Dreadlocks were probably the first hairstyles human beings ever sported. And they probably weren't even trying to "rock" a hairstyle thousands of years ago.
The first recorded mention of dreadlocks as a hairstyle goes back at least 3,520 years. Dreadlocks are the most natural hairstyle in the world.
And even though there is a stigma attached to people who wear dreadlocks, current societal and popular culture embracing the hairstyle is making it more acceptable.
After all, you must have noticed billionaire rapper Jay-Z and other high-profile celebrities beginning to rock dreadlocks in recent years.
In recent decades, anyone else rocking dreadlocks could have been subjected to discrimination and stigmatization. You can be legally fired from a job for wearing dreadlocks.
Still, the world is slowly becoming more socially acceptable to dreadlocks.
Have you decided to start rocking dreadlocks? We commend you on this decision. Dreadlocks are the most natural hairstyle ever. You don't need toxic hair grooming products to grow dreadlocks.
And while many people are more interested in the aesthetics of dreadlocks, wearing dreadlocks connotes a more spiritual, religious, or political connection to the wearer.
After all, it takes a lot of sacrifice even to start growing dreadlocks, which many people may not fully appreciate.
Unless you want to settle for faux locs, it will take you months or years to fully develop dreadlocks. There is no general rule on dreadlock development. Factors like your race, hair texture, curliness, and grooming techniques will determine how fast your dreadlocks grow.
Your hair must be at least three to six inches of hair before attempting to develop dreadlocks. Even at this length, they will appear shorter as you twist them.
You could start twisting your dreadlocks with much shorter hair. But this will significantly extend the amount of time it takes for your dreadlocks to grow. And your hair only grows about half an inch per month.
The point is that there are some do's and don't that you should be aware of when you start developing dreadlocks.
Okay, so you’ve decided to loc your hair and be a part of a community of loc-lovers. Congratulations! This article will outline what starter locs are, methods of locking your hair, and finally, how to maintain starter locs so they grow into gorgeous mature locs you’ll love.
What Are Starter Locs
Starter locs, also called baby locs, are the first stage of the loc process. Depending on your hair type, it can last between three and six months. You may decide to have cultivated, carefully sectioned locs, or you can go for a freeform look.
There are several ways to begin your locs:
Two Strand Twists
Partition the hair on your scalp into one-inch or half-inch square partitions. Now, divide each squared partition into two strands.
And then, start twisting those two strands of hair follicles together.
And you don't need to braid the two strands either. Just start twisting them together, and the hair follicles in both strands will start locking and fusing within a few months.
The name "comb coils" is a bit of a misnomer. You can use a rattail comb to partition your scalp into pencil-thin strands. And then, after that, you can coil and twist the strands for weeks and months until the follicles begin fusing.
Be patient. Comb coils are just strands of coiled hair. It will take months before the coils start fusing.
And whatever you do, don't twist the coils with too much force.
You are twisting too hard if you twist the coils with so much force that you can feel increased torsion pressure on your scalp.
Continue this practice at the start loc phase, and you become bald in a few years or decades. Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by braiding or twisting hair with too much force.
You can start your dreadlocks by sectioning your hair into one-inch squares and then braid each section.
And that's it. Each braid will naturally become dreadlock strands.
Just remember not to braid the hair too tightly or twist them with too much force as the follicle lock up and fuse.
Interlocking can be a complicated starter loc technique if you don't know what you are doing. You may want to get a loc technician or hair stylist with experience styling dreadlocks to do it.
As your dreadlocks grow, you twist them enough so that the follicles at the scalp root stay individual and fine. Then, you use a crochet pick to thread the tip of one dreadlock strand through the loose follicles of the scalp.
If done incorrectly, you will damage the follicles within the dreadlock or tear the hair at the scalp root.
Take a partitioned strand of hair and then comb backward from the end of the hair towards the scalp.
The backcombing technique helps the hair follicles to lock and fuse faster.
Have a loc stylist weave faux locs into your hair.
Instructions for caring for starter locs are essential because it may take time for your locs to hold, and you need to know how to care for them in the meanwhile.
Methods of Starting Locs
There are several methods for beginning your locs. They range from easy to a little more challenging to implement. The way you choose also depends on how much and what type of hair you have and how quickly you want to have long locs.
Whichever method you choose, you will need to part your hair into sections. Depending on your hair’s thickness and length, you will have to decide how large or small your sections will be. High-density hair may create thicker locs in larger sections, while thinner hair creates more slender locs in smaller sections. Medium thickness hair will fall somewhere between these two. When creating your sections, the thing to note is that your mature locs will become tighter and more condensed over time. This means that if you make your original sections too small, your locs will become so thin that they can break off.
Here are the most popular ways to start your locs:
If your hair is at least 2 inches long, you can start locs with two-strand twists. The twists will hold your hair together until locs form. How quickly locs begin to form with any of these methods depends on your hair texture. Kinkier hair types loc faster and bind stronger. If your hair isn’t very kinky, don’t worry. It will still loc, but it will take longer.
Comb coils, also known as gel twists, are perfect for very short hair. Clean hair is sectioned and coiled with a comb. The hairdresser or loctician may clip the hair down and put you under the hairdryer to dry it into place.
Another way to start locs is by braiding the hair. The braid doesn’t loc very well, but the braids hold the hair in place while the roots loc. Over time, you can trim off the braided hair. Locs may be flatter at first with this method.
Related: How to Get Your Locs Thicker
Backcombing can be done on hair up to six inches long. Sections of hair are tangled by backcombing, and then palm rolled. It makes an immediate, though loose loc.
If you’re looking for immediate long locs, you can begin with loc extensions. You’ll have the look you want right away, and as your hair grows, the new growth will be groomed into your own locs. You can keep the extensions after your hair grows, or you can cut them off.
Washing Starter Locs
When and how often to shampoo your starter locs is one of the most significant issues you’ll face early on. This is because if you wash your hair too soon in the process, you can easily undo your still-forming locs. So, you should wait for at least four weeks before you shampoo your hair. If your scalp is itchy before then, you can clean your scalp with witch hazel on a cotton ball. Just wipe your parts with the witch hazel, and your scalp can feel clean without disturbing your locs.
When you shampoo your hair, do it carefully. Focus on the roots and try not to disturb your locs. Then you can shampoo every four weeks until your locs are fully formed. As long as you’re only using lightweight, water-soluble products in your hair, every four weeks should be fine.
Are you looking for vegan and organic loc care products? We’re here to help. Check out our product line at Lion Locs.
You may have liked deep conditioning your hair when it was loose, but it’s not a good idea with baby locs. The purpose of creme conditioners is to soften your hair. But when your locs become too soft, they will unravel. Moisture is essential, so find something lightweight if you must. Rosewater spritz is a good option.
Unless you’re going for the freeform look, you will want to cultivate your locs by grooming them regularly. You can retwist or palm roll every time you wash your hair or once per month. Don’t over-twist your locs, as it will weaken your roots over time.
You may choose to interlock as a method of tightening and neatening your growing locs. The benefit of interlocking is that it doesn’t come undone like retwisting will when you wash your hair. The main disadvantage of interlocking is that the locs tend to be thinner.
How to Maintain Starter Locs
Here are more tips on maintaining your starter locs:
Limit the Hair Products
When it comes to loc care products, keep it simple and minimal. Too many products will cause buildup in your budding locs. Buildup is hair product that doesn’t wash out but remains in the middle of your locs. Buildup can cause discoloration.
Don’t Manipulate Your Locs
In the beginning, you can be fascinated by your new locs. They aren’t even formed yet, but you can’t keep your hands off of them. But try not to manipulate them very much. This can be damaging and prevent them from growing into full, well-shapen locs.
Use Natural Oils
Use a natural oil to lock in moisture and give your locs a soft sheen. Try coconut oil, olive oil, or Jamaican black castor oil. Any of these can prevent loc or scalp dryness.
Protect Your Locs While You Sleep
Movement while you sleep and friction against your pillow can cause your locs to unravel. So, protect your locs while you sleep. You can wear a satin cap or scarf. These will also help with moisture retention and prevent hair breakage.
Related: How to Maintain Dreadlocks
How long do starter locs stay in?
Starter locs can stay in for three to six months, depending on your hair type and growth. You can prolong your starter locs by following maintenance steps, like washing your hair once a week with loc products.
What locs are best for beginners?
There is no one type of locs that works best for everyone. You should consider how you want your locs to look, how your hair is growing, and how you can maintain your locs before picking a type. Generally, two-strand twists work best for people with naturally kinky or curly hair. Comb coils are good if you have very short hair, while braids can work if you have very long hair. If you have short hair but want long locs immediately, you can add loc extensions.
When should you start starter locs?
You should start your locs once your hair is at least three inches long. You may want to wait until your hair is five or six inches long, as you can twist them better. People grow their hair at different rates, so it may take a couple of months before your follicles are long enough for you to twist them. Be patient and continue to clean and moisturize your hair.
What is the process for starter locs?
The first step is to let your hair grow to an adequate length for your locs. You can then pick a style you want and use your fingertips or a comb to section your hair and twist them. Two-strand twists and comb coils require little effort while interlocking and backcombing can be more complicated. You can speed the process up by getting help from an expert in dreadlocks.
Can I wet my starter locs every day?
You should not wet your start locs for at least a week after you’ve installed them. Clean your scalp with essential oil, witch hazel, or another moisturizing plant if it feels itchy.
When you wash your locs, you should use a loc-specific shampoo and apply it to your scalp, not your locs. Go section by section, massaging the shampoo into your skin, and avoid getting excess water or shampoo on your locs. You can wear a stocking cap to cover your locs while you massage and wash your scalp. If you notice any buildup or debris in your locs, you can squeeze them with your fingertips to remove them but don’t scrub them with a comb or towel.
After washing your locs for the first time, you can clean them once every four weeks.
What should you not do with starter locs?
You should be careful when sleeping with your starter locs, as you risk unraveling them. You should wear a cap or scarf around your head and sleep on a smooth pillow. Do not overwash or lather your locs, especially during your first month of wearing them. You should avoid touching them unless they are unraveling.
Should I oil my starter locs every day?
No, you do not need to oil your starter locs every day. Oiling them once or twice a week should be fine, especially if you are cleaning your scalp adequately. Your scalp creates natural oils that will replenish and protect your locs.
Do starter locs get thicker or thinner?
Some people notice their starter locs getting thicker over time, though how thick and when the thickness appears can vary. People with dense and thick hair before installing locs may experience thick locs sooner than others.
Your locs can get thinner if your hair dries out or if oils build up inside them. If you can wash your scalp at least once a week and keep your locs clean, you should avoid thinning locs. However, some people have naturally thin or receding hair, so your locs may get thin through no fault of your own.
Do starter locs get hard?
Your locs can get hard or stiff if you twist them too hard or don’t moisturize them enough. You should twist your hair just enough to keep your locs together but not so tight that your follicles feel stiff. Look at your locs in the mirror once you’ve twisted them, and touch them gently with your fingertips to see if they’re too tight.
What are the five stages of starter locs?
Starter locs do not have stages; they are one stage in your loc process, though you can use informal loc stages by month to help maintain your hair. Starter locs last three to six months.
The second stage is the sprouting or budding phase. Your follicles intertwine at the tops of your coils, and your locs become thicker and more prominent. You must clean your hair regularly during this phase and retwist your locs. The sprouting stage lasts roughly six months.
The third stage is the teen stage. Your locs are moderately long and thick, but your hair may become more difficult to maintain and twist. You should continue washing and maintaining your locs until they take form. This stage lasts six months.
The fourth stage is the mature stage. You won’t need to tighten or reform your locs; they will start to take a clear cylindrical shape and consistent thickness. This stage lasts roughly three months.
The final stage is the adult stage. Your locs will be fully formed, flourishing, and easy to maintain. The entire loc process can take more than a year, but it will end with beautiful and stylish locs you can wear throughout your life.
Beginning your loc journey is exciting. Your locs will grow full, healthy, and strong if you follow the above tips.
Are you looking for insights into all things dreadlocks? We provide vegan, residue-free loc hair products. Check out Lion Locs for more information.