Sisterlocks vs Microlocs: What is the Difference?

Sisterlocks and microlocs

If you consider getting locs, you may wonder if Sisterlocks or Microlocs is the better option for you. They are protective styles gaining popularity in recent years for type 4c natural hair. Both styles use tiny locs to achieve the look, but they have some key differences. They also have their unique benefits and drawbacks, so it can be challenging to decide which is right for you. This article will discuss the critical differences between Sisterlocks and Microlocs to determine what style is right for you.

What is the Difference Between Sisterlocks and Microlocs?

The primary difference between Sisterlocks and Microlocs is the installation technique.

A trained professional installs Sisterlocks using a trademarked method, while anyone can install Microlocs using braids, twists or coils. As a result, Sisterlocks tend to be more expensive than Microlocs.

Sisterlocks are also typically smaller than Microlocs, and you can style them in more ways than Microlocs.

The installation of Microlocs requires products such as waxes or gels, while Sisterlocks do not. 

What are Sisterlocks?

To better understand Sisterlocks, it is essential to know a little bit about their history.

Sisterlocks were created and trademarked in 1993 by Dr. JoAnne Cornwell-Davis. Cornwell’s company motto states that Sisterlocks is “not about a hairstyle, it’s about a lifestyle.”

The Sisterlocks method uses interlocking to install the locs, rather than braiding or twisting. The Sisterlocks method is a two-step process that can take up to 36 hours to complete.


Consultation is the first step in getting Sisterlocks. A Sisterlocks professional will test different Sisterlocks styles during the consultation to determine which one will work best for your hair type.

They will also discuss the Sisterlocks lifestyle with you and answer any questions.

The consultation typically takes over an hour or so, but it can be shorter or longer, depending on your needs.


After the consultation, you will schedule a time for your Sisterlocks installation.

This style will result in about 400 to 600 individual locs. The Sisterlocks installation process can take up to 36 hours, so it is essential to plan accordingly.

The Sisterlocks professional will section off your hair into small squares during the installation using a comb. They will then use a Sisterlock crotchet needle to interlock the hair at the root.


Once installed, the best practice is to have a follow-up session after two to four weeks.

Afterwards, you will need a maintenance session every four to six weeks. The consultant will remove loose hairs during a maintenance appointment, and they will re-tighten your Sisterlocks.

Further, the Sisterlocks professional will teach you how to care for your new Sisterlocks, including which products to use and how often to wash them.

Pros and Cons of Sisterlocks

Benefits of Sisterlocks

  • Versatility: Sisterlocks have unlimited styling options. Due to their small thin size, you can wear them in various styles.
  • Low maintenance: Sisterlocks require less time and effort than other styles, such as open natural hair, weaves, braids or twists. You will only need to visit a Sisterlocks professional every four to six weeks for maintenance.
  • Neat appearance: Sisterlocks always look neat compared to traditional locs. This neatness is due to their small size and the fact that they are installed individually at the root.
  • Protective style: Sisterlocks can help protect your hair from damage caused by everyday styling, relaxers and other harsh hair treatments.
  • Unique look: Sisterlocks is a unique style that will turn heads.
  • Durable: Sisterlocks is a durable style that can last for years with proper care.

Drawbacks of Sisterlocks

  • Initial Cost: The Sisterlocks method is trademarked and can be expensive to install, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,000.
  • Time-consuming: The Sisterlocks installation process can take up to 36 hours, so it is essential to plan accordingly.
  • Difficult to remove: Sisterlocks are more challenging to remove than other styles, so you must commit to this style for the long term.
  • Requires loctician/consultant: Only a Sisterlocks professional can install them, so you need to find one in your area.

What are Microlocs?

Microlocs are similar to dreadlocks, but they are much smaller in diameter, typically ranging from 0.25 inches to 0.50 inches.

Dreadlocks are sections of hair matted together to form a rope-like strand.

You can create Microlocs using several methods, including interlocking, braiding, twisting or coiling.

History of Dreadlocks/Microlocs

Dreadlocks have been around for centuries and were popular among ancient cultures, such as the Egyptians and the Celts.

The Rastafari movement also wore dreadlocks in Jamaica in the 1930s.

Dreadlocks were introduced to the mainstream in the 1970s by celebrities, including Bob Marley.

Microlocs have been gaining popularity as a more polished alternative to dreadlocks.

People of all cultures often wear them, not just those with type 4C natural hair.

Stages of Microlocs

There are four stages of the Microlocs journey:

Stage 1: Initial Loc Stage

The Initial Loc stage is where the locs are first starting to form. The hair will not be matted. It will look like the style used to create the loc, such as braids or twists.

Stage 2: Budding Stage

The Budding Stage the stage is where the locs are beginning to mature. The hair will start to matt together and form dreadlocks. It may appear frizzy with slight swelling.

Stage 3: Shooting Stage 

The shooting stage is where the locs are fully mature. The hair will be matted together tightly and appear neat and polished.

Stage 4: Contracting Stage

The Contracting stage is the final stage of the Microlocs journey. The locs will be fully locked and contracted. The hair will appear healthy, and it will increase in length significantly.

Pros and Cons of Microlocs

Benefits of Microlocs

  • Easy to DIY: You can install Microlocs at home with little to no experience.
  • Add Volume: Microlocs can add volume and fullness to your hair due to their small size and large quantity.
  • Lower installation cost: Compared to Sisterlocks, the initial cost of installing Microlocs is lower.
  • Faster installation time: You can install Microlocs in a fraction of the time it takes to install Sisterlocks as you don’t require special skills.
  • Low maintenance: Once installed, Microlocs require very little maintenance.

Drawbacks of Microlocs

  • Asymmetrical locks: Since there is no defined grid pattern, the locks can appear asymmetrical with irregular partings.
  • Harder to Style: As the locs mature, they become heavier and can be more difficult to style than Sisterlocks.
  • Rough on edges: The small diameter plus weight of the locs can be harsh on the hairline and cause breakage.

How to Choose Between Sisterlocks and Microlocs

If you consider Sisterlocks or microlocs, there are a few things to consider.

Cost and installation time

First, Sisterlocks require a significant initial investment in time and money. The installation process can take up to 36 hours and cost between $500 and $1000.

Microlocs, on the other hand, are much easier to install. It takes about 2 to 4 hours and costs $200 to 400.


Another thing to consider is the level of expertise required. Sisterlocks must be installed and maintained by a certified Sisterlocks consultant.

Microlocs can be installed and maintained by anyone with some basic knowledge of hair styling.

Size and Appearance

Sisterlocks are the smallest locs and very thin, while microlocs are about the size of a drinking straw.

They are more uniform in size and appearance and are much lighter.

Sisterlocks may be a better option if you have low-density hair, as they are less likely to weigh your hair down. They will also give you a larger quantity of locs.

If you have high-density hair, microlocs with a few locs may help avoid too much bulkiness.

Personal Preference

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. If you want a more polished look, Sisterlocks may be the right choice.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-install and maintain hairstyle, microlocs may be better.

Whichever route you choose, both Sisterlocks and microlocs can be a great way to wear your hair.


Sisterlocks and microlocs are great options for natural hair, but they have some key differences.

Sisterlocks are thinner and more uniform in size, while microlocs are thicker and have a more irregular appearance. Further, Sisterlocks also require a significant investment of time and money upfront, while microlocs are much easier to install and maintain.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Sisterlocks may be a better option if you want a more polished look, while microlocs may be better if you’re looking for something easy to install and maintain.

Whichever route you choose, both Sisterlocks and Microlocs can be a great way to wear your hair.

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