5 Stages of Dreads, & What To Expect From Your Locs At Each Step

Stages of Dreads, & What To Expect From Your Locs At Each Step

Dreads, dreadlocks, or locs – whatever you want to call them, they’re essentially all the same thing.

They’re a hairstyle that has been associated with black culture for decades.

While they were originally seen as a Jamaican or island “thing,” more and more black people are embracing the hairstyle into their way of life.

If you’re interested in trying the hairstyle out for yourself or are looking to learn more about it, here’s everything you need to know about the five stages of dreads.

1. Starter/Baby Stage

The starter stage is the first step to growing dreadlocks.

When you see someone with long, healthy dreads, it’s easy to wonder how they got to that stage.

Well, everyone has to start somewhere and it’s here.

The starter or baby stage is when you decide to start growing your hair into locs.

Hair sponges are an effective tool to creating the foundation to dreadlocks.

With short hair, most people have to begin the process by coiling their hair with their fingers.

This is what’s going to lay the foundation for the dreadlocks to start growing.

Some might even use a hair sponge to start.

In fact, you can check out our post on how to use a hair sponge to get started.

This isn’t the only way to get your locs started either.

Some women choose to start with braids or twists to get their hair started.

When you begin, you’ll probably be at this stage for up to six months.

It can be a bit of a hassle to make sure your locs start to form, but it’s important to remember to be patient!

Starter locs should only be washed once every two weeks.

It’s also important to remember to keep them moisturized during this stage and not too thin because the alternative could lead to them breaking off.

During this stage, you should be washing your hair every two weeks in order to give your locs a chance to form.

2. Budding Stage

Budding stage dreads often look frizzy because of growing roots.

The budding stage comes next.

Truth be told, this is the least liked phase for most dread growers.

There’s a reason for that.

During this stage, your locs will kind of be at an awkward length.

They’ll no longer be that cute, short, cropped length that is close to your head.

Matting is common in budding dreads after shampooing.

They won’t be long enough for them to get closer and closer to lying flat.

During the budding stage, it’s easy for dreads to look frizzy because of the new growth.

This is when your new growth will become the most visible.

There are a few things to be mindful of during this stage.

One, it’s very easy for your hair to get matted after shampooing.

This doesn’t mean that you should neglect shampooing your dreads.

It means that you need to pay more attention to twisting the hair at the root.

During this stage, you should continue to wash your dreads every 14 days to allow them time to continue to form against the scalp.

Retwisting hair too often during budding stage can lead to breakage.

Another thing to note is that you don’t want to retwist your hair too often.

Doing this could lead to breakage, and trust me, after making progress, you don’t want to have to say goodbye to one of your dreads.

Even though you’ll probably want to twist and retwist constantly with the incoming of new growth, make sure you’re not doing it too often and you’ll sail right into the teen stage.

3. Teen Stage

At the teen stage, dreads should be washed once a week.

If you thought the growing pains were over, they’re not.

Just like with being a teenager, you have to question everything.

You might even begin to wonder why you started growing dreads in the first place.

A thing of note is that at this stage, most experts recommend washing your hair once a week.

At the teen stage of growing locs, you’ll be dealing with a few things.

Teen stage dreads often stick out at different directions.

One, you wonder if your hair is growing in the right direction.

And yes, I literally mean direction.

At this stage, the hair still isn’t long enough to lie flat, but it’s a far cry from the budding stage that you started with.

Because the hair isn’t long enough to lie flat, it seems as if it’s growing in a million different directions.

Even so, the teen stage is similar to the teenage years in life in that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

The teen stage is one of the last stages for dreadlock growers where they constantly need to worry about new growth.

While your hair might be going in a few different directions, the teen stage is where you can truly see the form that your dreads are taking.

This is where they take their shape and push you right on into the mature stage.

4. Mature Stage

Dreadlocks at the mature stage should be firm.

We all want to be mature, right?

Once you’re in the mature stage of dreads, you’ve made it.

And here’s why.

The mature stage is signified by a few different things.

Mature dreadlocks aren't as negatively affected by new growth as former dread stages.

Once your hair is able to hang down, you’re in good shape.

This is when you’ve said “goodbye” to the multiple directions that come with the teenage stage.

Another thing of note is that you won’t have to worry about your new growth as often.

One thing that happens in the earlier stages of growing dreads is that you have to be very mindful of your new growth so that it gets added to the proper dreadlock.

In the mature stage, your new growth kind of starts to grow into the right dread.

Plus, now that your new growth knows where to grow, you can start to regularly wash and condition your hair.

Dreadlocks in the mature stage should be washed every three to four days.

From this point moving forward, experts recommend that dreads should be washed every 3-4 days.

Another thing that makes this stage better is that your dreadlocks should be firm by now which also helps with diminishing the need to maintain your new growth more often than you’d like.

5. Rooted Stage

The rooted stage is the final stage of dreadlock growing.

Okay, it takes years to reach the rooted stage and there’s a reason why.

In the world of dreads, in order to be in the rooted stage, your locs need to hang around your waist.

And let’s be real, it’s going to take a few years to accomplish that.

Even so, getting to this stage is an achievement and you’ll notice a few things about your dreads.

The rooted stage takes years to achieve for dreads.

One, they’re probably going to get slightly thinner the longer they get.

Two, they’re going to get heavy.

That makes sense, right?

It’s a LOT of hair.

Just imagine how your head feels after you’ve gotten fresh braids.

Truth be told, once you get to the adult stage of dreadlocks, it gets a lot easier.

The most important rule for dreads is that you keep them hydrated.

You don’t have to worry about new growth as much.

You can follow a regular wash and conditioning routine.

You can even cut your dreads if you want.

By the end of the process, the most important thing to remember is that you keep your locs healthy and hydrated.

The 5 Stages Of Dreads Conclusion

The process to growing dreads can be tedious but rewarding.

Dreadlocks are growing more and more popular.

You’ve probably seen them on a number of black celebrities ranging from Whoopi Goldberg and Lenny Kravitz to his ex-wife, Lisa Bonet and her current husband, Jason Momoa.

Growing locs is a long process, but if you’re patient, you’ll reap the benefits of long, healthy, rooted stage locs.

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  1. I am currently locking my daughter’s hair. She is seven years old and so far she loves them. I feel like we are in the “budding” stage working our way to the “teen” stage. My problem is finding a everyday hair product to keep her scalp moisturize. I do love the fact that I decided to let my daughter grow locs.

  2. I’ve had my locks for about 7 years. It was a process I hadn’t planned on beginning, but went with it when my hair was short, only because I thought it was “cute”! Then I got lazy and just let it grow out. Finally got the roots locked in and it was on! Now I love my hair and I’m never going back!

  3. Thank you for all the information. My locs are babies and really short, but with a lot of shrinkage. It’s scary how much they have shrunk. They are only 3 months old and budding, but some are still unraveling due to me having to create another loc because a few were to thick. I will follow all advice I can find from professionals. Thanks again.

  4. I have had my locs now almost 8 years. I remember all those stages very well, now I’m on stage 5. My hair length is now in the middle of my back. Loving my hair was and awesome decision.

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