Dreadlocks grow in different stages. While you are probably most familiar with locs in the “mature” stage, longer locs that have been grown and cared for for a year or more. You may be far less familiar with the beginning stage of the dreadlocking journey: baby locs. Baby locs are locs in the first 3-6 months. They are often shorter, easier to unravel, and consequently, harder to style.
Experiment with Hair Wraps
Because locs are shorter and more fragile, the baby loc stage can be a frustrating time for new dreadlock wearers. During this stage, you might consider experimenting with hair wraps to add versatility to your style. You can create your headwrap by wrapping a scarf around your head and tying it in the back. If you have longer dreadlocks, you can pull them into a ponytail and wrap the remaining fabric around the ponytail, creating a large bun in the back of your head. If your dreads are shorter, wrap the fabric around your head repeatedly and tuck the ends. Wraps not only make new locs easier to manage, they act as protective styles for those just starting out.
Wear a Twisted Back Updo
Tame your baby locs with a twisted back updo. Whether your new hair is an inch long or at your chin, you can use this style to achieve an elegant, pulled back, and neat look. This style is achieved by twisting your locs backward in cornrows on the scalp from the front hairline to the base of your neck. If your hair is shorter, use bobby pins to keep it in place along the way. Secure the ends of your cornrows with rubberbands and pin them up in the back or wear a ponytail.
Try Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are knots created when small sections of locs (5-6 locs) are twisted together and wrapped tightly in “cinnamon roll-like” spirals close to the scalp. These knots may be secured with a rubberband or by placing a bobby pin at the base. Wear your bantu knots for a few days or let them go.
As with hair that is relaxed or natural hair that has not been loc’d, you can rock baby locs in curly and wavy styles too. When bantu knots are taken down, they create beautiful spiral curls and can add volume to fine, flat locs. If your hair is long enough to braid, try crimps instead of curls. You can achieve these by braiding small sections of locs together while they are wet and allowing them to dry in the braids.
Add Loc Extensions
If your baby locs are too short for comfort and you want the versatility and length of longer locs without the wait, give loc extensions a try. Some professional stylists are able to braid synthetic locs into your natural hair until your own hair reaches the length you desire. Extensions require an initial investment of as much as $400 and need to be retouched every few months.
References and ResourcesFrom Grandma's Kitchen; Dreadlock Stages Overview; Nanni's Naturals; March 2008
Nafrolinky; Another Loc Wrap; Cee Locked; April 2009
How to Style Short DreadLocks, Dreadlock Styles for Men; New211; December 2009
How to Bantu Knots Part 1; Nikkimo75; April 2009
Derby Salon: Dreadlocks & Extensions Info