Stages of Locs: How Locs Evolve From Beginning to Maturity


Curious how your locs will change during the locking process? The easiest way to see how your locs will evolve is by looking at the stages that locs grow through.The 4 stages of locs that you experience as you grow through the hair locking process are the starter lock stage, the baby lock stage, the teenage stage, and the adult stage. On average, moving through all these stages can take upwards of 18-24 months; but depending on your texture, density, product usage, and hair care regimen, your hair may move quicker or slower throughout the locking process.


What Happens In The Starter Locs Stage?

With your starter locs, you are establishing your parting system and the ideal starting method that works best for your hair texture to achieve your desired result. No matter which starting method that you choose, even loc extensions, you will still experience the 4 stages of locs. In the starter locs stage, you’re waiting for your hair to form buds; and these buds can essentially form anywhere in the hair. On average, you can stay in the starter locs stage from 3 to 6 months.

Starter Locs With Diamond Parts

Starter Locs With Diamond Parts

Characteristics of Starter Locs:

  • Small in size
  • Neat
  • Clean Parts


RELATED ARTICLE: Why Loc Jewelry Is Dangerous In The First 6 Months


What Happens During the Baby Locs Stage?

Once the majority of your hair has begun to bud you will be in the baby locs stage. In this stage, your hair is characterized with a lot of frizziness and swelling— think “pregnant locs”. It is very important in this stage for you to make sure that you are thoroughly cleansing your hair and properly cultivating it on a regular basis to avoid lumps, bumps and weak spots. You will also notice in this stage, if you choose to start your locs with twists or braids, that your starting patterns (those lines in your hair) will start to diminish. On average, you can be in the baby locs stage from 3-9 months.

Locs Budding in Three Months

Buds Forming In Locs

Characteristics of Baby Locs:

  • Frizzy
  • Budding
  • Swelling in size


RELATED ARTICLE: How Long Does It Take For Locs to Start Budding?


The Teenage Stage or “Ugly Stage” of Locs

Once your hair has fully budded, across the entire length of the locs, and they’ve swelled up to almost twice their original size, you have entered the teenage stage. In the teenage stage, a few characteristics are unruly hair, and you may feel like your hair is shrinking or not growing lengthwise. The illusion of the lack of growth is because, during the teenage stage, your locs are becoming denser and they are tangling on the inside.

[tg_youtube width=”400″ height=”225″ video_id=”e7YoSoWVcOU”]

As you can see here in this video, there is an internal structure to locs that naturally happens in which all the hairs tangle together. During this stage it is a good time for you to start experimenting with pressure styles, such as rope twists and curly sets, to help control some of the swelling. On average, you can expect to be in teenage stage anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

Locs In the Teenage Stage

Locs In the Teenage Stage

Characteristics of Teenage Locs:

  • Double Original Size
  • Wild
  • Shrinkage
  • Adult Stage of Locs

    When you’ve reached the adult stage, your hair will have gotten really dense and you will start to notice your hair growing lengthwise. Your locs will also begin to normalize in size. From the beginning size when they were really skinny to swelling up to almost twice their size, they will now start constricting and be a lot more dense rather than puffy.

    Locs In the Adult Phase

    Locs In the Adult Phase

    Characteristics of Adult Locs:

    • Dense
    • Sealed Ends
    • Growing exponentially
    • Minimal / No Frizz


      As you can see, it can take anywhere from 12 to almost 36 months to enter the adult stage of locs, which is why patience is key. You also want to ensure that you’re using the right products, to prevent buildup and unraveling; and that you’re properly retwisting your hair to avoid weak locs and excessive frizz once they’re mature.

      4 Stages of Locs from Beginning to Maturity

      What stage of the locking process are you in?

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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

I’m 2wks in so I’m in the starter stage. I love them and look forward to the various stages. I enjoyed reading the post and watching the video. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you so much for this! This has helped me.

Happy to help!

Thank you so much!! This was so helpful.

I don’t believe that conditioners should be used on baby Locs .. especially wax’s balsam because the attract dirt lints n extra weight . . I believe that’s Locs should be properly cleansed as well scalp . N lightly oiled . Maintenance is contingent on hair texture

I agree, no conditioner on baby locs!

I’m at 9 months & started on a long tapered cut. The back where my hair was shortest have pretty much loc’d with the very ends not being dense. Overall I have experienced budding throughout most of my locs & they have started to become more dense, but where my hair was longest, towards the last inch to two inches, budding is still apparent. I’m wondering how long it can take ends to seal & if it’s safe to do loc sprinkles at this point or if I should wait longer.

I would definitely encourage you to wait until your locs are more mature so that you don’t disturb the budding process.

How do you wash and condition locs

You shampoo locs using cleansing shampoos and I would recommend using an Herbal Hair Rinse for conditioning, not cream-based conditioner. Here is a digital download for shampooing locs that will help as well: “Cleanse Your Locs” Shampoo Reference Guide.

I’m 2 weeks into my comb coils for my locs. This site is so helpful. Thank you!

Congratulations on starting your new journey with locs Ashleigh! Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you were able to joining the mailing list so that you can get more helpful tips right to your inbox!

Hello! My lock is just 2months and it was a crotchet method that was used for me and it’s kind of big because I love big dreads. But then I can’t stop applying products on it because it’s a little bit soft whenever I touch it. I just hope all is well.

I have post (possibly a series) on maintaining locs with the crochet method. I hope you’re signed up for the mailing list! If not, you can subscribe here.

Thank you for this information. I’m 2 weeks in and thought some was wrong with my locs

Starting micro locs today. Had a pass alopecia last all my sister locs. So I’m trying this praying i make it. My hair hasn’t grown much since the locs came out been 2yrs.

Wishing you luck on this new set Beverly! I hope you are under the care of a Dermatologist or Trichologist for the alopecia and are keeping up with the treatments to regrow your hair. If you are not, definitely wait on a new set of locs so that you can heal your follicles.

Hi Jocelyn Renee, I want to start my locs soon and have been natural for a very long time. My hair has length and wanted to know if I should start my locs with coils or two strands? Will I still have that puffy/swollen and frizzy look with either methods? Thanks.

With both methods you will experience the puffy/swollen (teenage) phase of locs but with coils it will be more drastic. I prefer two-strand twists for starting locs with longer hair.

Which method is better for starting locs with neck length hair? Coils or two strand twist ?

My personal opinion— twists.

Hello i am 12 months in on my journey and the ends of my locs are still frizzy and not sealed. I started my journey with the two strand twist method. Washing and retwisting every three weeks. What can i do for my ends?

You should be grooming the entire shaft of your locs/twists to encourage the ends to loc. If you haven’t been doing that up to this point, start now and just have more patience. I also teach a workshop on how to properly groom/retwist locs if you are interested, I’ll link it below: How to Retwist Locs At Home

I’m starting my loc journey this weekend I’m so excited. I have shoulder length hair and I’m starting with two strand twist.

Thank you for this this really helped me. Everyone keeps telling me patience but it kind of hard when you started from the really short stage of baby locs. Reading blogs and looking at YouTube videos on locs really helps reassure me that my hair is growing and changing the way it Should. This blog helped me realize that I am now in the baby loc stage, but I’m slowly turning to the teenage stage. So far I am 5 and a half months in.

I’m 3 mos in with loc my hair only last 5 days after retwist then they coil up into little spirals help

Yes, shrinkage still happens with the locking process. If you need more guidance and/or reassurance on your hair care practices with your new locs considering visiting my website and scheduling a “Virtual Consultation”:

I’m 6 months in and my locs are not swelling. What can I do? I’m scar

Thanks a ton for the education on locs. I’m from Ghana, west Africa, and six months into my locs journey. Want to know more on how to have neat and beautiful locs.

How amazing that this post reached you in Ghana! Congratulations on your new loc journey!

Thank you so much for this information. It answered all of my concerns about the loc process! Looking forward to started my loc journey next month!

Thank you for reading! Wishing you all the best on your new journey as well!

I understand budding, but sometimes I get little beads of hair which hang from the end of a loc by one or two hairs. Are these safe to cut?

Yes. They are like “split ends” for locs.

Im 6 months into my loc start how do u keep them hydrated

Peace Cheryl,

Welcome to the loc journey, please refer to this video on youtube for a hydration treatment.

Just got my two strand braids to start my journey. They are short, so definitely feeling self conscious, but I know I have to be patient.

I was wondering if its okay to have braids on top of my locs

I would not advise it, but it has been done before. With braids over locs, you are more prone to buildup, lumpiness in the locs, and overall dryness.

I’m having trouble figuring out what stage I’m in at 6 months. I started on a tapered cut & my locs started budding 2 weeks in. I already have areas that feel dense and some areas that have buds throughout the length of the loc but my locs haven’t really double in size.. at least not to me. I want to start experimenting with styling but I dont want to impede the process if it’s too early

I would suggest styles that don’t choke or slow up the locking process like bantu knots, curls, pin curls.

Hello! Is it healthy to use water of guava leaves in locs?

I’ve never heard of or tried, so I can’t advise on this.

So tomorrow will be my 3 week mark for my comb twist. I’ve been doing research on different stages and how they should look. I’ve asked around about how mine look because I think they are too spaced out, but everyone seems to think they are fine and that’s how they should be. So I’m trying to embrace this journey. My edges and my back became unraveled because of the line of work I’m in… But I may have to stay away from the hat. Also should I go to a loctitian only or a stylist that knows about locs?

heyyyyyyyy! My preference would be a Loctician that is well-educated in hair care.

I think a few of my locs are budding already but I’m only 5 days in my starter Loc but my natural hair will tangle quickly on its on. I have what looks like swelling in the middle of my Loc and close by the root. Some ppl tell me it’s unraveling but it’s still coil at the end and root of my Loc and some say it’s budding. Is it possible to start budding this soon?

It is highly doubtful. It was likely unraveling but that is totally normal at this stage.

Hi, I started my journey February 7 n the stylist that did my retwist trim my fizz because it wasn’t neat for her, so I want to maintain my hair myself but feel that I will not twist the same as her, so will that affect my locing process

Yes, how you groom your locs does directly affect the outcome of your matured locs. However, if you are comfortable with simply achieving loc’d continue to retwist regularly and your hair will lock. Alternatively, if you are seeking uniform matured locs with minimal frizz I would suggest learning how to properly retwist at home. The workshop “How to Retwist Locs At Home” will guide you step-by-step.

I am starting locs on my 7 year old daughter’s hair with double strand twists any suggestions as to the product I should use to make them not coil back up. Is gel ok and if so your recommendation? Thank you.

Two-strand twists is definitely the method I would suggest for such a young child. The “Divine Hold” product is great to use on starter locs and for ongoing maintenance:

I smiled while reading the article 4 Staged of Locs. How enlightening! I am new to the process and the article and pictures really helped.

Yay! I am glad that this post brought you joy! Congratulations on your new journey!

I’m day 1 into my loc journey, because of my hair type I started with the instant loc method. Will my locs still double in size(teenage phase)? I’m hoping they do.

Peace Shakema! Congratulations on your new loc journey! With instant locs, started with the crochet method, they do not swell like traditional locs.

Thanks so much for the response! What about instant locs started by backcombing?


Grace Owusu-Ansah

I want to lock my hair, which method do you think is the best.

There are so many factors to consider that are unique to you that I would suggest checking out the article— “” to learn more about the different methods and which would be best for you. 7 Methods to Start Locs: Drawbacks & What to Expect

One week starting my loc journey, this is also spiritual journey for me as well. I was going to put in extensions but something in me said trust this process. I enjoy your page. I am using Cantu ACV cleansing shampoo is that ok?

Congratulations on starting your journey with locs! What an amazing time to cultivate the collective energy around you! I am not a huge fun of Cantu, but I honestly have not had any experience with their ACV Cleansing Shampoo. If you’re curious what shampoos I recommend, they are available in the “Cleanse Your Locs” e-Guide.

Just started my locs a couple weeks ago I twisted then used a crochet needle to lock them a lil more. So they’re locked together but not tightly. I don’t like taking care of my hair so I’m going to let them free form and just wash every week or two

Congratulations on your new journey with locs!

I just started my loc’s a month ago. It is frustrating because some of my loc’s come completely loose, some are starting to lock with hair that is not twisted in middle, just loose hair, I have loose strands of hair all over that won’t stay on the dread. It is driving me crazy! I find my self retwisting often and I know I shouldn’t. Please help

I know the beginning stages can be tough when you are unsure of what the process is suppose to be. If your starter locs are coming undone, you can simply put them back in. I am available for Virtual Consultations and/or you can learn how to properly retwist and care for your starter locs in the online academy by clicking here.

Thank you so, SO MUCH!

Two days ago i got my hair done in two strand twists and decided to let my hair loc up in this style. Can someone give me advice on how to maintain it and take care of it as this is my first time growing locs and I play football and am very active.

Congratulations on beginning your journey with locs! You want to invest in this workshop that will teach you everything you need to know to maintain and retwist them at home:

I have just started my locs this week but I started with instant locs as I have shoulder length natural 4b/4c hair. My hair is not very thick especially at the top and front so I have added 100% afro kinky human hair to the full length of my instant locs and crocheted it in. Will my hair still loc properly?

Yes it should as long as the hair that was used is human hair.

Yes, it should as long as the hair that was used in human hair. I will have a video and article about instant locs and the crochet method post within the next few weeks! Make sure you’re subscribed to the mailing list!

You’re so kind share this information and For taking the time to reply to everyone. Thank you! I’m a day into micro locks and the ends are Extremely puffy. Can I tame them with wax?

Of course! Please DO NOT use any wax on your hair. You can watch a recent video of mine, Is Hair Color Wax Safe For Locs? , that shows you what wax looks like inside of locs. It’s pretty gross!

How often should I shampoo my locs??

As often as you need to but definitely do not wait more than 4 weeks!

im a month into my loc journey, i have two different hair types. Is using cream of nature products good? How ofter should i wash my starter locs, and how?

Congratulations! I would not recommend Creme of Nature products, they are mainly for loose natural hair. It is ideal to wash your locs every 2 weeks, but please do not go beyond 4 weeks. You can check out the post “HOW TO SHAMPOO & MAINTAIN STARTER LOCS” for tips!

I’m 5mos into my journey and my hair locked pretty fast. However, I have maybe 10 locs that refuse to lock! Will it be bad if i instalock those that are left since the rest of my hard is locked?

No, I wouldn’t say that is “bad”.

How long should my hair be before starting my locs.

It depends on the method that you’re using to start.


Lesli Antaneda-Brown

I just started my loc journey 2 days ago, and I did the coil method. Now they are short but I keep my head wrap all day around work and let it loose at home. Am I damaging the coils or affecting it from locing? Also, when do I register and wash my hair? I’m use to washing my hair once a week.

Welcome to the journey! You definitely don’t want to cover your new locs consistently like that because it will interfere with the locking process, but that is not to say they won’t loc if you continue to do so.

As far as washing, I am an advocate for washing as often as you need to so if you want to wash once a week, go for it! You should only retwist once per month though.

I originally started with Microlocs but by the 8th month I combined them. I’m currently at 13 months and still aren’t satisfied with the size. If I were to combine again will they swell anymore then what they have?

I cannot say for sure whether your locs are beyond the teenage phase without a consultation, but I would question why you started microlocs and then started combining them? Did you really want them to be traditional locs? If so, why not restart with the size you’re desiring?

I have started my locs in June. It started to look really weird, so in August I did a retwist and the Loctician basically combed out the locs and restarted them over. I’m just having a hard time because it budding in spots and the shrinkage is to real. It’s unraveling I’m not sure it that is part of the process. I’m told so many different things about washing every six weeks to not washing for months. Little insight would help. I’m sorry if my post is all over the place.

You want to shampoo your hair every 2 weeks or at minimum once a month. Shrinkage is normal as is unraveling. If they come out just put them back in and keep going. If you are maintaining them yourself and need guidance, I do offer Virtual Consultations or you can enroll in the “How to Retwist Locs At Home” workshop that explains all the care and grooming practices.

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