My Dreadlock Journey: A One-Year Timeline

One-year dreadlock journey

In celebration of my dreadiversary, I thought it would be fun to show you guys the progress my locs have undertaken during their first year. I hope you enjoy this pictorial journey!

Before getting dreads

When someone first meets me, they immediately wonder what I looked like without dreads. I like to think I look about the same but I’ll let you be the judge.

Nadia and mom before dreads
Featuring my beautiful mom! <3

The beginning of my dreadlock journey

Day 1

My first dreadlock! I know…my taste in winter fashion is embarrassing. I don’t know what I was thinking either, haha!!

Nadia day 1 of dreadlocks

Week 1

I knotted my first 4 dreadlocks by myself…can you tell? I used the twist and rip method. Then I had a couple of friends do 3 more locs and realized I needed a professional as soon as possible. I don’t count these dreads as part of my timeline because the majority of my hair was loose.

Nadia week 1 of dreadlocks

Let’s try this again…

Day 1

This was the result of 8 hours of non-stop hair crocheting. My head was sore for at least three days and my hair felt as stiff as wire. The process is literally dreadful – no pun intended!

Nadia day 1 of dreadlocks

Week 1

I waited one week before washing my locs. That was a long time for me back then. I was really surprised that my roots didn’t start looking greasy right away. Before dreads, I had to wash my hair once a day.

The greatest challenge for me was taming my itchy scalp. Looking back at this process reminds me of how far I’ve come because my scalp is virtually itch-free now! (Huge sigh of relief.)

Nadia week 1 of dreadlocks

Week 3

My dreads are obviously thin at this stage. I got many strange looks but a compliment on occasion. I loved how long they were! I was excited that they hadn’t shrunk at all…but little did I know then that that phase was yet to come.

Nadia week 3 of dreadlocks

Month 1

Getting this far felt like a great accomplishment for some reason. This photo is accurate:

Nadia month 1 of dreadlocks

but they really looked like this:

Nadia month 1 of dreadlocks
Super loopy!

Month 2

I spent this whole month in Southeast Asia so I put my hair in a bun or ponytail almost every day. I tried to maintain it by palm rolling it but I gave up because it was unbearably hot and humid. [I work up a sweat palm rolling my hair on a cold day- not to mention when I’m already sweating profusely.] I did keep up with my weekly washing routine but that’s about it.

My biggest regret was not being diligent about keeping my roots separated. Inevitably, they tried to marry each other and the result was this disaster.

Nadia month 2 of dreadlocks
Thai kids are the cutest!

Month 3

The first place I went to upon my return to the U.S. was to see my loctician. She spent nearly 5 hours tearing my roots apart (yes, it’s actually worse than it sounds!) plus the regular maintenance. I’m forever grateful to her!

Nadia month 3 of dreadlocks

Month 4

As you can see, some of the hair around my face is becoming loose. I love this look actually because it doesn’t make my scalp look as bald. The dreads are somewhat distinct, but still very messy-looking.

Nadia month 4 of dreadlocks

Month 5

There’s not a significant change in month five other than shrinkage is starting to take place. At this point, I learned that dreads have a mind of their own! If you can’t tame them, you might as well enjoy them!

Nadia month 5 of dreadlocks
The nonconformist dread.
Nadia month 5 of dreadlocks
Windy day!

Month 6

Can you tell that my dreads are getting fluffier and shorter? This photo really encouraged me during this time!

Nadia month 6 of dreadlocks

Month 7

I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, what in the world is going on here?”

This picture looks like a major setback! But it really goes to show that awkward knots are just part of the process. I stopped asking questions and let them do their own thing.

During this time I put my hair up or covered the top part with thick headbands. I must admit, it takes some courage to look like this in public! 

Nadia month 7 of dreadlocks

Month 8

Yay, more shrinkage! It looks a little bit neater than the previous month, but still obviously messy. A lot of the hair that was ripped off during the initial crocheting process (on day one) is growing back, hence why there’s a lot of loose hair and fluff all over.

Nadia month 8 of dreadlocks

Month 9

More progress…kinda sorta?

Nadia month 9 of dreadlocks

Month 10

Not much has changed since the previous month but during the tenth month, I started making major changes to my maintenance routine. I started moisturizing my hair daily, using essential oils, natural oils on my scalp, aloe vera and witch hazel. Before month ten, my scalp was very itchy and my hair was super dry.

Within the first few days of making changes, I started seeing (and feeling) amazing results! You can read my complete maintenance guide here

Nadia month 10 of dreadlocks
Also, beads are a lot of fun!

Month 11

I’m not sure that the changes I experienced in this month are obvious in pictures but I can honestly say that my hair feels 100 times better than before. It feels softer, looks shinier and healthier. It’s almost not itchy at all (on occasion I’ll get an itchy spot, but nothing compared to the previous 10 months.)

My maintenance routine was such a game-changer for me! I wish I would have done it sooner but learning is part of the deal. Now I know what to do and more importantly what NOT to do. 🙂

Nadia month 11 of dreadlocks

Month 12

Yay! The first year is complete! I feel like I reached a huge milestone.

You can see there are a lot of loose hairs all over the place, plenty of frizzes and my locs haven’t started to gain length yet but I know all of this happens during the maturing phase which I’m pretty sure my locs are finally entering into!

Although I still have a ways to go in this journey, I’m so excited by the way my hair has progressed throughout the first year. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to look like in the second year. 

Nadia month 12 of dreadlocks

I’ll leave you with one last photo. The other day I went sledding with my family and my dad took a video of me sliding down the hill (that’s why my arms are in a weird position). I took a screenshot of it.

Nadia month 12 of dreadlocks

When I saw the video I couldn’t believe that it was my hair! It looks SO good (in my biased opinion, haha). Not to brag but wow!! Remember what they looked like in the beginning? Refer to week 3 if you forgot. 

I never get to see the back of my head. I’m only used to seeing the wild and messy hair on the front of my face so this was a pleasant surprise! I’m more excited than ever to enter into the next phase of my loc journey. 

I hope these photos encouraged you if you’re in the process yourself or considering to get dreads.

The journey your dreadlocks go through is a great reminder to reflect on your own life and make significant changes that may require a lot of time, whether that’s personal, spiritual, or physical improvements. I have learned to enjoy the good and the bad days because I know it’s all working toward the end goal which I have yet to reach.

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  1. I think the locs fit your personality. The photo before you got them just … doesn’t look like you. Too … average? Normal? IMHO, normal’s rather boring. You’re not.

  2. This was so encouraging. I’m on month 3 and things are rough. 🙁 I have a similar hair texture to yours by the look of it. I feel like a dirty hobo junkie looking white girl right now and I get lots of strange looks. Just gotta push through it I guess. You look beautiful! 💕 Do people still give you strange looks? Or do you get mostly positive reactions at this point?

    1. Hi Amanda! Aw, thank you! My first 6 months were especially rough, so I know exactly what you’re going through.
      I definitely had my fair share of strange looks in the beginning but once they began to take shape, I started receiving positive feedback. It takes time but it’s so worth it- don’t give up! 😉 Even though it’s not recommended to keep them tied up all the time, it has helped me to put them in a bun or wrap a headband around them on the days they’re especially wild.
      I hope you’re taking pictures of your journey! The progress is not always immediately obvious but when you see before and after photos, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! 🙂 Wishing you the best on this awesome loc journey!

  3. They look great! I’m currently on month 10 reading your blog and journey. Looking forward to year 2 update!

  4. Heyy I love that you did this post, helps people see what they’re getting into and that the messy stage is necessary! I was just wondering roughly how many dreads do you have and what size sections did you do? X

    1. Hi Louise!
      Thank you 🙂 I have around 40 dreads and my hair was sectioned in 1-inch squares.
      I have super thin hair and most of my locs are about the thickness of a marker.
      Hope that helps 🙂

  5. this dred journey is so inspirational. You should be a model for dreds. You have a beautiful smile and great eyes and they pop even more with the dreds.

    thanks for sharing your journey

  6. Thank you sooo much. I’ve just started my journey, week 2 haven’t washed them yet and am battling the itch. You journey is really encouraging and it was awesome to see the progression of your dreads. I’ve been using aloe to help with the itch and going through my rows to make sure they remain seperate but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of frizz lol. I still get surprised when I look in the mirror but love them and am beginning to embrace the changes they are going through, I am starting to see little loops and am going to give them their first wash in a week!

    1. Hi Fiona!! So excited to hear about the start of your loc journey 🙂 Your locs will go through a lot of changes in the next few months, brace yourself! 😉 It’s a beautiful journey, so definitely enjoy it and take progress photos so you stay encouraged on the “frizzier or less manageable” days. I’m always happy to help if you have questions along the way. Feel free to reach out anytime!

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