I decided to do my hair in dreadlocks last month for a couple reasons. One is that I just have always loved the natural look of them and the second is kind of a private spiritual one for me. I also want to be as natural as possible and many shampoos, hair products and so on contain many kinds of chemicals. In a way, dreadlocks (or “dreads” how I prefer to refer to them as) are a frugal hair style. I no longer need to buy shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, hair ties, hair treatments, or even get hair cuts. I have had many questions asked of me on my short journey and I wanted to take some time to answer them. (Scroll to the bottom of the post to see my dreads 3 years later!)
Dreadlock Q & A
Do you wash your hair? Yes, I actually wash it about once every 3 days. Truthfully, this is about as often as I washed my hair pre-dread because my hair is somewhat dry. And, hair will actually not dread up or mature as well if it is not clean.
What do you use to wash your dreads? I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and water. I don’t condition it and I don’t use regular shampoos because they contain sulfates and chemicals and I don’t want a film left behind on my dreads. Some people, mostly with hard water say that DR. Bronner’s can leave a buildup. I haven’t really experienced that. You can buy special shampoos for dreadlocks, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I have also used just regular shampoo on occasion, but I don’t recommend it for long term use simply because it can leave some buildup. If you want to use shampoo that is readily available in most stores, I recommend a clarifying shampoo or at least one that is sulfate free.
How did you get them to start dreading? There are several techniques. I used the backcomb method. I sectioned my hair off into parts about an inch thick. I used a dog’s comb with metal teeth on it to carefully and tightly backcomb each section. I used the metal toothed comb because it can be hard on a plastic comb to do it as tight as you need it. This fell out after a couple of weeks and I just let it. I decided to go with a ‘neglect’ method of just washing, separating and repeating, gently at first.
This is a great video that tells you the different ways you can start:
Don’t they smell bad? Actually, no. As I stated, I wash them. They actually currently smell like almonds because I used the Dr Bronner’s Almond scented soap.
Why do they look frizzy still? They are what dreadheads like to refer to as “baby dreads”. The fully mature dread most people think of is a process. This can take anywhere from 6 Months to a year (or longer) to start to mature. Having dreads is quite a commitment!
How long was your hair? How long does it need to be? I had hair halfway down my back in layers. Most people will recommend that you have at least 3-4 inches of hair to work with. they will shrink. I had so much shrinkage that I went from having long hair to chin length. They do grow back out again, though.
Aren’t dreads a hairstyle for African Americans? Dreadlocks are a style for anyone! Anyone’s hair will dread up because that is what all hair naturally does if untouched by a comb. Some textures are ideal for creating dreads, but it is not true that others have to work to create them or that they shouldn’t have them because of race or ancestry. If you are concerned, try to do some research on it so you can decide for yourself. (I don’t want to link to any research because I don’t want to be biased.)
Did you use wax? No. I had heard that it could be a giant mess so I never wanted the wax in my hair. Wax is not necessary and it attracts link and creates buildup. IF you started with wax, wash it out and start over.
What did your dreads look like over the past month or so since you put them in?
Here are some pictures of how they changed over the past month:
Right after I backcombed:
Week 4 (1 month) Front and back:
Will you have to shave your head if you decide you don’t want them anymore? No. Actually, I can just use a lot of conditioner and take some time and slowly comb them out.
Do you have any more questions for me about starting dreads or dreads in general? I would love to hear them in the comments!
I have had my dreadlocks for a year now and let me tell you, get ready for shrinkage! You can see how long my hair was before, well check it out now! I plan on keeping my dreadlocks a lot longer and I am happy with how they are progressing at this stage.
Update! 8/4/17- I have had my dreadlocks for a little over 3 years now. I wanted to update my post so everyone could see my progression. This is simply wash, separate and repeat. No special maintenance, no special products or shampoo. My hair is up in a pony in this picture, though, so keep in mind that my dreads are no longer shrinking and are actually close to my original hair length again of about below the shoulder blades down my back.