What Are Dreadlocks? How To Make Dreadlocks, Maintenance, And Tips September 11, 2017

You know why dreadlocks have survived for thousands of years and will continue to stick around for thousands more? It’s because they are literally the coolest hairstyle to ever exist. But what are dreadlocks, you ask? Well, dreadlocks are rope-like clumps of hair formed by your hair getting matted together. Dreadlocks have historically been found to be associated with ancient Greek, Aztec, Senegalese, Buddhist, and Rastafari cultures. Though they are now mainly linked to African culture and identity, people from all races do sport their hair in dreadlocks.

Image: Shutterstock

While the most natural way to go about dreadlocking your hair is completely neglecting it by forgoing combing, brushing, and cutting your hair altogether (known as the ‘neglect method’), it takes years for these dreads to mature. However, there are a ton of ways that you can dreadlock your hair in a more uniform manner and that take much lesser time. While backcombing is the most popular of these methods, twisting and dread braiding are also some procedures that you can go in for.

So, are you ready to make all your dreadlock dreams come true? Then, just keep reading…

How To Make Dreadlocks

What You Need:

  • Residue-free shampoo
  • Blowdryer
  • Sectioning clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Fine toothed comb
  • Dread wax

Backcombing Method

  1. Wash Your Hair: I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to wash your hair with a good residue free shampoo before you dreadlock your hair. This shampoo removes all the grease and dirt deposits from your hair and makes sure that it doesn’t leave any residue of its own (the way a normal shampoo would).
  1. Blowdry Your Hair: Up, down, side to side – blowdry your hair from every direction possible. The key is to get as much volume as you possibly can into your hair. Also, you need to make sure there’s not a single strand of wet hair before your start dreadlocking.
  1. Start Sectioning: Part your hair horizontally a couple of inches above the nape of your neck. You can use sectioning clips to hold up the rest of your hair. Now, from one corner of this sectioned off hair, pick up about an inch wide section of hair.
  1. It’s Time To Backcomb: From about an inch below your roots, start backcombing this section towards your scalp. This will create a tangle that will be the foundation for your dreadlock. Continue backcombing this way while you move down the length of your hair until you reach the very ends.
  1. Start Twisting: Completely twist this backcombed section of hair until it forms a tight cylindrical shape.
  1. Apply Dread Wax: Rub a small amount of dread wax between your fingers and work it down the length of your dread while continuing to twist it. The aim is to smoothen down and bind together all the loose strands of hair.
  1. Palm Roll Your Dreadlock: Starting from your root, roll this waxed up dreadlock between the palms of your hands till the very ends until it’s nice and taut. Palm rolling is super important in not only forming your dreadlocks but also for maintaining them.
  1. Stagger Your Dreadlocks: Don’t try to follow an even and set pattern when making your dreadlocks. This will make your scalp look exposed. So stagger your locks to cover your scalp as much as possible and give the hair that full look.
  1. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Follow this procedure until you have dreadlocked all your hair.

Dread Braiding Method

  1. Wash Your Hair: Wash your hair with a residue-free shampoo to get rid of all the grease and dirt deposits from it.
  1. Dry Your Hair: You can blowdry your hair or you can simply let it air dry.
  1. Section Off Your Hair: Picking up 1 inch by 1 inch sections of hair at a time, you can section off all of your hair by tying them up with rubber bands at the roots.
  1. Braid Each Section: Braid all the individual sections of hair and secure them at the ends with rubber bands.
  1. Apply Wax And Palm Roll: Pick up one braid, apply wax to it and roll it between your palms until it forms a dreadlock. Repeat this step on all the braids.

Twist And Rip Method 

  1. Section Off All Your Hair: Divide all your hair into individual 1 inch by 1 inch sections and tie them up with rubber bands.
  1. Wash Your Hair: When washing your hair with residue-free shampoo, rub all your hair in one direction – either clockwise or anticlockwise.
  1. Let Your Hair Air Dry: Let your hair dry naturally until it is completely dry.
  1. Wax And Palm Roll: Rip apart each individual section of hair, apply dread wax to it and roll it between your palms until it forms a dreadlock.

You can remove the rubber bands from your dreadlocks about a month or so after making your dreadlocks, once your hair has really got a chance to lock and bind together.

Congratulations! You have successfully dreadlocked your hair! But, wait a minute… not to burst your bubble, but dreadlocks actually require a fair bit of upkeep and maintenance to keep them looking fresh and clean. Let’s look at how you can do that…

How To Maintain Dreadlocks

Let me start off by answering the question that is probably on everyone’s minds – yes, you can and you do need to wash your dreadlocks (think of how gross they would get otherwise, yuck!). But there are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to washing and maintaining your dreadlocks. Let’s discuss them one by one:

  1. Leave them unwashed the first week: Your dreadlocks are super delicate the first week after they have been made. Washing them at this point could loosen and unravel them. So, get yourself a big shower cap and stick your dreads in it when you take a shower during that first week. (For the love of God, do not forgo showering altogether just to protect your dreads).
  1. Always use residue free shampoo when washing your dreadlocks: You can wash your hair between one to three times a week after the first week of leaving it unwashed. It’s imperative that you use residue-free shampoo for two reasons. Firstly, normal shampoos leave behind residues that lubricate your hair and loosen your dreadlocks. Secondly (and this is pretty disgusting), this residue can really build up in your hair and form mold in your dreadlocks.
  1. Make sure your dreadlocks are completely dry: Whether you air dry or blowdry your dreadlocks, make sure they dry completely and right down to the center before you wash them again. Leaving them wet can really cause them to stink.
  1. Regular waxing and palm rolling: Whenever you feel like your dreadlocks are loosening up, apply some dread wax and palm roll them to tighten them up. You may have to do this every week or so when your dreads are in their early stages.

Now that you’ve gotten the regular maintenance of your dreadlocks down pat, here are some more tips that you can follow to give them the tender loving care that they deserve.

Tips: How Can You Take Better Care Of Your Dreadlocks?

This is how you can take better care of your precious dreadlocks:

  1. Conditioning spray: If you feel your scalp is getting too itchy and irritated, invest in a bottle of dread conditioning spray. This spray will add moisture to your scalp and help relieve the irritation.
  1. Dread balling: If you find some loose stray strands of hair coming out of your dreads, simply roll them into a ball and insert it into the nearest dreadlock using a crochet needle. Then, palm roll this dread to lock the dread ball in tightly.
  1. Sleep with a headscarf on: To prevent your dreadlocks from picking up all sorts of lint and fuzz from your pillow, tie them up in a headscarf (preferably a silk one) before going to sleep.
  1. Salt water spray: Salt water works excellently in tightening dreadlocks. You can make and store this in a spray bottle and spritz it on your dreads whenever they feel a little loose and lifeless.
  1. Use natural hair products: As much as possible, try to use natural hair products that don’t contain chemicals or leave behind residue to maintain the good health of your dreadlocks.
  1. Tighten new growth at roots: As your hair keeps growing, it is obvious that there will be some loose hair at the roots. To tighten them up again, rub some dread wax between your fingers and use them to roll your dreads right at the roots in a clockwise direction.
  1. Head massages are your best friend: You may experience some discomfort and irritation on your scalp from time to time owing to your dreadlocks weighing down heavily. To combat this, massage your scalp for at least 5-10 minutes daily before going to sleep. This can be especially relaxing if you can get a friend to do it to you!

Now that you know how to make dreadlocks at home and how to maintain them to look their best, what are you waiting for?! Go ahead and rock those dreads like no tomorrow! Have any more questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll sort you out!

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