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beginners guide to starting dreadlocks

☮ soaring eagle ॐ
3 years ago
27,271 posts

so your ready to start dreadlocks but not sure where to start?

you probably have questions like:

  • should i go to a salon to start my dreads?
  • do i need a dread kit to start my dreadlocks?
  • can i wash my baby locs?
  • do i need wax to dread i heard its bad, but some sites say you need wax?
  • what alternatives are there to dread wax?
  • how long does it take to dread?
  • whats the healthiest or best way to start dreads?

well here i will answer all these questions and many more.

should you go to a salon? absolutely not! (i will be fair and include legitimate reasons to consider a salon)

1st a few facts, salons are in the business of creating a dread look, byt at the same time they tend to despise the dread look of real dreads. they use brute (and damaging) force to create a neat and tidy dread like thing, but recommend not washing or even wetting for up to a year! then only washing when you make an appointment. they schedule "re tightening" visits typically twice a month..forever these often lead to balding in the form of traction alopecia from over tightening the roots. salons use destructive methods like wax crochet interlocking and some (rare) even say wax is bad so we use liquid latex instead..yup..rubber 1000 times worse then wax (all these will be covered later in this post) salons make it harder to dread so they can keep you coming back over and over salons can cost from 50-800 or more to start then 5-150 every 2 weeks for life

legit reasons to go to a salon;

you have no hands

you work as an investment banker and live in fear of judgment and don't care if the dreads last

do you need a dread kit? absolutely not!

dread kits are a scam dread kits cost 70-90 and include a flea comb (1-3 dollars from a pet store) wax (only good for waterproofing boots or starting fires) accelerator (they charge 10-15 bucks for 2 cents worth of salt) a crochet hook (pure destruction) a loose hair tool (good for harpooning whales bad for dreads) (please don't harpoon whales!) rubber bands (useless and harmful) some kits contain a 'lock docta" a felting needle that shreds every hair it touches into tiny pieces if used too much it can actually turn your hair into a fine powder! and a dvd with all the worse advice there is 95% of kit users ca;l themselves victims around 90% get cut within 1st 3-4 years

can u wash locs absolutely the only thing u need to do to dread is to wash

wash weekly at a min 2-3 times a weeks better just not daily cause they dry slowly the more u wash the faster they lock

do you need wax? no you need to stay away from wax


  • dread wax just glues hair together to resemble dreads but this prevents any new knots from forming..ever
  • dread wax hardens over time giving the impression that they are maturing (with constant palm rolling to compress hair in wax)
  • wax never washes out! what you put in is in forever unless you use a product like wax b gone to remove it
  • wax traps dirt and water and causes dread rot mold and mildew
  • dread wax makes dreads stinky stiff and hard

what alternatives to dread wax? is being stabbed in the heart a good alternative to being shot in the head? you want no alternatives to wax nothing sticky stiff nothing to hold but the knots themselves.

1 exception aloe vera gel from the plant or food grade (only ingredient aloe nothing else at all)

aloe can tame frizz or condition but in new dreads it will slow progress (not as much as wax) so only use for formal events or job interviews

how long does it take to dread? well this needs clarification

to reach maturity it takes 1-2 years typically regardless of method used to start

to begin to dread well contrary to popular belief starting with instant dreads takes longer!

crochet takes 6 months to recover from 1 use and start to dread

wax well depends how it was used but can drastically delay even prevent any dreading even after 10 years

natural dreads and twist n rip or backcomb generally progress around the same speed (for most some rare few are slower)

whats the best or healthiest way to start dreads?

the answers simple use as little force as needed.

so that means the natural aka neglect aka freeform or organic way. just stop combing and conditioning and let it dread itself (yes its that simple! why would you need a salon or kit?) as dreads form separate to prevent them from combining or forming too big

next best way is twist n rip (in any hair type) or twist or coils in african type hair but do not retwist! that leads to balding

backcomb is another option however it does damage the hair permanently


minimal is best all maintenance is harmful, the more you do and the more aggressive it is the worse it is for dreads. crochet is horrible! interlocking too, even palm rolling does permanent harm (and nothing good)

minimal maintenance includes washing and separating, nothing more, if your professional life demands more use the least aggressive methods and as rarely as possible (every 3-6 months, if you do weekly or daily maintenance your dreads won't last long at all)

washing dreads:

all you need to dread is to wash right (and dry right)

washing with shampoo use a dread shampoo (not dreadheadhq that's highly toxic) we recommend highly but there's many other options at

when washing young dreads (any method) scrub just the scalp carefully ignoring the hair let it rinse through the hair cleaning as it flows through.

older dreads you can do the same or wash the whole dread when extra dirty

new dreads especially neglect method may benefit from using a no touch method (not dry shampoo!) like the baking soda apple cider vinegar method:

1 cup baking soda to 10 cups water (add any esential oils needed)

pour over wet dreads and scalp

no scrubbing needed

wait 10 minutes then rinse well

mix 1-2 spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar in 10 cups water

pour on and rinse right away

mature dreads can use this for a monthly deep cleanse but mix 1 cup acv instead of 2 spoonfuls and soak 3 minutes before rinsing.

to dry air or sun dry (no towel)

or blow dry gently on cool low setting

cold water rinses help with dandruff

oily hair skip the acv till less oily then slowly resume once less oily

sectioning and separating:

hair typically sections itself in 1st week or 2 of going natural (not combing) if you want to pre-section never section larger then 1 inch at the scalp a mixture of thick (1 inch) and thin (1/4 inch or smaller) and medium looks most natural

when dreading whether natural or not they will want to try to combine into larger dreads, never twist them! that tightens the roots too much and causes traction alopecia and balding, instead, when wet, pull them apart ripping or 'popping" the connecting hairs.

dreads thicken as they mature.

loose hairs loose roots loose tips:

dreads are loose hairs allowed, not forced to knot up and dread, typically early on the roots and tips are loose up to 3, even 4 inches, as they mature that tightens to 1/2 inch

the tips in african hair will blunt on their own, but other types might not.

its best in other types if they don't as blunted tips make a dread that takes 6 hours to dry when tips are loose take 36 hours when blunted.

loose hair at the scalp will become a new dread when long enough, or join an existing dread.

loose hairs along the body of the dread are normal (except in african hair the tight curls make them dread smooth) if you crochet to pull them in you break hairs that pop out making it require more crochet to fix a problem your causing.

ok i said id cover the harmful methods too


every interlock point is 30% weaker, or more , plus has no elasticity no shock absorption so it becomes a "snap point" more easily broken

it over tightens the roots severely causing traction alopecia and balding


causes a too perfect therefore fake looking dread, thats severely damaged and breaks very easily.

one use delays progress 6 months

it can take over a year to lose the harsh crocheted look.

during recovery they can be extremely frizzy from the broken hairs.

alters the texture so you crochet forever to keep an even look

wax already covered above

dreaded dread perms:

fries the hair severely damaging it (they think only damaged hair dreads)

permanently alters the texture of the permed parts so the new healthy growth looks different.

for this reason many chop off the permed parts once they grow in.

latch hooking:

possibly worse then interlocking and crochet with the disadvantages of both.


the worse thing you can ever do to dreads

a felt is made by "felting" wool using a felting needle it shreds the wool into tiny pieces that cling together by the tattered ends.

the result is extremely weak and may break under its own weight.

please post your questions or any other tips i missed below

and if you like this guide share it on all your favorite social networks for others considering dreads.

i'm not just the dreadlockssite founder, but a client as well (ok that was a spoof on the "hair club for men" advertisement for all who don't know. a hair transplant company)

Creator and head dreadhead at:
Dreadlocks Site
Abuse counselor at:
Expose The Abuse (coming soon)

updated by @soaring-eagle: 02/14/15 03:27:04AM
the Barrellady
3 years ago
1,302 posts

The hair club for dreads! This is a fantastic post for the beginners.

☮ soaring eagle ॐ
3 years ago
27,271 posts

thnx guess i should feature ut

Creator and head dreadhead at:
Dreadlocks Site
Abuse counselor at:
Expose The Abuse (coming soon)
Jayke Watson
3 years ago
118 posts
This would be a wonderful introduction to the book ;) just saying
3 years ago
58 posts
All the info we needed. Thank you so much.
3 years ago
21 posts

very nicely written i think it was about time or a recap. But i would like to mention a Warning about using the BS AcV rinse, and that is that using baking soda without neutralizing it with applecider vinegar cancause extreme drying, itchy scalp, breakage, and most definitely irreversible damage. If used improperly (wrong ratio) you willconfuse your scalpcausing it to produce more oil due to the high alkaline base of baking soda, id rather wash with dirt. all baking soda does is oxygenate the hair deodorizing it, and is an abrasivecleansing it of shampoo residue, though in itself will leave a residue of baking soda, even after using apple cider vinegar. dirt and dust willcome out without detergents, only oils requires detergent, or dust...
have you ever know mud to leave a stain on clothing?

Personally im back on the Broners, it may leave a gumm in my hair but with some acv and a bit of dust from playing outside, it goes away.

3 years ago
133 posts

Love this post SE, you really know how to explain what to do well, really like your natural ideas with Aloevera etc. I'm so happy with how my dreads r going, Thank you for all the helpfull tips you have given me in the past.

3 years ago
5 posts

awsome article!

☮ soaring eagle ॐ
3 years ago
27,271 posts


Creator and head dreadhead at:
Dreadlocks Site
Abuse counselor at:
Expose The Abuse (coming soon)
3 years ago
5 posts

Wow thanks, this post is really helpful!

I have a question.. When I separate my dreads a tiny bit of hairs break... is this harmful? I make sure not to overdo it, but my hair knots really easy, so it tends to grow together ;)

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