The Stages of Dreadlocks
The three basic stages of dreadlocks are starter locks, teenage/middle locks and mature locks.
Oh, Your Twists Are Cute
Starter Locs: Starter locs is how your loc journey will begin. Everyone will begin here regardless of the technique chosen. This stage will not resemble “mature” locs yet and it may go undetected that you have actually chosen to pursue a dreadlock journey. Important elements will take place during this stage within your locs. When your starter locs are first installed, there aren’t any knots, tangles or matting taking place at the time. However, over the next few months, as your hair is allowed to “set”, the inner strands of the hair will begin to naturally knot and tangle.
Congratulations! You have knots or buds.
Knots or Buds: Knots are a very important step in your locing journey. Knots occur when your hair begins to loc and this is how it starts. Think of these knots as a seed that has been planted. On the outside, the hair is continuingly wrapping itself around neighboring strands of the starter locs. This intertwining creates sort of a cocoon for the inter knots that will expand as your dreadlocks mature. Be sure to continue to handle your starter locs with care as they are still getting “set” in their ways.
Oh, You’re Locing?
Teenage locs/ Middle stage:
I like to think of this stage as the middle stage. Your locs are not really starter locs anymore but they are not mature locs, either. They are sort of caught in the middle and they are searching for their way. Each locing experience will be different depending on the individual’s mindset about the events that are going to take place during this stage of the journey.
At the same time, due to the expanding of the internal knot(s) and the tightening of different strands of hair that are pulled as the knot(s) tighten, the dreadlock(s) will stand up and/or out appearing to be shorter and unruly and will no longer lay flat with the others. This is the stage where the locs show their personality.
Frizz is another major element of this stage. You may have the urge to beat the frizz by continually twisting the locs but don’t! This is only a short term fix, creating a disastrous future of thinning locs and a weak base. Accept this is a part of the journey and you can use this time to experiment with head wraps. This stage is really about letting your hair naturally do what it wants to do. Before this stage is over, your locks will lay flat and hang more – showing signs of growth.
I like your locs!
Mature: The outer cocoon that was taking shape in the knots or buds stage is formed and completely encases the internal knots that have now encouraged internal matting in the inside and bye, bye frizz! Some loc wears will not have sealed ends, but instead they will have a coil. Just like the coil or tendril at the end of their twists. The locs are taking shape and should no longer resemble the old starter locs. They are heavier, which makes them lay flat vs. standing out as in the teenage/middle stage.
- To make a nice secure twist that will not unravel, be sure to twist each piece of hair tautly around the other by using your fingertips. Attempt to get as many revolutions as possible. Also, ensure that ample holding product is applied as well. Use metal clips to secure the twist at the base.
- Twisting on dry hair can cause hairs to snap.
- Once you reach the end of the twist and wrap it around your finger to secure the ends. Next, if you are unable to create a coil on the end, try creating a pin swirl with your fingers and secure it with a metal clip.
- Using conditioner is taboo when it comes to dreadlocks; however, it is a needed product to help keep the hair strands in their best condition. Also, keep in mind, that the ends of the hair are the oldest and need the most care. Using creamy conditioners in locs, especially starter locs, is not recommended; however, the ends of the hair must be taken care of. Try using a finishing rinse on the ends. This will help keep the oldest part of your hair conditioned. We recommend using Aubrey Organics Green Tea Finishing Rinse.
- Never use beeswax or grease (petroleum jelly) on your locks. These ingredients cause buildup and they attract lint and dirt.
- When washing your hair, wear a stocking cap- this will help maintain the integrity of your starter locks.
- Reduce lint in locs after washing by using a dark colored microfiber towel. This way, the lint will be black or dark colored and not white, which is more visible.
- Twisting too tight and/or to frequently can thin or weaken the base of the lock. You will need to experiment to find the right length of time that you are able to go between each retightening session. If you find that you have signs of distressed hair, you will need to evaluate your method and technique that will preserve your delicate tress.
- During the teenage/middle stage of your loc journey, where your hair may not be willing cooperate, tie your hair down at night and/or where an updo whenever possible.
- If you looking for a loctician in an area near you, use can use our natural hair search engine to easily locate a loctician shop near you.
Finally, for more information to help you along your dreadlock journey, check the following articles: