A Beginner's Guide To Starting Dreads With Short Hair

A Beginner's Guide To Starting Dreads With Short Hair

Did you know that the origins of dreadlocks are so ancient that no one really knows when they appeared, except that they are African in origin?

The word "dreadlocks" itself was probably only coined in the 1940s in reference to the rising influence of Rastafarian culture and politics.

Not a few decades ago, the very act of wearing dreadlocks was seen as a provocative or socio-political thing to do. In many ways, this may still be the case in many places. 

But is it cannot be argued that wearing dreadlocks as a hairstyle has become a wildly popular thing to do now. People of many ethnicities and races like to rock dreadlocks.

And what first started as a cultural signature of black culture has now become a fashionable pop culture hairstyle.

Unfortunately, just because you want dreadlocks now does not mean that you can instantly have them.

Even under the best of traditional circumstances, it takes at least six months for your hair to convert into dreadlock strands naturally. And that is assuming you are a person of color or possess naturally curly and kinky hair.

If you possess naturally straight hair, then it will take much longer for it to convert into dreadlocks naturally.

Depending on your ethnicity, race, and natural texture of your hair, it could take as long as two years for your hair to convert into dreadlocks.

The techniques that you use to start developing dreadlocks will also determine how efficiently they grow. You may find that your dreadlocks grow quicker if you employ the crochet method or just braid your hair and then just leave the braids in.

However, if you want to convert your hair into dreadlocks sooner than later, then you should start off with an appreciable length of hair.

Maybe that is the wrong way to approach the topic.

Are you interested in growing dreadlocks? Do yourself a favor and start with at least six inches of hair. Dreadlocks is an ancient hairstyle that requires a lot of attention, grooming, and maintenance.

And this is especially true if you start off with short hair. 

Look at it this way - if you have Black hair or naturally curly hair, then developing dreadlocks can be a double-edged sword depending on the dreadlock aesthetics that you are desiring.

It takes patience to wear dreadlocks. Even if you start with six inches of hair, its inherent natural curliness means that your hair will shrink in length as you twist it to convert it into dreadlocks.

No one wants to dissuade you from starting your dreads with short hair. We just want you to appreciate that doing so will demand more grooming sacrifice and time.

And since you are starting your dreadlock journey with short hair, your growing dreadlocks will be short and stubby looking for a year or two before they develop some length and thickness per strand.

But if you want to grow dreadlocks with short hair, we got a basic guide for you.

Only use natural, organic, and vegan Lion Locs products to groom and care for your dreadlocks.


Related: Mohawks Dreads: A Cool Way to Rock Your Locs

Assess Your Initial Hair Length

Do you want to begin growing dreadlocks as a hairstyle? Congratulations. 

Are you starting out growing dreadlocks with very short hair? OK, let's tap the brakes for a minute.

Technically you can start growing dreadlocks at any minimal hair length. However, the length of hair you start out with ultimately determines the number of methods you can use to start growing dreadlocks.

If possible, you should wait until your hair is at least six inches in length before you start twisting and manipulating them into dreadlocks.

Just hear us out for a moment.

The Benefits of Starting With Long Hair

If you want to start growing dreadlocks, it's better to have longer lengths of hair. At best, you should start out with at least six inches of hair. 

You will have a wider variety of methods to turn your hair into dreadlocks. And you will see the aesthetic benefits of your hair slowly turning into dreadlocks immediately.

Hear us out.

Think about it. If your hair is less than three inches long and naturally curly, its inherent length will shrink as you twist it. And if your hair is really short, your best option to start converting them into dreadlocks is via twisting them.

If you start with six inches of hair or more, then you have more options available to you to start your dreadlocks and still keep some length.

Palm rolling is the method of rolling and twisting your hair between your palms.

Or you can use the interlocking technique. Your hair should have some length and be thin. Using a crochet hook or pick, you take the end of the dreadlock strand and pull it through the loose follicles growing at the scalp.

You could braid your hair and just let them develop slowly into dreadlocks. If your hair has some length, then it will at least aesthetically resemble dreadlocks before they convert.

The backcombing method is also a good way to start developing dreadlocks while maintaining some length. Instead of combing away from your scalp, you grab some strands of hair and comb backward towards your scalp.

Backcombing encourages hair follicles to become entangled and lock together quicker.

If you have short hair, then your best bet is to wait until you have at least one inch to three inches of hair before growing dreadlocks. You need at least some hair length before you can begin to manipulate it into dreadlocks.

The average hair follicle grows about half an inch per month. So, your hair grows at a rate of about six inches every year. Take the time to wait a few months before starting.

Additionally, you must consider hair texture when growing dreadlocks. Black hair is usually naturally curly, wavy, kinky, and entangles in natural coils easily. It's easier to have a little more length of hair to work with.

Take aesthetic considerations into account as well. You won't have long dreadlocks for months when you start growing dreadlocks with short hair. It may take a year before your dreadlocks grow into an appreciable length. Your initial dreadlocks will be short, spiky, or bulky knobs of hair sticking out from your scalp.

And you also have to consider the time and grooming sacrifices required when starting dreadlocks with short hair. Instead of turning an existing hair length into dreadlocks, you will basically be growing and twisting dreadlocks from the scalp.


You must dedicate a lot of time grooming and twisting your short hair every day. And you will be using your fingertips instead of your whole hand and fingers.

Still, want to go through with this process? OK, here is how to get started.

Start With at Least Three Inches of Hair

A view of the back of the head of a black man with short blond dreadlocks walking in a tunnel.

Patience is a virtue. You need a few inches of hair to work with to start entangling and twisting it into dreadlocks.

Start out with at least three inches length of hair. You can start with a hair length of one inch as well, at the bare minimum. 

Soft Bristle Brush Pad

You may want to start using a soft-bristled brush pad to brush your hair. Use the soft pad to brush your hair into small entangled and curly hairballs. 


Using a soft pad brush to get your short hair follicles could take a few hours or a few days to get your hair primed for dreadlock twisting. Don't rush the process.

Apply Dreadlock Gel

Apply a natural and organic dreadlock oil, cream, or gel into your hair. Dreadlock gel helps your hair to naturally coil and entangle into dreadlocks. 

And dreadlock gel naturally hydrates and moisturizes dreadlocks while also keeping the inter-coiled hair follicles naturally set as dreadlocks.

Only use natural and organic dreadlock gel, oil, or cream with your hair. And steer clear of beeswax. Dreadlock gel products containing beeswax, which decomposes, can get stuck and gummed up within the follicles of the dread. 

Get into the habit of applying dreadlock gel to your hair at least every 48-hours.

Create Dreadlock Segments 

You can use a regular comb or rat tail comb to create small inch-sized separated segments or squares in your hair. In the middle of each segment is the area where you will begin twisting your hair into dreadlocks.

Use rubber bands to hold the hair segments into place for a few hours. But don't use the rubber bands for too long as they could become irretrievably entangled into your hair follicles. And yanking or cutting out rubber bands could break or damage your hair follicles. 

And since you are starting out with a short amount of hair, you need as much healthy hair as possible.

Let It Dry Out

Let your hair dry for one to two hours now that they are moist with dreadlock gel. Use a hairdryer on the lowest power setting to expedite this process.

Start Finger Coiling

Young black man in t-shirt with short dreadlocks.

After removing the rubber bands, you can start finger coiling the hair segments you previously created.

If you have three inches of hair to work with, you could employ the backcombing method. Backcombing is the process of holding a length of hair and combing towards the scalp instead of away. Gently backcombing your hair helps the follicles to become naturally intermingled and entangled.

If your hair is very short, the finger coiling method would be the best way to go. Brushing your hair should have entangled the short hair follicles well. Grab the hair at the center of each segment with your thumb, pointer, and index finger and begin coiling and twisting. 

When the hair is coiled enough to your preference, move on to the next one.

Wear a silk or stocking cap when you sleep to protect your budding dreadlocks. And get into the process of finger coiling your locks daily until they grow longer.

Only use Lion Locs hair products to take care of your dreadlocks naturally and organically.

Related: How To Find The Best Hair Stylist For Your Locs



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