17 Tips for Staying Patient During the Beginning Stages of Dreadlocks

How to Stay Patient During the Beginning Stages of Dreadlocks

If you’re new to the dreadlock tribe, welcome! 🙂

Getting dreads will change you— and I’m not just talking about your external look. 

Those who have never had dreads think that the process is much like getting a hair cut. A little crocheting or styling and you can have perfect dreads in an instant. [LOL, I wish!!]

Adapting to this new hairstyle requires an unbelievable amount of time and patience. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the good news is that it’s worth it! 


When you feel like your dreads are too crazy to handle, regain patience by remembering these tips:

1. Don’t expect them to look amazing at first. Trust me, they won’t. Real talk here- during the first three to twelve months (or more), you can expect them to look loopy, frizzy, messy, and wild. It is what it is. 

2. Don’t listen to the negative talk coming from your friends and family members. I’ve been told many times that my hair looked better before I had dreads. And I’ve heard people within the dreadlock community experiencing the same thing within their social circles, so I know I’m not an isolated case.

I appreciate it when people tell it like it is, but the problem is that when you start caring more about other people’s opinions when it comes to dumb things like a hairstyle choice, you eventually stop listening to your inner voice. Let people say what they want, but stay true to you.

3. Don’t stress and learn to love the mess. There will be many good days and perhaps many bad days, but smile regardless. I promise it’ll get better. 

4. Wrap your locs loosely. Wear hats, scarves, headbands, beanies, or anything that will cover up the roots. Tight styling can be damaging to your locs longterm, so stick with loose styles and have fun with it. There are many YouTube tutorials on how to style short and long locs, so get creative and find your new stylish normal. 

5. Wear beads and fun accessories. One of the reasons dreadlocks are so much fun (in my opinion) is that you can add cool beads and accessories to them. You can find tons of options and designs on Etsy and Amazon, as well as at dreadlock shops and Facebook dreadlock groups. If you’re into crafty things, you can learn to make your own and possibly even sell them for profit.

6. Don’t look in the mirror often, or for too long. The less time you spend staring at your hair in the mirror, the less you’ll remember what your messy locs actually look like.

7. Take monthly progress pictures, especially on the good days. The change your locs are making will not be evident when you’re looking at your hair every day that is why creating a photo timeline will help. Seeing the change not only reminds you of how far your locs have come, but it’s also a way to keep you encouraged on the days when you feel like you’re making no progress at all.

8. Join dreadlock groups in Facebook community pages and look at the progress pictures of others. Seeing the before and after transformations in other people will help you keep up your faith in your own locs. While your hair may go through a different transformation process, it’s cool to see how they evolve in general.

9. Don’t compare your dreads to others. Remember that your hair texture and maintenance method may be different than the person whose dreads you idolize. While your dreads may not look identical as someone else’s in the future, in due time, they’ll look amazing!

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10. Remind yourself of the reason why you got dreads in the first place and hold on to that goal. If you want dreadlocks, you have to accept that it comes at the price of patience and patience is a virtue. 

11. Do occasional maintenance but don’t overdo it. Keep your dreads clean, moisturize them as needed, separate the roots weekly, palm roll on occasion, and let them be! Locs change constantly. It’s exciting to watch them mature.

12. Accept what you cannot change, such as the discomfort of messy hair. Society is going to tell you that you have to be happy and perky all the time, but the reality is that we were born with a variety of emotions for a reason. Be real with yourself. It’s okay to be annoyed with your locs. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, weird, or whatever you’re feeling. But the key is to accept it and move forward. Don’t get stuck in those negative feelings.

13. Learn what is triggering your impatience and seek ways to improve yourself in those areas. In my case specifically, it was my self-esteem issues. I have had low self-esteem ever since I can remember, and getting dreads helped me overcome some of those feelings, including a negative self-image. I’m still a work in progress, but having messy hair allowed me to care less about other people’s perceptions of me.

14. Take deep breaths and learn to let go of control of the mentality that your hair needs to look perfect all the time. 

15. Practice mindfulness. Be grateful for the progress you make each day. Move your focus away from any negative emotions or comments from others. Pay attention to the present moment.

16. Find healthy distractions. Pick a hand hobby, like knitting, crocheting, learning an instrument, painting, etc. Perhaps in the time that it takes your locs to fully mature, you’ll discover a hidden talent within yourself too.

17. Remember that great things take a lot of time and dreadlocks are no exception. Think about this:

  • A healthy baby needs about 9 months to grow in the womb before it’s born. And it won’t be until after their first year that they’ll begin talking, walking, and becoming more independent.  
  • It takes a coffee plant about 5 years to grow before it will reach a full fruit production. 
  • An apple tree will take about 10 years to produce fruit after the seed has been planted.

Take off some of the pressure you’re feeling and allow yourself to enjoy the journey, no matter which stage you’re at. 

Do your locs need a natural pick-me-up? Check out these 39 DIY recipes to revitalize your dreads!

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