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Just Starting Out & What To Expect

the Barrellady
5 years ago
1,302 posts

Hi everyone. I thought that I would post some random tips that I have learned over the past year. I started my journey with the twist & rip method, so my tips will be on what I know from my journey. My mind jumps back and forth, so I am sure that my writings will too, so here goes and enjoy my tips etc...


Use a towel the same color as your hair, dreads love to eat lint, this way the lint will not be as noticeable. Gently pat dry only, don't rub or wrap up hair.

Using a micro fiber towel, like a ShamWow, will drastically reduce the drying time for dreads. It will suck the excess water right out of them, again just pat hair..Micro fiber towels can be found in the Auto Section of stores.

For drying purposes only, it is recommended that the section where it meets the scalp should be no larger than 1 inch or 2.5 cm. Larger sizes, fatties, congos can take days to dry once they are mature and need special care to get them dry or mold can set in. So it is much easier with 1 inch or smaller sections/dreads.


Twist & rip sections should not be done tightly nor look like braids. The sections you make are not dreads at all, but only the blueprints to where you want your dreads to be. They will go through many changes on their journey. Many of you are worried when they loosen or fall out. They will do that and need to do that in order to mature. When making them, use the method of Twist Rip Rip Rip Twist Rip Rip Rip Twist......

CRAZY SHAPES: To become a mature dread, they will zig zag, loop, knot and do many crazy shapes, It is truly amazing to see this part of the journey. This process slowly feeds the section up and shrinking the hair to become the thickness of where the section meets the scalp. Your scalp section will be the size of your mature dread.

SHRINKAGE: The longer the hair, the more the shrinkage. I started with almost waist length hair and it is now up to my shoulders. Why does this happen? Well, to mature they feed their way up to that scalp section, feeding the hair up as it goes. Loosing hair length is unavoidable, but the reward is beautiful dreads. There is a product called Biotin 6000mcg strength,which can be found in the Vitamin section of your local drug store for under $10. This promotes hair and nail growth. This is especially good for people to take if their hair is under 6" as dreads like 6" hair or longer.

THE DREADED FRIZZIES:There WILL be a time of the frizzies which can not be avoided. This will pass in about a month and varies from person to person. This was the part I did not enjoy. If you need to go out to somewhere special during this time, you can calm down the frizzies with Aloe Vera, it will last for a few hours only.

DREAD SIZE: Your dreads will become the size/thickness of where the hair meets the scalp. This area determines the mature dread. They look much skinner in the beginning, but by the time their journey is finished, they will be that thick.

PALM ROLLING, ROOT ROLLING/RUBBING: Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it. These only damage the hair, there is nothing good about doing it at all.

ROOT AREA: Again, do not do anything to the roots, no rubber bands, no strings, no rubbing, no nothing. This area needs to be loose so that there is no stress on the scalp. Stress=hair loss and thinning dreads. A mature dread can have a loose root area of 1 inch or more. Baby dreads can have a loose root area of 3-4 inches. So never worry that they are loose, that is a good thing.

RUBBER BANDS; Take them out or never use them. Rubber bands can dissolve over time and be fed into the dread. They will be sticky and attract all sorts of lint etc and you don't want that. Bands will also put pressure points on the area that they are and this can damage or weaken the hair in that area. You don't want any breakage of your dread down the road from having weak points.

WRAPPING DREADS; While in the forming stages, it is best to use the criss cross method to wrap. This method still allows the section to go through its journey to become mature, the cross cross does not inhibit the journey as it is not tight. Embroidery thread comes in a hundred or more colours , so have fun if you do this. They will only last for up to a couple of months.

KEEPING EM TIDY: The process of growing mature dreads is messy. Allow it to be. There is no such thing as tidy in the first year.

SEPARATING SECTIONS: As the sections are dreading, they will try to grab onto each other. If you don't keep up on separating them, they will join together and make congos/or really fat dreads. Have a seat, put on the telly, and start to pick up each section to make sure it is not joined by another, if it is, just pull them apart. At the back of your head, due to sleeping, you may have to do this often, but otherwise, try to do it only weekly or every two weeks during the first few months so as not to disturb the knotting process. If your hair mats together easily, then just do this more often.

DREADS FORMING ON ONE SIDE FASTER: Your sleeping patterns may cause your hair to knot faster on one side, or one area. If you only sleep on your back, then the back section will knot up form the tossing and turning and will dread faster there. It may even need more separating there too. If you only sleep on one side, you will notice the difference too. Try using a pillow behind your back and flip to the other side. I ended up having to sleep on the couch for a couple of weeks so I would not roll over to my normal side, and it worked! Don't worry, they will all catch up in time.

WATER TYPE: There is hard water & soft water. Soaring Eagle has a map on the site to help you find out what kind you have in your area. Soaps and shampoos work well with soft water, and they rinse out well. Many products can be used with the soft water, like Dr.Bronners. Now if you have hard water, that is another story. Dr. Bronners does not rinse out well and will leave a residue buildup, many soaps will also. Vickie from has made wonderful products with hard water in mind. There is no build up in the hair and they work fantastic. NOT ALL DREAD SHAMPOO or DREAD SOAP BRANDS ARE CREATED EQUAL, NOT ALL WILL RINSE OUT PROPERLY WITH HARD WATER. So be aware, even though it is advertized as a dread shampoo, it might still leave a residue.

WASHING HAIR: Dreads are clean and should never be dirty, Many people out there have a misconception that dreads are dirty. Well shut my mouth and call me Sally, where did they come up with this nonsense! In the beginning try washing your hair every 2-3 days, they will dread quicker this way. There is a fantastic home remedy you can use, I used this for most of my first year: Mix 1/2 cup (.24 liters) of baking soda (BS) to 5 cups (1.18 liter) of water.... Shake and pour on wet scalp...shake the bottle mixture, not your body...Leave it to sit on scalp for 10-20 minutes, then rinse out well...This will exfoliate the scalp and dead skin without scrubbing, but if you want to scrub with your fingertips, then go ahead....So now that you rinsed out the BS, you are going to safely condition the hair and restore the PH...Mix 1-2 capfuls of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to 5 cups of water...pour on head and rinse out right away or within one minute. If left on longer, it can over condition the hair and cause knotting to slip out. If your hair is very oily, you might only need to use the ACV every couple of weeks, as your natural scalp oil is restoring the hairs PH. Use trial and error to find out how often your oily hair will need the ACV rinse. For people with non oily hair, the ACV is important after using BS, as the BS can dry out and fry out your hair over time, you will not notice it right away. I did the mistake of not always using it and my hair was getting very dry. Hair should be soft. *If you have hard water, purchase a large water bottle from the grocery store or water place, I purchase cooler size, and use that for your 5 cups water for mixing your BS into, it does not dissolve properly with hard water, then rinse with your regular shower water*

RESIDUE BUILDUP: How to tell if you have this, well, if your newly forming sections feel hard in the first year, you probably have buildup. Use a anti-residue shampoo to remove the residues. I have used Neutrogena and have had much success. *These should only be used 3 or 4 times a year due to the harshness"

SEA SALT SPRAYS: Using a sea salt spray helps to lock up the hair faster. If you live by the ocean, all the better, go for a dip and then rinse out hair. For those of us who can't do this, bring the sea salt to you. Mix sea salt (not table salt) with water in a spray bottle, the salt should be about 3.5% of the ratio of water. Spay it on your hair, not scalp, and leave it on for no more than two hours, as it can dry out the hair. Now just go wash your hair however you do. Vickie also sells Himalayan Sea Salt Spray for $15. For your own home made mixture, you can purchase sea salt form grocery stores, health food stores, bulk food stores and even from Fish stores that sell live fish, they use it for their sea salt aquariums.

ESSENTIAL OILS: These will be your best friend. When you purchase them, make sure they are 100% essential oils. These can be used to combat dry scalp, dry hair, bugs, mold...the list goes on. Here is a link to Soaring Eagles list of essential oils and their uses.

LICE: Don't feel bad if you get those little buggers. Easy to happen if you have school age kids. Lice does NOT mean you are dirty. You do not have to cut off you locks. S. E. has a fantastic remedy for this, so keep smiling, he will help you out.

CAN YOU TAKE OUT DREADS: Should you ever decide down the road that dreads are not for you anymore, YES, you can take them out. It will take time, and plenty of hair conditioner or oils, but slowly your can unknot the hair. Give yourself a few days to get them all done. Now, if you used the crochet method, then you will not have much hair left, when you undo the sections, all the broken hairs will fall to the ground and you will have not much hair left. You can't reverse what the hook method does.

PATIENCE: Ahh....the best friend we need through the journey of growing dreads. The journey can't be rushed, it is not the same time frame for all. My hair has some mature locks underneath, the rest is still messy looking, some sections still have many 'fingers' coming off the ends of them. Some other members on this site have locked and mature dreads on their entire heads at one year. Some members hair is still going through the journey at 2 years. ...What I am trying to point out is don't sweat it...your dreads will be finished when they are finished.

HOW TO GROW DREADS..WHAT SHOULD I DO...: Okay, so you will keep your dreads clean, you will separate the sections when need...and guess what?...that's will now sit back and go for one of the most awesome rides of your life. Embrace the journey, awaken your inner soul and allow all the feelings to swallow you up. You will be a changed person by the time your locks are mature.

I rambled on long enough, I hope that this helps some of you new members out...Peace to all of you & enjoy your journey, The Barrel Lady

updated by @the-barrellady: 02/14/15 12:26:06PM
the Barrellady
5 years ago
1,302 posts

BLUNTED TIPS: Huh, after all that rambling I forgot this one. I was worried when some of my tips started to blunt and wanted to take them out. Soaring Eagle said to let them be, let those dreads form how they want to form. Nature shall take its course. Unblunted ends are ideal and dry much quicker, as they have a drip line for the water to come off. Blunted/rounded tips take much longer to dry, they hold in the water. However your ends naturally go, just let them be.

DaThrill Helton
5 years ago
48 posts
Ahhhh patients that's what i stuggle with. i want dreads now lol
5 years ago
133 posts

I like the tip about the towels as i use a whole roll of toilet paper each time i dry my dreads :P Also pulling them apart after washing i'll try as it bloody hurts whenthey rdry!

Barefoot Mama
5 years ago
1 posts

I took a break from reading and took all of my rubber bands out. Thanks for the advice!

the Barrellady
5 years ago
1,302 posts

Patience is the hardest part for me, especially when I see others with their journey quicker, kind a makes me jealous, and that's not usually my nature. Keep strong and don't let the struggle overtake you. One or two years wait for a life long head of dreads is worth it. Enjoy your journey...Peace.

DaThrill Helton said:

Ahhhh patients that's what i stuggle with. i want dreads now lol
5 years ago
5 posts

Very informative article. Thanks!

5 years ago
390 posts

Just adding to the information:

Hair growth: Your hair doesn't stop growing. If kinks and loops happen because of hair growth, one could say shrinkage happens because of hair growth also.

the Barrellady
5 years ago
1,302 posts

Nope, hair never stops growing, but while it is shrinking, it is hard to tell that it is still growing. Kinks and loops happen so that the hair will shrink & mature, becoming the thickness of where the hair meets the scalp. Once the hair matures, the new growth up top will do the same thing. Just a side note, mature dreads will always have about 1 inch of loose hair. That's a good thing, that way there is not pressure pulled on the scalp when the dreads move or are tied up.....Peace

GoldenEagle said:

Just adding to the information:

Hair growth: Your hair doesn't stop growing. If kinks and loops happen because of hair growth, one could say shrinkage happens because of hair growth also.

OliviaJonas Aley
5 years ago
30 posts

Wonderful stuff Barrellady! Thanks for taking the time to post this helpful gem! I might add that it works pretty well to invest in towels that are a little more expensive. I have towels that I have been using for awhile ( I would imagine that most of the lint has been washed away in the laundry), and I don't seem to have a problem with lint. Much love! Olivia

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