How Long Does Hair Need to Be For Dreads?

Is it important to wait until your hair grows long to have dreadlocks? That’s what we investigated for you today!

Written by Kate Holmsy. Updated on How Long Does Hair Need to Be For Dreads

Dreadlocks look cool and unusual, and besides, this hairstyle is very handy since it requires minimal maintenance once the dreads are made. So no wonder that quite many men and women decide to have their hair dreadlocked, especially before summer comes.

On the other hand, those may face quite a disturbing issue before they head off to the salon to have their mane transformed into a bunch or dreads. What is the ideal length for your hair to be veawen into dreadlocks? And how long does hair need to be for dreads at all?

So today we will try to figure out all that we can regarding the hair length, as well as what factors influence this. Stay with us if dreadlocks are the hairstyle of your dream!

How Long Does My Hair Need to Be For Making Dreads?

As for this issue, you need to keep in mind that the hair length required for starting dreads will mostly depend on whether you mind some extra maintenance or not. For instance, if you are ok with some more hair care fuss, you can start with short hair dreads viewing them when your hair is about three inches long. That’s not very long, we agree, but this length is already enough for an experienced professional to turn your mane into a woven masterpiece!

Nevertheless, if you decide to start making dreads on this hair length, be ready that you will need way more time for dreadballing and putting in all the loose hair! This is also the reason why you will surely need to make use of rubber bands for locking dreads in case you start viewing them when your hair is this short. See, since your natural hair is way too short and some part of it may come loose, rubber bands are needed for keeping it together. Yep, that doesn’t look much stylish and cool, but like this, your dreads will at least remain in a proper state until they are able to hold up together.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind waiting, it will be much better if you let your hair grow a bit to become longer. Some extra length will significantly reduce your dreadlocks maintenance and it will make things go much easier for you in general. So we dare say that six to eight inches is an ideal hair length for starting to make dreadlocks. With this length, it will not take long to put them in, but at the same time, your hair will be long enough and way less delicate. In addition, locking up long hair has its advantages too.

However, there is also a “dark side” of viewing dreads on long hair, and that includes quite a long period of time for backcombing longer hair. especially if you are making smaller sections and you are doing lots of dreads.

So basically, as you can see, it is not mandatory to have waist-long locks to start making dreadlocks, but you do need to consider certain nuances regarding the care and dread-making time!

How Long Does My Hair Need to Be For Making Dreads
Credits: digitalhallway, via

Factors That Influence the Hair Length Required For Starting Dreadlocks

As we have already mentioned, to start dreads, you can have quite a short hair length, approximately three inches long. However, there are a few important aspects that will have a great impact on your dread-making challenge. And especially on the choice of your hair length.

  1. The method you are going to use to start them
  2. The type of hair that you have
  3. The total look that you are going to end up with in the end

And now let’s see what each of these factors mean in detail since each of them consists of several components.

How To Make DreadlocksHow To Make Dreadlocks

Dread-Making Method

First of all, it matters greatly what method of making dreads you are going to choose. We can name you four most famous methods that are good to know about, especially if you are a dreadlock newbie.

  • Freeform
  • Twist and rip
  • Backcombing
  • Crochet

Freeform means that, if you are letting your hair create locks in its own time, you don’t even need a particular length! Simply let your hair be, wash it with dread-friendly shampoo, and it will start dreading right when it is ready. Only remember to separate the roots early enough so that you don’t end up with one big and messy knot!

When using a twist-and-rip method, you will get loose dreads. However, keep in mind that you risk them unraveling in case your hair is shorter than thirteen centimeters which is approximately five inches long.

As for the backcombing, hanging upon how you do it, you can end up with either loose or firm dreads. You should have a minimum of ten centimeters (or four inches) of your hair, but you still risk them unraveling if they are this short! This is why, if it is possible, we would recommend you wait until your hair grows to fifteen centimeters or approximately six inches long.

The crochet method will leave you with very firm and stiff dreadlocks that may hold up together much better in the early stage. In case a professional is doing it for you, feel free to start with quite a short hair length, nearly as long as three inches. But in other cases, it is much better to have your hair at least fifteen centimeters (or six inches) long.

By the way, your hair does not necessarily need to be all the same length to start dreading it! If, for example, a part of your mane is way shorter than it should be for dreading, it is fine if you start with the longer part instead. As for the short one, you can leave it for later easily when that hair is long enough.

But even regardless of the hair length, each lock will anyway mature differently which means that you will not end up with all your dreads being of the same length.

Dread-Making Method
Credits: PeopleImages, via

The Type Of Your Hair Also Matters

Did you know that some hair types are more predisposed to dreading than others because of their natural texture? No? But this is how it is, and we recommend you check this out before you head off to the salon to have your dreads veawen!

  • If you are the owner of coarse or kinky hair, you should be able to start dreading it when your hair is at least three to seven centimeters long which is equal to one to four inches.
  • For the owners of loose and curly hair types, you guys and ladies can start dreading when your hair has reached a minimum of seven to fifteen centimeters (that’s three to six inches long). Curly hair has an easier time holding the shape of a dread, by the way!
  • For straight, thin, and oily hair, you need to wait until your locks reach the length of minimum of ten centimeters which is equal to four inches. However, we would recommend you wait until it is at least twenty centimeters long (that will be eight inches).

Anyway, you will only benefit if your hair is a few centimeters longer than the minimal length required for dreading for your hair type. The explanation is pretty simple. While making dreads, your hair undergoes constant upward and downward motions until it transforms into mature locks.

And if your strands are too short, the locks that you worked so hard to form will simply not stay in place! So as a general rule of thumb, the longer your hair is, the more knots you will be able to form and thus keep.

The Type Of Your Hair Also Matters
Credits; ASphotowed, via

What Look Are You Going to Have In the End?

Yes, your final appearance also matters no matter how strange it may seem to you! Let us explain why it is so essential. For instance, if you start making your locks with very short hair, they will look like pokey things that will be sticking out of your head for quite a long time. And that’s perhaps not the coolest style you could think of!

Also, you can own the look, cover your dreads up with beanies, or even get dreadlock extensions! The latter option is not mandatory but it really helps to conceal the initial awkward look, especially if you need your dreads to look professional!

What Look Are You Going to Have In the End
Credits: MarinaMassel, via

How much Time Will Your Dreads Need For Growing Long?

To have long, healthy, and thus good-looking dreads requires time, patience, and effort. Usually, it takes years for them to grow past-butt length! However, if you are not ready to wait that long, you can always get extensions or grow your own hair that long and then dread it.

Basically, hair length hangs upon quite a lot of things, but let us begin with the stage that you are already in.

You are bold now. Yep, some of us decide to start their dreads from the very beginning and shave their head so that the dreads will be made on healthy hair and even length. If this is you, you need to wash your hair with a residue-free or sulfate-free shampoo during the first three months. Just this shampoo and nothing else!

You need to shampoo your hair once a week so that the adjustment your scalp goes through will be simpler once your hair is long enough to start dreading it. Here you need to note that normally, our hair grows little over a centimeter each month on average.

And once you start gaining a little bit of length, it is time to start the dreading process. In case you begin with little to no hair, you can expect to reach your butt-long dreads in about twelve to fifteen years!

Your hair is up to ten centimeters short. In this case, your hair may not be able to hold a dread until it has reached at least seven centimeters which is equal to three inches. But that also depends on its texture.

With this length, you can let your hair to start dreading as it grows, by shampooing it every week, not combing it at all, and separating the hairs into sections manually with your hands only. This is the most natural way to start the dreads, and it is possibly the best and the optimal one.

As long as your hair is so short right now, you might not experience too much shrinkage. And in general, it may take between eight to twelve years (or even more) until your dreads grow past your waist in case you started the journey with the short hair.

In case you are the owner of medium length hair (which is between ten and thirty five centimeters), it will be way easier for you to start dreading. The whole process will go way faster no matter whether you choose freeform method or backcombing, crochet, or any other. Also, during the maturing period, your hair will surely go through some shrinkage which is normal. Most likely, that shrinkage will take only a few centimeters.

Of course, this process is very personal for everyone and unique, so we advise you to be patient. But you may be able to see the result and have your dreamy waist-long dreads after seven to ten years.

Finally, if you start dreading when having long hair that is over thirty five centimeters long, you will get waist-long dreads in approximately three years. However, be ready for a way stronger shrinkage! On the other hand, maintenance of such long dreads is way easier and much less meticulous which is good.

Of course, all the time periods we told you about are approximate, but at least now you know more or less exactly how much time you might need for growing your dreads long enough. Also, since you have already learned how long your hair needs to be to start dreading it, and you are familiar with the basic dread-making techniques, we are sure you will have no problems with deciding on what dreading style you want and you will prep your hair properly for the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ How long does your hair need to be for synthetic dreads?

At least 8 cm or 3 inches long.

⭐ How long does your hair need to be for fake dreads?

The minimal length is 8 cm or 4 inches. But the longer the better.

⭐ How long does it take to grow dreads?

From three years if they are made on long hair and up to ten years or more if you grow them from bold.

Written by
Kate worked in "The Fashion Magazine" for four years as a freelance writer and loved to consult and help people with their style. How to create your own style, how to look beautiful, and select trendy colors for your hair - these are just a few of many issues Kate will happily explain in Beezzly Beauty blogs!
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