freeform dreads guide

What are Freeform Dreads

These are locks that left do what they want when they are just starting to grow out.  They are strands of hair that lock together, which is how the name freeform dreads came about.  They often resemble rope since they are so thick but there is no standard size for them. 

You can go from extra small to very large and anywhere in between.  Essentially, they are just tangled hair that has knotted itself.  If you do not want your freeform dreads to grow together and become Congos, then you have to maintain your dreads and keep them separate.  Once they start to form Congos, it is almost impossible to separate them.

With freeform dreads, you don’t have to do anything at all to get them.  These are easy to identify and require low maintenance.  They grow and shape naturally with little to no manipulation.  You can style your freeform dreads into ponytails, up-dos, buns, or just let it hang naturally. 

What are Semi-Freeform Dreads

If you do not want to wait for your hair to naturally form dreads and speed up the process, this is what they are called.  The reason is that they did not grow naturally but had some help.  To help decrease the time to get them to grow naturally, you can retwist your dread occasionally.  You can do this every four to six months.

When you retwist your dreads, it will encourage the hair to follow the pattern of growth.  In semi-freeform dreads, you separate the Congos.  Congos happen when two or more separate locks combine into one dread.

Freeform Dread Stages

Stage 1

Some people refer to this stage as the “ugly” stage because they are just starting to grow.  In one to two months, you will see that your hair is starting to part naturally and not from the roots.

Stage 2

This is called the “baby dread” stage.  At this point, you will start to notice some bumps, growth, and frizz.  This stage will not last long.

Stage 3

This is called the “shrinking” stage.  This stage happens when your dreads are locking tighter.  They will be shorter than before. 

Stage 4

This is called the “mature” stage.  This is when you have freeform dreads, and the journey is complete.  Depending on your hair type, it can take months to years.  Your locks are smoother and noticeable/  The frizz has gone away.

How to Make Freeform Dreads

They are easy to grow.  All you need to do is wake up, wash your hair, and shake it out.  Your hair will start to for baby locks (buds).  When this happens you can leave them alone or separate the bigger ones carefully to grow individual locks that are thinner. 

To make freeform dreads your hair should have some curl or kink in it.  With freeform dreads, you can start with any length of hair.  If you have straight hair and want to have freeform dreads without having to manipulate their locks, you should start with long hair.  The hair will not unravel as much and will grow faster. 

You can also manipulate your dreads with three different methods during the stage when they are just starting to become locks.  Some choose to wear a tam hat.  Wearing this type of hat will generally increase the friction across your entire head.  This will help your dreads to grow more evenly and quicker.

If you do not want to wait long for freeform braids, you can begin with semi-random single twists or braids.  Do not part your hair or use any type of styling product.  All you need to do is install the small braids.  These will encourage your hair to become locks as it grows out and around the small braids.

Although they will not be exactly freeform dreads, they are easier to manage in the locking process.  You will also have more control over the directing and size of the dreads.


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This method has just started to become popular.  You will need a dread sponge to do this.  Take the sponge and rub it against your hair.  Depending on which side of the sponge you use, this will create large/small dread knobs.

Tennis racket

This is a method that will work with loose-type curls.  You take a clean tennis rack and rub it against your hair like you would with the dread sponge. 


Using a microfiber towel, rub it against your natural hair. 

You can even manipulate your mature freeform dreads.  The downside of using either of these manipulating, they can get lost in your dreads.


You can sew your mature locks together by using a weaving needle.  Using thread and the needle, you can combine the dreads.

Rubber bands

Take rubber bands to combine your freeform dreads.  Make sure that you do not leave them in too long or they can get too hot and melt into your dreads. 

Maintaining Freeform Dreads

Your freeform dreads do not need any special attention for them to start to grow.  They do still need to be maintained.  The best method to take care of your freeform dreads is washing and moisturizing them.  If they are not maintained, they could become weak, look messy, or break off.

Washing and rinsing your dreads:

  • Wash them every seven to fourteen days and then let them dry naturally.  You also can sit for an hour or two under a hooded dryer like you find in a beauty salon.  If you over wash them, they will feel dry.
  • If you decide to use shampoo on your dreads, make sure that is clarifying shampoo.  It will not leave behind residue.
  • When washing your dreads, focus on the roots.  You can soak your dreads in a bowl of water when washing them.
  • To rinse buildup and lint out of your locks, use a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar.
  • After you have washed your locks, twist the damp roots of them to tame them.  Be sure that you are twisting in the same direction each time to get the best results.
  • Never use conditioners because they are used to keep your hair from tangling, and you want your hair to tangle.


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Sleeping with dreads:

  • At night, to keep your locks lint-free and smooth, tie them with a satin or silk scarf

General tips:

  • Apply a Sea Salt cleanse or Sea Salt spray every few days to lock your dreads quicker.
  • Only use natural butters and oils to moisturize your scalp and groom your locks.
  • Do not put waxes or heavy pomades in your hair.
  • To keep your scalp healthy and to stimulate circulation, massage your scalp.
  • If you

Questions and Answers About Freeform Dreads.

            Q:  How long does it take for them to grow?

            A.  It can take about two years. 

                  Long hair will take longer because the weight of the hair pulls it down instead of letting it

                  kink up.

            Q.  Do they grow faster or slower than regular hair?

            A.  Freeform dreads grow as fast as regular hair.

            Q.  Do they smell?

            A.  If you have not washed them for a long time, they will start to smell.

                  wash them every day? they may have a noticeable odor.

                  Dont dry your freeform braids completely? they can take on a musty smell.

            Q.  Where do dreads usually start to form first?

            A.  They usually start at the back of the head because that is where the most friction is from

                   where your head rubs against chair backs, vehicle seats, and more.

            Q,  Can you style your freeform dreads?

            A.  Yes, you can but make sure that you do not create tension at the roots or hairline.

                  Doing this can prevent healthy new locks, weaken your hair, or thin it out at the roots.

Pros and Cons of Having Freeform Dreads


  • Many who have freeform dreads like the freedom approach.  It is natural and simple
  • Don’t need to use any hair products
  • Don’t need to worry about any waxes or gels building up in your hair.
  • Foolproof because you don’t need to do anything.
  • If you are growing out dreads for a spiritual reason, freeform dreads are completely natural.
  • All you need to do is wash your hair a week or two
  • You do not have to have lengthy beauty salon appointments to keep them trim and tight as you do with manicured dreadlocks.


  • The time to grow freeform dreads is long, about two years.
  • You cannot rush the growth period because your hair is developing naturally.
  • If your hair is straight, it is going to take longer to grow freeform dreads.
  • Your locks may not be perfect because it is 100% natural.
  • If your locks are not perfect, you will have to fix any messy strands or stray hair.
  • They may not be all the same size.

Freeform Dreads for Men

Short dreads

This hairstyle is when your freeform dreads have been growing for at least ten months.  They range in length from one to two inches and are small.  The results will vary depending on how fast your hair naturally grows and the type of hair.  Because it takes a long time to grow freeform dreads, you have to be patient while they are growing.

short dreads men

Your Guide To Dreadlocks: What You Need To Know To Style Like A Pro ★

Long tied dreads

Many men like to tie their dreads to show off their growth or highlight the texture. 

long tied dreads example


Some with freeform dreads want to avoid Congos while others want to show them off.  This hairstyle can create a lot of volume and large locks, but it all depends on your hair type.  This is one of the more iconic lock styles.

congos men dreads

Freeform explosion

One of the ways to do this popular style is to separate the locks and style them so they stick out and up.  This hairstyle can include Congos.  When letting them stick up and out, it gives your hair an exploded lock.  You have to move your dreads around for this style, but you don’t have to retwist it.

freeform explosion dreads

Dyed Freeform Dreads

Today it is popular to tip-dye or two-tone freeform dreads.  This is especially popular among those that have semi-freeform dreads.

dyed freeform dreads

Thick freeform dreads

This is a hairstyle that shows off everything great about these types of dreads.  The locks are not defined but are thick.  The natural growth contributes to the variety in the size of the locks, which adds a lot of styles.

thick freeform dreads

Fluffy Freeform Dreads

When styled, there are certain types of hair that will appear extra fluffy when you style them.  The kinkier or curlier your hair is, the more you will see this texture when your freeform dreads start to develop and fill out.  If you have extra curly hair, then your dreads may expand more.  As they grow, they will become thicker.

fluffy freeform dreads

Ponytail Dreads

This is another way to tie your dreads by making into a ponytail.  You can even use some of the dreads as the scrunchie to hold the ponytail.

ponytail dreads

Locks with length

If you have some serious length, then you might want to just try to grow out the locks on top of your hand.  The locks on the top of your head are generally shorter but they can also get long.  This makes a tall hairstyle.

locks with length

Matted dreads

All freeform dreads will mat, there are some that will do this faster and more severe.  Usually, this isn’t something you need to fix, even if it is more matted than normal. 

matted dreads


Many people like freeform dreads because of the low maintenance.  It is a natural way to let your hair grow.  Keeping it clean will ensure that it does not smell as many thinks because the freeform dreads appear to be unwashed and uncombed when they see someone wearing them.  There are also many styles of freeform dreads for both men and women.  This article shows you some of these different styles and how to take care of them.