Soft Locs vs Faux Locs: How Do They Compare?

Soft Locs vs Faux Locs: How Do They Compare?

We all love the look of locs. They are one of our favorites among the many different types of braid styles. From freeform and traditional to wavy and micro, locs are an attractive and versatile natural hairstyle that never goes out of fashion.

If you’re a locs lover, too, but are wary of the responsibilities for care, cleaning and maintenance, you may be wondering about alternative styles that can capture the essence of the look without the long-term commitment. 

That’s where faux locs and soft locs come in. These loc styles imitate the look and texture of traditional locs by using hair extension while still keeping your strands well-nourished—and flourishing

But which style is best for you? Depending on the look you desire, the options you want for styling and the amount of time you want to spend caring for your hair, you might prefer one to the other. 

To help you choose, let’s discuss the differences between soft locs vs faux locs.

What Are Faux Locs & Soft Locs?

Before we outline the similarities and differences between soft locs and faux locs, let’s be clear about what we mean when we use each term. 

What are Faux Locs?

Faux locs is a blanket term that refers to any kind of imitation loc style—including soft locs. All styles of faux locs use synthetic hair extension with your natural hair, but they vary when it comes to how the look is achieved. 

There are two methods for obtaining faux locs:

  • Braid-in method – For this method, your natural hair is first braided into box braids that are then wrapped with loc extension.1 Most often, either yarn, Kanekalon hair or Marley hair are used for wrapping. 
  • Crochet method – Instead of box braids, your natural hair is braided into cornrows. Then, pre-formed artificial locs are crocheted into the cornrows. 

  • Of these two faux loc styles, the braid-in method typically results in a more authentic, natural look. That said, the crochet faux loc method is a much quicker process because, aside from the cornrowing, it doesn’t require any of the braiding or twist of the braid-in method. 

    What are Soft Locs?

    Although soft locs are grouped under the faux locs hair category, they’re a distinct style of faux loc that require a specific installation method and synthetic hair extension type. 

    For soft locs, pre-formed crochet locs are crocheted into your natural hair.2 Usually, sections of your natural hair are plaited—unlike the crochet method for standard faux locs which requires cornrows.

    Once the crocheted locs are installed, each one is wrapped with a hair extension. Most soft loc styles use a passion twist or spring twist hair for wrapping. This type of hair uses FreeTress Water Wave braiding hair which has a curly, buoyant texture. 

    The wrapping also gives the locs a slightly fluttery look, which is why soft locs are also sometimes called butterfly locs. 

    Faux Locs vs Soft Locs: Similarities and Differences

    So, what are the differences between faux locs vs butterfly locs (or soft locs)? In both cases, you’ll achieve a fun, trendy, and authentic-looking loc style that you can love. Which locs style you choose—and which installation method—depends entirely upon your personal preferences for care and protective styling.

    That said, aside from installation, there are other characteristics that distinguish faux locs and soft locs. These include: 

  • Softer look and feel – As the name suggests, soft locs are softer than other faux loc styles, thanks to its unique wrapping technique. 
  • Less tension – Compared to faux locs, soft locs are much less stiff and rigid. While soft locs can give you the movement and agility of natural locs, it might take several days of care and styling before your faux locs lose their rigidity. 
  • Lighter weight – Faux locs tend to be a bit heavier on your head than soft locs, which can add to the tension and lead to damage or even breakage of your natural hair if not properly cared for.1

  • Another thing to know is that choosing faux locs will likely give you more freedom when it comes to choosing the length of your locs.3 Although crochet locs are available in different lengths, they aren’t individually customizable. On the other hand, you can cut faux locs for a shorter style. 

    Caring for Your Faux Locs 

    One of the biggest appeals of a faux loc hairstyle is that it requires minimal care and maintenance, especially compared to natural locs. Faux locs and soft locs are temporary styles that are ideal for protecting your natural hair from:

    • Heat exposure
    • Damage from brushing and combing
    • The environment 

    That said, all faux loc styles should be removed after 6-12 weeks. While they’re in, you won’t have to do much to keep them in good condition. In fact, caring for your faux locs is more about what you shouldn’t do than what you should do. 

    Whether you opt for faux locs or soft locs, your method of caring for and maintaining them will be similar. Here’s what to know:

  • You don’t need to wash them – Because of their temporary nature, you don’t need to wash your faux locs. It’s okay to gently cleanse your scalp, but you should use an apple cider vinegar or another pH-balancing product instead of shampoo. Remember, there’s no need to do so more than once every couple of weeks while you have the style.
  • You don’t need to worry about new growth – Although natural locs require regular shaping and retwisting, your faux locs don’t require any at all. In fact, twisting the roots of your faux locs can actually damage your natural hair. 
  • Moisture is most important – Keeping your scalp and the natural hair under your faux locs well-hydrated is key to revealing a healthy head of hair when you take your faux locs out. Oiling your scalp will encourage new growth and seal in moisture, as will a Leave-in Conditioner like PATTERN’s.  
  • Caring for Your Locs During the Day

    Although they require minimal care, the biggest threat to your faux locs is frizz. They’re a frizzy style by nature, but there are a couple of tricks to help keep the flyaways at bay. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re caring for your scalp and any new growth while you’re wearing your locs. 

    Store these style and maintenance tips in your bag of tricks the next time you’re rocking locs: 

  • Fight the frizz – To re-hydrate and soften your frizzy locs, you should use anti-frizz or sealing cream like our Styling Cream. You can apply these types of curly hair products directly to the locs themselves. You can also use them to keep your new growth from frizzing.
  • Baby your baby hairs – Typically, your baby hairs at the edges of your natural hairline won’t be wrapped into your faux locs. However, they still deserve to be pampered. Applying hair oil to your edges every day is the best way to keep them hydrated, healthy and nurtured. Our Jojoba Scalp Oil and Argan Oil Serum is packed with nutrients that help smooth those baby hairs, while giving your scalp the TLC it deserves.

  • Caring for Your Locs at Night 

    Faux locs are an excellent style for protecting your natural hair from the damage that sleeping on it can cause. That said, you still need to take the appropriate steps to make sure the hair extensions and your natural hair are getting the care they need while you snooze. 

    Caring for your faux locs at night means: 

  • Investing in silk pillowcases – At night, the best thing you can do to protect your faux locs is to give them a nice silk pillowcase to rest on. This is because cotton pillowcases can leach moisture from your hair, leaving your locs thirsty and in need of a refuel. 
  • Wearing a silk scarf or head wrap to bed – For added protection, consider wrapping your locs in a silk or satin cap while you sleep. This will help keep your hair from drying and can help prevent extra frizzing. 

  • Styling Faux Locs & Soft Locs 

    Faux locs and soft locs alike give you plenty of styling options to keep your look fresh and otherworldly. Here are just a few styling ideas to consider: 

  • Go for color – When you’re having your faux locs installed, consider buying them in a couple of different colors. Similarly, you can choose different colors of passion twist hair for wrapping your soft locs.
  • Accessorize – Want to elevate your faux loc look to something more glamorous? Loc accessories like beads, yarn, seashells and other kinds of hair jewelry are quick, easy and versatile ways to switch up your hairstyle. 
  • Say yes to scrunchies – While scrunchies are technically an accessory too, we think they deserve a category of their own. In lieu of beads or yarn, reach for a pack of miniature scrunchies. Stack them on each loc in a single color or mix and match shades to add a splash of color to your strands. 
  • Try new things – The length and versatility of faux locs means you can play around with many different styles. From ponytails and braids to beehives and pompadours, your options are practically endless. Whether you are styling butterfly locs, goddess locs, or freeform locs, there are so many variations to experiment with to make the hairstyle your own.

  • Pamper Your Curls with PATTERN Beauty 

    Aside from giving you endless options for achieving whatever look you want, whenever you want it, soft locs and faux locs are perfect if you are interested in trying out a protective style that can help keep your hair healthy and happy. 

    Wondering how you can help your hair along? PATTERN’s curly hair styling products can help keep your hair well-nourished and hydrated, whether you’re rocking faux locs, soft locs, or a natural hairstyle.

    You and your hair deserve more than a little love. Go ahead and pamper your curls with PATTERN Beauty. 


    1.  Pometsey, Olive. "Just A Super Useful Guide To Getting Faux Locs." Elle. 15 June, 2018.
    2. Denesik, Marco. "What are soft locs?" Movie Ultists 
    3.  "Soft locs vs faux locs : pros and cons." Jorie. 9 July, 2020.


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