How long will it take for dreads to dread "completely"?
The all-elusive dreadlocks timeline...Before I attempt to answer this I have to let you know that there is no way I could predict with accuracy how long your particular set of dreads will take to lock and mature even if I knew everything you did to them everyday. There are a ton of variables in your hair alone. The following are averages and approximations and the are only relevant if all products are used according to the instructions; since they are based on the results of DreadHead Customers starting dreads with our dread kit.
Day one-Happy birthday dreadies! They look like.....well pretty much like dreads! That's not to say that someone familiar with dreads wouldn't know they are new by the texture, but the thickness and shape will be very "dready" in deed.
Depending on the length your hair was when you started some of them may be standing straight up. Don't worry, wearing a nylon over them when you sleep will train them to stay down.
1 Week - They look about the same, but frizzier and a bit looser. They might not be standing up as much. You may notice them looking flat or squished where you sleep on them. This is not a problem, you can palm roll them to make them round. Being flat doesn't hurt them. Keep the rubber bands on the roots and tips until it's time for them to come off (see the Rubber band page for more info). They will make the first few washings a lot easier on your dreads.
2 Weeks - They are looking a bit ruff, a bit frazzled. Some hairs that seemed tight initially are now obviously looser. This is normal and shouldn't worry you. Dread ball these loose hairs and find homes for them. The loose hair tool becomes indispensable for pulling in loose hair at the roots of the dreadlocks at this point. Wash the hair, spray it with the accelerator, dry it, and then dread ball for the best results.
3 Weeks - The bodies or middles of the dread are tightening ever so gradually but it's hard to tell. Keep palm rolling them, it will pay off. Seems like every loose hair that could pop out is popping out. Just dread ball them and work them into the nearest dread with the loose hair tool.
4 Weeks - Your dreads have good days and bad days but they are noticeably tighter. The roots are looking long, clockwise rubbing will help. Stay on top of loose hair. It's time to switch over to the A-B Maintenance Routine, this means you have wax in the hair every other week now so you can make knots in the off weeks and help them compress on the B week.
6 Weeks - The bodies of the dreads are starting to smooth out and if you've had the rubberbands on the tips the body of the dread near the band is getting tighter too. Looking good. Some tips may be ready to be pulled up into the dreads with the loose hair tool. By this time the difference between the results of those who have palm rolled daily and those who have not will be VERY obvious.
8 Weeks - As the dreads tighten they shrink a lot. They might get lumpy and crooked if one side shrinks faster than they other. That's ok, they will even out if you continue to palm roll, have faith. Your dreads are going through serious dread puberty. Believe it or knot, with a cooperative hair type and a perfectly consistent maintenance routine, your dreads can be locked or very nearly locked in 8 weeks.
3 Months - They are smoothing out and feel tighter everyday. Even Mom thinks they look better. Hardly any wax is needed since many dreads have reached the desired level of tightness and are no longer being waxed at all. Using clockwise rubbing and keeping them clean and free of residues will help the roots dread themselves instead of growing out straight. If you've been on top of the maintenance your dreads may feel locked and quite mature already at 3-4 months. Many people find that all but maybe a few oft heir dreads feel tight and they no longer need dread wax after the third month.
6 Months - Yea, you know they look bad-freakinass. They will continue to change but at this point almost everyone's dreads have looked mature for a while. The shrinking is ending, now you'll start to get some length. They feel tight, like little ropes, but they are still tightening slightly (more so with thin dreads that tighten slower) and smoothing out. They can hold more water than they could before, make sure you squeeze them dry and then blow dry so they don't sit wet. Since you're not using wax any longer some of the dreads will be lacking moisture. This is a good time to check out the Dread Butta if you haven't already. It gives the hair the moisture it needs to avoid dryness and breakage.
1 Year - After a year the only thing that isn't tight is the new growth that's always growing. You may have a retarded tip or two but other than that it's all good. You'll want to continue your washing routine and continue to avoid soaps that are not residue free. Soaps that leave residue can kill your dreads by loosening them from the inside and by preventing them from drying properly which leads to dread rot (mildew growing in the dreads). Keep rubbing the roots clockwise to help the new growth dread and don't forget to Butta them once in a while to prevent dryness. Keeping moisture in the hair makes it stronger and more resilient. Thick dreads will change little after the first year but thinner dreads will continue to tighten a bit for up to two years!