Butterfly locs have become one of the most sought-after protective hairstyles for Black women with natural hair. The bohemian loc look imparts a carefree vibe while safeguarding your delicate curls. I’ve been donning butterfly locs for years and receive compliments on them constantly. People are always querying how I accomplish the ideal, fuller butterfly loc look. So I thought I’d share all my tips and tricks for cultivating gorgeous, abundant butterfly locs that appear salon-crafted.
Vet Hairstylists Meticulously
The linchpin to flawless butterfly locs begins with selecting the appropriate hairstylist. You want someone well-versed specifically in installing locs, not just generic braiding. I made the error of going to a regular braider my first time getting butterfly locs and loathed the outcome. The partitions were irregular, some locs were extremely diminutive while others were too chunky.
It just appeared disheveled and I ended up removing them after a week. So do your due diligence to discover a skilled, seasoned loc technician in your vicinity. Peruse reviews, examine their social media for butterfly loc photos on real patrons, and request referrals. Making the effort to identify the right craftsperson makes all the difference in cultivating that quintessential, natural butterfly loc look.
For example, I recently found an amazing loc stylist named Aisha through a friend’s recommendation. After admiring Aisha’s organic-looking butterfly loc installs on Instagram, I booked a consultation. Her warm personality and attentive listening skills made me feel comfortable right away. During my install, she carefully matched the curl pattern of the extensions to my hair texture and ensured even parts. I walked out with the most stunning, full butterfly locs I’ve ever had!
Select Optimal Hair Length
Another technique for engendering fuller-seeming butterfly locs is inaugurating with the appropriate hair length. For the longest, most voluminous butterfly locs, you’ll desire your natural hair to be at least 6-8 inches long preceding installation. Anything shorter and you risk acquiring locs that appear too meager and slender. If your hair isn’t quite elongated enough yet, consider initiating with faux locs first to enable your hair to mature more.
Faux locs look very akin to butterfly locs, but employ synthetic hair extensions rather than just your natural hair. Once your hair reaches an adequate length, you can then discard the faux locs and get your bona fide butterfly locs installed. For example, my natural hair was only shoulder length when I first became interested in butterfly locs. My stylist recommended starting with 14-inch faux locs to help my hair grow out longer. After 6 months, my natural hair was long enough for 20-inch butterfly locs and I was ready to make the switch. Those faux locs served me well during the transition period!
Embark With Smaller Locs
How thick or thin you fancy your butterfly locs is a personal preference. But I’ve found that launching with smaller, pencil-sized locs enables you to accomplish a look with more volume and density. The stylist can always combine and thicken up locs later on as they mature. But it’s harder to go from thick locs to thin without completely redoing them. Plus, thinner locs tend to possess more of that carefree, voluminous butterfly look that I adore. Aim for around 100-150 locs total for a pleasant fullness. Much less than that and the locs may emerge too chunky in contrast to your scalp.
For my last install, I had the stylist start with slim, dime-sized parts and 125 total locs. As they matured, some locs fused together into ideal medium thickness. Other remained pencil-thin for movement and softness. The variety of skinny to mid-sized locs gave me exactly the density and swing I was going for!
Preservation Is Vital
Once you’ve got your fresh butterfly locs installed, it’s important to uphold regular maintenance to maximize fullness. Be sure to get your locs re-twisted every 4-6 weeks. Regular re-twisting maintains the locs formed neatly at the roots as they grow out. You should also gently separate and fluff the locs 1-2 weeks after each re-twist once the new growth starts budding. This aids preserve volume so the locs don’t go flat. Using natural loc oils like jojoba or coconut oil keeps the extensions conditioned and helps them blend with your natural texture. And don’t forget to wrap or pineapple your locs at night to preserve the volume and curl pattern. Proper preservation keeps your butterfly locs looking lush for the entire install.
For the first 6 months after my install, I was diligent about bi-weekly maintenance. I got a re-twist every 2 weeks to allow my natural hair to mesh well with the extensions. Now that they are matured, I can go 4 weeks between appointments. But keeping up with regular salon maintenance is crucial in the initial stages!
Attempt Protective Styling
One of my favorite tips for boosting fullness between appointments is to incorporate protective styling. I’ll do chunky braids, top knots, and low buns to change up my look while also preventing too much tangling and thinning of the ends. Using soft scrunchies avoids damage when securing my butterfly locs in updos. I also love knotless braids to give my locs a break while maintaining length. And don’t be afraid to rock braided wigs or silk wraps occasionally to give your natural locs time to rejuvenate underneath. Protective styles add variety while letting your locs rest, so you get the fullest, healthiest-looking butterfly locs possible.
Just last week, I did jumbo knotless braids on my butterfly locs for a vacation. It gave my locs a break from the sun and saltwater while still letting me rock waist-length braided hair. When I took them down, my locs underneath had retained so much moisture and length! Protective styling is definitely my go-to for maintaining the health of my locs.
When it comes to butterfly locs, longer equals fuller. So I always go for extra length with my installs. Choose a stylist who is comfortable using 24-30 inch extensions. This gives you gorgeous XXL locs with plenty of volume from root to tip. You can even opt for a staggered length look, with some locs falling at your waist and others hitting mid-back. Mixing lengths gives amazing dimension. And longer styles allow for more styling versatility too. I love being able to wear my locs in a top knot bun one day, then let them flow long and free the next. Length takes the butterfly loc look to the next level.
For special occasions, I’ll get 30-inch extensions put in for dramatic butt-grazing locs. Even though they are super long, the lightweight human hair makes them easy to style. I can still put them in an updo without feeling weighed down. The extra length transforms my look entirely while still letting me dance the night away!
Layer In Color
For extra dimension, try incorporating different colors into your butterfly locs. I usually opt for a dark base, close to my natural jet black hue. Then throughout the install, I’ll add in locs in various shades of brown, blonde and auburn. Mixing in those lighter shades makes the locs pop and look more dynamic. It also helps hide any buildup or discoloration that can happen along the length over time. Ask your stylist to wrap random pieces of color in a way that looks natural. Or do a color melt treatment on the extensions before installing. Well-blended color makes your butterfly locs stand out.
Last install, I did a warm brown ombre effect that looked so pretty. My stylist hand-painted honey blonde highlights starting mid-shaft down to the ends. When I went out in the sun, those blonde locs looked like natural sun-kissed highlights. Adding strategic color gives your locs an extra special touch.
Admire Your Locs
Above all, remember that butterfly locs are meant to be fun, free and low-maintenance. Don’t stress too much about getting the “perfect” loc look. The beauty is in the imperfections. Your locs will loosen and change over time. Let them do their thing and just enjoy shaking out your beautiful, bouncy locs in the mirror. Flaunt your locs proudly and remember they look beautiful because they are on YOUR head. No one has locs just like yours. Appreciate your one-of-a-kind loc journey. And rock your butterfly locs with confidence at any length, density or style. Celebrate YOU!
I hope these tips help you achieve the butterfly loc look of your dreams! Remember to choose an experienced stylist, start with small locs, maintain them diligently, and add length and color.
As I reflect on my loc journey, I’m grateful for brands like FANCIVIVI that are making protective styling more accessible. FANCIVIVI creates braided wigs designed specifically for black women and their versatile hair care needs. Their wigs allow you to experiment with stunning braided looks without the high maintenance.