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salon dread guide (if you must go that route)

Most salon dreads are a disaster, and charge ridiculous prices. However a small number of salons might use harmless methods. Before continuing to read this you should know that hair dreads itself without effort, without costing a cent. Or you can do it yourself easily with the tips and guides on this site. Before deciding on using a salon read this page and our do it yourself guides completely.
Be sure to read the comments which contain 1st hand experiences with salons and recovering from the disasters they caused.
Here is a guide to what to look for and avoid when choosing a salon to help you dread.


Before we even begin discussing salons and locticians watch this and understand it fully


the person in the video above stopped going to salons stopped retwisting and has had a significant improvement, its taken nearly a year, and hes not fully recovered yet. recovery from salon disasters can take a very long time. heres his progress today

. so, lets start with
what to avoid
1. first and most important question to ask is what products (wax's gels etc, weve even heard of glues and latex) are used, if they tell you they use waxes gels dread perms or anything at all say no thanks and hang up.
2. maintanance recomendations, if they recomend any of the following..walk away.. using elastic bands for weeks or months.. using wax gels or any products except soap or maybe sea salt sprays if they recommend scheduling several more touch up/retightening visits (a true sign of the salon dread scam, which involveds doing an intentionaly bad job then schedulling months and months of repeat business which can cost you over $1000) and lastly if they tell you to refrain from washing your dreadlocks for long periods of time..some salons go as far as to recomend no water touch your hair for 6 months to a year...if they say that..laugh before you run
3. do they specialize in synthetic dreads and concider "natural dreads" to be any dreads that arent plastic? if so your best off to avoid them, they are in the bussiness of making temporary dreads to wear to a party but not to keep for life
second thing to concider is the methods they use these have been covered pretty well in other threads so i'll just give a short summery of common options and include some advanhtages and drawbacks backcombing this is a fairly common method used by people who do theyre own dreads at home, it doesnt require the skill of a professional loctition and can be done by yourself or with the help of a freind, advantage is it gets dreadlike clumps of hair knotted together in 1 day typicaly so kick starts progress, disadvantages they tend to stick straight out like sideshow bob a few days, and the agressive backwards combing can be pretty dammaging twist n rip another methiod thats popular but many have trouble figuring out how to do it right, so a experienced locker can be a help..if your totaly unable to do it yourself.. advantages, the dreads look neater thyen backcombed from the start the dammage is far less and they dont generaly stick out weird.. its quick and easy once you figure out the technique crochetting this methods highly debated on the plus side it creates very neat tight dreads right away that can look mature faster, but the tradeoff is they require constant retouching with crochet to maintain an even look and its done by shoving a metal hook through the dread weakening the dread over time twisting and variations generaly used on african type hair with great results, its so simple you could do it yourself without even thinking, they tend to add gells and crap that should be avoided, and recommend retwisting too often many require 1 twisting only some may need a couple retwists the 1st few weeks but once they hold shape theres no reason to retwist.. there have been stories of dreadlocks over twisted (obsessivly maybe) that were twisted right off
what to look for
1. your best bet is a small time operation that does dreads more of as a favor secondary to theyre normal jobs. but still you should interview themn and be really sure they are going to only do what you want them to
2. price, unless your hairs very long and crazy getting dreads done shouldnt cost more then rent for the month (far less in fact) if your able, its best to negotiate a fair price per hour..with a cap so you dont get surprised..if you have less then a foot of hair and they quote 500-700 dollars ..leave you can always pay a freing 50-70 to help you with the parts you cant do yourself
3. if theyre "salon" is theyre living room chances are better you got a good one as long as all the above check out ok, however, if they do work in a salon setting make sure they listen to what you want them to do..instead of just telling you what they want to do to you.
4. if anything they say doesnt sound right.. research it here before committing
finaly i'll sumerize by saying that in most cases your better off avoiding salon dreads as 90% make a total mess of things and i cant believe im suggesting this route for anyone, but, if you must have a professional look from the start and have alot of money and do your research it is possible to find that 1 in a hundred loctition that does a decent job and will give satisfactory results (i would not ever go only on the recomendation of others without doing this research too)
if your willing and able i highly recomend going natural. or if not doing them yourself with the help of friends and leave the salon dreads as an option only if all others wont work for you.
1 last concideration.. its unfortunate but when you tell others how you started yours you may face the fashion dread salon dread label discrimination factor (hmm that sentence sounded weird) this might be acceptable to you if considerations of professional image outweigh it..
in a city the size of philly with possibly hundreds of loctitions i can only think of 1 i would refer people to..but i dont know every one here, there maybe as many as 3-5 out of a few hundred or so
whatever you do, if they are unwilling to do what you want them to do..or if they try telling you it wont work without products or certain techniques dont let them tough you they dont know what theyre talking about.

Very important update!

Whats the cost of salon dreads? It might be higher then you think!

A few days ago someone joined who had spent $3000 on her dreads the salons (2 different salons) did everything wrong you can do wrong and she showed up here with a total disaster (but saveable we hope) You can read the story here

But if $3000 wasn't enough of a disaster, after 1 day here, and 1 attempt at wax removal (with the  rinse being a brown sludge that came out of her dreads) a severe skin condition that started the day she started her dreads started to clear up! And guess what, she had multiple surgeries multiple courses of antibiotics  and a grand pricetag for her salon dreads over $10,000 You can read her further recovery here

Learn from others past mistakes in our salon and loctician recovery section

You Can dread your own hair naturally for free!

Traction alopecia, the most costly salon mistake

Many salons, especially those that specialize in African textured hair or ethnic hair all too often cause a medical condition called traction alopecia.

They do this on purpose and call it "neat" "tidy" or "fresh". Some salons will stop forcing it before it progresses too far, but most will allow it to progress to severe levels. Some locticians will even continue the practices long after baldings become severe.

It can cost up to $20,000 to cause the damage, and if it progresses too far another $15,000 for a hair transplant.

Read more about the causes and cures of Traction alopecia here

Are you ready to dread yourself for free?
remember the easiest way to dread is always ..forget you even have will dread on its own do it yourself dreading methods do it yourself dreadlock maintenance


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Comment by Bali Dread on November 9, 2012 at 12:27am


crafty crafters
Comment by Megan Wyckoff on October 26, 2012 at 4:29pm

im with Chels, too.

i work in a salon mostly because it's safer than at home or their homes.  it's also a nice way to help stamp out the myths and prejudices because people are naturally interested in things they don't understand and in the right circumtances this curiousity will outweigh any feelings of defense or anger.

"When any prevailing prejudice is attacked, the wise will consider, and leave the narrow-minded to rail with thoughtless vehemence at innovation.

                                       "MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT, A Vindication of the Rights of Women

I do caution against clockwise root crochet "root flipping" (as well as twisting) and will indead create stress/tensions breaks at the root and ramdomly throughout. I primarily use a crochet hook to pull in strays to enhance strength, managability, flexibility and general "tightness". this is something anybody can do at home, but does take some time, practice, and skill to accomplish without having a "stitched" look.

Knowledge is power:  Your hair is made of protiens and is the same stuff as your skin and nails, like any organic substance it is subject to molecular wear and breakdown.  Shampoos were designed to clean dirt off the hair add necessary proteins back into the hair that life and environmental stressors have damaged.  Like-wise conditioners are intended to improve the texture or condition of the hair, generally reintroducing the moisture that has been stripped out or environmentally wicked off keeping the hair flexible and not brittle.

Be careful to look for all-natural products and avoid the gimicks - truth is most products designed for "dreadlocks" and hair in general don't help, are too drying (stripping the hair of its natural oils), and/or were designed to make money off the wanna-be's.  Avoid over moisturizing the hair as i can cause heaviness(greasy), build-up, or cause the locks to loosen (generally a concern for less curly and caucasian hair types)

i have been locking my hair since 1999, and have heard every mean comment anyone can think of.  I have been harrassed by all ethnicities and individual ignorancies.  I have been turned down for a number of jobs i have been highly qualified for based soley on my appearance, and have been let go from others sometimes because a higher up had predjudice.  I have also had many people ask me questions and leave more informed an more accepting.

Furtermore , No employer can limit your religion but they do have the right to be selective about the people they chose to pay/support as you hold this right as well.  Do NOT be a victim of own circumstances, have integrity and self-respect.  Your life, your choices, how you react in a situation is your own responsibility.  It is never too late to improve and you are never too old to learn.  Life happens, be grateful for it!  There are many paths to chose, but no respect in self-victimization or predjudice. 

"I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I've written there is a thread of this: a man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself."

ROD SERLING, Los Angeles Times, 1967

This forum is intended to help fellow humans, yes?  Avoid becoming a locked elitist, it's deplorable and self-degrading.

live simply, so that others may simply live :)

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on March 15, 2012 at 4:57pm

chuels its refreshing to see a salon/loctician warning against goingto locvticians

ive seen so much damage from retwisting hair loss  balding  dreads broken.. same from crochet interlocking and ..eww waxing  so many salon disasters

funny thing being some of the more well known ones do the worse jobs

and those who avoid salons and loctiacians all together have amazing dreads

Comment by Chels ;) on June 13, 2011 at 3:47pm
nice! im glad you put this up here! i live in medium size town...i am a stylist and i do work ina salon, i also love helping people start their dreads. I cant tell you how much repair work i have done with people going to other salons. my main goal with bringing dreads into the salon was to educate people the right way on how to take care of their locks. im so sick of scammers giving locticians like me a bad name. its embarassing what these people will do to hair, some of them having been in the hair industry over 15 years.
Comment by Loc Doctor Liz on April 19, 2011 at 11:15pm

In answer to Soaring Eagle;

 depending on what is desired by the wearer and what works best for the hair texture.  Our goal is to start dreads so that they will grow naturally into strong healthy dreads. We rely on lots of elbow grease in starting dreads. In general, we use a refined backcombing technique to form dreads. Some are comb twist, and others are wraps. We DON'T do dread perms, or crochet that damages the structure. We encourage non-reliance on wax, but we respect our clients choice in that matter.  We educate our clients on how to take proper care of them so they are not dependent on us at all. I even do a little hand holding for some during the early rough stages when the dreads are forming.  We do maintenance with the same respect to strengthen, but not disrupt the natural formation of the loc.


In answer to Matthew:

Thanks, man.  I began doing hair as an Aveda trained styilist in 1992 and let my hair dread in 2001.  Natural hair and products is what I've been about from the get go.  I appreciate that you are not lumping us in with the "salons that do dreads" because we are more like a group of misfit artists who happen to be licensed hairstylists with a love for dreads and taking care of people.

Comment by Matthew West on April 13, 2011 at 12:32am
Well done, Liz, very informative. My first experience was at a salon and the experience was "unique" to say the least, and I have to say that I walked throught the door and asked plenty of questions (which I don't think very many people do). I'm glad you give complete details about salons in your post it is really important info!

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on February 10, 2011 at 1:01am
liz what techniques do u use
Comment by Loc Doctor Liz on February 10, 2011 at 12:54am
I may babble a little, but I'm excited to find a good dread advice site. There's alot of people out there posting uneducated opinions that send some people off in a bad direction and I'm glad to hear alot of the same things I try to tell my clients.

As the owner of a dreadlock studio (we don't even like to refer to ourselves as salon) who often is faced with the repair/reconstruction of many dread-tastrophies from both people who went to a stylist in a salon or tried to do it themselves or get friends try to help. That's not to say I don't see my share of people who have properly locked hair and we just continue it's journey. Cost is what scares most. We really aren't that expensive, most people say we should charge more. We don't have to because we keep our overhead low by having a home and business under one roof. We are a fully licensed salon & business and employ dreadlocked stylists who know the ins and outs of locs.

I am in agreement with you on your disgust with salon dreadlocks. Previous to opening Loc Doctor Studio I worked for years in an "edgy" salon. I had dreads, alot of my clients had dreads. The high end salon pricing and fast paced "edgy" environment proved to be a bad fit for my growing dread clientele were important to me, so I created the studio in my home (finished garage). I have become known through word of mouth because we do good work and are honest, and pleasant.

We aren't dirty or a scam dread salon. Parents can bring their children here and they do. We are just a group of creative talents who love all things dreadlock. Our slogan "Dreadlocks for all Mankind" means everyone is welcome here. We focus on what our clients want and always open to learning more. We want to know more studios/loctitions like us. You are our community, not our competition and we have plenty of dreadlove to share.

Loc Doctor Liz - Owner
Kenzie Cooper - Best Assistant Ever
Casey Shannon - Assistant Manager/comic relief/
Courtney Baker - Stylist
Comment by Violet Lehew-Fletcher on October 3, 2010 at 3:11am
I believe, after reading all of the above, that my "Salon" meets all the requirements of a good "Salon". I do have a business license, but I work from my home. I only use products that are requested and I offer a lot of education.

BTW, Elastic bands can cause damage to hair. Your hair can grow around the elastic, it can break the hair, it can stop your hair from dreading further

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on April 10, 2010 at 3:09pm
your dreads are just babies
how would u lose anything by alowing your dreads to become healthy?
dreads require no work no effort and thats the beauty of them to continualy do a harmful thing to maintain them when its completely unesacary and counterproductive just makes no sence
Comment by Asian Kaleb on April 10, 2010 at 3:03pm
The other half pays up the ass and hopes that person knows what they're doing! I'm seriously considering switching it up, but i don't want to loose what i already have, and i haven't experienced any weak spot yet.....

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on April 9, 2010 at 10:29am
well could get week spots and u said 1/2 what about the other 1/2?

id just stop doing it from here on out and you'll probly be ok
Comment by Asian Kaleb on April 9, 2010 at 10:24am
that's kinda why i said their healthy and i let them go loose. Thnx for trying to answer my question though, faster reply's than other places. And yes I've read that people who generally get interlock done their hair falls out, no argument there but i found that over half of those people have it done by a friend with locks and problems start to occur in a couple of months (rejecting and weak points) because I'm 9months and have yet to find any weak point right now, do i have to worry about weak point developing in dreads that already appear locked. I don't use wax or stay in hair products. Thanx again SE

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on April 9, 2010 at 9:58am
stop interlocking and are you still tnr'ing ? tnr should be done ONCE anything after thats just ubdoing progress
its probly ok to redo the tips once ot ywice if they unravel but more then thats pointless cause odviosly they want to stay that way

interlocking creates weak spots, the more you do it the more weak spoys you get causing a wek dread
often people find they make theyre dreads fall right off (on any given day opur sites found by at least 5-10 people searching terms like "why did my dreads break off after interlocking" or "did interlocking cause my weak roots" etc the "look" isnt worth the risk

your forcing a dread through a gap in the roots, twisting the roots too tightly causing tension and making a weak gap
if you got 9 inches just stop interlocking the more natural growth will be healthy and the worse thing that will happen is someday you loose the ends off some
Comment by Asian Kaleb on April 9, 2010 at 9:40am
That's the thing, and correct me if I'm not right (hear to learn), but the main problem with interlock is that you restrict the movement. I get mine done probably once every 45 days, tnr in the mean time, and my dreads are healthy and strong man, like i can pull on em and have no worries when i go up to my cottage walking around the brush. their about 8-9 inches, i had them done when my hair was just under a foot long. Yes' they're loose, and mainly chose interlock because of the look, i know your all natural but do you have any advise for me, there's little on my kind.

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on April 9, 2010 at 9:19am
just dont interlock anymore i hope its short? if so if the ends fall off someday no big loss
the more interlocked it is (and the tighter they did it) the worse it will be but if its fairly loose it will probly be ok
Comment by Asian Kaleb on April 9, 2010 at 9:12am
hmm, ill try that, but mine's coming along fine and all we have is a salt pool (not chlorine), ill post pic's soon. Im excited that i found such a well put together site, thanx for the insight eagle, i think i need all the help i can get considering ima interlock lol

dread gurus
Comment by ☮ soaring eagle ॐ on April 8, 2010 at 10:11pm
how does salt add color unless your using a ton of salt? salts not bad on hair if rinsed off but its lemon juice often added to salt mixes that sun bleaches hair, not salt
Comment by Asian Kaleb on April 8, 2010 at 10:04pm
My salon encourages salt, why is salt so bad. It adds colour to your hair in the summer, if your looking for a natural bleached effect. It's also helps bind a dread without the restricting movement, a problem associated with wax or gels. I understand the whole dry hair itchy scalp concern, but it's called washing your dreads and knowing your head/scalp from your hair.
Comment by Island Mamma on March 27, 2010 at 9:58pm
Why no elastic bands?

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