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The choice to grow dreadlocks is a big decision. Though dreadlocks are low-maintenance once they are established, the four stages that you must go through to achieve matured dreadlocks are time-consuming and require patience. Each stage differs depending on your hair texture and your hair-maintenance techniques.


The first stage, or the starter stage, is also called the coil stage. In this stage, the hair does not look any different from a simple twist. The strands are tightly coiled springs that have not yet intertwined. Depending on the texture of your hair, this stage can take between four and six months. The thicker your hair is, the less amount of time it will take for your hair to move on to the next stage.


Once the hair begins to thicken, the budding stage has started. The hair becomes fuzzy, no longer in small, neat coils, and is beginning to mesh together to form miniature locs. The hair closest to the scalp has not yet locked. In this second stage, the loc begins to transform into firm, rounded, matted sections of hair appearing along its length toward the middle.


The locking, or "teenage," stage occurs when the hair is stiffening and appearing more like traditional dreadlocks. In this third stage, the hair has dropped and has developed enough weight to hang down naturally. Usually lasting about one to two years, locs in this stage appear smaller and more uniform in size because they are growing more consistently. Hair growth seems more rapid because the weight of the locs is making their length more noticeable.


Each loc is now tightly intertwined. As new growth appears, it is more consistent in growing into a cylindrical shape. This fourth stage is the final step because the locs do not need frequent re-twisting, as the hair is now growing directly into the loc. It can take about three to four years from the starter stage to reach the mature stage. Mature locs are strong and easy to maintain if each stage has been followed correctly.