Gosh, this is something that I should have posted a LONG TIME ago. I still refer to it every now and then and it helps put my journey into perspective. I got it from from Lisa who got it from the book Nice Dreads by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner. Great read, by the way. I don't own it but I borrowed it from a friend.
This post will be a sticky in the right column of LocRocker to help other prospective loc'ers and those on their journey. Keep in mind that there is no timeline when all of this should be happening. Remember---everyone's hair texture and method of loc'ing is different. Stay on your path and
Feel free to add any other characteristics that you've noticed in your coils, buds, teenagers and beyond!
The 5 stages of locs/dreads
1. Coils — Coils resemble tightly coiled springs that look like baby spirals and can be as small as a watch spring or fluid and loose as fusilli. Hair can be as short or as long as one likes. The key factor here is that your hair is able to form and hold a coil, but the hair within the coil has not yet begun to intertwine or mesh.
2. Sprouts and Buds — Known as Sprouting or Budding is that miraculous moment when the magic has begun. First, you shampoo your hair and notice that all of a sudden, the coils don't all wash out like they used to. You may notice that some of your coils have little knots of hair in them, about the size of a small pea. This knot is more or less the nucleus of each lock; the hairs in your coils have begun to intertwine and interlace. Individual coils may seem puffy and lose their tightly coiled shape; this is part of the process and shouldn't be disturbed. What is important here is to keep the original scalp partings, to allow the spinning process to become established for each individual lock. Don't redivide your budding locks, twist them to death, or get to patting them down, trying to make your hair look "nice," because you'll just end up with a badly packed, busted-out do.
3. Teen or Locking Stage — This is when the buds and sprouts truly begin to look like locks and few, if any, locks shampoo out or come out during sleep. The peas you saw and felt in the budding stage have expanded, and the hair has spun into a network of intertwining strands that extend throughout the length of individual locks. The locks may be soft and pliable or feel loosely meshed, according to your hair's texture. This is the growing stage of lock development, and it extends into the lock's mature stage. Shampooing doesn't loosen these locks. They have dropped, which means they have developed enough to hang down versus defying gravity. This is when you start to relax and feel more confident about locking.
4. Mature Stage — Each individual lock is firmly meshed or tightly interwoven. Some loosely coiled hair textures may retain a small curl or coil at the end of the locks, but most will probably be closed at the ends. You will begin to see consistent growth because each lock has intertwined and contracted into a cylindrical shape. Think of each individual lock as a hair strand in itself. The new growth is contained in the loose hair at the base or root of each individual lock, and regular grooming encourages it to spin into an intertwined coil that will be integrated with the lock.
5. Beyond Maturity — Think of this stage as akin to the shedding stage of hair growth. After many years, depending on the care you have lavished on your locks, some locks may begin to thin and break off at the ends. For the most part, this deterioration can be minimized and controlled by monitoring the ends of your locks for signs of age and getting regular trims.