightening tools are available but should be used with caution *
8. Two-tone Dark Brown Light Brown Sisterlocks
Coordinate color options with your Sisterlock consultant.
9. Curly Sisterlocks
Flexi Rods and other heatless styling options are the preferred way to get curly volume on the ends.
10. Bleach blonde Sisterlock Curls
Bleach can be damaging, so make sure to consult with a professional that understands your hair needs.
11. Short Sisterlocks with bangs
Bangs make everything cuter.
12. Hot pink color on dark brown sisterlocks
Try a temporary color wax for a quick color change option.
13. Waist-length graying sisterlocks
The key to length with sisterlocks is regular maintenance including retightening every 4-8 weeks. Daily care is low maintenance, but constant care by your consultant is needed.
14. Newly established Sisterlock bob
Small sections are key to the light, free-flowing final result.
15. Long re-tightened sisterlocks
Your consultant can help keep your style neat while avoiding damaging overtightening.
16. Blue-Green color block sisterlocks
Daring color is fair game for loc’d hair too! Bleaching lifts colors from natural hair to allow the bright lemon-lime color to pop.
17. Redbrown Nappylocs with beads
Nappylocs have more variation in their sizing. Here a larger loc style is accented with small subtle beads for a little extra pop
18. Microlocs with combined locs
Sometimes hair thinning may require that two thin locs be combined into one. Here thicker locs extend from the crown while thinner tendrils cascade down her back. This combining process can help guard against loc shedding and breakage.
19. Shoulder-length auburn sisterlocks
This deep red color is best achieved by a stylist’s expert hands. Consider temporary color for a DIY approach.
20. Short Microlocs with bleached ends
Styling is super versatile and low maintenance with microloc styles.
21. Sleek sisterlocks bun with bleached ends
Sisterlocks easily transition from casual life to conference room boss energy. Keep some hair ties handy to create the look.
22. Dark brown Nappylocs ponytail
Softly gather your locs with a pull cord to avoid the breakage and strain that can come with traditional ponytailers
23. Red-tipped Nappylocs
These larger-sized locs are interloc’d (pulling the end through the root) creating a neat brick-lay pattern along the exposed scalp. They are too large to be sisterlocks but the installation technique for each is similar.
24. Golden multi-color sisterlocks
This light blonde color palette can easily take on a darker hue as darker hair grows out.
25. Bright red sisterlocks updo
This fiery red hair takes on an almost yarn-like appearance in this braided updo. Hide pins within the braid formation to hold the style in place.
26. Graying blonde sisterlocks with banded bantu knots
Simple black pony tailers hold small knots in place.
27. Curly-Q sisterlocks
Heat styling is not preferred with sisterlocks haircare. Try flexi rods to form curls and allow style to set overnight.
28. Flat twisted triple bun sisterlocks updo
Try a chignon tool to keep buns perfectly formed and perfectly full
29. Short new sisterlocks with red bleached tips
Schedule your first retightening no more than 4 weeks after your initial installation. Regular maintenance is the key to health sisterlocks
30. Waist-length sisterlocks
Healthy hair will grow grow grow!
31. Long loose wavy sisterlocks
Try pin-curled ends to achieve this sultry look.
32. New fluffy knotted red sister locks
Here, hair is bleached and colored before Sisterlock installation. A perfectly precise brick lay and grid takes time and precision parting.
33. Red wavey Microlocs
This beach-ready look is giving little mermaid.
34. Medium Microlocs
The free-flowing locs are easily gathered half up half down for an easy effortless look.
35. Curly sisterlocks updo
This is nightlife ready. Bobby pins go a long way.
36. Shoulder-length sisterlocks
Retightening creates a neat and polished look.
37. Redbrown sisterlocks
Leave-out side swept bangs are a curly complement to cute space buns.
38. Bright red-tipped sisterlocks
Bleached tips or temporary color can help achieve this look.
39. Half up half down shoulder-length sisterlocks
Super easy, casual, and breezy weekend look.
40. Gray Blonde waist length sisterlocks
Pulling hair up reveals a peak-a-boo hidden color effect.
41. Sexy shoulder-length sisterlocks
These side-swept locs are date night and Instagram approved.
42. Full and curly dark brown Microlocs
Braid outs can add texture and volume to your loc style.
43. Softly gathered Microlocs
Hair twine adds a subtle pretty charm.
With so many gorgeous Sisterlock and Sisterloc adjacent styles to choose from there is no reason to hesitate to start your loc’d journey. If you choose to go the trademarked Sisterlock brand route you will have the advantage of trained and certified consultants. If you try the Microlocs “and family,” route you get a similar look with more flexibility in cost, loc size, and DIY accessibility. No matter which you choose there is no denying the beauty, versatility, and power that come with rocking your natural hair anywhere and everywhere you please. If you’re on the fence, consider this a sign. Go for it, no time like today.