How Long Does It Take 4C Hair to Loc up With 4C Loc Phases

A black woman with long hair wearing adult-stage instant locs with minimal-frizz on her 4C hair type.

Are you thinking about getting dreadlocks? Whether you plan on installing them yourself or are thinking of heading to a loctician, you might be wondering how long it’ll take to see results.

So, how long does it take 4C hair to loc? Look no further because, in this article, we’ll explain the loc phases for 4C hair. We’ll also share some of our favorite tips to help you along your loc journey, so make sure you read all the way down to the end!

The Loc Phases and How Long They Last for 4C Hair

Tighter curl patterns lock quicker than looser textures, and 4c hair is the tightest curl pattern of them all. So, the locking process for 4C curls will be quickly compared to that of other textures. Below, we’ll tell you all about the different loc phases and how long they’re expected to take on 4C natural hair.

How Long Does It Take 4C Hair to Loc?

Starter Phase~3-6 months4C baby locs will become thicker, demarcation lines fade, and bumps and lumps appear.
Budding Phase~6 months4C locs are unruly, may stick up defiantly, or go in different directions.
Teen Phase~6 months4C teenage locs are unruly, may stick up defiantly, or go in different directions.
Mature Phase15+ months4C mature locs look, feel, and act like dreadlocks, with a firm inner and outer structure.
Note: These durations are approximate and can vary between each individual’s locs journey. Additional details about each phase are provided below. We also provide a hair care regimen that you can use as you progress through the different stages.
A black woman researching how to start locs from short hair for a close that loves her hair.

Starter Phase

Your locs begin at the starter phase. In this phase, they look like whichever loc method you used to create them. They’ll likely unravel when you style or wash your hair and are typically smaller and more neatly parted than mature dreads

The starter phase may last as little as three months for 4C hair and closer to 6 months for looser hair textures.

Budding/Sprouting Phase

In the budding/sprouting phase, your locs will become thicker, and the lines of demarcation between your braids, twists, or coils will fade. You’ll also notice bumps and large lumps on your dreads, which can be hard to get used to.

But as a plus, your hair will unravel less frequently as your locs take shape. This phase will likely last about 6 months for 4C hair.

A black woman reading about how to fix loose natural hair strands when maintaining locs.

Teenage Phase

The teenage stage is marked by unruliness, often on a monumental stage. Your locs may stick up defiantly, go in several directions, or look irregular during this time. This stage may last about 6 months for 4C hair, though it could last a little longer.

Mature Phase

The mature phase is where your locs look, feel, and act like dreadlocks. They hang down instead of sticking up, they have a firm inner and outer structure, and they don’t require a ton of maintenance.

Though, it could take longer if your natural hair texture is on the looser side. Considering all the previous phases, it could take 4C hair 15 months or longer to fully loc.

A young African American female takes a selfie after discussing how to start locs on wavy hair with a friend.

What Makes Hair Loc Faster?

Now that you know how long it takes for 4C hair to loc up, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do to speed up the process. We’re happy to tell you that making the process go faster and more smoothly is possible if you take a few measures! Ready to find out what they are?

Here are a few ways to make your hair loc faster. 

  • Protect your hair at night – Cotton pillowcases can suck the moisture from your strands, leaving them dry and fragile. Cotton also creates friction, which can chip away at the structural integrity of your locs, working against the loc maturation process. So before you head off to sleep, protect your locs with a satin scarf or bonnet
  • Don’t overload your hair with product – There’s a common misconception that you can speed up loc formation by applying locking creams. Locking creams are usually sticky and make it look like your locs are more developed. But the effect is temporary and can lead to stubborn buildup, thinning, or breakage. That means you’ll have to wait even longer to get your dream locs.
  • Avoid loc jewelry for the first six months – We get it. After starting your locs, you’ll probably be tempted to embellish them with beads, cuffs, and clips. However, doing so can prevent your locs from filling in and stall their development.
  • Don’t wash your hair too often – One of the worst things you can do to start locs is wash them too frequently. In addition to drying your hair out, overwashing your locs can cause them to fray and unravel. For the best results, wash your hair no more than once or twice a week when you’re starting out.
A fashionable African female is wearing her hair naturally in a lock style in the maturity phase.

How to Start Locs on 4C Hair

Although 4C hair is one of the easiest hair types to loc, the process can be lengthy. But we think that the style is more than worth it!

So if you’ve decided to give locs a try, you’re probably wondering what steps you’ll need to take. So in this section, we’ll look at some of the best ways to start locs on 4C hair. 

Comb Coils

Although the comb coiling method is more challenging, the locs it creates are neat and perfectly uniform. Plus, comb coils look good enough to rock as an everyday style!

To create comb coil starter locs, divide your hair into small, square-shaped sections. Coat one of the sections in a layer of gel or locking cream and comb through the hair with a fine tooth comb.

A black woman wearing adult locs started with two-strand twists is seeing good hair growth.

Insert a narrow tooth comb at the base of each section and spin your hair in small, circular motions to coil it. As you twirl, gently pull the comb down toward the ends of the hair. Then, move to the next section and repeat the process.

Comb Twist Method | Starter Locs on 4C Hair

Comb coils give you the look of smooth dreadlocks right away, but it’ll take many months for your hair to actually loc. The key to comb coiling lies in the technique, so make sure that you use tutorials (like this one) to walk you through the steps.

Braid Method

Starting Braidlocs! Why Not?

Did you know you can start locs by braiding or twisting your hair? To do this, part your hair into box-shaped sections. Next, take one of the sections and divide the hair into two or three equal parts.

Apply a styling gel or locking cream to the section of hair, and braid or twist it from the root to the ends of your hair. 

Repeat this process on the rest of your sections until you run out of loose hair. Then, simply leave them braided until they start to loc up. After a few months, you’ll see the braid lines fade as the locking process progresses.

Freeform Method

How to Grow Freeform Locs (Starter Locs on 4C Hair)

If you’re looking for a locking method that’s hands-off, consider freeform locs. All you’ll have to do is stop combing or brushing your hair. That’s it! As time passes, your hair will naturally tangle, and dreadlocks will form.

The one caveat to this method is that it requires patience. While this method doesn’t require any particular products or techniques, you should still keep your hair clean and moisturized. That way, your hair and scalp remain healthy and buildup free. 

A cute black female with loc extensions in a mature stage researching which deep conditioners work best for thinning locs.

Consult a Professional

Even if you’ve decided to start your locs yourself, it’s worth getting a professional evaluation. A consultation with a loctician will help you identify and correct issues early on, so you can ensure that your locs come out healthy and perfectly defined. They can also give you personalized tips and insight to help your loc journey go smoothly. 

How Long Does It Take for Afro Hair to Loc?

Afro hair, or type 4 natural hair, is known to loc faster than other hair types, with 4C hair typically taking 15 to 18 months to mature fully. You should also deep condition and maintain locs with proper hair care practices can help.

How Long Do Starter Locs Take to Lock?

Starter locs are typically in the beginning loc stages of the process and can take 3 to 6 months to lock. This timeframe depends on your hair type, maintenance routine, and individual hair characteristics.

How Long Does It Take for Hair to Fully Loc?

The time it takes for your hair to fully loc can vary greatly depending on factors such as hair type, hair care routine, and individual hair characteristics. Generally, your hair will take 12 to 24 months to loc fully.

How Long Does It Take for Locs to Bud?

Locs usually start to bud within 3 to 6 months, with the exact timeframe depending on hair type, care, and maintenance practices. Following proper care guidelines is essential during this stage of the loc process.

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As you can see, there is no universal timeline for how long it will take your 4C hair to loc. It’ll start to loc within the first two or three months for most with 4C hair, but for others, it can take as many as six months for you to notice a change.

Still, your hair won’t be fully locked for closer to a year or more.

But, with patience and proper care, you can rest assured knowing that your hair will form beautiful, healthy locs when the time is right.

So, try to embrace the journey and have fun watching your kinks and curls transform. That said, we hope that the information we’ve gone over today is precisely what you were searching for, and we wish you the best of luck on your loc journey.

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