Difference Between Soft Locs and Butterfly Locs

The world of hairstyling is vast and ever-evolving, with trends that capture the essence of artistry and culture. One such trend that has garnered significant attention is the debate around soft locs vs butterfly locs. Both these styles have made a mark in the beauty industry, but how do they stand against each other? This article will dissect the nuances of each style, providing you with an in-depth understanding and helping you make an informed decision.

What is Soft Locs and What is Butterfly Locs?

Soft Locs: Soft locs are a protective style that uses synthetic or natural hair extensions to create a loose, wavy, and free-flowing loc look. This style gives a softer and more flexible appearance compared to traditional faux locs. The process involves wrapping loose curly hair around a braided or twisted base, allowing some of the curly hair to flow freely, thus giving it a soft and natural appearance.

Butterfly Locs: Butterfly locs are another protective hairstyle, characterized by their “butterfly” effect where sections of the locs appear to be spread out or puffed, similar to the wings of a butterfly. This effect is achieved by using a specific technique of wrapping that allows small sections of hair to puff out, rather than wrapping the hair smoothly and uniformly.

What is the Main Difference Between Soft Locs and Butterfly Locs?

The main difference between soft locs and butterfly locs lies in their texture and appearance. Soft locs have a smoother, more fluid texture, providing a natural and relaxed look similar to loose, wavy hair. In contrast, butterfly locs offer a rugged, textured appearance achieved through a distinct wrapping technique, resulting in a unique, puffed, and more defined look that stands out. This difference in texture and styling technique contributes to their respective names and the specific aesthetic each style offers.

Key Differences between Soft Locs and Butterfly Locs

  1. Technique: Soft locs are typically created by wrapping loose curly hair around a base, while butterfly locs are created by using a distinct wrapping technique that allows sections of the loc to puff out.
  2. Texture: Soft locs have a softer and more fluid texture due to the loose hair, whereas butterfly locs have a more textured appearance because of the puffed sections.
  3. Appearance: Soft locs give a wavy, free-flowing look, while butterfly locs have a more rugged, distressed appearance.
  4. Flexibility: Soft locs are generally more flexible and lightweight compared to butterfly locs.
  5. Installation Time: Butterfly locs might take a bit longer to install because of the detailed wrapping technique required to achieve the puffed appearance.
  6. Maintenance: Soft locs might require more maintenance in terms of keeping the loose hair neat, while butterfly locs, due to their rugged appearance, might need less frequent touch-ups.
  7. Origin: Both styles are modern adaptations of traditional locs, but butterfly locs have gained popularity more recently than soft locs.
  8. Versatility: Both styles offer versatility in terms of styling, but soft locs might offer slightly more due to their free-flowing nature.
  9. Duration: Butterfly locs might last a bit longer than soft locs, given their rugged nature and the technique used.

Key Similarities between Soft Locs and Butterfly Locs

  1. Protective Style: Both soft locs and butterfly locs serve as protective hairstyles, helping to shield natural hair from external elements.
  2. Use of Extensions: Both styles typically use synthetic or natural hair extensions to achieve the desired look.
  3. Adaptation of Traditional Locs: Both styles are inspired by and adapted from traditional dreadlocks.
  4. Popularity: Both styles are currently popular in the beauty and fashion industry, particularly among individuals looking for modern and chic interpretations of classic styles.
  5. Maintenance Needs: Despite having different textures, both styles require regular maintenance to keep them looking fresh and neat.
  6. Styling Options: Both soft locs and butterfly locs offer a range of styling options, from updos to ponytails, and can be accessorized in various ways.
  7. Cultural Significance: Both styles draw inspiration from African and Afro-Caribbean hair traditions and are celebrated for their cultural significance and beauty.

Pros of Soft Locs over Butterfly Locs

  1. Texture and Feel: Soft locs have a softer and more fluid texture, which can feel more comfortable and lightweight on the scalp compared to the rugged texture of butterfly locs.
  2. Versatility in Styling: Due to their free-flowing nature, soft locs offer a bit more versatility in styling, allowing for various updos, braids, and other hairstyles.
  3. Natural Appearance: The wavy and loose nature of soft locs can give a more natural and relaxed look, making them a suitable choice for those aiming for a less defined appearance.
  4. Ease of Installation: Soft locs may be quicker and somewhat easier to install because they don’t require the detailed wrapping technique of butterfly locs.
  5. Maintenance: With their smooth texture, soft locs might be easier to maintain in terms of detangling and managing loose hairs.
  6. Comfort: Some individuals find soft locs to be more comfortable for sleeping and daily wear due to their softer and less rugged texture.
  7. Adaptability: Soft locs can be adapted more easily to different hair lengths and types, making them a flexible choice for diverse hair needs.

Cons of Soft Locs compared to Butterfly Locs

  1. Durability: Butterfly locs, with their rugged texture and specific wrapping technique, might last longer than soft locs without requiring frequent touch-ups.
  2. Distinct Look: Butterfly locs offer a unique, puffed appearance that can stand out more than the more subdued appearance of soft locs.
  3. Less Texture: Those seeking a more textured and intricate hairstyle might find butterfly locs more appealing due to their distinct wrapping style.
  4. Trendiness: In some circles, butterfly locs are seen as a more contemporary and trendy style compared to soft locs.
  5. Protection: The rugged texture of butterfly locs might offer slightly better protection to the natural hair beneath, given their compact nature.
  6. Maintenance: For individuals who prefer a style that requires less frequent neatening, the rugged look of butterfly locs might be preferable as they can handle a bit of messiness.
  7. Cultural Connection: The distinct and unique look of butterfly locs might resonate more with individuals looking for a style that’s deeply rooted in African and Afro-Caribbean hair traditions.

Pros of Butterfly Locs over Soft Locs

  1. Distinctive Appearance: Butterfly locs offer a unique, rugged texture and puffed appearance that stands out, making it a choice for those seeking a more distinct hairstyle.
  2. Durability: Thanks to their specific wrapping technique and rugged texture, butterfly locs often last longer and might require fewer touch-ups compared to soft locs.
  3. Trend Appeal: In many circles, butterfly locs are seen as a contemporary and fashionable style, often preferred by those looking to sport the latest trends.
  4. Protection: The compact and rugged texture of butterfly locs can provide slightly better protection to the underlying natural hair against external factors.
  5. Low Maintenance: The distressed look of butterfly locs means they can handle some messiness, potentially reducing the frequency of maintenance routines.
  6. Cultural Resonance: Butterfly locs, with their unique and textured look, might appeal more to those looking for hairstyles rooted in African and Afro-Caribbean traditions.
  7. Versatile Styling: While both styles offer versatility, butterfly locs can be styled in ways that emphasize their textured and puffed appearance, giving a different kind of aesthetic versatility.

Cons of Butterfly Locs compared to Soft Locs

  1. Installation Time: Installing butterfly locs can be more time-consuming given the intricate wrapping technique required to achieve their distinctive puffed appearance.
  2. Comfort: Some individuals might find the rugged texture of butterfly locs less comfortable, especially when sleeping, compared to the softer texture of soft locs.
  3. Weight: Butterfly locs, due to their wrapping technique and rugged texture, can sometimes feel heavier than soft locs.
  4. Natural Appearance: Soft locs, with their wavy and loose texture, might provide a more natural and relaxed look compared to the more defined appearance of butterfly locs.
  5. Adaptability: Soft locs might be more adaptable to different hair lengths and types, offering a more flexible choice for varied hair needs.
  6. Texture and Feel: Soft locs provide a smoother and fluid texture, which can feel more lightweight and comfortable for daily wear.
  7. Maintenance Complexity: While butterfly locs might require less frequent maintenance, when they do need touch-ups, the process might be more involved due to their textured nature.

Situations when Soft Locs is Better than Butterfly Locs

  1. Desire for a Natural Look: Soft locs offer a more relaxed and natural appearance due to their free-flowing texture, making them a go-to for those wanting a style closer to loose, wavy hair.
  2. Shorter Installation Time: If an individual is pressed for time, soft locs can be a quicker installation choice given their less intricate wrapping technique.
  3. Comfort Consideration: For those who prioritize comfort, especially during sleep or prolonged wear, the softer and lighter feel of soft locs might be preferable.
  4. Versatility in Styling: Those looking to frequently change up their hairstyle might find soft locs more adaptable for a range of looks from braids to updos.
  5. First-time Wearers: For those trying loc extensions for the first time, soft locs might provide a gentler introduction due to their flexibility and less defined texture.
  6. Adaptability for Different Hair Types: Soft locs can be more accommodating for a wider range of hair lengths and types, providing a versatile choice.
  7. Preference for Smooth Texture: If a smooth and fluid texture is preferred over a rugged one, soft locs would be the better choice.

Situations when Butterfly Locs is Better than Soft Locs

  1. Seeking a Distinctive Look: For those desiring a unique and textured appearance that stands out, butterfly locs with their puffed sections can be the ideal pick.
  2. Long-term Wear: Given their rugged texture and durability, butterfly locs can be more suited for individuals seeking a longer-lasting style with fewer touch-ups.
  3. Fashion-forward Individuals: Butterfly locs, being a trendy and contemporary style, might appeal more to those wanting to sport the latest in hair fashion.
  4. Prioritizing Hair Protection: The compact and rugged nature of butterfly locs might offer slightly enhanced protection to the underlying natural hair.
  5. Tolerant of Weight: Individuals who don’t mind a slightly heavier hairstyle might lean towards butterfly locs due to their texture and wrapping technique.
  6. Low Maintenance Routine: If the goal is to have a style that requires less frequent neatening or can handle some untidiness, butterfly locs are a fitting choice.
  7. Celebrating Cultural Roots: Those looking to embrace hairstyles with strong ties to African and Afro-Caribbean traditions might gravitate more towards butterfly locs.

Soft Locs vs Butterfly Locs Summary

In the contest of soft locs vs butterfly locs, there’s no definitive winner. The best choice ultimately rests on individual preferences, desired aesthetic, and lifestyle considerations. Both styles have their unique attributes, offering versatility and a connection to rich cultural roots. Whether you lean towards the natural flow of soft locs or the distinctive texture of butterfly locs, understanding their differences and similarities ensures that you’re equipped to choose the style that resonates best with you.

CriteriaSoft LocsButterfly Locs
Texture and FeelSofter, fluid textureRugged, textured appearance
DurabilityMight require more frequent touch-upsLonger-lasting with fewer touch-ups
LookNatural, relaxedUnique, puffed, and distinctive
InstallationQuicker, easierTime-consuming due to wrapping technique
OriginRooted in African and Afro-Caribbean traditionsRooted in African and Afro-Caribbean traditions
Protective NatureProtects underlying natural hairProtects underlying natural hair
Natural AppearanceMore natural and relaxed lookDistinct and trendy look
Versatility in StylingMore versatile due to fluid textureUnique textured styles
Durability vs Installation TimeMight require more touch-upsRequires more installation time
TextureMight not offer the rugged look some desireHeavier due to wrapping technique
Situations when Better
Desired LookNatural, relaxed appearanceUnique, standout appearance
Installation Time ConsiderationPressed for timeNot time-sensitive and seeks durability
Comfort and Texture PreferencePrioritizes comfort and smooth textureTolerant of weight and prefers rugged texture
Soft Locs vs Butterfly Locs Summary


How long do soft locs and butterfly locs typically last?
Soft locs can last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on maintenance and care. Butterfly locs, due to their rugged nature, can last a bit longer, often up to 12 weeks with proper care.

Can I wash my hair while having either of these styles?
Yes, you can. However, it’s advised to use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and avoid vigorous scrubbing. Using a spray or diluted shampoo can be effective. Always ensure to dry the locs completely to avoid any mold or mildew buildup.

Are these styles suitable for all hair types and lengths?
Both styles are adaptable, but soft locs tend to be more accommodating for shorter hair lengths. Butterfly locs might require a bit more length to ensure the locs are secure and maintain their textured appearance.

Do soft locs or butterfly locs cause damage to natural hair?
When installed and maintained correctly, neither style should cause damage. However, it’s essential to avoid excessive tension during installation and ensure proper care, like moisturizing the scalp and roots.

How do I maintain the freshness of these locs?
Regularly oiling your scalp, using a silk or satin scarf or pillowcase, and avoiding excessive heat or chemicals will help maintain the freshness of both soft and butterfly locs.

Can I reuse the hair extensions for these styles?
While some people reuse their extensions, especially for butterfly locs, it’s always best to assess the condition of the extensions. If they still seem healthy and free of damage, you might be able to reuse them. However, for optimal results and hygiene reasons, using fresh extensions is often recommended.

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