What are Budding Locs & How to Care for Them

Are you just starting your dreadlock journey? You might hear your loctician, barber, or hairstylist say that your locs are beginning to bud. Don’t worry! This is a necessary process for your dreadlocks to form. …

Are you just starting your dreadlock journey? You might hear your loctician, barber, or hairstylist say that your locs are beginning to bud. Don’t worry! This is a necessary process for your dreadlocks to form. Throughout this article, you will learn all about budding locs, what it means, and how to take care of them. Good luck on your dreadlock journey!

What Does “Budding Locks” Mean?

The term “budding” concerning dreadlocks means that your hair is matting and swelling together. In simple terms, your dreads are just now starting to form.

Budding is a regular part of the locking process; however, it doesn’t mean that your hair is locked yet. During the budding stage, low manipulation is still required, or else you could disrupt the locking process and unravel your soon-to-be loc.

When your hair starts to bud, it is transitioning from the first to the second stage of locs. The four stages of locs include the starter loc stage, the baby loc stage, the teenage loc stage, and the adult loc stage.

Budding typically occurs anywhere from six weeks to three months after you get your starter locs.

Is Budding Normal?

Of course, it is! Without the process of budding, you would never have locs. Some tell-tale signs that your starter locs are budding is if they start to get frizzy, become dull, and/or get thicker.

Also, if you feel a lump in the middle of one of your locs, that’s another sign that your locs are budding. The ends of budding locs usually fall off around this time to form a rounded, “loc-ish” end.

Signs of improper budding include your locs being thin at the roots or your locs being lumpy or uneven. If this happens, it’s likely the starter loc was too small, or there was too much loc-manipulation.

How Long is the Budding Stage for Dreads?

There are a lot of factors that go into how long the budding stage will last. The way you take care of your hair, your hair’s growth rate, and the texture of your hair all play a role in determining how long your budding process will be. However, anywhere from three to six months is normal.

Should Sprouting Locs Be Frizzy?

Absolutely! When your hair starts to lose its initial pattern from its starter locs, that’s how you know your hair is budding properly. It is very rare, maybe never, that you find someone with dreadlocks that aren’t frizzy. Frizz is a natural part of the budding process, and try not to disturb or “maintain” it.

How Do You Smooth Out Frizzy Locs?

Eventually, the frizz will become a part of the dread and make it look fuller and more uniform, but during the budding process, you will want to leave the frizz alone. Cutting or trying to “smooth out” the frizz can lead to your locs being weaker or budding improperly.

However, once your locs have properly formed and “locked” maintaining frizz can be easy. Using a mousse on wet locs can smooth them out and make them appear less frizzy. Also, lightly raking through your wet locs with a comb or brush can minimize frizz.

Another method to reduce frizz is to take a frizzy loc, dampen it, and roll it across the palm of your hand with your fingertips. By adding a loc butter or gel to this method, you can reduce frizz even further and for even longer.

As mentioned before, smoothing your locs should only be done after the locking process is complete.

Is Budding Bad for Locs?

Budding is a natural process for locs. Budding is actually necessary for your locs to even become locs.

How Long Does Budding Last?

When it comes to the locking process of dreads, the budding stage typically lasts about six months before fully transitioning to the teenage stage.

During this time, you’ll notice significant changes to your hair such as it’s getting frizzier, thicker, and a bit matted. As mentioned before, you’ll want to leave your hair alone during this process as to not disturb the formation of your locs.

I find that the budding process is the most fascinating for those new to locs because they get to experience their hair changing to become a different form entirely. You truly realize how much your hair is capable of when you make the transition from free-growing hair to dreadlocks.

How do you Retwist Budding Locs?

Retwisting is the same no matter what stage locs you’re at, but it’s always best to get your locs retwisted by a professional loctician. If done incorrectly, you can drastically thin out your hair, cause breakage, and even trigger baldness.

However, if you must retwist your budding locs yourself, here is a method that won’t unravel your locs or disrupt the locking process.

Before I continue with the method, I want to make it clear that retwisting isn’t necessary for maintaining dreadlocks; however, if you choose not to retwist your locs, keep in mind that your parting can be lost and your locs may start to lock together instead of remaining separate. Also, sometimes not retwisting your locs can lead to thinning at the roots.

You’ll want to start retwisting on damp hair, preferably freshly washed. Never retwist on dry hair. For precise parting, use a rat-tail comb, or a comb with a sharp end, to make your parts look neat and clean, but if perfect parts aren’t a priority for you, feel free to use your fingers.

When parting out your locs with a comb, make sure you’re being careful as to not rip out strands of your hair that are stuck within other locs.

Next, you’ll want to take your locking gel or custard and apply it to the root only. Applying the product to the rest of the loc can cause product build-up on the inside. Make sure to smooth the product into the base of the loc.

For retwisting, I recommend twirling the loc around your fingers until the base is tight to your scalp, but don’t over-twist it as it can cause thinning and baldness. You could also do the palm-rolling method, but it’s very easy to over-tighten a loc using this method, so that’s why I recommend finger-twirling especially for beginners.

When retwisting, twirl/roll in the direction your loc was initially twisted in, typically clockwise. This prevents your loc from unraveling, gives your loc a uniformed look, and makes future retwists easier. Once you’ve finished retwisting a loc, secure it with a double prong curl clip until you’ve finished with your whole head.

After you’ve retwisted your entire head, leave the clips in until your hair has dried completely. Remove the clips carefully to not mess up the formation of the base, and add an extra layer of security with a mousse.

Don’t style your dreads after retwisting. Maintain minimum manipulation to your hair after a retwist to prevent unraveling or unnecessary frizziness. A retwist is recommended about every four to six weeks, and after a few retwists, you should be out of the budding stage and in the teenage stage of your locs.

How do you Maintain Budding Dreadlocks?

When it comes to budding locs, you might need to retwist them a bit more often than you would mature locs, typically every month, and they require a bit more TLC to ensure they form properly.

Make sure you’re washing your locs regularly, every one to two weeks, and be gentle when doing so. Scrubbing too hard can unravel your locs and mess up their formation pattern, but if you don’t cleanse them thoroughly or often enough, product build-up can form within your dreads leading to mold and other infection-causing bacterias.

At night, be sure to properly protect your locs by securing them in a silk or satin bonnet or by sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase. Laying your locs on drying fabrics like cotton or polyester can cause friction leading to breakage.

We’re almost done, but just a few final things to remember before we send you on your budding loc journey. Avoid thicker products as the build-up can lead to bacterial infections and molding within your locs.

Avoid using waxes on your locs because they won’t absorb into your hair just cause build-up. Avoid tight hairstyles because that can cause loc-thinning and breakage, and avoid putting harsh chemicals on your locs, such as bleach.

Seeing as the budding stage already puts your hair in a fragile state, adding bleach to the process would have unpredictable results. However, once your locs have matured, feel free to bleach and color your locs, but keep in mind that there will be some damage.

You now know the ins and outs of budding locs from what they are to how to maintain them. Remember that getting locs is a process, and the budding stage is just one step. Enjoy the process, and I wish you the best of luck on your loc journey!