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First off, welcome to Dreadlocking 101. We will be covering all possible aspects of the subject of dreading.
Before we begin, if you're able to learn this one lesson you can skip everything else:
The less you do and put into your dreadlocks, the better the results.
Learn that and graduate now.
|Dreading History||Dreading Methods||Dreading Maintenance|
Above you will find some categories of interest in regards to dreadlocking history, currently known methods, and current maintenance. Information is power and We at Dreadlockssite encourage others to fully educate themselves in all things dreadlocks so that when the time comes for their own journey, an informed decision can be made.
To preface this page full of glorious dreadlocking information, We felt it would be inperitive to mention some of the marketing scams that are out there that force people to deviate from a healthy dreadlocked style and that have reset standards and ideas in regards to dreadlocks. Unfortunately, we can not change the propoganda of the marketplace but we can put this information out there and hope that, through experiences and education, these scams and myths can eventually be debunked for what they truly are: Marketing ploys.
Marketing is used by companies or individuals to make money off of products or services they have to offer - end of story. Dreadlocks, as defined by Merriam-Webster, are "a narrow ropelike strand of hair formed by matting or braiding." Dreadlocks are the simplest hairstyle needing the least amount of maintenance. All you need to do is throw away your comb and let your hair lock up on it's own. Websites for various products as well as hairdressers/locticians boast claims of needing methods to lock the hair up, products to maintain the locked hair, products to counter the effects of the products used to lock up the hair, specifications on washing said hair when really, all you need is time.
Due to all of these marketing misconceptions being pumped out into the mainstream, people overlook the fact that dreadlocks have been worn without the use of products for a long time in many cultures. Also, the advent of products that are known to cause build up of dirts and smells have generated the misconception that locks need to be dirty. None of this is true! Companies selling so-called "dreadkits" claim that you can not get beautifully dreadlocked hair unless you buy said kit and utilize the tools and products within. Unfortunately, there have been plenty of instances showing this as a fallacy as well as many documented accounts of individuals who have had their hair absolutely RUINED by said products/kits. Please take the time to review the information on this page to get a better understanding of what each known method and product can potentially do to your hair if used (essentially, the good, the bad, and the ugly truth.)
Dreadlocks are one of the oldest hairstyles in the world, with records dating far back in history and contrary to popular belief, not exclusive to the Rastafari movement or African American hair-types.
European cultures rumored to have worn dreadlocks were the Celts (specifically the Druids) as well as some other Gallic tribes. Documentation is scarce but it is said that some Celtic warriors would lime their hair, making it lighter and stiffer,so that it would spike back in a more intimidating fashion (an iron-age replication of Celtic warriors is to the left and the one at the middle is shown with locks over his shoulders while the rest of the hair is spiked outward.)
Vercingetorix of the Arverni tribe united the Gauls against Rome unsuccessfully. He was captured by Caesar and held prisoner, later to be executed.
Just below is a Roman coin that was made depicting the Gaul at the time (with locked hair.) In later renditions (paintings or statues) he is depicted with either flowing, chunky locks or dreadlocked hair… since the coin was made in 48 b.c. it makes you wonder which is the more accurate depiction.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet there is mention of “elf-locks”. Elf-locks (or pixie-locks; fairy-locks) are said to be tangles that where put into the hair of livestock or people by the fae. It was said that to undue the tangles would cause bad luck and many believers would intentionally leave these locks to continue to dread throughout the rest of their lives. The aforementioned quote was in reference to Queen Mab of the fairies:
"She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone.......
That plaits the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes."
Another example of this is of Gna Vanna (left) who is recorded by Eliza Putnam Heaton in her book from 1920, The By-Paths in Sicily, as following the Strega Path (Italian spiritualist/healer) and having pixie locks that she refuses to brush out or cut saying that in her doing so would cause her to die.
Dreadlocks were a desirable hairstyle of the Egyptians who would wear either their hair or wigs of dreadlocks or plaits (braids) adorned in gold and were a status symbol of the wealthy. This has been proven by statues and hieroglyphics depicting the style as well as archaeologists confirming dreadlocks on unwrapped mummies (as King Tutankhamen’s preservation can attest!)
Sadhus and Sadhvis of India grow locks which are considered sacred and the manifestation of their disregard for vanity (also considered a sign of virility!)
As with Hinduism, some forms of Buddhism (such as Ngakpa) also hold dreadlocks as a sign of letting go of vanity and materialism.
Various ethnic groups throughout Africa wear dreadlocks for varying reasons such as the Fang people of Gabon, Akan people of Ghana, Maasai wariors and Turkana people of Kenya are among a few. Mostly this style is reserved for spiritual people but not exclusive domain throughout the continent.
Whether it is for fashion or for a spiritual connotation, dreadlocks have been grown on various hair types throughout history and the world, including those wearing them today. It’s important to know a little background because a lot of today’s “dreadheads” are accused of cultural appropriation by allowing their hair to dreadlock due to dreadlocks more commonly being associated with the Rastafari movement, which was adopted in the 1930’s.
For more information or discussion on the subject of dreadlocks in history or in cultures, check out the dreadlockssite forums!
Here you will find the various methods that have been used for dreadlocking, including pro's and con's of each. They are listed in order, from least to most damaging to the hair and scalp. You can scroll through and read them all (encouraged) for a better understanding of all the methods, or you can jump to specific methods that may interest you specifically:
I will not be using the term "neglect" for this method, as it is not exactly accurate except in certain situations, which are not the most desirable way to dread (e.g., homelessness, mental illness, etc.); instead I will use the term "natural," which is the most accurate term however, often salons grossly misuse the term "natural" to mean anything that uses your natural hair.
Natural dreads have been around since humanity’s origins (please see history, above), and are by far the easiest method. The results are a natural, organic look, and an extremely rewarding journey into “dreadiness.” Those who dread for religious or spiritual reasons consider natural the only legitimate way to dread, quoting religious texts that command no metal, whether tooth of comb or blade of scissors, to touch the hair. For this reason, and others, some but not all who “dreadicate” their lives may look down on "fashion dreads" and others who use starter methods, especially methods involving combs or chemicals (like dread perms). It doesn't do to add additional hatefulness into the world.
Natural dreadlocks are as easy as can be, and take next to no effort or time spent messing with the hair. They create a far more organic look - not a manufactured one. Natural dreads tend to last longer as they never suffered the damage from starter methods and have had no harmful products used on them. Contrary to popular belief, they do not take longer than other methods except in very few cases. The organic process of watching dreads be born week by week before your eyes is exciting and fascinating!!! In general, natural dreads cause far less dissatisfaction and worry over every loose strand of hair or kink because these are expected and celebrated as part of the process and not a problem.
In the early weeks your hair can look a little messy, and some who don’t understand will judge you. You will have to always deal with know-it-alls telling you that you should backcomb or wax them, as if they are an expert, because they read a website trying to sell products. You also have slightly less control over the outcome (like in nature); sections don’t generally form evenly (this is a good thing though), and the tips do not always end up blunt and perfect (also a good thing; blunt tips hold in water not allowing it to run freely out the ends). You may find some locks acting strangely, causing balls on the ends or growing in spirals or flat. Back combers tend to worry about this, always wanting perfectly round smooth dreads, but natural dread enthusiasts find the more unique the dread, the more they love that one over the boring straight ones. The more unique the dread, the more distinctly your own it is. No two dreads should be alike as they should have their own personalities. This is not everyone’s philosophy though, and that is why I list it under disadvantages – it is a warning against those who value conformity over individuality.
Often thought of as a good alternative to backcombing that doesn't’t use sharp metal toothed combs, so it is a little less damaging. Twist and rip is a method that creates neat, well-formed dreads quickly and easily. This is accomplished by twisting a section of hair, then dividing it into two sections randomly pulling them apart, which forces knots to move down towards the scalp. You then repeat the process many, many times. It takes no particular skill to do, but some have trouble figuring out how to do it right.
Quick and easy, less damaging than other methods, and creates well-formed, good looking dreads without causing the whole “Side Show Bob” look. They generally don’t fall apart as much as backcombed hair does but in some cases, they still DO fall apart.
Easier to do with fairly thin dreads, but can hurt and do damage, such as some hair breakage. The damage however, being less than other methods. This method may require help to do the back of your head and it may also take hours to complete.
A fairly new way to dread, popularized by companies out to sell products that supposedly make dreading " work better". This method is highly aggressive and damaging and painful, often even ripping hair out of the scalp (particularly when someone’s helping you and they can’t feel your pain). It’s surprising that this method has become the most widely used since it really is one of the least desirable methods. The overuse can only be traced to misinformation and lies spread by companies like DreadheadHQ and KnottyBoy, that mass produce thousands of sites full of lies to push their products. I am not trying to claim backcombing is an inherently bad idea, only that it is the last "starter" method I would personally recommend. Unfortunately, it is one of the first to be recommended by those who push the "instant dread" mentality.
Backcombing is accomplished by repeatedly and aggressively combing the hair backwards towards the scalp in quick short strokes forcing hair to knot near the roots. This can cause massive amounts of hair breakage as well as damage and weakening of the hair shaft. When trying to get it too tight often hair is yanked right out at the roots (which creates tension and can hurt for hours... even heard mothers say backcombing was more painful then childbirth.) Backcombing tends to do very little to actualy help dread in many cases as it tends to all fall apart over the 1st few washings unless you use harmful products like wax and elastics to hold it in place (see maintenance.) This is not always true, but happens more often then not. Usually the backcomber might panic and re-backcomb or apply wax compounding the damage and not really furthering the dreadlocking process since re-backcombing resets the hair back to day 1.
Makes you feel like you accomplished something and you can now say you got dreads (even if not true; you only have backcombed hair that will still take months to become dreads.) The act of backcombing mimics the act of combing that your used to so it can feel like the right way to go, the mentality being you have to do something to get something, having always combed to create a style, backcombing to create a style is instinctual.
Massive damage. They also look ridiculous in the early stages... the "sideshow bob" look (funnily enough, most choose backcombing over natural to avoid looking like a mess the 1st weeks but it backfires and they look ridiculous while the natural dreads change more gradually without sticking straight out in all directions.) In general, for many reasons, backcombed dreads tend to be the shortest lasting. In most cases, because of the use of waxes to keep the initial backcomb from falling apart (even if only used for 2 weeks the wax can lead to dread removal after only 2-4 years), some have also reported ugly white spots all over that are actually the roots of the hairs yanked out but trapped in the dread.
*Just a side note on backcombing: It may sound as if I'm being anti-backcomb but I'm not "completely". I just think it really should not be the 1st way suggested rather, it should be reserved for only if no other methods work.
Twisting is easy to do, but often is overdone. Twisting is simply that: Pinch a bit of hair and twist it into a section. The problem is, many keep on twisting repeatedly, even to the point of twisting them right off. Twisting can create dreads in very short african type hair (1/8 inch or shorter even) and it may, at times, need a touch up. Re-twisting is usually done in the early weeks but should be stopped as soon as they hold shape on their own.
You can do it yourself without even thinking about it, does next to no damage unless overdone, and can start dreads in extremely short hair.
Very few except that again, you're holding on to the idea of "doing something to get something" so often this is carried on for life and you re-twist obsessively untill you experience dread loss and balding (called Traction Alopecia.)
Some salons offer a service called dread perming. This is taking the hair and applying one of the starter methods listed on this page. After the method has been applied, permanent waving solution is put through the hair to break the disulfide bonds holding the keratin protiens in place so that they can re-position themselves and, in turn, reform the hairs appearance. After the solution has been sitting on the hair long enough to break down it's bonds, it is rinsed out and followed by a neutralizer to stop the attack on the disulfide bonds that the redusing agent (perm solution) was providing. A common redusing agent is ammonium thioglycolate and a common neutralizer is hydrogen peroxide.
The only advantage of a dread perm is that it give the look of mature dreadlocks that won't unravel.
Reducing agents can cause scalp ithcing, redness, burning, and sometimes scalp peeling. They can also weaken and damage the hair, PERMANENTLY, and can cause light breakage to severe breakage, or balding, when pooled in one spot for too long or if the hair has a lot of tension (this is also referred to as a "chemical haircut".) The hairs texture will be changed as well as the configuration, becoming coarse and dry as well as brittle. When using this chemical service it is not a good or safe idea to apply other chemicals (such as hair dyes) because they can further the damage done to the hair. There have been records of people who have recieved perms (dreaded, curled, or straightened) showing a lack of hair regrowth, which is unfortunate since perms are permanent and can only be removed by letting the hair grow out and cutting out the chemically treated areas.
These 2 methods are synonymous and I really do not like them at all however, since they are gaining in popularity I'll cover them here.
Felting is the worse. It uses a very sharp felting needle covered with barbs to literally mangle the hair into a mass. The damage is as extreme as you can get, much of the matting not being knots but the damaged hair shafts gripping each other by their broken and tattered pieces (hard to explain, but the hair shaft is torn with the outer layer having pieces nearly ripped off that form barbs and grip each other.)
Crocheting is definitely less severe but also is a metal object being thrust through the dread breaking hairs in the process. Additionally, it causes a distinct "woven" look and feel, different from newer, natural growth, so can cause a cycle of constant upkeep in order to keep them looking even (also every hair sucked in breaks hairs which may come out needing more upkeep.)
Both of these can create an extremely "neat" look and what can be conieved as a "mature" dread from day 1.
Damage and the need for constant maintenance. The damage can include unstable locks, locks completely breaking off, Traction Alopecia, thinning dreads... just to name a few. There is actually a crochet and felting recovery forum >here< for those who want first hand accounts of this damage as well as for those who would like support in recovery.
Another aspect that should be mentioned is, if you are dreading for fashion reasons (which most who use this method are) the breakage is so bad that the dreads can not be combed out later without the breakage being noticable throughout the hair.
Maintenance can be broken down into different categories and then these categories can be broken down further still. Maintenance is anything and everything that an individual can or will do in order to keep or help their dreadlock process along (whether it be good or bad.) The areas hi-lighted by an asterisk (*) are the barest essentials needed for healthy and beautiful locks.
Dreadlock Cleaning: How to Wash* : Cleansers and Recipes : Handling Lice : The Power of Essential Oils
Dreadlock "Helpers" (non-product): Decorative : Wool : Separation Anxiety* : Palm Rolling : Root Rubbing/Tip Rubbing : Root Flipping/Interlocking : Weaving Loose Hair
Dreadlock Products (non-cleansing): Gels : Waxes : Lock Peppa : Locking Accelerators : Teas/Sprays : Lock Butter
How to Wash
Washing your dreads is very simple. Apply the shampoo or cleaners to the scalp only and the dreads themselves will get clean from the run off while you rinse. Once dreads are mature you can gently use soap on them but, be sure that you don't push too much soap into the dread that it might be hard to wash out. When rinsing the dreads, be sure to use cool water and that should help with overdrying of the scalp as well as sealing the cuticle of the hair shaft.
Shampoos and cleansers should be gently worked into the scalp with your fingertips unless the bs/acv method of cleaning is used (see below) which is a "no touch" method of cleaning.
Cleansers and Recipes
Any shampoo is dread suitable however, non-residue is always best (isn't it funny how locticions and dread companies try to sell you nothing but residues when a non-residue soap is the only thing really helpful?) You're fine using any non-residue soap that feels right to you. The top 3 cleansing products that people tend to have the most success with here are
Some swear by water only washing. I couldn't do that myself, but many like it.
This is the topic that all dreadheads, well, dread. First off, dreads are no more likely to get bugs than any other hair type however, lice treatment in dreads is a little different than strauight hair because with straight hair you can comb out all the eggs while killing the adults with harsh, very toxic, poisions. These poisions are not safe enough to use often enough to break the reproduction cycle so you cannot get rid of lice in dreads with traditional lice treatments.
But don't fret! There are safer ways to kill lice than pouring toxic chemicals over your head. Lice breathe through their exoskeletons and one of the safest (and most reliable) lice treatments is suffocation. Using anything that suffocates them will work. You can use 70% rubbing alcohol (which is the best since it sterilizes wounds and is very easy to rinse out, unlike the others) and the fumes will kill them as they breathe in.
Other options include mayonese, mayo with vinegar, petroleum jelly (not a good choice with dreads), and olive oil. Hair dyes are toxic enough to kill head lice. Neem seed oil is probably one of the best options as it kills the adult lice but also interupts the reproductioon cycle so no second generations are born.
Tea tree oil can help prevent lice but wont get rid of them.
Please note: Suffocation methods need to be repeated every 3 days for 9 days (sometimes more) to break the 5 day reproductive cycle. Lice can also hold their breath for 14 minutes smothering them should be done for as little as 15 minutes to as long as 30 (maximum time is encouraged for full effect.) Also, cover the head with a plastic processing cap or bag to trap any fumes (such as those from alcohol or vinegar) and perform these procedures in a well ventilated area! As with ALL head lice cases, clean, clean, CLEAN! You must wash all laundry and bedding and it might be a good idea to treat the household since lice like to travel from host to host and can live on your furniture while in transit.
The Power of Essential Oils
Essential Oils smell fabulous and contain many wonderful properties that can help dreadheads along their locking journey. For instance, tea tree essential oils help with mold prevention while rosemary can be used to fight against dandruff. Essential oils can be added to shampoos and cleansers or to sprays. Here is a link to an accumulated list of essential oils and their u...
There are some decorations that not only look fabulous in dreadlocks but can also "help" with keeping locks separated, antagonize dreading, and compacting the locks. These are peyote stitches, beads and wraps. Peyote stitches are just like wraps except they are premade and slide up the dread like a bead would. Beads, when placed at midstrand, can help keep baby locks seperated and also can help promote some dreading (these should be kept loose though to allow movement of the hair.) Wraps can be done with yarn, embroidery floss or string. These can sometimes compact dreads that are flat or lumpy or fuse holes in dreads from root flipping damage (see below.)
Anything can be decorative though (found tchotchkes, crystals, rings, etc.) when attached to dreads. Be aware though, anything that you place on your dreads, if left for too long, can become a permanent addition or make the dreadlock tight and thin in that spot when removed.
Wool can be pretty usefull for dreadlocking in various ways because the texture can create friction against the hair, causing it to knot up however, lint is a major pain. A lot of lint is not too noticable but if you have a particularly aggravating piece you can always take a needle or tweezers and pull it out. This will cause minor damage to the exterior of the dread (depending on how large the lint is) but nothing that won't be healed with time.
Wool tams are good for stashing dreads that are particularly messy because they are large enough to let the dreads move around. Wool pillow covering will help cause friction while you sleep but again, the lint issue. Wool rubbing will also cause the friction needed to help accelerate dreadding but if done in excess can also cause damage and weakness to the dreads as well as root breakage if done at the scalp.
Ripping or separating: This is the only real maintenance necessary besides cleaning because as dreads grow, the hairs at the roots may become crossed and try to eat the dread next to it, becoming 1. If you choose to not have thick dreads, simply pull 1 away from the other often. If you miss them for too long, and they are well attached, forcing a finger under a few hairs and pulling up may get them loose again. Once completely "congod" (attached with no hope of separation) you should just let them be 1 dread. Cutting them apart is not a good idea because this weakens the integrity of, not just 1 dread, but all dreads being nipped.
On the other hand, if you want to congo, congo with caution. By this I mean, congoing early on will mean dreads that may still get thicker are forced to combine with others and you may end up with thicker dreads than you anticipated. Dreads over a certain thickness become problematic, being more likely to mold, harder to clean and dry, and may even cause significant pain on the scalp from the weight.
Palm Rolling is typically used to "round out" dreadlocks, tame loose hair, and to apply product. This is a method that is commonly stressed but absoltely useless. When used to tame loose hairs it's very temporary and prompts the palm rolling to be repeated excessively. When rounding out locks, this method barely works because the knots and kinks that form bumbs in dreads will usually stay there, regardless of the rolling, which also prompts repeated or excessive rolling. When used with product, such as wax, palm rolling compresses the product into the dread making it harder to remove. In all instances, the misinformation that prompts people to palm roll causes excessive and unwarranted rolling and can, in turn, cause weakness in dreadlocks and even Traction Alopecia.
Root Rubbing/Tip Rubbing
Root rubbing is used to help lock up the dreads at their roots. This is completely useless because the roots NEED to be loose in order to dreadlock naturall as they grow out. Root rubbing can cause breakage at the roots, much like palm rolling, which leads to Traction Alopecia.
Tip rubbing is used to aid in blunting the tips of dreadlocks. This is actually a personal prefference of the dreadhead because blunted tips are unnecessary. With blunted tips, the water sits in the dreadlock (instead of draining out through tapered ends) and can not only increase drying times but encourage mold formation.
Interlocking (otherwise called root flipping) is when the dreadlock is separated at the root and then pulled up and through the separated hole. This is used, mainly by locticions, to make the dreads lay flat and to tighten up the roots. This process can completely ruin dreadlocks! Roots need some freedom to dread on their own. Baby locks have looser roots but, over time, the they will get tighter on their own as the hair starts to grow into the dreadlock. Root flipping is a maintenance that, once started, a dreadhead will have to repeat because the roots are now split and will grow longer before learning to lock on their own. Repeated root flipping will weaken the dreadlocks and cause thinning and holes and in a lot of cases, breakage from these weakened points. This will also create a braided look to the dreads that is undesireable by most dreadheads yet, they don't realize it until it's well under way. If interlocking has been done to the hair already, STOP! It's hard to grow out but if you are patient the dreads will repair themselves and start dreading on their own. Sometimes a wrap may be used to push the holes from interlocking closed during the repair process.
If the loose hair is woven into the dread you will either be weakening the dread by poking a hole through it, much like the root flipping/interlocking or the loose hair will just come out again to frustrate you into re-weaving it.
There are many products that are pushed on consumers from companies claiming that they will help hair dread (a lot of them are sold individually or in "dread kits".) Here is a list of some of the more common products pushed, how they really work and what they really do to the hair. If you feel that you absolutely MUST use product on your hair then research the ingredients first! You only want to put products on your dreads that are water soluble and residue free so that, when you do wash your dreads, the product will wash out and not get stuck.
Locking gels are a little bit tricky. Some gels are secretly just wax (if you look at the ingredients you may see wax or petroleum in the list and if you do, avoid these like the plague!) There are a few others that actually are water soluble, such as the Lock Magic Locking Gel from Bucks County Soap. Gels are completely unnecessary to the locking process. They are used to smooth out loose hairs around the dreadlock for a neater look. Now, it is highly encouraged to let the loose hairs fly as often as humanly possible because they need to in order to form a new dreadlock or get sucked into a pre-existing one however, it is completely understandable that one may want to tame those hairs for say, a wedding or job interview.
A great alternative to using locking gels, no matter how water soluble they are, is pure aloe vera!
Waxes are marketed for use on dreadlocks claiming to help keep the dreads together tightly and neatly while they lock up (especially promoted for use with backcombed locks and by locticions.) Now, in order for dreads to dread they require movement, and to a lesser extent, compression. Wax prevents movement and instead acts like a glue, caking the hairs together. This slows down the dreading process considerably while giving the illusion of nice tight knottiness. Over time it can cause very severe issues and is next to impossible to get out. Dirt and grime become just as trapped by wax as the hair does and this is the main reason why people think dreads are so dirty. They also say its conditioning but it isn't; they add vitamin e, which is. Aloe can be used for every purpose wax can, and rinses clear away, and easily, which wax doesn't (2 weeks of wax use, as directed, has proven to leave a wax core years later, regardless of washing.) Here is a small list of testimonials from members who have had thei... Aside from having sticky, dirty dreadlocks that come apart, wax has also been known to promote mold production as well as skin issues (such as acne and hives.) Here is another testimonial from someone who had medical skin issue...
The intention of pointing out these testimonials isn't necessarily to scare you however, the promotion of wax usage is so prolific that just informing upon it's evils isn't enough to convince people of the truth. If you have fallen victim to wax usage, cutting your dreads off isn't the only way to remove it. You can do some serious wax removal with a grease cutting dish soap, such as Dawn dish liquid, or use the wax remover from Bucks County Soap. Both products, used multiple times, with the hottest water you can stand, can help get the wax out but it's a horrendous process.
lock peppa, when googling the ingredients, almost makes you think it must be a joke; the biggest corporate "fuck you" of all times. I'm not going to look it up again but it was sand, clay rosin (a tree sap which I suspect was used because it is a sticky, gritty substance when not in brittle stone form but, in a soil, would also count as organic matter or fertilizer), and lastly a natural herbicide produced by plants (technically, I guess, a natural poison/weed killer.) Now what's that sound like? Yup, they are selling you dirt... dirt to intentionally put in your hair (nice of them to add the weed prevention huh?)
Those who have used it have told me it just made them flaky and itchy and it washed away easily (unless trapped in wax.) Being dirty, the hair might be easier to backcomb (the theory behind it i guess.) But if it washes right out with the backcomb along with it does it do anything at all? If dirt is what u need to dread then dirt is everywhere (of course we know - or hope you know - clean hair dreads best.)
Locking accelerators are essentially made up of sea salt and a couple other ingredients. It is absolutely unecessary to buy these because you can take sea salt and water and create your own at home, much more cost-effectively. The sea salt spray is good because it dries the hair out and roughs up the cuticle, encouraging the locking process. This should be used a couple of hours prior to washing though, and not to be left or used at all times because it will start to overdry your hair and scalp, causing itchiness and even dry dandruff.
Taking a dip in the ocean will have the same effect. If you do go into the ocean a lot and you are unable to properly wash your hair afterwards with enough time for drying before bed, try to at least run cool, plain water through it to rinse away the majority of the salt afterwards.
There are a lot of teas and sprays that are marketed to dreadheads at being helpful for various reasons. As mentioned before, pay attention tot he ingredients before using them! You don't want to put anything into your hair that will be hard or impossible to wash out because over time it can build up and get pretty nasty. You can make your own teas and sprays at home with use of herbs or essential oils. Depending on what you use, there could be benefits ranging from adding a great smell to anti-itch.
Lock butters or lotions are merketed to make dreads soft and smooth and smell good. This can somewhat backfire because the more gunk you put into your dreads to make it "soft" or to "smooth" out the loose hairs can set back progress on maturing dreads. Dreads need to be clean and residue free to lock up properly. When they are matured you can soften dreads up with jojoba or aloe, which will easily wash out from the hair. Also, certain essential oils, when added to your washing regimen, can help to maintain soft locks without the hassel of smearing junk into them.
Man, I'm getting excited to begin my journey. I am SO grateful I found this group SE. I didn't know anything really about the neglect method. I was gonna buy that dreadkit. And the reason is that a lot of dreads I have met online do the backcomb method and I was under the impression it really was better. My attraction to it was not for the "instant *poof* you now have dreads, lol. It was because of the control I would have over them. I know I'll be pulling and rippin alot.
I have a question...when one begins the process, does the underneath section of hair generally start drerading up first? That's been my experience...at gatherings I would neglect just from blissin...and after 2 days I would have dreads. I kept brushing them out back then though. Just curious.
One more emabarrassing question that must be asked. My hair has too many layers...the way it was last cut. Should I cut it first to get it one length? It doesn't seem like it would matter how it's cut...but does it help if it's a certain way to begin with?
That was a fun and enlightening read! Thanx for what you do SE.