What They Didn’t Tell You About Retightening Sisterlocks

What They Didn’t Tell You About Retightening Sisterlocks

Courtesy of Your Roots Rock

By Terez Howard


Did you ever feel like Sisterlocks were a hush-hush form of locs?  When I first got mine, I couldn’t find enough information.  Before I took the retightening class, I could only find one Youtuber using the Sisterlocks tool.

There was a reason for that.  The retightening class agreement which explicitly states, “This instruction does not authorize me to train others, or to offer any Sisterlocks services to clients,” means that you cannot tell anyone about what you do with your hair.

I posted a 3-minute Youtube video showing what I did to retighten my hair.  Within a week, I was contacted by a Sisterlocks Training Supervisor who said that my video qualified as training because people could learn to do their own hair from the video.

It’s not as hard as you think. 

I didn’t know that I could train anyone to do their own hair in 3 minutes.  I must be totally naïve because I looked at ‘training others’ to mean sitting people down and promoting the technique as training.  I did not realize I could not tell anyone what I do with my own hair.  I better blindfold my husband when he passes by the bathroom during my retightenings!  In all seriousness, I take full responsibility for my own negligence.  On the other hand, apparently it’s not as hard as I thought because that supervisor said that I taught the technique, and in 3 minutes no less!


It takes forever.

How long does it take you to retighten?  That’s been a prevailing question, and I believe that I am authorized to give you the answer.  Well, it took my consultant 2 hours, and a trainee 4 ½ hours.  For me, I spend at least 8 hours total.  I only do a few hours a day because my arms get tired, and when I do the front, my eyes burn from focusing on those tiny locs.  It’s easier to retighten the back because I can’t scrutinize over what I can’t see.  I will pick up speed with practice.  For now, my focus is on accuracy.

You won’t know everything after the class.

I’m not saying that I had a bad teacher.  But I certainly didn’t feel confident in what I was doing when it came time to retighten my hair.  I researched and asked other lockers about latching and what they did with their hair so that I could better understand my own.

I learned from one DIY-er who latches how to know when I’ve retightened enough and what I could do about catching stray hairs.  Now, the Sisterlocks Police might argue that I learned this in the retightening class, but I didn’t see their unit at the salon.  I can’t tell you exactly what my teacher said, but I can tell you I did not know what to do about those issues after I took the class.  I preferred turning to people that I felt were in my situation, real people who were maintaining their locs.

One DIY-er said something to the effect that the obsession from consultants on practicing the exact technique is way over the top and that their real intent is keeping you dependent.

I thought I was going to destroy my hair.

It’s funny what this one DIY-er said because I felt like if I made a single wrong move with the technique, my hair was going to be irreparably damaged.  I left the class with a sickening feeling in my stomach.  I had paid a lot of money on my hair over the course of a year, and I did not feel like I could successfully maintain it.

But I was wrong.  Apparently, I learned the technique so well that, after watching my video, the Sisterlocks Training Consultant encouraged me to join the family and become a consultant.  I have to be honest.  The last thing I want to offer people is an overpriced product.

I thought that Sisterlocks were steep from the start.  I also thought that I could not maintain micro locs without spending bukoo bucks.  After this experience, reading countless blogs and watching a bunch of Youtube, I can see that it’s entirely possible to have cute micro locs without the Sisterlocks name.  You’re thinking, well, that’s obvious.  Allow me to rephrase.  I believe that I could have maintained micro locs from the start without the Sisterlocks name.  For me, that was an epiphany.

About the author

Read more about what Terez is doing with her micro locs at her blog.


31 thoughts on “What They Didn’t Tell You About Retightening Sisterlocks

  1. Girlwhorunsherworld

    I had traditional locs before and loved them. The only major problem was my hair grew so fast that I had to get groomed every 3wks to keep a fresh manicured look. This was way before I stared researching the interlock method and right around the time I heard about sisterlocks. I eventually went to a consultant after doing a bit of research and found the whole business to be sooo secretive. Now I have my elitist persona in certain areas but they take it to a whole new level in my eyes. As someone so rightly pointed out “sisterlocks” are a brand. When I got my first set of locks I wasn’t looking for a brand I just wanted a way to grow, maintain and style my natural hair without any add ons or extention. It is in my nature to be as natural as possible and as simplistic. In looking for a cost effective way to maintain the natural beauty of my hair I have decided against the sisterlock method and am taking the journey by interlocking.

    For me its not at all as serious as some would have us all to believe. And if the brandname is what you want then by all means spend that money to have it, but the end result will be the same. You will have a head full of beautiful locks……

    1. thequeenbee

      The “secrecy “is there to protect the livelihood of both the loctitians and the training company. If everyone does their own locs, the company goes out of business, and if anyone can train or tell people how to tighten things on youtube the institute goes out of business. If people do not want to pay for sisterlocks, there are many places and techniques offering alternatives–at issue here is the integrity of a contract and an agreement. If you sign a document allowing you access to information for your private use and you agree not to share that information with anyone else, then you need to HONOR that agreement or face the legal or moral consequences. I think sisterlocks are amazingly expensive which is why I do not yet have them–but if I get them and if I take the class, I have enough self respect and understanding of intellectual property and proprietary rights to keep whatever I learned to myself and not broadcast it in a forum on the internet, be it youtube or a blog. This is just common sense and common decency.

  2. Peke27

    I personally do not have the time or the patience to start or retighten my own locks. I am loving my sisterlocks and I had a certified consultant do them. I also know where you are coming from when you talk about the price of sisterlocks. To each his own. If one desires to do their own locks fine; however, if one desires for someone who specializes in this area to lock and retighten then that is their business. It’s nice to say that I love my nappy hair and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Blessings to every natural beauty; love you and love your hair!

  3. Cresha

    I must say that this post hit the nail right on the head! I have been natural since 2011 and I decided to get Sisterlocks in 2012. First let me just say that I have a loose curl texture and had a full 10-12 inches of hair when I got my locs installed. However, at the time I wanted them so bad that it didn’t matter to me how much they cost becuse I thought they were worth it. Fast forward a year later and my priorities have changed tremendously. I have learned that the sisterlock trademark is in the tool and that there is nothing special about the technique. So when I told my loctician that I wasn’t going to continue paying her hundreds of dollars every four weeks to retighten my locs, she was upset. And now that I maintain my own locs and I am not a “certified sisterlock consultant” that I can no longer call them sisterlocks. Ok, Whatever! Bottom line is that I can do the same technique as I am pretty saavy with hair OR I can get someone else to retighten my locks using the same method for a lot cheaper. Like I said, the trademark is in the tool!

  4. thequeenbee

    This is not rocket science. sister locks is a business and showing any how to video on a social network that can go all over the world WOULD constitute training and there is no reason to get snarky about it. In 2000 African braiding in microbraids cost around 450.00 for shoulder length hair and braiders had waiting lines to get hair done. Fast forward to 2010 and the price is now averaging around 150.00 for the same service due to so many from Africa and other countries offering the service. Excllusivity affects price and though you and I may not like it, I have sense enough to RESPECT another person’s gig and not put them on blast. Sister locks developed and thought of a technique and created a unique cottage industry for a certain type of locktitian. Their livelihood depends on being able to not only install the sistelocks but to provide the ongoing service and care associated with maintenance.

    Personally, I think you got off lucky only getting that phone call. By rights, sisterlocks could have sued the pants off of you for breaching the agreement and made you pay whatever they considered were their losses for haivng their techniques exposed. Sisterlocks is not the only one who does things like this.

    In LEGAL terms, what you signed was an agreement acknowledging PROPRIETARY RIGHTS. this means that the company can show you something but legally you cannot share what they show you with others–it is a matter of honor and trust as well as a contract. You breached that and you should have known better. From my point of view, (and I am in no way affiliated with nor do I yet have sisterlocks) you acted in ill faith and should have known better. Maybe as well as having people sign an agreement to not disclose what they learn, sisterlocks should administer an Intelligent quotient test to keep certain elements who are clueless from messing up their gig. Shame on you and lucky–lesson learned. You knew well enough what you were doing and had this been a white owned company you might have found yourself explaining your ignorance of laws and contracts in court where incidentally, ignorance of the law by precedence, is NO EXCUSE.

  5. Kortnei01

    I’ve had my sisterlocks for 6 months. It was done by a trainee for 300. I retighten it myself because the pattern is so simple if you have common sense and you are good with hair. I have taught my aunt to do her own hair as well. I even met with a consultant recently and she has no idea that I do my own hair. Sisterlocks is not that serious. Anyone can figure out how to do it. It’s all about making money and that is sad.

  6. Carol Thurman

    I have no qualms with loctitians making a living BUT PRICE GOUGING does not help the business!I just got sisterlocks installed in my hair about 6 weeks ago. My consultant says that she charges $110 every 5-6 weeks for retightening. I actually think this is a ridiculously inflated price. There aren’t any products involved (no shampoo, relaxer, water) or anything else that would justify that cost. It took her 2 hours to retighen my hair, so she’s charging $55 an hour. That is a lot to expect someone to come up with every 5 weeks. My sister has sisterlocks in her hair. She lives iin another state and pays her consultant $30 an hour. Her consultant does her hair in 1.5 hours. That price is fair and is doeable every 5 weeks.

  7. Burt







  8. Celia Caleb

    I started my locs with braids (200 at about 3 inches). I also I bought a latch hook from the craft store for less than $3 and tighten them myself every month. It’s been 5 years and my average loc is 15 inches. I have never allowed anyone to touch my hair. The total cost of maintenance (tightening) over 5 years is less than $3. I have tightened others with locs to include Sisterlock with my latch hook. No need to spend ridiculous prices to start or tighten locs. You just need patience and time and you can do it yourself for the cost of a latch hook. We will spend darn near $200 a month to tighten Sisterlocs but we don’t have a credit score strong enough to get a mortgage. Our priorities are jacked.

  9. Dion Howell

    I have just read through this and laughed out loud hard. As one sister said, this isnt science. Yes, pay a sister if she’s spending time doing your hair, but the prices being charged are just ridiculously outrageous.

    I’ve always done my own hair, being relaxing, braiding, twists – whatever. As long as its something to do with MY HAIR, believe I can do it or figure how to do it. What makes me laugh is how black people are just so teef when it comes to our culture. Even down to buying caribbean or African food – always over priced. WE know how to cook the food, know how much it costs, so why charge stupid amounts? We also know how to do our own hair. We’re a culture of people who have to know how to do our own hair to get by daily.

    Theres a sister up there talking about how lucky our blogger was and should’ve been sued. COME ONE LOVE… SERIOUSLY.

    I don’t have SL but thinking of getting them. I done a little investigation and one sister is charging £30 for a 90 minutes consultancy – to talk about what? And then a different price to get the hair locked with £75 paid upfront as a deposit for booking the dates requested, to which if you cant make that appointment you cant get your deposit back! LIKE, REALLY!!!??? The clock system 3-9, 6-12, 9-3, 12-6 is definitely not rocket science. OH SHOOT, maybe I should get sued for exploiting what we already know. All I have to do is witness the system to know how to do it. What are the arguments and lawsuits for. Black folk always take stuff too far. I learnt from my sister, who learnt from her friend, who learnt from her mum, who learnt from her aunt, who learnt from her godmother, and the history goes on.

    No matter what, folks wont go out of business. Theres a whole bunch of sisters out there who don’t have the patience, time or the known how to maintain their hair. So they, like my sister and niece, will dig deep and pay – or come to me and pay nothing (I need to get serious about that too). And to be honest, there are and will be times that I wont want my arms cramping after 8hrs of hair work, and yes from time to time i’ll sit down and allow someone to hook me up real quick.

    We need to get our priorities right. As sister said, you’ll spend ridiculous money on your hair but cant get a mortgage. Every penny makes a pound. Save yourself if you can… each to their own. BUT my hair is definitely not under contract whether I sign something or not. Its MINES, on MY head, not created by YOU…

    Ironically, all this lawsuit stress and slavery talk will make your hair fall out lol.
    Enjoy your hair sisters…

  10. Gina

    I have read the posts above and can understand both sides of the debate. My loctician is a trainee who has become successful installing sisterlocks. I was one if her first client’s (i.e. her guinea pig ), and have been happy with her work. What has been troubling me lately is how she has been finding different ways to add to the cost of her services. Although we agreed upon a flat rate of $85 for the first four hours and anything past that is $25 per hour more, she will come up with different reasons to add additional fees to the bill after the fact. Example: After retightening my hair, she said that she had to repair some locks that were damaged, so she is charging and extra $15 – $25 dollars. Instead of being upfront and saying, “Before I start, I noticed that there are some locs that need to be repaired. The fee to do so will be an additional $25.” Although her prices are reasonable and I have been happy with her services, my gut is telling me that it would be wise to learn how to retighten my own hair because I need to be as self-reliant as possible. Knowing that she would not be happy about me learning how to retighten my own hair, I would not tell her of my plans. My mother used to say: “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

    P.S. I do have a mortage 🙂

    1. Pamela Wilson Lipscomb

      Gina, it sounds like your loctician is getting a little sneaky as well as greedy. Follow your gut and look for someone who is steady with her prices, or learn how to do your own hair. I have had Sisterlocks for 6 years, and the prices remain the same. If something needs to be repaired, she does it as a part of the session. Sisterlocks are expensive, but what I realized is that, I would spend about the same about at the salon ever six to eight weeks to get my my hair relaxed, rolled and styled.

  11. Nina

    I’m so glad I found this post. My mom watched the show atlanta exs the other day and wanted micro locks (I’m not going to say the other word any more I don’t have enough money for a lawyer) I have been informally doing hair since age 12 and all I need is for someone to show me once and I’m set. I watched a few YouTube videos and successfully installed them. I’m not making any money from my mom so maybe I can’t be sued but I had a very nice young lady comment on an Instagram post saying I should refrain from calling them sisterlocks because I could be sued. I didn’t understand so I had to read about it!

    I guess Levi should sue everyone who shows people how to make a pair of jeans huh? Smh

    1. clarindac

      You know I have researched this thing til high heaven and I have found that only the sisterlocks tool and the name are trademarked. No one can trademark the technique as Dr Cornwell copied the technique from others. The Massai, an African tribe was doing this long before she decided to cash in on it. She took the nappy locks creator to court for supposedly copying her technique and guess what, she lost. So as for the cult called Sisterlocks and all of the snobbery and superior attitudes a lot of them give off, I could care less. I started my hair with micro braidlocks and it looks just as good as sisterlocks. Plus, there is a lady on youtube I saw a few weeks ago that has sisterlocks and made a video showing the tool they use as well as the technique. The video is old, so I wonder why the sisterlock nazis have not attacked her.

    2. celiza7468

      I am so glad you used the term “microbraids” I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this. Now I have something else to look up. I love how they look and think I can figure this out. Thanks.

  12. Shentina

    cia Thomas
    I think it is crazy how we will pay Asians 200 and 300 dollars for a 16in pack of human hair but won’t invest in our own. Mind you all while they are following you around the store half the time smh. Hell you’ll pay 300 dollars to get shoulder length braids at an African salon. Half the time they’ll even tell you a price over the phone and you’ll get there and they’ve added 50 to 100 extra dollars to the amount, and guess what most of us suck it up and pay the amount. So what’s the difference?

    Yes some people are overpriced but I think it’s all about finding the consultant that’s right for you and developing a good business relationship.

    I don’t have sisterlocks so this is just an opinion from the outside looking in. However, I am thinking about getting them next year on my 30th birthday. I have natural hair that I do myself so in due time i would most likely take the class to learn how to retighten them myself. I’m already looking at taking the sisterloc consultant class now. I just like supporting my people for the most part, we Blacks support every other culture directly or indirectly everyday but always find issues when it comes to supporting our own.

    Peace & Love People

    1. Marilyn

      I totally agree! We are willing to pay for braids that have to be redone every 3-6 months when you have to have it taken down to redo again with fake hair. It is going to cost you another $200-300 and it is still NOT your own hair. The creator of Sister Locks wants to be compensated for her creation. What’s wrong with that?! Any inventor of a product wants to be and should be paid. Ever get a car for free?
      We are so quick to criticize the price of the product from each other but hardly, if ever, quibble about the prices the other cultures charge us. They freely open their stores in our neighborhoods and we clamor to their door to buy their products.
      Sister Locks offers the freedom, versatility, and the natural options of growing and wearing your own hair. You want length…it can give you that, you want thickness, it offers that too…you want to go swimming and immediately shower/wash hair and be on your way?! Sister Locks offers ALL of this and more!
      Let us try to be more supportive of each other and leave the criticism to the other cultures who would lose money if we embraced the Sister Lock lifestyle.
      No, I am not a consultant, yet. Yes, I took the class and YES, I get it. Pay her or don’t steal her concept. When my life slows down a bit I will take the refresher and get on the road to certification so that others can experience the satisfaction I have. Until then, I will continue to retighten my own hair and promote this sister’s concept…because my locks are BEAUTIFUL!!!! I know it and everybody tells me so!

  13. Shay

    I suppose I am just not getting the issues. From the beginning of time there has been and will continue two sides those that do their own hair and those who get paid to do others hair. Whether it’s about time, money or your own preference. Just because u went to school does not give u the total market but it does make u more marketABLE because u r a professional. To get bent out of shape about someone who has a natural talent to beautify themselves and sue them takes ur time and talent off of those who need ur talent that is provided with professionalism by many. But let’s not pretend that we have never stepped into the DIYer shoes for whatever reason. We step outside of issues to create other issues but fail to address the real issues and fail to recognize that God is the one that originated all of this in the first place by giving the ability to perform that talent and to be a blessing. Ur service is unique because u perform it. Do taint it with negativity.
    All things work together for the good. We all have assignments. We just have to make sure we are on the right assignment. We all have been given free will do take or attempt to take away that which u would not want to be taken from u.

  14. Faniece

    I don’t for the life of me know why sisterlocks is being treated like it’s this hairstlye that only trained blah, blah can do , because it’s a life style.
    Oh but it cost three times what the Africans and the Koreans charge, and not you are any one else can matinee the up keep

    I go to YouTube to see all these over dramatic women acting like it’s the holy frail of nappy hairstyles.
    I j wants a easy hair style that fits my wash and go kinky hair now.
    I have wanted sl but this way too much
    That why we are willing to pay the Asians and Africans they are easy and acessable. No compilations. I’d love to shop black more, if I didn’t feel uninformed and over charged ever time I do. Enven with sister locks you guyz want poeple (ours) to pay for a style not inform me so if i cant get back in 6 to 8 weeks to touchup on my own. Keep me spending need help.
    So the other ethnic groups may follower me in the store but when I need that hair for a style I tell them and they help me based on that. i don’t have to pay 30 dollars to see if you can set up an appointment to pay 800 +Later.

    The stuff I have been reading and learning about sisterlocks has inspired me to DYI ,Just because for some reason don’t teach or inform unless it’s $$involed. I mean
    If it didn’t work I can comb them out right just most do when no matter how much t be cost is.

    One more thing these people really need to get over themselfs Its not that deep.


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