17 Tips for Staying Patient During the Beginning Stages of Dreadlocks

How to Stay Patient During the Beginning Stages of Dreadlocks
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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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  1. I just started my journey I have 144 locs. I used two strand twist. I can’t wait until the frizzy stage I love that look honestly but. I already had so much shrinkage. It’s got me wondering when will they drop back down or are they going to get shorter?

    1. Hi Dree-Michele,

      Yay, I’m excited for you starting your loc journey!

      Since you mentioned that you used two-strand twists, I’m going to guess that your hair type is coarse. (Please correct me if I’m wrong) 😉
      If that’s the case, you have an advantage in that your locs should mature within 6 to 12 months. After they’ve matured, your locs should stop shrinking.

      They might go through a period of time where it seems they don’t grow at all, and then you’ll start noticing them gaining length.

      I recommend you take progress pictures to help encourage you along the way. Often times you won’t notice your progress unless you have old pictures to compare what they looked like before versus what they look like now. (For sure that’s what has helped me!)

  2. Nadia, thank you for this post. Just today, I was feeling some kind of way…not a good way about how my locs look today. I’ve had my locs for 16 months. It’s been 3 weeks since my last retwist so I gave them a wash and now the roots are looser. I have some locs around the perimeter of my head that have barely started to bud so those have some unraveling. Overall not very appealing. Thanks for the reminder that it’s part of the journey. Your suggestions have shifted my thoughts from negative to acceptance. You also reminded me to get back to the crochet project I have in progress. Thank you!!!

    1. You’re welcome Lorna! Trust me, I have my fair share of bad loc days…but lots of good ones too. That’s part of what makes the journey so special and unique to the loc’d community. What type of crochet project are you working on? Sounds fun! 🙂

  3. Hey Nadia!
    I was wondering.
    What is semi freeforming?
    Does it mean that you don’t retwist that often?

    I want to start semi freeform,
    But a lot of people say that it’s important to retwist your new growth frequently so that your dreads get trained.

    So I don’t understand how to start my semi freeforming journey.

    Sorry for all the questions
    I hope you have a great day!

    1. Hi Daniela!
      Yes, semi free-forming requires a lot less professional maintenance.

      If you want to keep your locs neat at the root, I recommend retwisting once every 6 to 8 weeks. Retwisting more often than that can cause a lot of strain on your scalp and lead to hair loss/ traction alopecia later on.

      I get retwists only once a year but I maintain the new growth by separating my locs at the root about once a week. If you don’t separate your roots often, it will get very messy (I learned this the hard way, lol). I have some loose strands at the root and I leave those alone. Some have turned into ultra-thin locs over time, and other strands are too stubborn to knot. 😉

      Either way, your locs will adjust over time. The main difference will be that the root won’t look as “tidy” if you don’t retwist often.

      I hope that was helpful! If you have any other questions, let me know- I’m always happy to help 🙂

  4. I felt like I wrote this down myself and just re read it back to me. Everything you said helped me ❤️💯

  5. Just got partial dreads very excited for this process. Enjoying reading all the info here learning a lot and glad to find your blog

  6. I started my loc journey this July, I have a 4c type hair and started with comb coils. Recently my locs have started to puff up a bit, but the roots are fin. Any advice on how to fix that?

    1. Hi Asher, your locs will adjust as they mature, so it’s normal for them to puff up. Which part are you wanting to fix? Do you want to make the roots puffier or the locs themselves thinner?

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