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frequently asked questions

what should i do about loose roots?

nothing. roots require room to move to dread, so loose roots are not a problem that need fixing. typically, young dreads have up to 3 inches of undreaded hair at the roots; as they mature this usually gets reduced to about 1/2 inch. this undreaded space is healthy, and efforts to dread the hair too close to the scalp are counterproductive and damaging! methods like interlocking, over-twisting and root rubbing can weaken dreads and even cause them to break. roots never need maintenance or "tightening".

what should i do about loose tips?

nothing. loose tips are actually better then blunted tips. why? because water runs right out the ends, so drying time is drastically reduced. a dread with a blunt tip takes longer to dry then a loose tip, the difference can be as drastic as 6-36 hours, blunt tips just hold more water inside longer. but, if you insist on blunt tips, they can form naturally, or by rubbing the tip against your palm, by crocheting the tips, or by pushing the loose hairs up inside themselves and binding there with thread for weeks. there are other ways as well.

what should i do about loose hairs?

nothing. loose hairs are healthy! they protect the scalp from the elements (sun, wind etc) and you can create new baby dreads when you have enough loose hairs close together to form a section. for special occasions, you can temporarily smooth them out with a bit of aloe, but in general they should be left alone. if they become excessive, wrapping them around the roots of the closest dread will encourage them to get sucked in.

what should i do about loops and zigzags?

nothing. loops and zigzags and bumps are a normal part of the process. they're a sign that your hair is dreading! think about how hair dreads... it needs to move around so it can form tangles and knots. loops are just knots that are in the process of forming. don't mess with them! they will tighten up and sort themselves out as the dreads mature.

my new dreads are messy/loose/unravelling! help!

relax, breathe, and repeat this mantra: "what my hair is doing is normal and i accept that it's all part of the process." your hair has spent its entire life being combed, brushed, conditioned and undreaded... so it's going to take time for it to learn how to dread up and stay that way, right? if you keep your hair clean and your sections separated, dreads WILL happen, but you need to give them time to get there. remember, only time makes dreads. it's normal for baby dreads to knot, unknot, shift around, loop, knot up again, loosen up, and so on. your dreads are in the process of being born, so don't mess with them. just honour the process, stop micro-managing them, and have faith that they'll turn out great. they will! for more motivation and inspiration, read the post "dreading the first weeks of dreading".

how often should i wash my dreads?

there is no right answer. you want your scalp and hair to be clean, while still allowing enough time between for complete drying. (moisture stuck inside dreads leads to mildew and rot!) also, oily hair will become less oily over time if you wash less often! once, twice or three times a week is optimal for most people, but if you're just starting out, wash 1 day after you start to feel like you need to. this will get you used to washing little less then usual. but there's never any reason to not wash your dreads... clean hair dreads best. just make sure they have enough time to dry out completely between washings.

how much should I dilute Dr Bronners to use as shampoo?

Dilute it heavily! At least 12-1. Dr Bronners is very concentrated soap. For some people, especially if you have hard water in your area, it leaves a sticky filmy residue after washing, so use the baking soda wash instead. See our washing guide under Dread Maintenance for more information.

should i use wax?

absolutely not! dread wax does nothing good for dreads, any advantage is purely illusion, it makes hair get glued together to look like dreads, but slows the real dreading drastically in fact, without a ton of work, palm rolling and rubbing for hours, the hair cannot move and therefore cannot dread. wax is hydrophobic and will not wash out, it builds up making dreads stiff and sticky and will eventually cause them to rot. wax is the number 1 cause of dreads being cut.

what's the best method for my hair type?

in nearly all cases and all hair types the answer is natural, aka neglect. why? they are the healthiest, most unique last the longest, have the most individual personality, and the experience is the most rewarding. but, if you have to dread another way, twist & rip or backcombing works great on most hair types; twists are best for african/kinky hair types. methods to avoid include crocheting, felting, dread perms, interlocking, and anything with wax.

what maintenance is recommended?

washing, conditioning as needed (especially once mature) and separating (unless you want large crazy congos) are all the maintenance you need. nothing else is required or recommended. however, if you must do more for a corporate image, choose the least damaging methods you can get away with... or better yet, just tie back your dreads or use a wrap or band.

how many dreads should i have?

there is no correct number. in fact, the number you start with will probably not be the same number you end with. dreads combine and new dreads are born, so the number changes year after year. typically 20-80 is normal, but that does not imply that 160 or 6 are abnormal. you have as many dreads as happen to form on your head.

what dread products should i use?

none. clean hair dreads best when it's free from residues and sticky "dread product" gunk. you can make your own natural helpers for just pennies: for "locking accelerator", use sea salt in water. for moisturizing or temporarily smoothing down frizzies, use aloe vera (from the plant). for washing, use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) and add herbs or essential oils to treat dandruff or just to smell nice! most commercial "dread products" are useless and highly-overpriced versions of stuff you already have in your house or garden; in some cases they can even be harmful to your dreads and your overall health.

where can i get non residue shampoos?

in our members shops or you can use the baking soda wash and ACV rinse.

where can i get tams and dread hats?

in our members shops

where can i get dread beads and peyote stitches?

in our members shops

cant i just make my own?

yes, in fact joining the new crafty crafters group can help you learn how.

can dreads be taken out or will i have to cut?

dreads can be combed out!

step 1 -- soak in conditioner or olive oil. use a lot and make it very slippery.

step 2 -- comb out very carefully and gently from the tips upward. but only comb the last 1/8 inch of dreaded hair. it will take many hours or days keep re-soaking in conditioner or oil. if you reach a hard spot to remove soak overnight while you move on to a different dread.

dreads can be successfully removed even after many years!

need more info? read the forums or the entire site (try the search function!)


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dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on November 19, 2014 at 3:56pm

i find closing my eyes helps

i just toss em out of theway  they make great pillows while camping but arent confy under yoiur back or shoulders

Comment by Sarai Weideman on November 19, 2014 at 3:47pm

This is great, i really wish i had found this place before geting a perm.... anyways i have a question, Should i do something special to go to bed? put my hair up? headband? braid? nothing?

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on September 8, 2014 at 9:13pm

5 is a bare minumum  makje the section the size u want ..under anb inch tho the dread will be way tyhinner at 1st and thicken later

Comment by Adrienne Marie Courtemanche on September 8, 2014 at 9:02pm

I just want to do a couple thicker dreads, my hair is short only about 5 inches where i want to put them. I plan on doing twist and rip but mainly am not sure how long my hair needs to be?

Comment by Melanie Johnson on June 22, 2013 at 10:30pm

How do I get started?  I'm a Caucasian woman with thin, fine hair...thought about going to salon, but would like to start naturally if possible.  I wear my hair pulled back in a ponytail & wigs, hats, etc., which I'm tired of.  I've read this will not damage thin hair & I've stopped washing mine often, as it knots up so easily.  Would it be easier to dread in this condition?  Please help - want to get started ASAP!


Comment by Ryan Milligan on June 19, 2013 at 9:23am

i started my dreads 6 months ago going to a salon that recommended the crocheting method to me and now i read all this and it makes me want to stop..what type of maintenance do i use then? i feel like my hair is damaged. will it be okay?

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on May 20, 2013 at 10:12pm

they are necessary and normal just ..breathe..relax

its ok

crafty crafters
Comment by Kayla Starr on May 20, 2013 at 9:22pm

Im ocd so its very hard for me to not be obessing over the loops and zigzags and loose hairs, will they ever be nice and well rounded? I want dreads but I dont want a rats nest on my head! Im at 7 months in the process and im going crazy! Im not really looking for any answers because Its all apart of the process I know I just needed to vent and show my frustration to see if Im the only one!?

Comment by justin worm on February 18, 2013 at 10:59am

could you cut them and then comb it out to have donate-able  hair?   would help with the coping processes of cutting them if you had too!   and it wouldnt hurt at all! hah

Comment by Zara 'Babu' Binns on February 13, 2013 at 3:43pm

OK thankyou, i knew it was a daft question, i might stop using it then and just go with diluted liquid as my hair feels a bit sticky after using the soap  :)

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on February 13, 2013 at 2:47pm

u cant dilute the bar just the liquid

Comment by Zara 'Babu' Binns on February 13, 2013 at 2:00pm

Brilliant F.A.Q, thanks for all the info, just one question (which might be a bit of a stupid one), I got Dr.Bronners soap bar and it says here to dilute, how do i do that with a soap bar?

Comment by michell loera on January 25, 2013 at 6:41pm

This helps a lot but I was still wondering, when you are in the first or second week of neglect dreads do u only wash them at the root, and not the ends? and how often is it ok to use the sea salt in water? Do you let it dry in the hair or rinse out? I also have this soy renewal beach spray . Its a conditioning and texturizing spray with argan oil..Big Sexy Hair makes it, i was wondering if i can just use that instead of the sea salt....In the ingrediants it does say sea salt, im just not sure if the argan oil will stop or slow it from dreading?

Comment by Danielle on January 3, 2013 at 3:17am

Great F.A.Q!

Comment by Helen Louise Murphy on January 2, 2013 at 1:50pm

I'm loving this sounds so simple!!!   I'm really glad that I became a member....I have learned so much and have even further my research to include the history of dreadlocks....I'm starting to become obsessed since starting this journey(via  dread extensions) 3 months ago.  My husband loves it so much that he wants to start on our 17 month old son too.

Comment by shana dyke4life on October 21, 2012 at 9:04am

One more question.... when I have finished how long should I wait before I wash them. Also should I not wash my hair for awhile before I start? thanks in advance

crafty crafters
Comment by Jess H on July 10, 2012 at 4:35pm

Thanks for the fantastic advice. Everyone should come to this site before getting dreads. I've heard a lot of stuff on youtube and other dreading websites that I've found to be complete rubbish, just by reading a couple of discussions on here. 

Thanks SE and all you awesome dreadheads. <3

Comment by challie on January 12, 2011 at 7:47pm
from my own experience in brushing out dreads that were older than 1 yr before you begin brushing starting washing regularly with conditioning and shine shampoos for like a week consistantly. it will give a good head start and loosen up the tight spots before you begin brushing like crazy. also before you start brushing if you play with them and smoosh em like ur trying to spread them open or flatten them it makes brushing go quicker. like getting dreads you cant rush it other wise you will just damage your hair insainly. hope this helps
Comment by kaz jewell taylor on December 11, 2010 at 5:25am

wow awesome advice (and needed) many thanks.kaz

Comment by Amber J on November 15, 2010 at 9:43pm
Great info, thanks so much!

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