Four Stages of Dreads

Hair is funny in how slowly it grows and dreads are no different.

When you make the commitment to dreadlocks, you are in for a waiting game like no other. Your dreads will go through a long process of change in a variety of stages and you will be in love and despise them all within a month’s time, like it or not.

The science behind this process is simple. You are altering the basic state of your hair in its shape and its form. That will change your scalp, your hair shafts, and your hair follicles at the same time.

These stages are basic stages and not every person who gets dreads will experience these stages or this order of stages, but there will definitely be some similarities in how they happen and the feelings associated with them.

Stage One: Aches and Pains

The immediate stage after dreads is usually uncomfortable. While it might not be all out pain, it’s a definite ache of having your hair pulled, twisted, knotted, and more over and over for a few hours. Your scalp will likely be sensitive to the touch and you will not want anyone to touch your dreads.

For some, this lasts just a day, most people encounter this stage from two days to 5 days. Some, who have really sensitive scalps will experience this for nearly a week. The emotions tied to this stage are also very varied. You will be totally excited about your new dreads, but touching them, playing with them, or trying hair styles with them will be painful so a bit of frustration might come into play. You might also be a little frustrated at first, too. Your brand-new dreads will not look like the pictures you Googled before getting dreads. In fact, they will look very, very different. Never fear, though, with time and patience and the occurrence of a few other stages, you will reach the dread pinnacle.

Stage Two: Awkward

Stage two is the awkward stage. There’s no more pain, but this is when dreads are hard to style because no matter the length of your hair prior to being dreaded, they will be significantly shorter and it will lead you to not knowing what exactly you should do with them.

They might be too long to do one style with and two short to do a different style. They are also going to be sticking out away from your head quite a lot. They are still in the beginning stages and haven’t settled into place lying on your head just yet. This is called the awkward stage for obvious reasons, but luckily, it doesn’t last long.

Stage Three: Down and Out

The third stage is the growing stage. This is the longest stage and probably even longer than with hair that is not dreaded. This where your hair starts to grow down, but it also will have tendencies to grow out, too.

This part can actually be made up of many smaller stages, but the basis of it all is that your dreads will grow out, away from your head, for a short time before they seem to drop down and grow down and finally show their length.

This stage often takes months and even years of waiting and taking care of your dreads to reach these stages of healthy and noticeable growth. This stage is almost the final stage and is going to be the longest that your dreads will go through again and again as you reach the desired length, keep growing them longer, or even trim them. You will likely come back to this stage time and time again.

Stage Four: Instagram Worthy

This stage may happen somewhere in the midst of Stage Three, but when you reach it, you know you’re there.

This stage is just like what it sounds like. It’s when you look in the mirror and finally see a resemblance to the Google photos you found before getting dreads. They are laying down nicely, looking great in your desired style, and shiny and clean. The best moments are worth waiting for in this case. All of your care and maintenance have come to a peak and you are feeling really confident about those dreads!

While these stages are not set-in-stone, nor are they identical for everyone, these are common stages that dread heads will see during their dread journey. While you’re at it, keep in mind that dreads will be different in each stage by reflecting the care you have given them. With good washing habits, routine tightening of loose dreads, and the patience to match, these stages will all lead up to a healthy, shiny set of dreads that you will be proud of.

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