For Locs (Dreadlocks) - How to Start Locs

How Long Does My Hair need to be to Start Dreads?

The best length to start dreads often depends on the method that you are planning to use to start your locs. Continue reading as I will provide more detailed information answering the question of ‘how long does my hair need to be to start dreads?’.

how long does my hair need to be to start dreads. Best length to start dreads.

When I started my first set of locs, I started them with finger coils, which is a common method of starting locs on 4c curly hair. I had about 8 inches of hair at that time, being that I had been growing my natural hair for a long time, over 2 years.

I ended up discontinuing that loc journey. On my second journey, I started my locs with the same method, however, I did them myself. At this time, I only had about 3 inches of hair.

So, having had both experiences of starting locs with short hair and long hair, I can honestly say that you can start your locs with 2-3 inches of hair and they will still turn out beautifully. But, it depends on the method and a few other things.

The Best Length to Start Dreadlocks

As mentioned, the best length to start dreads depends on a few things. One of the most important things is the method you will be using to start your locs. Another important thing to consider is your hair type.

Methods of starting Locs – in relation to length.

Comb Coils

If you are starting your dreadlocks with comb or finger coils then you can start with about 3 or more inches of hair. Men often start comb coils dreads with much shorter hair, however, having a few inches is ideal.

As mentioned, I started with about 3 inches and my locs have grown tremendously within the last year. To be honest, my one year now is comparable to when I started with longer hair. View the gallery below for images.

Best length to start dreads.
My current set of Locs


With freeform dreadlocks, you can start your locs with any length of hair. The reason here is that with freeform dreadlocks, you do not manipulate your hair. All you do is allow your hair to grow and form knots on their own, in their own unique way.

Two-strand twist or Three-strand plait

With two-strand twist or three stand plaints, many people often ask how long does my hair have to be to start locs? Although, they may have already been putting these styles in their hair. I like to say, if you can two strand twist or plait your hair then it has enough length to start locs.

The only issue here might be the extra care that is needed. With two-strand twist there is always the possibility of your hair unraveling, if you start with shorter hair you will want to ensure that you care for your hair.


With backcombing, this is typically done with hair of looser textures, straight or caucasian hair. This method will require a few inches of hair for the technician to work with, a length of 6 inches of more is the ideal length.

Starting with longer hair will allow your hair to fall nicely as opposed to being too stiff.

Instant Locs- Crochet

The best length to start dreads when using instant locs is about 5-6 inches of hair. Ideally, you will want to use much longer hair, perhaps 7 inches. Often instant locs may be stiff and having longer hair will help your dreads to fall nicely.

Hair Type

If you’ve noticed, when explaining the method-length relationship, I touched on hair type. Any hair type can be used to start locs. However, depending on your hair type you may require more length.

For curly hair 4a to 4d– You can start with as little as 2-3 inches of hair. The reason here is because curly hair not only knots faster but it stays together easier as well.

For straight hair 1, 2a, 2b– You can start with as little as 6 inches of hair if using backcombing or instant loc method. While these methods won’t unravel like other methods, you start with longer hair so that it looks better.

Related: 6 Methods of Starting Locs

Using a Hair Measurement and Recording sheet.

If you are planning to start locs, then you can begin to measure and record your hair length. With a hair measurement and recording sheet, you will be able to track your progress from before you start your locs right to the end.

Tracking your hair growth is an excellent practice to develop if you are actively working to grow your hair. It is also important if you have a hair length goal that you are trying to attain.

best length to start dreads. Loc length check

I created the recording sheet above to help you track the growth of your hair. The sheet also comes with bonus sheets- ‘Loc measurement and recording sheet‘ so that you can track your loc hair growth as well.

I have kept track of my hair growth in the past in my phone or just jottings in notebooks but having it all on one sheet works out so much better. Find it here.

Summary – FAQ

Can any hair type start dreads?

Yes. Any hair type can start dreads. However, the look of locs, the time it takes to loc and over all care may look different.

How long does the hair need to be for 2&3 Strand Twists locs?

Many lengths work for starting locs with 2 or 3 strand twists. 2-3 inches of hair or more is the ideal length for using this method.

How long does the hair need to be for comb coils locs?

For comb coil or finger coil locs, 2-3 inches of hair or more is ideal length.

How long does hair need to be for freeform locs?

For freeform dreadlocks, you can start your dreads with any length.

How long does hair need to be for backcombing?

For backcombing, you will need a few inches of hair to start your dreadlocks. Starting with 6 or more inches of hair is best.

How long will it take my locs to grow long?

The growth of your locs significantly depends on many things. It depends on your nutrition, your care of your locs, your water intake, and many other factors.

For your locs to grow long and grow fast you need to be intentional about your hair growth journey and take care of yourself and your hair. Growing your locs long also takes patience. So, be patient and trust your process.

This Loc hair growth planner may help you to foster good habits + it includes a link to the hair measurement resources mentioned earlier.

That’s all for now.

Love, Light and Peace.

Shanice DK

Shanice DK is a Freelance Writer within the beauty and wellness niche. She enjoys spending time in nature, writing, and crafting handmade items. You can catch up with Shanice on her business website - Or on Instagram @faithnturtles.

5 Comments on “How Long Does My Hair need to be to Start Dreads?

  1. Nice detailed post. I’ve never heard of back combing? Then again, I don’t have loose hair either. Lol good luck in your new lock journey.

  2. On the hair length bit, you covered curly hair 4a to 4d and straight hair 1, 2a, 2b, but missed the 3s, which I’m pretty sure is what I’ve got

    Is that cuz it varies so much?

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