How Long Does Your Hair Have To Be To Get Dreads

How long does your hair need to be to start with dreads

I know that you just can’t wait to start with dreads! A friends’ friend of mine has them and she greys them out a couple of years ago. It looks awesome on her but it is not something that I aspire to do. However, I find that on some people it just looks fantastic!

So, as a dreadlock newbie, I had some questions for her. I asked her if I could ask her some questions because I wanted to write a blog post about this topic. She didn’t mind, said she found it cool to answer my questions and she invited me over!

So here is her take on how long your hair needs to be to start with dreads and other questions!

So, How long does your hair have to get dreads?

This depends a bit on what method you start using, but normally I would say that the minimum would be about 15 centimeters. You can start earlier, but this is a bit of an ideal length to start.

However, as I said this has also something to do with which method you use to start your dreads.

So, you can start earlier with dreads?

As I said, about 15 centimeters would be ideal to start with dreads, but this depends on the method you use to start them. If you do not mind the extra maintenance that comes with starting your dreads, you can start at about 7 to 8 centimeters. This means that you’ll spend more time dread balling and putting in loose hair, but for some people, this might be worth it.

What methods are there for putting in dreadlocks?

Good question! There are a couple that I’ll list for you below. 

With the freeform method, you let the hair form locs in its own time. You can wash it with dreadlock-friendly shampoo and in time it will start dreading. The only thing you have to care about is that you separate the roots so that you don’t end up with one big knot.

I like this method because it gives you the freedom to decide if you want loose or firm dreads. This depends on how you backcomb your hair. 

Start with this method if your hair is about 10 centimeters. This would be the minimum because they can start unraveling when they are this short. It is best to wait until your hair is 15 centimeters just like explained earlier.

This method gives you stiff dreadlocks. This particular method can be great because it holds your dreads better together in the beginning stages. You can start with this method when your hair is about 15 centimeters.

In opposition to the crochet method, this method will give you loose dreads. Your hair needs to be at least 13 centimeters, otherwise, they have a high chance of unraveling. 

The thing to remember with each method is that your hair doesn’t have to be all the same length. You can start dreading the hair that is long enough and let the other parts of your hair grow!

After these questions, my friends’ friend and I felt that we were really getting in the zone and I just started firing more questions towards her!

Some of the questions made her laugh and other questions made her think which she found fun because she had never thought so long and hard about the very thing that she did with her hair!

The next question I asked her was the following:

Since length is a thing when starting, is the type of your hair also important to start with dreads?

Yes! She (and many of her friends) started dreading their hair but their hair was of course different from one another. So actually they talked a lot about this and this was her answer…

Yes, it does also depend on what kind of hair you have. For people with curly hair, it is a lot easier to start dreading and can most of the time start with a minimum of 7 to 15 centimeters. This is because the curly shape holds the shape of the dread better.

For other hair-like coarse and kinky hair, it is a bit different. With those hair types, it is fairly easy to start and you can do so quickly. You only need about 3 to 7 centimeters to start!

For straight hair and people with thin and oily hair, it is a bit more difficult. Difficult might not be the right word but you need to have at least 10 centimeters (or even better would be 20 cm) to start doing this. The grip of the dreads is less so you need more length.

How short do dreads make your hair?

I asked my friends this because I had a hunch that a lot of people would be seeing a lessening in the length of my hair. Although she couldn’t give me a definitive answer, she could give me a few guidelines and things to think about.

She said that most people will see a lot of shortening in the hair that happens during the months that your locs are maturing.

The maturing process can take a couple of months to a couple of years depending on your hair length and the type of hair you have. Curly hair matures faster than straight hair for example.

The shortening process even has something to do with the method of dreading you choose. The method with the most shrinking of the hair is the backcombing and the twist&rip method. The crochet method however seems to be the one that is less prone to huge shrinking.

How long does it take to make dreads?

As you can guess (I think) the answer my friends’ friend gave was “it depends”. It was almost frustrating for me to hear that it always depends on something but on the other hand I found it interesting to know all these things!

How long it takes to make dreads depends largely on how long your hair is at the moment you start.

Short hair
If you have short hair (about 10 centimeters and less). It can take up to 8 to 12 years for you to get dreads past your waist. This is because your hair grows only so much each year and in the beginning, your hair might not be able to hold a dread (it does at about 7 centimeters).

Medium length hair
Medium length hair starts around 10 centimeters to 35 centimeters. Enough length to starts dreading because most people can’t or won’t start with dreadlocks until their hair is about 10 centimeters. 

Getting your dreadlocks to a length where they touch your butt I would say takes 7 to 10 years. Waist-length a bit shorter so I would say 5 to 8 years. A lot less time than if you start with short hair, just because your hair is longer when you begin!

Long hair
For longer hair, you need to keep in mind that you’ll see a lot of shrinkages before you start to see real growth. 

The good thing is that maintaining your dreads is not as much work as when you start with short hair, but the progress you see will be slower. It might take about 2 years for you to see real growth. But, and there is a but, butt-length, as we said earlier, is achievable for you in about 3 years!

Now I know I need to say this for people getting their hopes up… The above numbers are just my experience of me and my friends. This isn’t going to happen for everyone and is just an approximation

How fast do dreadlocks grow?

Just because we talked about this just yet, I want to give you a little more insight.

Most people’s hair grows about six inches in a year. This can be a bit more or a bit less depending on your health conditions, your diet, and other variables that affect your hair growth. The other variables are things like stress-related issues and things like that.

Your dreads are something that I like to call a “permanent protective hairstyle”. You don’t comb it, there is no real pulling and tugging so there’s less chance of breakage. This means that your hair can grow in a fairly healthy manner assuming that you healthily maintain your dreads. If you do that, approximately 6 inches of growth a year is achievable!

Want to know more about dreadlocks?

Now that you know all this, you might want to start right away with getting yourself some nice looking dreads! But before you do I encourage you to do some little extra digging to find the information that you need.

Do you want to know if dreadlocks are good for your hair or that it actually harms your hair? Then read the article about if dreads are bad for your hair.



Hi, my name is Joy-Lee and I'm the owner of As you might've noticed, I'm a true beauty lover, and made it my passion, my work and my hobby. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings on a variety of beauty aspects and want to thank you for reading!

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