It can be awe-inspiring to see people with a head full of thick, healthy locs trailing down their back. You're anxious for the day your hair looks the same, but how long does it really take to grow locs? What factors influence how quickly or slowly locs develop?
How Long Will it Take My Hair to Loc?
The process of hair "locking" and the process of these locs maturing aren't the same thing. Locs develop and take shape long before they're actually mature, or rooted.
The length of the locking process can range from six months to a year. There are a number of factors that contribute to how long it'll take your tresses to loc, and it's different for everyone.
Consider Your Hair Texture
In general, thicker and more tightly coiled hair locs faster. Hair that's typically considered "type 4" in the hair typing system will have a much easier time locking than "type 2" or even 3. While people with straight or wavy hair can achieve locs, they may need to use additional hair products throughout the process. Using some product will help keep your hair healthy, shiny, and twisted. Loose hair textures can take up to a year to fully loc, while curlier hair textures can achieve locs in just a few months.
Starter Loc Styles
There are several hairstyles that will start you on the road to locs. Palm rolls, two-strand twists, individual braids, and comb coils are all effective ways to begin the locking process. You can also move right into a loc look with a process like Sister Locks -- the hair won't actually loc for some time, but it will appear loced. The tighter the starter style, the quicker your hair will loc. If your hair's texture is wavy, you might want to opt for braids as a starter style because twists and rolls can unravel easily when you shampoo and condition.
Care and Handling
Locs do best when left alone. Although part of keeping locs healthy and clean is regular cleansing and conditioning, you shouldn't overdo the shampooing and conditioning early in the process—especially if your hair isn't tightly coiled to begin with. Use a moisturizing cleanser, but skip slippery, creamy conditioners until your locs are secure and less likely to unravel under a regular shower stream or by rubbing your scalp.
You'll eventually find a re-twisting schedule that works for you and your locs, but there is such a thing as too much twisting. Re-twisting too often can thin out your locs, so only retwist when absolutely necessary. In the beginning of your loc journey, this may be once or twice a month. Stick to a routine to tighten your roots—instead of taking an occasional, haphazard approach—will help locs develop in a healthy fashion.
Patience is Key
Waiting months or even a year for your hair to loc can seem like forever, but part of growing locs is appreciating each stage of the journey. You'll learn a lot about your hair along the way, and you might even be able to educate others about what locs are how to care for them. It may take a few months, but patience will lead to beautiful, healthy locs.