The Great Debate—Palm rolling vs Interlocking. Is one better than the other? Which one locs hair faster? Will my hair be damaged from switching? The list goes on with questions circulating amongst the natural hair community about palm rolling vs interlocking. Whether you’ve arrived here for reasons of repair, longevity, or just curiosity, I’ll share with you the advantages and disadvantages of each technique to help you decide what’s best for your hair.
The Difference Between Palm Rolling and Interlocking
What is Palm Rolling?
Palm rolling is a maintenance technique in which the palms of your hands roll (or twist) the hair into a circular formation. This technique is mainly used on traditional and semi freeform locs.
Loc Maintenance Using Palm Rolling
What is Interlocking?
Interlocking is a maintenance technique in which the end of the loc is pulled through the root to tighten the nugrowth to the scalp. This technique can be achieved with a tool or with fingers; and it is commonly used in the Sisterlocks™ and micro locs hair locking systems.
Loc Maintenance with Interlocking
Fundamentally, the two techniques— palm rolling and interlocking— are very different, but let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of each technique to help you understand which method would be best for your hair.
Advantages of Palm-Rolling
Time-Saving. On average, a Loctician can complete your palm-roll maintenance within 45 minutes-1 1/2 hours, whereas interlocking maintenance can take upwards of 3-4 hours when professionally maintained.
Simple. By using your hands to cultivate the locs, the palm-roll maintenance is simple enough to be done on your own. However, any professional Loctician will tell you there are specific angles that help prevent unraveling, clip organization will keep your maintenance in longer, and maintaining the parting system is not easily replicated at home without training.
Advantages of Interlocking
Longer Lasting Maintenance. The time that you wait between maintenance sessions is considerably different when you maintain your locs with interlocking. On average, you’ll have your locs maintained every eight weeks, compared to once a month with palm-rolling.
For all hair textures. Interlocking is a technique that can be used to start and maintain any texture of hair because it prevents the hair from unraveling and encourages the hair to stay in place to begin the locking process.
Disadvantages of Palm Rolling
Over manipulation. With too much retwisting / palm-rolling you can drastically thin out your locs or even trigger baldness in an attempt to “keep your locs neat”.
Unraveling. Often times with DIY Loc Maintenance, not protecting your hair at home, or while working out can cause your locs to unravel at the roots.
Disadvantages of Interlocking
Smaller locs. Interlocking is better suited for smaller locs, both in size and density. What this means is that it is very rare to see thicker sets of locs that are maintained with interlocking.
Potentially Damaging. There is a specific technique that is used with interlocking and when it is not executed proficiently it can produce holes in the locs which can lead to breakage and thinning. Also, if the correct amount of tension is not used, this can cause locs to thin at the roots or trigger traction alopecia.
So, is palm-rolling better than interlocking? In my professional opinion, I don’t think so; rather I believe that the maintenance technique is dependent upon the expertise of the individual executing it. If you’re not trained on interlocking techniques, you can cause irreversible damage, but you can also create problems with improper palm-rolling. I encourage you to consider your lifestyle, budget, and accessibility to a professional when determining which method would be best suited for your hair. Seeking advice from a Professional, if only through a consultation, and asking very detailed about concerns you may have will allow you to be proactive (instead of reactive) with healthy hair care.
Next week, I’ll be sharing the answer to another common question “Can You Switch Between Palm Rolling and Interlocking?“.
In the comments, share which method you use to maintain your locs and add any more advantages (or disadvantages) that you can think of!