Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial

By January 27th, 202136 Comments
by Angela of Wise Curls

I am officially loc free and rocking loose natural tresses! I was enjoying my loc journey; however, I missed my loose hair. Terribly. I may revisit the journey again in the future, but for now, I’m in love and have undoubtedly succumbed to the “hair in hand” disease.

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial
This was my second loc journey. I cut off my previous locs (after growing them for 4 years), back in April 2010. I was on this journey for about 6 months and, surprisingly, my hair had loc’ed completely at the 4 month mark. So the take down was not an easy task.

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial
I’ve seen many YT videos of the loc take down process, and saw many using dental or sewing instruments on their hair. The result was grocery bags full of hair lost during the process. I opted for a different route by using the following tools:

Africa’s Best Detangling ConditionerTaking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial

Good ole’ fashioned fine tooth comb

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial
Here’s what I did:

  • Saturated the loc completely with conditioner
  • Using the fine tooth comb, I began to detangle the loc starting at the end of the hair. I used more conditioner as I worked my way up to the root of the loc
  • As I reached mid-way to the root, I used my fingers to detangle with the aid of more conditioner
  • As each loc was taken down, the hair was two-strand twisted to prevent any future detangling as this process was continued throughout the course of the week

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial
With the help of conditioner, this resulted in less shedding and loss of hair (This is all of the hair that was lost during the entire take down process):

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial
After a good wash with TW’s Black Shampoo and conditioning with HE’s Hello Hydration, as well as more finger detangling in the shower, this was the amount of hair that was “lost” after that session:
Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial
This has been a fun and interesting journey, but I am excited to get back in my hair and play around a bit while trying some new products along the way (the PJ in me is itching to come out). Besides, I missed his hands in my hair *clears throat*.

So, it can be done! Locs can be taken down with little hair shedding with the aid of conditioner and patience.

Taking Down Locs- Natural Hair TutorialTaking Down Locs- Natural Hair Tutorial

Have you ever removed locs? What was your process?


  • Anonymous says:

    I am so glad you posted this! I have been asking and wondering about the take down process and everyone I asked gave me negative answers. Most said I would have to cut them out. Im glad to know now that I don't and that it just takes time and patience which I have plenty of. Thanks again!!

  • EKC says:

    Thank you for the article and comments. very helpful tips. I am taking down my locs after 11 mos. because I'm reinlisting in the military and will have Sisterlocks installed after my in-processing. i love locs and this is the hairstyle for me. Luckily most of my ends are still curly. So today marks the start of my take down routine of conditioner, detangler, water, rat tail combs, more water, and paper clip for the smaller ones I have.

    Wish me luck as I stock up on b12 for the next two weeks :-).

  • AnaDion says:

    It seemed like a lot of hair in the baggie: I had to remind myself that it was 6 months worth of shed hair.You hair (pre and post loc removal) looks amazing!

  • KiKi says:

    Being home sick with bronchitis gave me the time away from work to take out my locs of 4/12 years. I don't remember what i used, but it caused a nice slip. My tool; #1 knitting needle and a week laying in bed. I felt an enormous revaluation once the last one was removed and i cried from emotional overload. It took my hair almost a year to come out of the shock and regain its strength. it was so weak and fragile, something it has never been. I love locs, they are beautiful but I know I will never revisit them.

  • Anonymous says:

    I took down my loc's that I was locing for 4 years….it took me 6 months, but my locs were small and long. I wore a wig while taking them out. While I did shed hair, I think it was the normal hair that I would've have shed over that time, as I still have a full head of hair. People are always amazed when they see my hair and realize that you can take down locks and maintain the health and length. My hair has never been this long. and I love it. As I said it took me 6 months, on and off, but I enjoyed wearing wigs and head wraps, no one knew what I was up to. LOL

  • Anonymous says:

    Just took down my locs that I had for 16 months. I used a metal rattail comb, knitting needle & a conditioner called Envia (from Melaluca). It took my 7 days & I cried when I was done(it took forever). I am happy I did it! LOVE LOVE LOVE my hair & I didn't realize how much I missed it. I was worth saving my hair. I can still do so much with it since it is past my shoulders. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Camille Acey says:

    I took my ten year old locs down last year. I documented the process and you can see it on youtube. my name there is "olamina". I cut a lot of hair off before hand and a LOT was shed. I think there is definitely a difference between someone taking out 10 year old locs and someone taking out one or two year old locs. My hair wasnt just gonna slip loose. I had ten years of shed hair matted together. So unless you have a magic potion, taking down very old and long locs WILL yield the bag of hair, but who cares? It grows back! I am so grateful to have a light head and a visible neck again!

  • Kay says:

    I removed mine about 4 weeks ago. I used suave almonds and shea condish, saturated the loc i was working on, and picked it out with a fine tooth comb. I had 120 locs, and it had only been a year.

    I can definitely see myself loc'ing up again though.

  • Anonymous says:

    There's always that one hater in the bunch, sadly.

    Great post and useful information. Thanks for sharing.

  • Emme says:

    I just hate how for every two wonderful people, there is one bully in the natural hair community. There is always some complaint to nitpick at people about. If it isn't curl definition, it is growing and retaining length, and now taking down locs. Really? It is just so tiring. It IS just hair; it is not an essential part of any organ, but it has some meaning in most people's lives. No other person can determine how much is too much time spent on any activity. If I take an hour from TV watching to play with my hair, is that too much time spent on my hair?

    Where did this idea come from that curls or length was a European ideal? Why are these people trying to impose their historical ignorance on the rest of us instead of dealing with their issues? Stop projecting please. We are all not the same people.

    To Angela: Thanks for the great information. If I ever choose to loc, it is nice to know I have options if I want to take it down.

  • BlackAngel Playah says:

    I recently took mine down. I'd had them for almost 6 years. I WISH I could have toughed it out and took the last 9 loose, but with my damaged hands, I just couldn't spend another 9 hours doing it, so I cut the back.. Made a really funny hair do.. LoL! After some trimming and 2 months of growing it looks more normal now.

    All I did was took a fork, hot water, and cheap conditioner. I dipped and picked.. Just over and over until I was loose. It was pretty "easy" but time consuming.. If it weren't for my carpal tunnel I would have easily finished the final day and had a BIG fierce fro, but my little "boy" cut is pretty cute too. I'll be glad when it grows back out.

    Nice to see someone else is newly loose. Welcome to the next journey. 🙂


  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post!! I've been thinking about taking my locs down for a while after having them for almost 10 years. Every week I go back and forth, but I think I might do it soon!

  • SpicerK says:

    Yes I have. I had my locks from 2000-2004. They got long and heavy and I had a lot of build up I couldn't get rid of. I was going to cut them out so I let my sister cut one. Then I thought "Hey lets see if I can comb one out" I had a rat tail comb and I used the metal pointy end and it worked. I couldn't believe it. It took me exactly one month and my hair was intact. I had some shedding but I only used that rat-tail comb and my hair was ridiculously long after having the locks in for 4 years. My hair didn't fall out at all like people told me would happen. I got it cut every month because of the length. It got in my mouth when I ate and caught on purses and back packs. I don't know how those white girls do it. I've always had length but almost down to my butt was too much.

  • Anonymous says:

    This poster didn't even say "it's just hair." To the person judging, you may have heard OTHER people say so but SHE didn't. She wanted to keep her length and shared her process with us so let it be. I'm sure most people don't know that locs can be detangled so this post was helpful.

  • Anonymous says:

    I took my locs down about 2.5 years ago after having locs for about 6 years, BSL. It took me 3 weeks to do it. It takes a lot of patience, but it is something that you would want to do. I did not want to lose all my length. That is why I chose to take them down. I've learned alot about natural hair since taking down my locs. To me, locs was an easy natural. Dealing with loose hair was a nightmare. I have since become comfortable and knowledgeable about caring for hair that is not loc'd. I am thinking about locking again, but not for many years from now. I love playing in my hair and working on getting it the way I would like it to be. I enjoy the journey.

  • Anonymous says:

    i have zero patience for such things lol so when i realized locs were not for me.. about a year after i started them, i just waited about 3 months to get some 'new growth' and cut them off! I could have died but i couldnt take it lol smh. I absolutely hate my hair that short so i wore freestyle braids for another 3 mos after i bc'd my locks, and then i couldnt stand another braid in my head and just wore my own. hats off to you ladies who comb out!!!! Its been about a year and a half since i did all that drama and now it is so extremely thick idk what to do with it anymore….ugh but i know what not to do:relax it or loc it lol

  • Anonymous says:

    Excellent post and who are we to judge one's desire for length? Geez people.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow — this is a great post. I NEVER knew that one could "take down" locs. I though the only way out was with scissors.

    With that said, looking at the baggie of hair seemed like ALOT of hair loss even though it was implied that the loss was minimal. Just curious as to the quality of the hair after the locs have been taken down. Is the hair up and down the shaft thinned or compromised or is it mainly the ends that must be trimmed?

  • Bianca says:

    I took down my locks after 12 years. They were to my waist. I had my daughter cut the to my shoulders and i went to a salon to have then combed out. It took 12 hours, but I was able to keep some hair.
    I think the process is the same for everyone…lots of conditioner and a needle or pin or a fine toothed comb and patience!

    The rule of thumb is the less time you've had your locks the easier it will be to take them down without loosing alot of hair…

  • Shay says:

    i'm so happy for this post. i took down my own and had people comment that i really didn't have dreads if i was able to comb them out! it took A LOT of time and a few bottles of conditioner but i did have the help of my husband. your hair looks fabulous before AND after! =)

  • Anonymous says:

    I wish I had the patience,once I got frustrated trying to detangle I just chopped it off. I had 4 months of new growth from not retwisting so I had a little twa afterwards.

  • Anonymous says:

    I cut my first set of locks (10 years, butt length even after several trims, and I'm 5'10") right off and rocked a super-short do for a while. My second set was a few months old when I decided to take them down. Truth be told, I had just intended to do one lock as a sort of experiment to see if it could be done and what my hair was like afterwards, and then I kept going.

    To the person who asked why some people go through all this to keep length, for me it's because I like my hair when it's very short and I like it when it's long enough to pin up, but the in-between stages I don't like dealing with (I've heard people with straight hair say this too, it's not unique to kinky-curly hair). At the time I took my locks down, I knew that I would be looking to grow my hair, so by keeping as much length as I could, I avoided that awkward in-between stage.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I don't have locs, but I'd be tempted to try them if I could manage the take down. Kudos to you all who did this after several years.

    @ anon 5:30 I get what you're saying about "it's just hair." It bothered me too when I would read comments like "define curls." So I suppose that we can conclude it's not just hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I tried taking down my 3 year old locs, and then realized I didn't have the patience! It took me about 30 minutes to take down 1 inch of loc. Perhaps, I was doing it wrong–maybe I didn't condition/soften it enough. So, I ended up taking the scissors to my hair.

    The poster's hair looks beautiful!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow at the poster judging people who want to use such a procedure to remove their locs. If length is what she wants to maintain, what's it to you? We should be made aware of the various options we have when it comes to maintenance and styling of hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    i took my 4 year old locs down in the summer of 2007. i wanted a change and that last set of locs held so much of my past (i was going through a lot during that time period).

    basically i did the same thing. except i used a mix of conditioner and detangler spray and a the end of a rat tail comb. I made sure i saturated the loc and then started from the ends up.

    took me 5 days straight to get thru all 115 locs. i deep conditioned my hair and loosely braided it up to give my hair and scalp a rest. after all that combing my hair went thru a little bit of trauma.

    after having locs for 4 years i still had to give my ends a serious trim (more like a cut) but i was still able to put my hair in a nice bun. so i had a could amount of length. took a while for my hair to get healthy and for me to get used to having loose hair again.

    i would never take down a set of locs again. it was too much. i would much rather just start all over again. i honestly wanted to just see if it could be done. my friend did it but her locs were only a year old. i wanted to see if one could do it with an older set of locs. like i said, in the end is still had to cut my ends because they were so terrible.

  • ycami says:

    Yes i have. I took mine out in Feb after having them for 2years and 4mo. When i went natural, i didnt take much time to explore my loose hair and soon went into locking. I guess after a while, i was missing my loose hair and wanted to have fun with it.It took me 3 days with the help of my dad and aunt (yes they're so sweet to have helped me!) & loss a grocery bag full of hair. I don't regret my decision but at times i miss my locs. It wouldn't be a surprise if i were to loc again. But for now i'm enjoying my loose hair and learning more everyday

  • ...kkfkfkf says:

    i cut them off because i got bored.had them for a year. before this post i wasn't even aware that locs could be "taken down".it seems like too much effort for a limited return. but to each her own i guess.

  • Anonymous says:

    it took me about 5 days to take down locks i had for 5 yrs n reached the middle of my back. I used a mix of conditioner and moisturizer…n interchanged between a sewing needle and a cuticle stick. I expected a lot of hair loss bc i hadn't combed my hair in 5 yrs! got a whole shoe box full…but my hair was as THICK as ever. I now have BSL natural hair! it's a challenge, but i'm happy with my decision 😉
    Blessings from Trinidad .u_u.

  • Anonymous says:

    i took down a 9mo old set back in may because i wasn't happy with my parts. i saturated each loc w/ HE hello hydration conditioner and used the end of a rat tail comb, 2 strand twisting each one when i was done. it took me about a week and a half because i started during exams. i'll be starting over some time in the next year, but for now i'm enjoying my loose hair. today i'm rockin my 1st bantu knot out and i must say, it is FIEEEEERCE!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I just cut it off cause it's not that serious.

    Random thought: I find it interesting how a lot of people say "it's just hair" but then do any and everything they can to hold on to length…but I digress

  • Anonymous says:

    it took me weeks to take down 2-3 year old sisterlocks. i also missed the "hand in the hair" and i had loc envy. seems like i liked everyone else's locs better than my own. i also used a loc takedown conditioner that i still use today because it had great ingredients.

  • Kay says:

    it took me an entire month to take down my bra strap length locs

  • Kay says:

    I took down my locs after 3 years using fine tooth comb, large needle and moisturizer. I lost alot of hair but had way too much hair on my head still i was shocked and i didnt know which way was up and ended up with a relaxer 🙁 and damage. now two years i am twa and loving it!

  • Anonymous says:

    how long did it take you to take out your locks?

  • April says:

    Thanks for the post! I figured it might be this easy to take down locs and not completely necessary to chop your hair off. I hope to have locs in the future, and this was very helpful in anticipating how to go back to loose hair which I know I will do.

Leave a Reply