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A model draping his dreadlocks over his face.

Natural DreadLocks In Just 10 Easy Steps!

Depending on your current hair length, it could take anywhere between eight months to two years, or even a little longer, before you can naturally grow dreadlocks. Dreadlocks are relatively easy to manage once you have them. But it takes time to grow them.

Dreadlocks are a hairstyle that you can develop naturally. You don't need specialized haircare tools or chemical products to grow dreadlocks.

Like most things in nature, growing dreadlocks takes time. It may take you as long as eight months to two years to grow dreadlocks fully.

But it is easy to start growing them in the beginning. Here is how to start growing natural dreadlocks in just ten easy steps.

Dreadlocks are not just a hairstyle. They are a lifestyle movement. Take care of your dreadlocks with natural hair care products from Lion Locs.

Related: How to Interlock Dreadlocks

Are your dreadlocks more than just a hairstyle to you? We think so too! Take care of your beautiful dreadlocks with our high-quality, organic loc care products. Visit Lion Locs today!

1. Grow Your Hair Out

A young man with short-length starter dreadlocks.

If you look at the headline, you will notice that the word "natural" is the first word. Nothing in nature is usually sped up or accelerated. 

Dreadlocks are an ancient hairstyle that ancient humans wore in eras where highly processed and chemical-laden hair care products were unavailable.

The first chronicled description of dreadlocks occurred over 3,500 years ago. But ancient documentation does not equate to the invention. Dreadlocks are probably as old as the human species. And in ancient times, nothing was done quickly.

The point is that it takes time to grow dreadlocks. So, be patient and do it the right way.

Grow your hair to a length of at least three inches, but double that would be best. You need some length of hair to begin the dreadlock process. Hair grows about one-fourth of an inch monthly, so again, be patient.

A crucial part of the dreadlock development process is twisting the hair to begin the process. If you twist your hair while it is very short, it could be very easy to use too much force. Traction alopecia is hair loss initiated by the aggressive twisting and pulling of hair.

2. Wash Thoroughly With Organic Shampoo

Now that you have waited long enough to grow out your hair at least three to six inches, you know you need to wash it thoroughly.

By washing your hair, you will remove its natural oils. Removing your hair's natural oils will make it drier but more manageable for the individual follicles to lock together and become matted during the dreadlock process.

Make sure that you only use organic, natural, and clarifying shampoos. Haircare products with chemicals and non-natural ingredients will lock and clog in your dreadlock follicles' crevices.

Don't use a conditioner. It will make your hair slippery and harder for the dreadlock process to initiate.

3. Dry Your Hair Entirely

Invest in a heavy-duty hair dryer or salon hair dryer that can envelop your head. You are just starting to develop natural dreadlocks, but you should begin the practice of complete hair drying now.

Dread rot, a mold that grows on wet dreadlocks that are not entirely dry, is a significant problem to look out for. It happens when you wrap up, sleep, or go about your business while your dreadlocks are still wet.

Dry out your dreadlocks entirely after each wash.

4. Section Your Hair Into Squares

Now that your hair is dry, you need to start sectioning your hair into sections. Each section will contain a length of hair follicles that will slowly become one dreadlock strand.

The easier way to section your hair is via sectioning it into squares on your scalp. And the size of each section will correspond to the thinness or thickness of the eventual dreadlock strand. 

Make the sections medium-sized. Large sections yield large and thick dreadlocks, which can become heavy and challenging to manage. Small sections yield thinner locs, which can become much thinner by the time they reach maturity. 

Please Note: The sections of hair should follow a 'brick work' pattern. This means, from row to row, the sections should be staggered - like a brick wall. This will provide a full look as your locs grow out.

5. Tie-Off Each Square Section

You can skip this step, but if you prefer to do all of your sectionings at one time instead of parting as you go, you can tie off each section.

You can use rubber bands to tie off the hair of each section of the scalp. Don't tie off the hair at each scalp section so tight that you feel scalp tension.

You want to apply rubber bands or ribbons at the scalp base each section with just enough tension to keep the hair taut but not too tight.

The purpose here is to keep each section separated. But you don't necessarily have to do this if you don't want to. And remember to remove the rubber bands after a few days. Leaving them in will result in hair follicles getting caught in them and torn as you remove them.

6. Backcombing

Backcombing is a strategic combing method designed to help the hair follicles in each separated strand length begin locking together.

Traditional combing involves combing hair from the scalp and down towards the base of the hair. With backcombing, you do the opposite.

Grab the end of one of your sectioned hair strands. Then slowly begin combing upwards from the base of the hair strand towards your scalp. Backcomb each section of hair strands several times (or as many times as desired).

Backcombing preps each strand of hair for one of the following vital steps, twisting manipulation.

7. Apply Dreadlock Growth Oil

You could skip this step if preferred. It will take months, but your dreadlocks will naturally begin to grow with regular and gentle twisting manipulation.

However, applying a conservative amount of a natural and organic dreadlock growth oil or gel can help jumpstart the follicle locking process.

Depending on your hair texture and thickness, it could take months to form locs - or just weeks. If your hair texture is straight or otherwise more challenging to loc, consider using a holding compound on each section of back-combed hair. This will, of course, hold your hair in the tangled state until it holds naturally. You can also apply some organic dreadlock growth oil to ensure your scalp and hair are nourished.

You can generally apply some dreadlock growth oil to each sectioned length of hair, but don't overdo it.

8. Start Twisting Your Dreadlocks

A model with long dreadlocks posing outdoors.

You don't necessarily need to apply dreadlock growth oil at this initial stage. But it could help reduce some friction as you start digitally manipulating and twisting your dreadlocks into being.

Now, you can begin taking each sectioned strand of hair and twisting them to become dreadlocks naturally.

There are numerous ways for you to start your dreadlocks naturally.

With the freeform process, you don't need to manipulate or twist your hair manually. Depending on the degree of freeforming you’re after, you could forgo backcombing and the rubber bands and just let your hair slowly become dreadlocked naturally by neglect. To a lesser degree, freeform locs are those that don’t require any maintenance once they have formed. 

Just be warned that the natural freeform method could take longer for your hair to finalize into dreadlocks than others. But a wearer who chooses this, isn’t usually in a hurry. 

9. Pick a Twisting Method

If your hair is six inches long, you can employ the palm-rolling method. Just place each sectioned hair length between your palms and roll the hair between your palms. If you know what you’re doing or if you have a loctician, you can palm roll shorter hair as well. 

As you roll the loc back and forth between your palms, the hair will take on a coiled aesthetic along its entire length. In the coming months or weeks, as you palm roll daily, your hair will slowly and naturally lock together and become smooth, cylindrical dreadlocks.

You could also twist the roots of your hair with your thumb and fingers. Always make sure you use a little gel or aloe vera gel at your roots before gently twisting the new growth. Never twist your locs while dry - this will result in breakage and severe damage. And there's no need to keep twisting down the shaft of your loc. You must beware not to overtwist your locs. This will result in breakage and damage to the very roots of your hair. 

You could also forgo the backcombing and instead braid or two-strand twist your sections. Then palm roll or twist them until they form into locs. This might seem like a slow method, but it depends on the texture and thickness of your natural hair. It could be a quick and non-damaging way to grow your locs.     

Note: Whenever you twist or roll your locs to maintain them, never do so without moisturizing them first. This will prevent breakage and long-term damage to the loc. You can use gel or spritz your roots with something natural and gentle like rose water.   

10. Wear a Sleeping Cap or Scarf

Your freshly coiled, starter dreadlocks can quickly become untangled or messy while you sleep. Get into the habit of wearing a sleeping cap, preferably satin, as you sleep to protect your dreadlocks. 

Other reasons for protecting your locs while you sleep are to lock in moisture so your locs don't dry out and to protect your locs from lint on your bed linens. It's worth forming the habit from the beginning of your loc journey because even as your locs grow longer and there's no danger of detangling, you'll want to protect them from damage. 

And that is it. This is your basic guide to a natural start to growing your dreadlocks.

Related: A Beginner's Guide To Starting Dreads With Short Hair


Can dreadlocks happen naturally?

Yes, dreadlocks can happen naturally, though natural dreadlocks take time. You must grow your hair out, wash your hair with organic shampoo, and comb your follicles to keep your strands separated. 

How do people get natural dreadlocks?

People get natural dreadlocks by growing their hair over a prolonged period of time, sometimes a year or more. Once their hair is long enough, they can twist their follicles into dreadlocks.

What’s the difference between dreadlocks and locs?

Dreadlocks are natural while locs are cultivated. Dreadlocks have a more natural appearance, though they can seem frizzy or uneven if you don’t care for them. Locs are well-kept and tidy, and you can wear various loc styles in your hair. 

Dreadlocks are an important part of Rastafarian culture for several reasons. Rastafarians interpret Leviticus 21:5 as a commandment to wear dreadlocks, and they believe Samson wore dreadlocks and lost his strength by cutting them. Dreadlocks also symbolize the mane of the Lion of Judah, a title given to Haile Selassie and other Ethiopian kings. Locs do not have religious significance to Rastafarians or other faiths.

Can dreadlocks be undone?

Yes, you can undo dreadlocks in a few different ways. You can snip the ends of your locks, then use your fingertips to unravel your hair and separate your follicles. Moisturizing your dreadlocks with water and conditioner or dipping them in a bowl of hot water can keep your hair moist and make undoing the dreadlocks easier. 

Do people wash dreadlocks?

Yes, people wash their dreadlocks to remove debris trapped in them, keep the hair moist, and make twisting and untwisting easier. However, you should not wash your dreadlocks like loose hair, as you risk damaging them. You should purchase a shampoo specifically for dreadlocks and focus on massaging your scalp between your braids. Wash your dreadlocks once a week; washing them more often can cause them to become damp while washing them less often can dry them out.

How long do dreadlocks last?

Natural dreadlocks can last indefinitely if you maintain them properly. You should wash your locks once a week, condition them, and style them using natural oils and products specifically for your hairstyle.

Do dreadlocks damage hair?

No, dreadlocks do not damage hair, and they can keep your hair safe and clean as long as you follow the proper maintenance steps. The benefits of locs are substantial and outweigh any potential harm.  

What happens if you comb out your dreadlocks?

You can comb out your dreadlocks easily if they’re new. Once you comb them out and remove the twists you’ve made, your hair follicles can continue growing as before you installed your dreadlocks. However, combing out older dreadlocks can damage your hair and potentially tear your follicles out of your scalp. If you want to remove older dreadlocks, you should get help from a hair care professional.

Will my dreadlocks unravel if I cut them?

Your dreadlocks can unravel if you cut them, but it depends on where you make your cut. If you cut the tip of your hair, your locks can stay together. If you cut further up, they can unravel almost immediately.

How much does it cost to take out locs?

You don’t have to spend any money on taking out your locs, especially if they’re new and you have experience with hair care. All you need to remove your locs is scissors to snip the tips and your hands to unwind your hair. If you have older locs, you may want to use conditioner to keep your hair clean; you can buy a conditioner for less than $25.

What is the spiritual meaning of cutting dreadlocks?

Cutting your dreadlocks can signify the end of a spiritual journey or a moment of rebirth. For example, the Dieng people of Indonesia regard cutting dreadlocks as a rite of passage for children. Cutting the locks can drive away bad luck and help children deal with uncertainty as they age.

Bonus Tip

There are lessons to learn as you grow your dreadlocks naturally. You will discover things about yourself and your perceptions of yourself - as your locs grow, so will you. So, it's essential that you cherish the journey. Don't allow yourself to become frustrated at any stage of growth because you aren't at maturity yet. Enjoy every phase of development because it's all good! 

Are you looking for the best in organic and natural dreadlock grooming products? We’ve got it! Check out our products at Lion Locs.

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