Stages of Locs: How Locs Evolve From Beginning to Maturity


Curious how your locs will change during the locking process? The easiest way to see how your locs will evolve is by looking at the stages that locs grow through.The 4 stages of locs that you experience as you grow through the hair locking process are the starter lock stage, the baby lock stage, the teenage stage, and the adult stage. On average, moving through all these stages can take upwards of 18-24 months; but depending on your texture, density, product usage, and hair care regimen, your hair may move quicker or slower throughout the locking process.


What Happens In The Starter Locs Stage?

With your starter locs, you are establishing your parting system and the ideal starting method that works best for your hair texture to achieve your desired result. No matter which starting method that you choose, even loc extensions, you will still experience the 4 stages of locs. In the starter locs stage, you’re waiting for your hair to form buds; and these buds can essentially form anywhere in the hair. On average, you can stay in the starter locs stage from 3 to 6 months.

Starter Locs With Diamond Parts

Starter Locs With Diamond Parts

Characteristics of Starter Locs:

  • Small in size
  • Neat
  • Clean Parts


RELATED ARTICLE: Why Loc Jewelry Is Dangerous In The First 6 Months


What Happens During the Baby Locs Stage?

Once the majority of your hair has begun to bud you will be in the baby locs stage. In this stage, your hair is characterized with a lot of frizziness and swelling— think “pregnant locs”. It is very important in this stage for you to make sure that you are thoroughly cleansing your hair and properly cultivating it on a regular basis to avoid lumps, bumps and weak spots. You will also notice in this stage, if you choose to start your locs with twists or braids, that your starting patterns (those lines in your hair) will start to diminish. On average, you can be in the baby locs stage from 3-9 months.

Locs Budding in Three Months

Buds Forming In Locs

Characteristics of Baby Locs:

  • Frizzy
  • Budding
  • Swelling in size


RELATED ARTICLE: How Long Does It Take For Locs to Start Budding?


The Teenage Stage or “Ugly Stage” of Locs

Once your hair has fully budded, across the entire length of the locs, and they’ve swelled up to almost twice their original size, you have entered the teenage stage. In the teenage stage, a few characteristics are unruly hair, and you may feel like your hair is shrinking or not growing lengthwise. The illusion of the lack of growth is because, during the teenage stage, your locs are becoming denser and they are tangling on the inside.

[tg_youtube width=”400″ height=”225″ video_id=”e7YoSoWVcOU”]

As you can see here in this video, there is an internal structure to locs that naturally happens in which all the hairs tangle together. During this stage it is a good time for you to start experimenting with pressure styles, such as rope twists and curly sets, to help control some of the swelling. On average, you can expect to be in teenage stage anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

Locs In the Teenage Stage

Locs In the Teenage Stage

Characteristics of Teenage Locs:

  • Double Original Size
  • Wild
  • Shrinkage
  • Adult Stage of Locs

    When you’ve reached the adult stage, your hair will have gotten really dense and you will start to notice your hair growing lengthwise. Your locs will also begin to normalize in size. From the beginning size when they were really skinny to swelling up to almost twice their size, they will now start constricting and be a lot more dense rather than puffy.

    Locs In the Adult Phase

    Locs In the Adult Phase

    Characteristics of Adult Locs:

    • Dense
    • Sealed Ends
    • Growing exponentially
    • Minimal / No Frizz


      As you can see, it can take anywhere from 12 to almost 36 months to enter the adult stage of locs, which is why patience is key. You also want to ensure that you’re using the right products, to prevent buildup and unraveling; and that you’re properly retwisting your hair to avoid weak locs and excessive frizz once they’re mature.

      4 Stages of Locs from Beginning to Maturity

      What stage of the locking process are you in?

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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

I’m 2wks in so I’m in the starter stage. I love them and look forward to the various stages. I enjoyed reading the post and watching the video. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you so much for this! This has helped me.

Happy to help!

Thank you so much!! This was so helpful.

I don’t believe that conditioners should be used on baby Locs .. especially wax’s balsam because the attract dirt lints n extra weight . . I believe that’s Locs should be properly cleansed as well scalp . N lightly oiled . Maintenance is contingent on hair texture

I agree, no conditioner on baby locs!

How do you wash and condition locs

You shampoo locs using cleansing shampoos and I would recommend using an Herbal Hair Rinse for conditioning, not cream-based conditioner. Here is a digital download for shampooing locs that will help as well: “Cleanse Your Locs” Shampoo Reference Guide.

I’m 2 weeks into my comb coils for my locs. This site is so helpful. Thank you!

Congratulations on starting your new journey with locs Ashleigh! Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you were able to joining the mailing list so that you can get more helpful tips right to your inbox!

Starting micro locs today. Had a pass alopecia last all my sister locs. So I’m trying this praying i make it. My hair hasn’t grown much since the locs came out been 2yrs.

Wishing you luck on this new set Beverly! I hope you are under the care of a Dermatologist or Trichologist for the alopecia and are keeping up with the treatments to regrow your hair. If you are not, definitely wait on a new set of locs so that you can heal your follicles.

Hi Jocelyn Renee, I want to start my locs soon and have been natural for a very long time. My hair has length and wanted to know if I should start my locs with coils or two strands? Will I still have that puffy/swollen and frizzy look with either methods? Thanks.

With both methods you will experience the puffy/swollen (teenage) phase of locs but with coils it will be more drastic. I prefer two-strand twists for starting locs with longer hair.

Which method is better for starting locs with neck length hair? Coils or two strand twist ?

My personal opinion— twists.

I’m 3 mos in with loc my hair only last 5 days after retwist then they coil up into little spirals help

Yes, shrinkage still happens with the locking process. If you need more guidance and/or reassurance on your hair care practices with your new locs considering visiting my website and scheduling a “Virtual Consultation”:

Thank you so much for this information. It answered all of my concerns about the loc process! Looking forward to started my loc journey next month!

Thank you for reading! Wishing you all the best on your new journey as well!

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