long enough.

For everyone who is growing out their hair as I did, how much longer should you wait?

Ideally, you want your hair to be a minimum of 15 centimeters (or 6 inches), however, you can technically start dreads sooner if you’re willing to invest the extra time in maintaining them during the early stages.

1. The method you’re using to start them


Your hair doesn’t need to all be the same length for you to start dreading it. In fact, if part of your hair is too short, you can start dreading the part that is long enough and leave the rest for later when it grows longer. Regardless of the length at which you start, each loc will mature differently so you won’t end up with all the dreadlocks of the same length.

2. The type of hair you have

Some hair types dread better than others because of the hair’s natural texture.

It’s better if your hair is a few centimeters longer than the minimum amount required for your hair type. The reason being that your hair goes through up and down motions until if forms a mature lock. If your hair is too short, the locks you worked so hard to form will not stay in place. As a general rule of thumb, the longer your hair is, the more knots you’re going to be able to form (and keep).

TIP 1: To protect your hair from unraveling at night, sleep with a silk cap. Also, wash and dry your baby dreads gently.

3. The “look” you’re going to end up with

If you start your locs with very short hair, they will look like pokey things sticking out of your head for quite some time— perhaps not the hottest look you’ll ever pull off.

You can either own the look, cover them up with beanies, or get dreadlock extensions. The latter is not necessarily recommended but it helps conceal the initial awkward look especially if you need them to look professional.

For extensions, your hair should be a minimum of 8 centimeters (or 3 inches).

Most people experience a considerable shortening of hair length that happens during the months when your locs are maturing. The maturing process takes months for some and years for others depending on the hair type and maintenance, among other things.

Generally speaking, if you have curly or kinky hair, your dreads may mature faster than if you have straight or silky hair.

During the awkward stage of maturity, you can expect your hair to lose a significant amount of length. The length you lose can also depend on the method that you used to start your dreads.

Using the backcombing and tear & rip methods may cause the most shrinkage. Using the crochet method may be a bit less but again, these are just approximations.

As your hair pulls and knots itself, you will start to see bubbles and loops. This is the clearest indication that your hair is locking and the result of that is shrinkage. Don’t worry, though. Wait the process out and you should notice your hair gaining length within the second year, if not sooner.


Growing healthy dreads takes a lot of time and patience. It takes years for dreads to grow past butt-length unless you get extensions or you started with hair that was already down to your ankles. Hair length depends on a lot of things but let’s start with the stage that your hair is currently in:


Of course, all of these are broad approximations. There is no sure way to determine how fast your dreads are going to grow because so many things influence hair growth.

If you’re interested in growing your short dreads faster by using a natural approach, check out this article! I list several tips there that I hope will help you.

Do your locs need a boost? Check out these 39 DIY all-natural recipes to revitalize your dreads!

How much does it cost to get your hair dreaded?

The price of getting dreads varies extensively. You can get them for free or pay hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars, depending on the way you choose to get them done. To get a better idea of the best way to start your dreads and stay within your budget, you can check out this article.