Instant vs. Starter Locs: Which One is Better?

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Instant Locs vs. Starter Locs

If you’ve opened this article, chances are you’re free-spirited and love the vibe locs bring along. 

But then you cannot tell instant locs from starter locs. The two terms got you mixed up.

Buddy, I’m here to make you decipher the exact differences as a seasoned loctician. I understand your loc journey can be easier only if you have clarity about locs. 

Just a taste of the rundowns, this is the place to find out which is high or low maintenance and which is better. 

So, let’s delve into further information. 

Differences between Instant Locs and Starter Locs

Straight to the point, instant locs, and starter locs have differences based on certain elements. Once you have them at your fingertips, you’re good to be a loc expert.


The first difference lies in how these locs get formed, as both are done on natural hair. In other words, the manner in which instant locs are set up in your hair is not the same as starter locs. 

As for instant locs, they get installed with the help of a professional using crochet hooks. When these tools are set and hair partitioned, each section is comb-coiled from the roots to mid-length, clipped, and set dry. After that, the undone section of hair is crocheted all the way to the bottom. 

Crochet Dreads

On the other hand, starter locs form independently when the hair is in its natural state. They develop naturally, like freeform locs, complementing a freestyle personality. Not forgetting, they grow without manipulation using combs, crochet hooks, or with a stylist involved. 

From that, you realize that the nature of installation gives rise to the most distinct way to distinguish one from the other. 

Instant Locs

Maintenance Levels

Judging from how starter locs and instant locs come into being, starter locs tend to be low maintenance. This is because you give them the space and freedom to grow into existence. Your hair knots and locks up however it wants as it lengthens over time. 

At no point will you need to spare time and extra costs for loctician services. You only focus on hydrating and moisturizing them to boost their health and longevity. Also, you’ll have to keep washing your hair in mind to combat product and sweat buildup. 

instant locs (5)

Honestly, instant locs are more high maintenance than starter locs when you factor in installation. Whether you like it or not, you will involve an expert loctician for them to turn out perfect. 

One cannot run away from the fact that instant locs have to be visibly seen when you’re creating them. The locking process is quite delicate, and it’s easy for you not to reach perfection. And if the hair is not interlocked properly, the locs are likely to unravel when they’re not supposed to.

Instant Locs

Size & Thickness

Regarding the size of instant locs, you can give your preference and determine exactly what you want. Your hairstylist can meet your size demands, whether medium, large, or small. 

You can also know the best thickness of locs in your hair that blends with your hair texture and volume. From the experience locticians have, they’re able to advise right before the installation works begin.

On the flip side, you cannot predict how the size of starter locs will be as they grow out. Since they form themselves their own way, they might not be in uniform sizes. You will rarely find starter locs with the same size and thickness on the same head. 

instant locs (8)


Usually, starter locs turn out unruly and fuzzy because their layout has no precision. Despite needing commitment towards taking care of them, do not expect them to be as neat as instant locs. 

Instant locs normally appear neat and well-defined from the scalp to the ends. This is brought about by the act of dividing the hair into fine sections before setting the instant locs. So, the outcome is clean parts with the scalp visible. 

instant locs (9)

Ease of Removal

Both instant locs and starter locs can be undone when you feel you’re fed up with the style. However, the complexity of removal differs between them. 

Starter locs are easier to comb out because there was no manipulation from the word go. That is possible on condition that you used to wash them and moisturize them deeply. The process will not be strenuous if your loc care has always been meticulous. 

instant locs (1)

Instant locs are more difficult to remove depending on their age and longevity. The longer they stay in your head, the more they become locked, and the harder it gets to get them out. 

They go through a budding phase whereby the hair within the loc strand interlocks itself. And once the locs reach maturity, you’re likely unable to remove them. But with the right technique, you can comb out young instant locs. 

Instant Locs vs. Starter Locs: Which is Better?

Although instant locs and starter locs differ in several aspects, each type depends on personal preference. That said, you cannot conclude that one is better than the other because it all boils down to what locs you’re after. 

However, if you want neat locs, opt for instant locs. And if you seek the Rastafari dread look, starter locs will suffice even though instant locs are more popular today.

For a person on the lookout for hair that takes up less of their time and money, starter locs will do. This works with loc lovers looking for an economical yet fashionable style. 

Also, if it might reach a time you need to undo them, choose starter locs over instant locs. But if instant locs are your only choice, ensure they don’t age because they’ll become more permanent and a headache to remove. 

Wrapping up

Bringing everything to a close, you can now identify instant locs from starter locs. Simply explained, instant locs are made by intertwining hair with a crochet hook while starter locs naturally lock up. 

If you need a physical guide, better consult an experienced loctician. You will get immediate one-on-one help and also discern which one is fit for your hair. Otherwise, leave a comment below for further clarification and guidance.

Author: Charity Nasike


Charity Nasike is a passionate wig wearer and basically has diverse knowledge related to wigs' care and maintenance. When she's not writing, she's either in the kitchen trying out new recipes or on social media advising fellow ladies tricks to apply on their wigs.

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