How Long Does It Take To Get Dreadlocks? (Explained)

Dreadlocks look interesting and unique, and they’re also quite practical because they require little upkeep once the dreads are in place. So it’s no surprise that many men and women choose to get their hair dreadlocked, especially as summer comes.

Those who go to the salon to have their mane converted into a tangle of dreads may experience a serious issue. What is the perfect length for your hair to be changed into dreadlocks, and how long does hair need to be for dreads to be present at all?

So, today, we’ll try to learn everything we can about hair length and the elements that govern it.

Stay with us if dreadlocks are your ideal hairdo!

How Long Does It Take To Get Dreadlocks?

Having long, healthy, and thus attractive dreads takes time, patience, and work. It usually takes years for them to reach past-buttock length! If you can’t wait that long, you can always buy extensions or grow your own hair that long and then dread it.

Basically, hair length is determined by a variety of factors, but let us start with the stage you are now in.

Many of us chose to start our dreads from the beginning and shave our heads in order for the dreads to be produced on healthy hair with even length. If this describes you, you should use a residue-free or sulfate-free shampoo for the first three months. There is nothing else except shampoo!

You should shampoo your hair once a week so that the transition your scalp goes through when your hair is long enough to start hating it is easier. It is important to understand that our hair grows somewhat more than a centimeter every month on average.

When you begin to gain any length, it is time to begin the dreaded process. If you start with little to no hair, you should be able to get butt-long dreads in roughly twelve to fifteen years!

Your hair is as short as 10 cm. In this instance, your hair may not be able to retain a dread until it is at least seven centimeters (three inches) long. However, this is also dependent on its texture.

With this length, you may let your hair to dread as it grows by washing it once a week, without combing it, and manually separating the hairs into parts with your hands only. This is the most natural approach to begin the dreads, and it may be the best and most ideal technique.

As your hair is so short right now, you might not notice much shrinking. In general, it may take eight to twelve years, or even more, for your dreads to grow past your waist if you started with short hair.

If you have medium-length hair that is between ten and thirty-five centimeters in length, you will find it much easier to begin dreading. Whether you choose the freeform method, backcombing, crochet, or another, the overall process will be much faster.

Also, your hair will surely shrink during the maturation process, which is natural. Most likely, the shrinkage will be measured in millimeters.

Of course, this method is quite personal and unique to each individual, thus we suggest you be patient. However, after seven to 10 years, you may be able to see the results and have your fantasy waist-length dreads.

Finally, if you begin dreading when your hair is longer than 35 cm, you will have waist-length dreads in around three years. However, be prepared for far more shrinking! On the other hand, maintaining such lengthy dreads is easier and less laborious, which is a good thing.

Of course, all of the time periods we mentioned are guesses, but at least you now have a better idea of how much time you could need to grow your dreads long enough.

Also, as you’ve already learned how long your hair has to be to begin dreading it and are familiar with the fundamental dread-making processes, we’re confident you’ll have no trouble choosing a dreading style and correctly preparing your hair for the operation.

how long does my hair have to be to get dreads?

About this, bear in mind that the length of hair necessary to begin dreads will largely rely on whether you mind some extra upkeep or not.

For example, if you are willing to put up with a little more hair care trouble, you may begin with short hair dreads and see them after your hair is approximately 3 inches long. We admit that it’s not very long, but it’s long enough for an experienced professional to braid your mane into a braided masterpiece!

However, if you decide to start forming dreads on this hair length, be prepared to spend a lot more time dread balling and putting in all the loose hair! This is also why, if you start seeing dreads while your hair is this short, you will almost certainly need to use rubber bands to secure them.

Since your natural hair is far too short and some of it may fall out, rubber bands are required to keep it together. Yes, it doesn’t seem very trendy or cool, but it will keep your dreads in a proper state till they can hold up together.

But, if you don’t mind waiting, it’s much nicer if you let your hair grow a little longer. Some extra length will considerably lessen your dreadlocks’ care and make things run much more smoothly for you in general.

So, we dare to claim that a hair length of six to eight inches is perfect for beginning to produce dreadlocks. It won’t take long to put them in at this length, but your hair will be longer and less fragile as a result. Also, there are advantages to tying up long hair.

Still, there is a downside to seeing dreads on long hair, and that is the time it takes to backcomb longer hair. Especially if you’re working on little parts with a lot of dreads.

So, as you can see, it is not necessary to have waist-length hair to begin developing dreadlocks, but you must consider some details about maintenance and dread-making time!

Methods Of Starting Dreadlocks

Comb Coils

If you’re going to start your dreadlocks with a comb or finger coils, you need have at least 3 inches of hair. Men frequently begin comb coils dreads with much shorter hair, but a few inches is excellent.

I started with approximately 3 inches, and my hair has grown a lot in the previous year. To be honest, one year is equivalent to when I first started with longer hair.


You may begin your freeform dreadlocks with any length of hair. The reason for this is that you do not alter your hair with freeform dreadlocks. All you have to do is let your hair grow and produce knots on its own in its own special way.

Two-strand Twist/ Three-strand Plaid

Many people wonder how long their hair has to be to start locks with a two-strand twist or three stand plaints. They may, however, have previously been sporting these looks in their hair. I like to say that if you can two-strand twist or plait your hair, it’s long enough to start locks.

The only downside here might be the extra attention required. There is always the risk of your hair unraveling with a two-strand twist, so if you start with shorter hair, you will want to take care of it.


Backcombing is usually done on hair with looser textures, straight hair, or Caucasian hair. This approach will need a few inches of hair for the technician to work with, with a length of 6 inches or more being optimal.

Starting with longer hair will allow your hair to fall naturally rather than being rigid.


When using instant locks, the optimal length to start dreads is around 5-6 inches of hair. You should ideally utilize much longer hair, approximately 7 inches.

Instant locks are sometimes stiff, so having longer hair will help your dreads fall gently.

Hair Type

If you’ve noticed, I included hair type while discussing the method-length relationship. To begin locks, any form of hair can be used. But, depending on the type of hair you have, you may require extra length.

4a to 4d curly hair

Begin with as little as 2-3 inches of hair. The reason for this is that curly hair not only tangles faster, but it also stays together better.

1a, 2a, 2b for straight hair

If you use the backcombing or quick lock method, you can start with as little as 6 inches of hair. While these treatments do not unravel like other ways, you begin with longer hair for a more professional look.

From Personal Experience!

I grew out my hair for a couple of years to get it long enough to start my dreads. What I didn’t know was that my hair has always been overly long. I’m still glad I waited since I was able to pull my hair back into a ponytail, something I used to hate. It made the chaotic maturing phase a lot more pleasant, for sure.

How much longer should everyone who is growing out their hair like I am wait?

Ideally, your hair should be 15 cm (6 inches) long. However, if you are prepared to invest the extra effort in keeping your dreads in the early stages, you can start dreads sooner.

Hair Measurement & Record Sheet

If you intend to start wearing locs, you should begin measuring and recording your hair length. With a hair measuring and recording sheet, you will be able to trace your progress from the beginning to the end of your locs.

Tracking your hair development is a great habit to get into if you’re actively trying to grow your hair. It is especially vital if you are attempting to gain a hair length target.

This sort of sheet also includes bonus sheets for tracking your lock hair development.


Is it possible to start dreadlocks with any hair type?

Yes. Dreads may be started on any hair type. However, the appearance of locs, the time it takes to loc, and overall care may differ.

How long should the hair be for comb coil locs?

2-3 inches of hair or more is appropriate length for comb coil or finger coil locs.

How long should your hair be for freeform locs?

You may start your dreadlocks at any length for freeform dreadlocks.

How long should your hair be for backcombing?

Backcombing requires a few inches of hair to begin your dreadlocks. It’s better to start with hair that’s at least 6 inches long.

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