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Freeform Dreads Tips: 3-Step Guide to Locing

Freeform Dreads Tips

Do you want freeform dreadlocks like the singer Lauryn Hill? She has what you call freedom or freeform dreads, which entail letting your locks grow naturally with little styling.

Now, you can rock this simple yet distinctive hairstyle using our tips on how to freeform dreads!

Table of Contents

How to Get Freeform Dreads: Where to Start + Best Tips

How to Get Freeform Dreads- Where to Start + Best Tips

Freeform locs are natural dreadlocks that look authentic yet are a low-maintenance thing. They can be treated like normal hair that you can wash and wear straight away.

Ready to get started? 

Freeforming dreads is a relatively simple process. Just remember that when you start, expect your freeform dreadlocks to become thicker and change in pattern.

To what degree depends on your natural hair texture, hair growth, hair type, and how you’ve maintained your dreads until now.

Now, let’s begin!

Fast Fact: It takes around 2-3 years of freeforming before you can see something like actual locs. It also works better on natural hair since hair texture affects the results.

Step 1: Cleanse Hair, Then Part into Sections

  • Ensure your hair gets thorough shampooing – this also helps keep your scalp well-nourished so your strands will keep growing healthy and strong.
  • DO NOT use conditioner since we don’t want a smooth hair texture. We actually want out natural hair to tangle with each other to form the dreads (although, you can use a hair moisturizer to hydrate the hair strands and protect them from becoming too dry and brittle).
  • Dry your hair properly before you part your hair. You should have a rough idea of the dread style you want to end up with so you know how to section it.

Word of caution: If left alone, your natural hair parts naturally and you wouldn’t be able to control the sections.

Step 2: Braid or Twist Naturally

  • Continue to braid or twist your hair into locs. Either way is fine depending on your preference. In manicured dreads, people use styling products to control the result, but for freeform locs, no styling means your hair will grip better and stay secure.

Did you know: Curlier natural hair can actually skip the braiding and twisting, allowing locs to form even more naturally.

Step 3: Leave Your Hair Alone and Watch It Grow

By this point, all you need to do is let hair start growing into buds or baby locks. It’ll keep growing in thickness over the months all by itself.

However, some dread heads may find that their hair isn’t growing the way they want.

But don’t be scared! Because actually…

Freeform dreads take a while to fully tighten, so you can still control them this early in the process.

But if your problem is that your hair type won’t form the locs, you can start the matting process yourself by introducing more friction to your hair:

  • The best place to begin is at the BACK of your head since this area gets the most friction as we lie down.
  • Another technique is to try a hat, called a dreadlock tam, to evenly spread the friction all over your head.

Once you notice locs forming, you can separate the ones that seem too matted to split them into smaller locs. Keep doing this until the size and quantity are to your liking.

After you reach your desired dreadlocked hair, you can just leave it and let it grow.

Caring for Your Locs

Caring for Your Locs

One main advantage and discerning characteristic of freeform locs is you don’t need much maintenance at all.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Wash your hair each week to avoid buildup of oils and dead skin cells, especially on your scalp.
  • Washing reinvigorates your roots and helps your hair grow and combine into the right locs. This will also prevent your hair from damage and also keep your dreads looking neater.
  • For the washing routine, the recommended frequency is 1 -2 times for each of the initial 12 weeks.
  • Wash them with hot water and clarifying shampoo. Then rinse with cool water in the end. It also helps to use APPLE CIDER VINEGAR as an additional cleanse since you won’t be washing it everyday (Others recommend simply soaking your hair into a bowl of water with shampoo or apple cider vinegar if you don’t want to disturb your locs too much).
  • After washing, twist your hair from the root to keep the style. For the best result, you should twist all of them in the same direction.
  • Don’t use a rubber band. Rubber bands create dreadlock eating or absorbing, which makes it hard to remove the rubber band later on.

What are Freeform Dreads?

What are they

Freeform dreads or locs are thicker than manicured dreads where you usually can’t see your scalp lines anymore.

Beginning with a section of hair that grows as one twist or braid, this method/technique grows dreadlocks with almost no manipulation.

Freeform locs have various spiritual and cultural origins. However, if you ask another person, they could be merely another type of hairstyle.

Dreadlocks have had their controversial moments in history and it can be a challenge to face when worn in less open-minded societies.

Still, it’s easy to do. You can begin the process at any of the stages in dreadlock formation, no matter if you have loose hair or have locs already. Moreover, you save money on re-twisting appointments at the salon.

Before you jump into locing, though, keep in mind that the freeforming method takes a while to even look like dreads and no styling means less control over its size and quantity.

Also, freeform locs may not be for you if you don’t like frizz at any stage. For those who don’t mind at all, then this hairstyle is for you!

Semi-Freeform Dreads: An Alternative


If you want more options other than freeform locs, try the semi-freeforming method. The variation lies in that you separate your roots or do some styling to keep it more polished as you wish.

There are many ways for getting semi-freeform dreads which mainly involve either:

  • Maintaining certain parts of the hair while the rest freeform, or
  • Establishing a parting system at the roots

Semi-freeform dreads are just as easy to maintain as freeform ones. You just need to be wary, like when the loc becomes TOO BIG.

When you choose the semi-freeforming method, it’s best to actually start with a freeforming stage first since it’s easier to modify in the middle.

  • If you have manicured dreads already for a long time, it will be difficult to revert to freeforming no matter the stage.
  • If you already have freeform dreads at any stage, then you can still try semi-freeforming by increasing the amount of time between loc maintenance sessions.



Freeform dreads are known to be one of the most hassle-free hairstyles but there’s a lot to learn if you’re starting your loc journey with zero ideas about the method behind it.

You can get a better picture when you have other people with varying hair types who are experienced in locing and have their own way of getting the result they want.

For many, the best thing about the locing is knowing you can start at any of the stages, and when the day comes for you to face the mirror and see the outcome of your journey, the feeling is quite gratifying.

If you’re looking for hair treatment instead, then read through our article on the Top Keratin Hair Treatments to Fight Frizziness.


August 27, 2021 – Improved article formatting, reviewed and updated overall content

July 14, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.