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Cultivating dreadlocks is a long process that takes hair through many stages of change. According to natural hair guru Patricia Gaines, hair goes through five stages during the locking process: starter locs, baby locs, teenaged locs, mature locs and rooted locs. During the baby loc stage, hair is starting to go through a process called budding. Budding is when the hair in dreadlocks begins to mat and swell. Those who are new to dreadlocks may see budding as a problem that needs to be fixed, but it is a natural and necessary part of the locking process.

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Check your hair in the mirror regularly for frizz, swelling, dullness or knotting. These are the tell-tale signs of budding. Ideally, this should be done when the hair is completely dry.

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Feel your twists with your fingers. If there is a hard lump in the middle of the twist, it may be starting to lock. Be careful not to manipulate the hair so much that it disturbs the locking process.

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Get a second opinion. Consult your loctician about the progress of your hair. She will be familiar enough with your hair to let you know if your locs are properly budding.


Budding can lead to unpredictable and frizzy hair. Do not try to manipulate your hair to make it less frizzy or more uniform while it is budding. This could damage your hair or slow the locking process.

Though budding usually happens within the first two months, do not assume your dreadlocks will not form if you do not see budding in this time frame.

About the Author

June Mebei

June Mebei is a Virginia-based writer who earned her B.A. in English at Georgia State University. She began writing professionally in 2008, and has published narrative essays, editorial articles, short stories and poetry.