If you want long, beautiful locs, you have to start somewhere. Unless you get loc extensions, it's a long process to achieve those enviable locs you want. Once you make the decision to loc your hair, expect to go through these five stages: starter locs, budding/sprouting, teenage, mature and rooted.
Stage1: Starter (coils or baby locs)
Your starting point usually begins with finger coils. Some women who have loc’d their hair have used two strand twists on occasion but finger coils are most often used. Coils are really tight curly springs in spiral shape. The most important point of the coil stage is that the hair is able to coil entirely through from roots to ends. This is important so that the hair within the coil will start to mesh together or loc. If the hair is separating or unraveling it will be more difficult/ almost impossible to loc.
Stage 2: Budding (also known as sprouting)
Individual comb coils/twists/braids may seem puffy as the hairs start to intertwine. It is important to keep the original scalp partings, to maintain neat and (as near) uniform locs in the later stages. Try to avoid redividing and overtwisting at this stage, they are meant to be puffy and will settle down later. Care has to be taken during shampooing not to unravel the hair. People will begin to notice and ask if you are locing up.
Stage 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 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 locs.
Stage 4: Maturity
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.
Stage 5: Rooted (Beyond Maturity)
Think of this stage as being similar to the shedding stage of hair growth. After many years, depending on the care you have give 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.