Dreadlocks, how to start dreads
The most important things you need to know about starting dreadlocks is, the less you do the better. Many profit driven websites push brute force dreading, this can cause extreme harm to your dreads, delay dreading, and cost a great deal of money. The simplest, easuest ways to dread are free.
Natural, organic, neglect or freeform
- Natural dreading is the simplest, healthiest, and most rewarding way to grow dreadlocks. All hair wants to become dreads, all you need to do is let it.
- Natural dreads form by washing the hair , but not conditioning or combing, a dread shampoo is highly recomended. African hair types will still require some moisturizing to prevent brittleness.
- Natural dreads form organicly, they don't look forced or unatural, and they are completely undamayged by the process.
Although for most natural dreadlocks are the prefered way to grow dreads, not everyone has the patience or strength of charachter dreading naturally requires.
So other fairly safe methods exist that are fine alternatives, such as:
Twist and rip aka tnr dreads
- Twist and rip, sometimes called twist and pull or tnr, is a simple gentle method for starting dreads, it uses nothing but your hands.
- You can define the sections yourself, or let it naturally section (recomended)
- Simply twist a section (not tight) split into 2 unequal parts, pull so knots are pushed towards the roots, put back together split in a diferent random location, pull, the more random the better. Every 10-15 pulls retwist. It takes a bunch of split and pulls to get the base knots started, then goes much faster from there.
- The roots and tips maybe loose, this is fine. If you don't randomize enough they may look braid like for awhile, but thats ok, it goes away as they mature.
Twist and rip dreads arethe nextbest thing tonatural, there is little to no harm done, it givesthe sections a small head start (but often has no effect on overall dreading time)
Of all the force start methods twist and rip is the most recomended.
In african type hair however there are 2 recomendable methods besides natural/freeform
Twists, 2 strand twists
- Twisted style dreads work best in kinky or nappy hair, that will hold a twist easily (without waxes gels or products)
- You do not need to go to a salon or loctician it is easy to do yourself.
- You should never retwist, or interlick, or continually force tighten the roots, this causes traction alopecia, damaged scalp, thinning hair and balding.
- Twists can be done in relatively short hair, then all you need to do is wash them regularly with a dread shampoo.
Although starting dreads with twists or 2 strand twists is oerfectly fine, too many fall into the trap of retwisting causing an epidemic of traction alopecia in the african american community.
- Comb coils are best for the straighter variety of african textured hair.
- Comb coils are done by using a rat tailed or other type comb to twist the hair into tight lil coils, then when pulled out tend to hold together.
- Like twisted dreads avoid all "retightening" they tighten on their own.
Like twisted dreads those who start with comb coils often feel the need to overmaintain, leading to traction alopecia. Once you have them started just wash and wait.
- Backcombing is moderately damaging, wreaking havoc on the hairs cuticles damaging them permenently
- Backcomb does not require special kits, combs, or products. If your backcombing so agressively your hbreaking plastic combs, imagine what your doing to your hair!
- Backcombing can be done gently, slowly, and not too tightly, in fact, simply finger teasing the hair towards the scalp is enough.
Although backcombing is a popular method of dreading, because of the moderate damage even from gentle backcombing, it isn't a method i recomend, but nor is it bad enough to warn against.
Things to avoid while starting and maintaining dreads
The following methods, products, tools, and maintenance practices should be avoided at all costs.
Dread wax, bees wax, all wax containing products
- Wax has been the number 1 cause of dreads being cut in the past.
- Wax is a scam it glues the hair together making it look like its dreading fast, but prevents any new knots from forming because the hair can't move and tangle.
- Wax hardens making you think they are getting mature in just weeks, but all it does is makes them stiff, hard, sticky and dirty.
- Wax never washes out, without using a product like wax b gone because wax repels water, it can survive 10 years of washings if used only once or twice.
- Dreadwax traps water and dirt creating the perfect conditions for dread rot.
Dread wax used to be the cause of thousands and thousands of dreads being cut, 5 years ago when dreadlockssite started 1/2 the people who joined were wax victims, today its more like 1 in every 50. This is because sites like this give wax victims a place to tell thier stories.
Crochet hooks, latch hooks, and felting needles dread tools
- Crochet hooks and all dread tools break hairs by the thousands, creating the need to continue crocheting in the broken hairs you just created.
- Eventualy dread tools like crochet hooks and latch hooks can severely weaken dreads enough to break easily, without any visible signs of damage, in fact they look perfect, too perfect, till they break off.
- Felting needles are by far the worse, shreading every hair it touches into tiny peices and mashing them together into an extremely weak "felt"
- Dread tools tend to over tighten dreadsmaking them stiff, drasticly delaying dreading and often taking yearsto recover after only a single use (if tight)
Now that dread wax is well known to destroy dreadsm crochet hooks are used as a "no wax alternative" thats far more destructive and harder to recver from.
Interlocking, retwisting, root rubbing, and root tightening
- Tight roots compromise the bloodflow to the scalp, causing thinning and balding between dreads known as traction alopecia.
- Iinterlocking also creates weak "snap points' where the elasticity, the shock absorbtion is removed and that interlock point is a minumum of 35% weaker.
- Root rubbing has beenknown to pull 1/2 the hairs right out of the scalp.
- Dread roots will be loose for majny months thentighten on their own.. They only tighten as far as they should leaving a gap for movement room, and alowing the roots enough looseness to maintain healthy bloodflow.
Overtightened roots has caused an epidemic of traction alopecia amongst salon locs, especialy in the african american community. Salons push this look as "neat and tidy" the more scalp thats showing, the tighter the roots, and the more the alopecia has progressed the more they praise it.
Only 1% of all the locticians and salons in the world will refuse to cause balding, the rest encourage it.
Washing dreadlocks and minimal maintenance
Dreads need to be washed! Clean hair dreads best! Dreads do not need any maintenance however some minimal maintenance like separating can prevent future problems.
- Only wash dreads with a non residue, all natural shampoo containing no sulphates sulphides or harsh chemicals.
- Do not use conditioners or moisturizers during the 1st year unless your of asfrican descent, or if your dreads get extremely dry and brittle, dry hair with less slipery oils and conditioners dreads fastest
- Wash often! weekly at a minumum 2-3 times a week is even better (regardless of race). The only reason not to wash every day or 2 is because they take time to dry completely.
- Early on only wash the scalp letting the shampoo rinse through the hair, try not to rub the hair itself.
- Towel drying might create knots 1 day, another day destroy 3 months progress. It's bestto shake them out and sun/air/drip dry when you can, blow dry gently when you must.
Often locticians recomend not washing or even wetting the hair for up to a year! Some use dry shampoos wich are just corn starch, which absorbs oils, but then needs to be combed out!
It istrue the 1st few washes if yiu manualy start your dreAds as aposed to naturally dreading, they will loosen, maybe even alot. But do not worry, washing is the only thing you ever needed to do to dread, if they loosen, or fall apart, they will dread back up soon enough.
Ripping, popping, separating to prevent huge congo dreads
- Separating, sometimes called ripping or popping is the only recomended maintenance.
- Simply feel around for dreads that are combining at the roots, that have "hair bridges" between them, or sections that are forming too big (over an inch at the scalp) and pull them away from eachother ripping or popping the connected hairs.
- Separate your dreads often, preferably while wet, and it will not hurt. Wait too long and it might hurt a bit.
This covers basicly all you really need to know to have amazing dreadlocks, but if you have questions, post them below.
Creator and head dreadhead at:
Glider pilot student at:
Freedoms wings international
updated by @soaring-eagle: 06/03/15 10:43:02AM