Microlocs vs Sisterlocks: A Dreadlock Drama

Dreadlocks fans always remain vigilant when it comes to their quest for finding some refined alternatives. And sure enough, microlocs and sisterlocks are two worthy patterns that are worth trying out at least once in a lifetime.

These aren’t hairstyle concepts, rather a technique or pattern of hairdos upon which numerous concepts are built everyday by modern stylists. You may have already come across tons of them on social media platforms.

The reason behind such outrageous popularity for both of these are comfort, styling potential and catering to modern taste. And as these two are rich in all of these categories – which one should you choose to upgrade your style to the next level? Let’s find out!

Microlocs & Sisterlocks: What Are These?

Let’s get our ideas clear on microlocs and sisterlocks by learning about their basis. This should help us further our discussion without complicating things.



Microlocs are your basic dreadlocks but with a much thinner diameter. If you have to measure the thickness of each lock, microlocs tend to be narrower than a pencil. Due to the size, this locking pattern is named accordingly as ‘micro’. It’s a highly common and trendy styling pattern that many individuals with curly/kinky hair find their comfort in.



If you didn’t know already, sisterlocks are actually a copyrighted hair locking technique launched by Dr. JoAnne Cornwell in 1993. Ever since its emergency, this technique has been institutionalized and no stylist is allowed to craft it without prior training. The locks in this are much finer and tighter than microlocs. It’s also believed to be more lasting as opposed to any other form of dreadlock.

Sisterlocks vs Microlocs: Which One to Pick?

This section breaks down every concern regarding sisterlocks and microlocs into comprehensive parts. It should ensure that you know what you’re committing to, sparing the regret of your decision afterward.

Hair Type

The first thing you should consider before picking either of them to be the pattern for your next hairstyle is your hair type. Due to the technical aspects, fine hair is unable to form sturdy sisterlocks but it can be converted into microlocs in a few ways. So if you have fine hair, your options are already limited while Type 3 or Type 4 hair owners will still require further info.


As sisterlocks have been institutionalized and required professional training before being able to perform the styling, a certification is required for practicing on customers. This certification renders a stylist Sisterlock Trainee or Consulted, without which it would be deemed as a violation. Meaning, you can get this styling done only at the hairdressers who are certified while there’s no such obligations for microlocs.

Installing Pattern

Installing Pattern

The installation pattern is more refined for sisterlocks due to the width of each lock. Sisterlocks are usually more organized like box braids and gridlines are created by the stylist using proper instruments. It incorporates a weaving technique for all those fine locks to be formed out. On the other hand, microlocs have a few options to go about like braiding, twisting, coiling or interlocking. This depends on your preference and condition of hair.

Required Instruments

To perform sisterlocks, you’ll be needing a specialized locking tool that only the trained professionals can operate with maximum efficiency. This tool is basically a crochet hook with a tiny end, allowing the hair to be guided into interlocks that are highly compact. It ensures a seamless pattern all through the head.

Microlocs can usually be formed with hands. But if you’re willing to include instruments for precision, get yourself a micro needle to ease your task. Otherwise, a yarn needle will be almost as effective through the styling procedure.

Number of Locks

The amount of locks can’t be accurately counted at all times, rather speculated by experts. If you want to measure how many locks there can be made on an average-haired head with curly hair, specialists reckon the number is around 400. On the other hand, on the same head of hair, only around 150-200 microlocs can be crafted at a regular range of diameter.


As mentioned earlier, microlocs are thinner than the usual dreadlocks and are shaped narrower than the thickness of a pencil. Sisterlocks are much more refined and tight – the diameter ranging between 1.6mm to 3.2 mm on average. While many individuals can form microlocs at a similar diameter to sisterlocks, the latter is the one that holds place more firmly without any chemical intervention.


The duration of styling is miles apart between microlocs and sisterlocks. The former can take between 6 to 20 hours for the completion of the entire process. This duration depends on your hair type, volume and the hairstyle you’re trying to achieve. Regardless of styles, sisterlocks should take you frequent sessions adding up to over 30 hours for the entire thing to be completed.


On the basis of sisterlocks being operated by limited, certified professionals and the amount of effort, expertise and time it consumes, the cost of it becomes significantly high. The average sisterlock cost is somewhere between $400 to $1,000 as found out in surveys. Microlocs aren’t costly like this – ranging between $200 to $500 – with the flexibility of doing it yourself at home.


Microlocs and Sisterlock Maintenance

Microlocs can be maintained at home if you have proper knowledge about the ideal routine. Otherwise, you’d have to visit a stylist to do it for you every 4-6 weeks and it should cost you no more than $80. Sisterlock maintenance must be performed by a trained professional every month or every other month and the cost exceeds $100 for most cases.

Product Application

Microlocs are product-heavy patterns because knitting without tightening as much as sisterlocks require some intervention to hold the locks in place. Hair products like residue-free shampoo, locking gel/ cream/ mist/ spray are used during the styling while leave-in conditioner and natural oil are applied to reduce hair stress.

Although the leave-in conditioner and scalp oil are actually essential for any type of hairdo with curly/kinky hair, sisterlocks in addition require only sisterlock shampoo as a product. This ensures that there’s no residue left on the hair strands that could later on compromise the quality of the locks. Thus, out of the two, sisterlocks are less product demanding.

Pros & Cons of Microlocs and Sisterlocks

The pros and cons for these two mini-dreadlock styling patterns are placed side by side in this section so that you can gain a deeper insight more comfortably.

Styling Flexibility: Sisterlocks are More Flexible

Sisterlocks offer a much higher variety of hair styling and these styles are more flexible due to the fine thickness of each lock.

Since microlocs aren’t defined with instruments and contain a thicker diameter, the options and flexibility are limited.

Microlocs Cost Less Time and Money

Microlocs are more time and budget friendly. Also, if you have the basic knowledge, you can simply follow along a video to mimic the pattern on yourself.

But as per sisterlocks, I’ve already mentioned you’ll need a certified stylist and it’ll cost you a significant amount of time and money.

Professional Guidance: Sisterlocks Ensure Hair Health

Professional Guidance Sisterlocks Ensure Hair Health

The previous con can also be perceived as a pro for sisterlocks. For instance, although you’ll need a certified professional, you’ll be guided from step 1 to the maintenance that’ll help you retain the best quality for your hair follicles.

Considering many aspects, microlocs are still less beneficial to the hair than sisterlocks.

Installation Methods: Microlocs are Diverse

In terms of installation, microlocs have more than one method as opposed to sisterlocks and it comes as a convenience to many.

Opposing this thought, microlocs demand application of hair products for styling as well as maintenance while sisterlocks win out here utilizing the least amount of products.

Visual Battle of Microlocs & Sisterlocks on Hairstyles

I will now showcase three hairstyles from each group so that you can get a visual idea about these two techniques. This should help you imagine yourself with one of these locks to enhance your looks!

Microlocs Hairstyles

First off, the microloc designs are to be observed in different shapes for both idea generation and setting realistic expectations.

Microloc Crown Braid

Microloc Crown Braid

Since microlocs are flexible in terms of designing, this would be the prime example to support this claim. The hairstyle in the picture is a DIY design and these locks are split into two parts upon completion. The top part takes these locks further to be turned into high top dreads and be wrapped around into a crown. Bottom part simply lets the locks hang loose all the way around.

Bob Microloc Short Pony

Bob Microloc Short Pony

You can redefine your bob cut with microlocs by keeping it tight up front and crafting a mini ponytail on the nape, all at once. Even a small group of microlocs can be let loose up front for a sideways bang over the forehead. The short pony made using microlocs are secured using a couple of lock strands. Rest of the hair drops down from the nape like a waterfall.

Microloc Wrap Around

Microloc Wrap Around

If you’re someone who prefers to practice control over your curly or kinky hair body at all times, then this style is just for you! This concept utilizes microlocs to be flattened down and driven toward the fringes at all sides (except for the frontal regions). These locks are then wrapped around seamlessly from one side to the other, ensuring maximum security of the overall hairdo.

Sisterlocks Hairstyles

Now it’s our chance to take a stroll through a few engaging and energetic concepts of sisterlock hairstyles – one of which could easily be a part of your daily maintenance!

Two Bun Sisterlocks

Two Bun Sisterlocks

Some individuals prefer to keep their sisterlocks compact and cute while drawing the maximum styling benefit out of the look. If you’re one such person, these two buns composed with sisterlocks should satisfy your tastebuds like nothing else! Just show your stylist this picture and let them do their job. In due time, your hairstyle will look nothing shy of gorgeous with zero hair interference.

Sisterlock Waves

Sisterlock Waves

With all due credits to the stylists, we’ve been blessed with a handful of unique sisterlock hairdos that can outmatch literally any other hairstyle of the genre. The one in concern at this moment is sisterlocks in waves form with a large dip at the middle of your head, from one side to the other. Nape hair is left free, but overall it’s a look that guarantees to turn a lot of heads!

Braided Sisterlock Bun

Braided Sisterlock Bun

Who says sisterlock buns are comfortably made only with short hair? Because this hairdo will challenge everyone who says this with a twisted and braided huge bun sitting perfectly at the nape. These knotless braids hold sisterlocks as the foundation, and experts believe that designing this way ensures durability of your hairstyle. Just don’t touch your hair every now and then!


Almost all of the major areas to be discussed regarding microlocs vs sisterlocks have been covered up until this point. Only a handful of public queries remain unaddressed – but not for long!

Q: Are microlocs and sisterlocks interchangeable?

Ans: The short answer is yes but the long answer will tell you that it’s not as easy as it may sound. First off, microlocs cannot be turned into sisterlocks directly, it needs to be untangled first. And speaking from experience, this isn’t something you’d want your hair to go through.

On the other hand, there are people who have converted microlocs into sisterlocks, but the quality is never the same and the locks become much thicker. So the only option would be to break the initial lock and reform – but your hair won’t be ready after immediate detangling.

Q: Are there any cultural or historical differences between microlocs and sisterlocks?

Ans: In terms of cultural significance, sisterlocks are hairstyles brought to modern day from African heritage. This is one of many instances of cultural richness of the continent and thus, bears value beyond comprehension. Microlocs don’t have ties to any culture or history, it’s more of a generic pattern derived from dreadlocks.

Q: Should I get a consultation to decide if microlocs are better for me or sisterlocks?

Ans: Of course! If you’re still confused after reading through this entire article, a consultation from a hair styling professional should definitely be your next course of action.


Now comes the moment you’ve been probably waiting for all through the article – my take on the debate between sisterlocks vs microlocs.

My verdict is very simple and straightforward. Primarily, picking between the two is highly subjective and the winner varies for one person to the next.

If you’re someone on a budget, don’t want to heavily upkeep your hairdo or look for mini dreadlock styles to do on your own at home – microlocs is surely your winner here.

And if you have a wallet thick enough to spend on an expensive hairdresser, don’t mind the frequent visits for maintenance and most importantly – curly or kinky type hair – you should go for sisterlocks as it’ll serve you the best in this case.

I hope this was helpful and you’re now able to decide upon your preferred hairdo from these concepts!

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