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How to Get Dreads: Complete Guide to Methods, Care & History (2024)

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how to get dreadsEmbarking on the journey to get dreads is a bold step towards expressing your individuality and embracing a hairstyle with deep cultural roots and significance.

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of interlocking, the simplicity of palm rolling, or the instant transformation offered by crochet faux locs, this guide is your comprehensive roadmap.

We’ll navigate through the various methods to start dreadlocks, delve into essential maintenance tips, and explore the rich history behind this iconic style.

If you’re ready to command your look with power and mastery, let’s unlock the secrets to achieving and caring for your dreadlocks.

Yes, to get dreads, you can start with methods like comb coils, backcombing, or twist and rip, and maintain them with regular washing, drying, and moisturizing.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right method for starting dreadlocks based on hair texture, length, and desired result, as different methods suit different hair types and yield varying appearances.
  • Avoid using wax when creating dreadlocks, as it can cause buildup and hinder the locking process.
  • Maintain dreadlocks by washing them at an appropriate frequency, encouraging knotting, and using tools like palm rolling and crochet hooks for upkeep without causing hair breakage or scalp irritation.
  • For dreadlock removal, a gentle and time-consuming process of saturating, picking apart, washing, detangling, and conditioning is recommended to minimize damage to the hair.

Method 1: Interlocking

Method 1: Interlocking
Interlocking is your go-to method if you’re aiming for dreadlocks that stay put with a polished look. Imagine using a crochet tool or just your nimble fingers to weave magic, pulling the tip of your loc through the base at your scalp.

It’s like doing a little dance with your hair, where each step tightens the roots and keeps everything looking sharp and tidy. But, like dancing in stilettos all night, there’s a catch. Go too hard on the interlocking, and you might end up with a sore scalp.

It’s all about finding that sweet spot – enough to keep your locs in line without turning your scalp into a battleground. This method is a testament to the delicate balance between dreadlock neatness and the health of your scalp.

So, wield that crochet tool wisely, or let your fingers do the work with just the right touch, ensuring your dreadlock journey is both stylish and scalp-friendly.

Method 2: Palm Rolling

Method 2: Palm Rolling
Moving from the intricate technique of interlocking, let’s dive into the world of palm rolling—a method that’s all about simplicity and rhythm. Picture this: you’re sitting back, your favorite tunes playing in the background, as you gently roll your locs between the palms of your hands.

It’s almost therapeutic, right? Palm rolling is like giving your dreadlocks a little spa day, using either dread wax or a lighter gel to coax those frizzy rebels back into line. It’s a dance of patience and care, where a little goes a long way—think less is more, like using just a dab of wax, no bigger than an M&M, to avoid that gunky buildup nobody wants.

But here’s the kicker: while palm rolling is your go-to for keeping those locs looking sharp and reducing that dreaded frizz, it’s a delicate balance. Too much zeal and you might find yourself on the slippery slope to hair thinning.

It’s all about that gentle touch, like handling a fragile treasure. And let’s not forget, this method isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a nod to the roots of dreadlock culture, embracing the journey of your hair and the stories it tells.

So, as you roll and twist, remember it’s not just about taming those locks; it’s about connecting with a tradition that’s as old as time, all while keeping your scalp happy and healthy. After all, who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too? With palm rolling, you’re mastering the art of maintenance, ensuring your dreads stay neat without compromising on their health.

Just remember, moderation is key—because in the world of dreadlocks, too much of a good thing can indeed be a bit too much.

Method 3: Backcombing

Method 3: Backcombing
Moving from palm rolling to backcombing, you’re stepping into a method that’s a bit more intense but can give your locs that volume and texture you’re craving.

  1. Backcombing Benefits: It’s the go-to for creating that initial tangle and matting of hair, especially if you’re starting with hair that’s at least 6 inches long. You’ll get that volume and texture that makes locs look full and lively.

  2. Backcombing Challenges: It’s not a walk in the park; backcombing requires a gentle touch to avoid scalp damage. Plus, it can be harsh on your hair if done too frequently, so moderation is key.

  3. Backcombing Scalp Health: Keep an eye on your scalp’s health. If you’re too heavy-handed, you might end up with more than just a headache – think long-term damage.

Method 4: Two Strand Twists

Method 4: Two Strand Twists
Continuing from the backcombing method, let’s dive into the world of two-strand twists. This technique is a breeze compared to the more intensive backcombing. You’ll start by sectioning your hair into squares—think of it as your canvas for creating those neat, twisted ropes.

Now, here’s where the magic happens: take each section and divide it into two. Twist these parts around each other like a dance, where tension control is key. Too tight, and you risk breakage; too loose, and they might unravel like a poorly kept secret.

Two-strand twists aren’t just about the twist and shout; they’re a statement of style and a nod to hair health. They’re versatile enough to suit various hair lengths and textures, and with a little patience, they can evolve into mature locs.

But remember, while they’re low maintenance, don’t get it twisted—neglect can lead to tangles and scalp woes. So, whether you’re using the crochet method or the two-strand twist method, keep an eye on those twists.

Method 5: Crochet Faux Locs

Method 5: Crochet Faux Locs
Transitioning from the method of Two Strand Twists, we now delve into the world of Crochet Faux Locs, a technique that’s been catching the eye of many for its ease and versatility. Crochet Faux Locs offer a unique blend of style and practicality, making them a popular choice for those looking to experiment with their hair without the long-term commitment of traditional locs.

This method involves pulling and knotting small sections of hair using a crochet hook, a process that’s not only quick but also offers a range of styling options.

Crochet Faux Locs stand out for their crochet maintenance ease, allowing for a hairstyle that’s both stylish and straightforward to manage. The crochet installation process is relatively quick, making it an attractive option for those with a busy lifestyle.

Moreover, the durability and versatility of crochet faux locs mean you can enjoy a variety of looks without frequent visits to the salon. Despite their popularity, it’s crucial to remember that like any hairstyle, they require proper care to avoid scalp irritation and tangling.

For those considering this method, it’s easy to start, and with the right care, your locs can remain neat and healthy. Whether you’re drawn to locs with braids or the simplicity of crochet faux locs, this method offers a blend of ease, style, and versatility that’s hard to beat.

Remember, while dreadlock removal can be a process, with crochet faux locs, you have the flexibility to change up your look with minimal fuss.

Dreadlock Maintenance

Dreadlock Maintenance
Maintaining your dreadlocks involves finding the right balance in washing frequency and encouraging knotting to keep them healthy and looking their best.

You’ll want to wash your locs regularly to prevent buildup and promote locking, but the exact frequency can vary based on your hair type and lifestyle.

Washing Frequency

After transitioning from the topic of Crochet Faux Locs, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of dreadlock maintenance, specifically washing frequency.

You’ve got your locs looking sharp, but to keep them that way, you’ll need to strike a balance with your washing routine. Over-washing can lead to hair breakage, while under-washing might invite mildew—nobody wants their head smelling like a damp basement.

Aim for a happy medium: washing your dreadlocks around once a week with a residue-free shampoo. This keeps your scalp healthy without stripping away those natural oils that your hair loves. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint; maintaining those locs is all about the long game.

Use hair accessories like duck bill clips for hair sectioning during the wash, and always dry thoroughly to prevent any unwanted funk.

Encouraging Knotting

To maintain your dreads and encourage knotting, it’s crucial to follow a few key steps that promote healthy hair growth and prevent damage.

  1. Knotting Techniques: Utilize methods like palm rolling and clockwise rubbing to encourage new growth to knot and lock up. Be gentle to avoid scalp irritation and hair breakage.
  2. Preventing Hair Breakage: Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the roots, and use a crochet hook carefully to integrate loose hairs without causing tension.
  3. Avoiding Scalp Irritation: Choose sulfate-free shampoos and organic dread care products to maintain a healthy scalp environment, preventing itchiness and flakiness.
  4. Encouraging Natural Oils: Use natural oils like avocado, castor, and essential oils to keep the scalp and dreads moisturized, promoting healthy hair growth.

Dreadlock Removal

Dreadlock Removal
When it’s time to bid farewell to your dreads, the process of dreadlock removal is crucial to minimize damage and preserve your hair’s health. You’ve nurtured your locs to mature, ensuring moisture retention and odor prevention, but now you’re ready for a change.

Step Tool Tips
1. Saturate Water & Conditioner Dampen the locs to soften them, making them easier to work with.
2. Pick Apart Comb or Crochet Hook Use the right size tool to gently tease out the knots without tugging too hard.
3. Wash Clarifying Shampoo Cleanse your hair to remove any residue that might hinder the process.
4. Detangle Wide-tooth Comb Work slowly from the tips up to avoid unnecessary breakage.
5. Condition Deep Conditioner Restore moisture to your hair after the stress of detangling.

Starting Dreadlocks

Starting Dreadlocks
When you’re ready to embark on your dreadlock journey, it’s crucial to choose a starting method that suits your hair type and desired look.

Avoiding wax in your dreads is also essential, as it can hinder the locking process and lead to buildup.

Choosing the Right Method

Choosing the right method to start your loc journey is like picking the perfect pair of shoes—it’s got to fit just right.

If you’re eyeing those thick locs or aiming to join the natural hair community, sectioning hair is your first step to freedom.

Now, let’s talk shop: crochet tools are your friends for some methods, but when it comes to wax usage, it’s a no-go zone.

Whether you’re twisting up locs with two-strand twists or leaning towards the braiding method, remember, your hair’s health is the real MVP. So, keep it light, keep it tight, but not too tight, or you’ll be singing the breakage blues.

And hey, if you’re in it for the long haul, remember that hair growth is a marathon, not a sprint.

Wax and Its Effects

When considering how to get dreads, it’s important to understand the role of wax and its effects on dreadlock maturation.

  • Wax can hinder the locking process: It coats the hair, slowing down the natural maturation of locs.
  • Traps moisture: Wax can seal in moisture, which might lead to mildew or an unpleasant odor.
  • Difficult to remove: Once in your dreads, wax can be stubborn to wash out, potentially causing buildup.
  • May cause damage: Excessive use of wax can lead to damage, as it attracts dirt and can lead to residue buildup.
  • Consider alternatives: Instead of wax, consider using natural products like aloe vera gel for a healthier approach to maintaining your dreads.

Caring for Dreadlocks

Caring for Dreadlocks
Caring for your dreadlocks is like nurturing a garden; you’ve got to tend to it regularly to see it flourish. Keep your scalp health in check by massaging it to stimulate hair growth and using maintenance tools like a crochet hook for tidying up those rebellious strands.

Remember, your locs are as unique as you are, and their styling techniques should reflect your personal flair while respecting their cultural significance.

When it comes to maintenance, don’t overdo it. Over-washing can strip away natural oils, and over-twisting can lead to thinning locs. Instead, wash your hair 2-4 times a week with a dread-friendly shampoo and roll your dreads daily to keep their shape.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try out some new styling techniques, but always listen to your hair—if it’s screaming for a break, give it one.

And let’s not forget about those tools! A trusty crochet hook can be your best friend for loc maintenance, helping you tuck away loose hairs and keep your dreads looking sharp. So, keep your toolkit handy, and your locs will thank you with healthy growth and undeniable swagger.

The Evolution of Dreadlocks

The Evolution of Dreadlocks
The evolution of dreadlocks is a tale as old as time, woven through the fabric of ancient history and cultural significance. These knotted tresses have journeyed across millennia, from the spiritual locks of Indian ascetics and Egyptian pharaohs to the proud Maori warriors and the regal Maasai tribes.

They’ve been a canvas for personal expression, a declaration of freedom from societal norms, and a symbol of spiritual meaning.

Dreadlocks have danced through history, making a global impact that resonates with the beat of resistance and the melody of diversity. They’ve been embraced by Rastafarians as a sacred testament to their faith and by countercultures as a badge of non-conformity.

So, as you twist and twine your hair into these ancient ropes, remember you’re not just crafting a hairstyle; you’re continuing a tradition that has echoed through the ages. It’s a journey of self-discovery, a path walked by many before you, each with their own unique tale.

Embrace the knots, for they aren’t just a part of your hair, they’re a part of history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I bleach or dye my dreads, and should I do it before or after I lock up?

Yes, you can bleach or dye your dreads. It’s easier and less damaging to do so before they’re locked up, as the process can dry out and damage the hair, making it more receptive to locking.

If you choose to dye or bleach after locking, wait until they’re fully mature, around 10-12 weeks, and avoid using the conditioner that comes with the dye kit to prevent harm to your dreads.

My hair is thick; is this good or bad for starting dreads? What about Asian hair?

Thick hair is a canvas ready for the art of dreads, offering a sturdy foundation for robust locs.

Asian hair, while sleek, can be sculpted into dreads with patience and skill.

I have short, silky hair that tends to slide out when I try to dread it. What can I do to make the dreading process successful?

For short, silky hair that’s slippery, try backcombing and using a crochet hook for grip.

Avoid wax; it hinders locking.

Patience is key—dreads are a journey, not a sprint!

Are newly formed dreads presentable, or should I plan for a period where they don’t look as neat?

Newly formed dreads can be a wild ride, like a rollercoaster of texture and rebellion, embodying your quest for freedom and mastery over the conventional.

Initially, they mightn’t be the neatest, resembling more a storm than calm seas, but that’s part of their charm. They’re a testament to your patience and adaptability, evolving from unruly beginnings to majestic locks.

So, yes, plan for a period where they look like they’re finding their way, because they are. But remember, each twist and turn is a step closer to the powerful statement you’re destined to make.

Will using a blow dryer help set and dry the dreads after applying wax, and does it aid in the dreading process?

Using a blow dryer can indeed help set and dry your dreads after applying wax. It melts the wax into your dreads, ensuring it’s evenly distributed and removing any excess.

However, remember to use it wisely to avoid damage.


Imagine you’re embarking on a journey, much like Alex did when they decided to embrace their individuality through dreadlocks.

They explored methods from interlocking to crochet faux locs, finding the perfect fit for their lifestyle and hair type.

Now, as you’ve learned how to get dreads, remember the importance of regular care and understanding the rich history behind them.

Embrace this transformative style with confidence, adapting your routine as needed to keep your dreads looking and feeling great.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.