Protective hairstyles, low-maintenance styles with long staying power, are quite popular amongst naturals. There are Senegalese twists, bantu knots, two-strand twists, and more box braid (knotted and knotless) variations than you can imagine. Another popular protective style that is trending as of late are butterfly locs, which have small loops on opposite sides of the foundation (starter) loc — to create an effortlessly undone look. “Butterfly locs are a type of bohemian synthetic loc style,” Erinn Courtney, StyleSeat hair stylist and loctician, tells TZR. “They're a protective style because the entire strand of your natural hair is encased in the wrapped faux loc, [and they] hide and protect your ends.”
With the ability to be styled in different colors, lengths, and end finishings, butterfly locs are an ideal transitional and seasonless option to try out for fall. Ahead, TZR spoke to top celebrity hair stylists on everything you need to know about butterfly locs, from what to expect at an appointment to why it's that style. The pros even shared seven chic ways to wear butterfly locs for any aesthetic.
Butterfly Locs Are Easy To Install
There are two ways to install your butterfly locs: with premade loc hair via the crochet method or the wrap method. The former starts with cornrows and then weaves in the premade locs into the hair. Next, hair is loosely wrapped to give it the distressed and unraveled look. This is the quickest way to install, often taking no more than two and a half hours.
The most common DIY way, on the other hand, is by wrapping synthetic hair around natural hair strands. To start, section the hair into free-parted foundation plaits. Next, kinky synthetic textured hair is wrapped around natural hair from the bottom of the braid to the root before wrapping back down again. The small spaces left on the locs create butterfly-like wings (hence the name). Although it’s entirely up to you what size and amount of braids you want, Mane Addicts stylist Sabrina Porsche says it will depend highly upon your hair density as each braid starts from your real hair — meaning, if you prefer thinner locs, avoid wrapping multiple layers of synthetic hair. Likewise, if you’re looking for thicker locs, play around with the amount of braiding hair that you use.
Braiding Hair Is Easy To Care For
The experts recommend hypo-allergenic synthetic kinky textured hair or water wave hair for butterfly locs. Keep in mind that if you’re doing this at home, you will typically need six to eight packs of hair, depending on how thick you want the locs. This type of hair can be purchased online or at your local beauty supply store.
In terms of prepping the false hair, the experts all encourage rinsing it with apple cider vinegar after washing to remove the alkaline lye (a chemical coating occasionally sprayed on synthetic hair to make it heat-resistant in case you need to manipulate it) as a means to prevent scalp irritation during the four to eight weeks the style is installed.
Butterfly Locs Require Minimum Maintenance
If the idea of waking up and spending no more than five minutes getting ready is seriously appealing then butterfly locs are the fall hairstyle for you. Weekly maintenance requires little more than a light serum or hair oil (nozzle tops like Pattern Scalp Serum and Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil, are ideal for this step) massaging it into the scalp every couple of days to keep the skin hydrated.
Although not required, Monique Little, founder of hair brand You Go Natural, recommends you sleep with your head on a satin or silk pillowcase or in a bonnet to further protect hair from frizzing and breaking. Courtney also recommends spraying oil or a refresher spray every other day to maintain hydration of your natural hair as synthetic hair tends to draw out moisture.
In terms of cleansing, most protective styles will require a wash day here and there, but butterfly locs don’t require them. However, if you do wash your hair, be very thoughtful in the drying process as moisture trapped in the locs can cause bacteria and itchiness and the hair could start to unravel entirely.
Butterfly Locs Have A Seamless Removal
The experts don’t suggest leaving in your locs for longer than eight weeks as it can lead to oil buildup and excess tension — potentially causing scalp and hair damage in the long run. If you aren’t following the four to eight weeks guideline, a good rule of thumb is to take them out once your natural roots grow longer than an inch. To remove, simply book an appointment with your stylist, or if you prefer the more DIY route, there are tons of Youtube videos showing the exact process: cut loc at the very end and unravel hair; then unbraid your natural hair and gently detangle.
Convinced of trying out the style yourself? Ahead, TZR shares seven innovative styles to test for the fall season.
To add dimension and depth to your fall hairstyle, work in layers to your locs, stopping at different lengths during the wrapping process. Remember to have natural hair fully detangled for a salon-worthy finish.
Short & Sweet
If you prefer shorter locs that don’t touch your skin so much, opt for the mini version of the trend. Worn micro, medium, or jumbo in thickness, short shoulder-grazing butterfly locs will still give off the boho chic vibe you’re looking for.
Cornrow Butterfly Locs
Instead of crocheting synthetic hair all over cornrows, leave some out for a show-stopping hybrid take on the trend. This is ideal for the uninitiated as you can see and feel more of your scalp than in a full butterfly loc style. You’ll still want to massage in a scalp oil every few days to keep things hydrated.
Gray Hair, Don’t Care
Protective styles don’t discriminate against age. Meaning, if you are starting to gray, or looking for a new non-manipulation style, you can still get butterfly locs and look chic. If you plan to wash your hair, just remember to properly air dry or sit under a dryer to prevent hair from smelling and bacteria from growing.
Let It Hang
A chic addition to any outfit, long butterfly locs are definitely the right move for fall. They might require more than the standard six to eight packs of braid hair but the hairstyles (high pony, space buns, and half up, half down) you’ll be able to get out of it will make it well worth the install time.
Bobs are the ultimate fashion girl hairstyle, radiating cool French vibes. With this shorter cut, you can play around with how much texture you want towards the ends. The length also perfectly highlights the kinky synthetic texture.
A variation of red hues pop up every fall, with butterfly locs leading the trend this year. Whether you shoot for ginger, shiraz, copper, or golden red, you are sure to turn heads with this color. Feel free to mix in blonde or another accent for added flair.