Dreadlocks have important cultural significance and can make an impressive visual statement. The care you put into starting them greatly determines how they look when they are mature. Read on to learn how to start dreads and how to maintain them.
hoW TO START DREADS: A QUICK OVERVIEW OF THE PROCESS
Every person who wants to know how to start dreads has a unique idea of what they want their hair to look like in the end. For most of us, this means healthy, clean, tightly knotted hair. There is a myth that dreads form on their own as a result of laziness, but, as you will see, the reality is that they require a lot of time and care. The process involves sectioning the hair, encouraging it to form in locks, and maintaining the look as it grows.
This is one of the most popular methods because, when done properly, it will give you instant dreads and does not damage your hair. You will need:
► A dreading comb
► Rubber bands
► Dread wax
► Dread Shampoo
Step 1: Organize a Dread Party
The process is time consuming and involves working at the back of your scalp, so we recommend that you start your dreads with the help of some friends. When possible, invite people who have dreads themselves and are knowledgeable about the process. Provide some nice snacks and good music to make the event fun, and let them know you appreciate their help.
Step 2: Wash Your Hair
Clean hair will go into the dreads faster. After washing with shampoo, do not apply conditioner or other products. The goal is to make your hair less oily so that it doesn’t fall out of the knots. Allow your hair to dry completely.
Step 3: Section Your Hair
Be careful with this step, because the sections will forever map out how the dreads grow on your head. Create 1-inch by 1-inch squares on your scalp and secure them with rubber bands. You can alter the dimensions of the squares if you want thicker or thinner dreads. You can choose either to have an empty line going down the middle of your head, or more commonly, a row of dreads.
Step 4: The Backcombing
Hold each section of hair at the end and use your comb to run through it backwards, 1 inch at a time, starting from the scalp. Do this so that tight knots begin to form. If the knots aren’t tight enough initially, you will need to repair them later. This can be frustrating and does not lead to the best look.
Step 5: Roll the Sections as you Backcomb
Doing so will make the dreads turn out round. If you backcomb only on one side, you will get flat, two-dimensional dreads.
Step 6: Secure the Ends of the Dreads with a Rubber Band
Rubber bands are necessary to keep the dreads in place as they mature. You can usually take them out after about 3 months.
Step 7: Apply Wax
You can use either wax that is specially made for dreads, beeswax molding paste, or locking gel. Avoid products that contain petroleum jelly. As you maintain your dreads, apply the wax every two to four weeks; but only when you notice that all of the wax you previously applied has dried up.
Step 8: Roll the Dreads
Roll your new dreads every day to maintain a round, frizz-free appearance and help new growth lock into the knots. Tuck in any loose hairs that you notice.
HOW TO STart dreads with three other methods
Image source: Pexels
Twisting or Braiding
After you have sectioned your hair, create either twists or braids. This method requires some maintenance because the ends might unravel. Also, in the case of twists, it could take 6 months to 1 year for the pattern to disappear. For braids, the pattern may never go away entirely.
One approach is to wash your hair and never detangle it. Some people prefer the free nature of this method. One thing to note is that you can never know how your hair will turn out.
If you want to skip the starting phase, you can have dread extensions put in at a salon. As your natural hair grows, it will lock into the extensions, just as it would if you made the dreads yourself. One downside is that you won’t have the full dreading experience or be able to relate to others in the dreaded community who did.
MAINTAINING YOUR DREAD
Washing Your Hair
Use shampoo that is free of added scents or any agents that can leave a residue. Due to the nature of dreadlocks, any residue can build up over time and damage your hair. Some shampoos are specifically formulated for dreadlocks. You should wash your hair once a week.
Allow Hair to Dry Fully Before You Go to Sleep
If you sleep with wet dreads, mildew will start to grow inside them. No one wants that! Wash your hair in the morning so that it has plenty of time to dry.
Use either specially formulated moisturizer for dreads or a mix of 3 parts aloe vera juice to 1 part coconut or almond oil. Keeping your dreads moisturize will ensure that they stay healthy and prevent breakage.
Sleep in a Silk Cap
This will keep the dreads from breaking and ensure that they stay moisturized.
DREADS IN HISTORY
There are many different cultures that have embraced dreadlocks throughout history. One example is the Maasai Tribe, whose warriors wear thin dreadlocks that they dye red. Many Maasai live in Kenya and Tanzania. Another example is the Rastafarian culture, a group of religious people that originated during the slave trade in Jamaica.
DREADS IN MORE RECENT HISTORY
With the popularity of reggae music in the 1970s, dreadlocks started to become more common. In the following decades, dreads have been worn by people subscribing to various sub-cultures, including cyber-goths, New Age Travelers, Crust Punks and Rainbow Family members. Many professional athletes, especially in the NFL, have also adopted the look.
Now that you understand how to start dreads, it is time to get started. Approach the process with patience and enjoy. Remember that once you have dreads, you will be part of a “dreaded” community that has an important history of cultural expression.