Experimenting with my hair Dreadlocking method
I have been doing a bit of Google research (if you can call google research lol) but anyway I was looking into how dogs hair mats as my mums dog is a long haired german shepard and always has mats of hair that is actually clean (the mats were sodt and clean and actually was a rather good looking dreadlock) , as I had always been told it was due to dirt or crap I decided to look into it.
What I found was it was due to the dog lying on its fur it gets matted due sometimes to dirt but just naturally tangles and as it gets wet and moisture starts to stay matted, the same thing happens to sheep's wool friction and moisture start the matting and thats why sheep need to be shawn. Also if you ever thrown a pure wool jumper in the washing machine it comes out all matted and shrinks. Thinking about this I came across felting, now I know needle felting destroys the fibers and creates a rather weak felt, I found that handmade wool felting is quite strong.
Felting wool is done by rubbing the wool together and soaking it in hot water that is soapy, the felt is created because the hot water raises the scales on the animal hair and the friction of rubbing it together creates tangles, as the wool dries it shrinks. Some even knit something do the same process it shrinks dramatically but becomes felted.
Now human hair is also animal hair but I been told it is not as coarse as say wool or dog hair, but I came across a few articles where people have actually made felt from human hair and have actually noted that its the same type of process as dreadlocking. But they done it exactly the same way as the wool.
So I decided to experiment as my hair is quite short and hard to dread I thought it be perfect for trying this out, so I sectioned my hair, twist and ripped it into nicely matted mess (which took 2 days on my own ) I put rubberbands on the ends and jumped in a HOT shower, as I didnt want to use soap that would leave residue I had read that dish washing liquid was not only good for removing residue but actually used in the wool felting, so I used a dime amount in my hand and wet my hair, it was too hot to stand under but ok to let my hair in and not burn. I used the flat palm rubbing method from the dreadwashing section of this forum and just pushed the dreads against my head enough to feel the dreads tighten and harden but not rip apart the dreads.
A small amount of black stuff came out in the water i assume it was previous residue from died hair and from the bands, I also found baking soda use in felting so I put some in a jar and merely filled it with the hot water and pored it over my head and left it for 10mins then rinsed it out, i followed with an apple cider vinegar 10 mins then rinsed that out, and as in both dreading and felting vinegar is used to balance the PH levels from the baking soda which is a bit higher in PH.
I then squeezed out as much water as I could but trying not to pull out the dreads and then left my hair to air dry. As it did I have notice just like the wool felt it shrinks which explains why people experience sometimes such dramatic shrinkage in dreadlocks ( which may probably be reduced if they take cold showers ) I then took the bands out and plan not to put them back in, a lot fell out due to the Hot shower anyways, but as they can melt and reduce the amount hair can move I knew it was best not to leave them in, which also explains why friction and not having band helps in dreadlocking. (Maybe with longer hair there not even needed in the shower but as the were helpful in sectioning my hair and as it is short, helped the twist and ripped hair stay together)
In the hair felting articles you start with rubbing some hair together then add the hot soapy water and watch as feels harder then it shrinks and mats tighter ,due to the scales on the hair is raised due to heat and the friction of rubbing tangles them, I know I have already said this but what I found amusing is that its the washing of the hair and the friction that actually makes the process work and I may be completely wrong but if this is true it means that all the dreadlocking methods concentrate on the tangling of the hair backcombing crochet etc and people think dreadlock are disgusting because we dont wash, when its actually the process of washing your hair is what creates the dreadlocks in the first place and that the initial tangling of hair is not as important as the dreadlock being able to move (friction) and be washed to tighten. and as a side note: wax actually stops friction and repels water making it hinder the actual dreadlocking process.
Now I know a lot of people already know this and even I knew some of it through experience but was just interesting to follow through with my experiment and realize a few WHYS of what was happening.
So as SA might say throw out your comb, avoid the wax and, yes you can wash your hair. Then leave it alone.
Simply by washing it will tighten( that doesn't mean wash every five minutes and there will be some loosening before it tightens and eventually shrinkage) but anything you do like re-twisting or more backcombing will only restart the process.
I found this an interesting experiment and I hope most of it I got right and if it helps anyone else like it did me understand some of what happens in the dreadlocking process s the all the better.
peace out, AussieLocker
updated by @aussielocker: 01/13/15 09:01:11PM