By JulieCat, 2019-03-30
2.5 years in and I can finally say that the initial, waiting for mature locks to form phase is over and I'm finally able to just watch them grow! It's a milestone.
I remember starting my commitment to dreadlocks and wanting to read and see everything I could get my hands on to make sure I was making the right decision (hence this account). So I'll share my haircare here in case there's anyone out there who was like me.
SPOILER: The only real secret is PATIENCE
PRE-DREADS: WATER-ONLY WASHING
I gave up using all soaps on my hair 2 years before even thinking about wanting dreadlocks again ("again" because I had a set when I was younger that were terrible). I chose to wash with water only. There's a whole bunch of other people who have terrific websites dedicated to water-only washing transitions; I highly recommend them!
Basically shampoo strips the natural oils and the conditioner puts them back with artificial ones. These chemicals anger our scalp into producing too much natural oil to flush them away, which is why we get greasy hair after not washing it for a few days. Naturally our hair can go weeks before getting too greasy.
Starting to wash with just water (I did a regimen of literally only wetting my hair once a week; that was the washing) the scalp gets REALLY greasy for a while. Mine was 6 months. For my entire 3rd year of university I wore a hat. It was bad, but I knew it would get better (gotta love the internet for people putting up every random detail about their lives, cheers). I brushed it with a natural bristle brush and scratched the scalp to preen the oils through the hair, yes like a bird.
Eventually it got better, my hair was able to go an entire week or two without getting greasy. This was the hair I started working with. Not everyone wants to be able to do that before dreads but I'm thankful that I happened to.
* I live in an area with hard water so sometimes I used an apple cider vinegar rinse after washing with water. 4tbsp or so of ACV in water in one of those excessively large 1L Gatorade bottles that are sold in America, plus essential oils if you don't want to smell like a foot.
EARLY: THE FIRST YEAR
The preamble above was to just say that I had no scalp issues and why.
I went on a long-distance hike for 3 months during the first year, during the messiest time. I continued to wash with only-water once a week while in trail towns and did a deep clean when I got back.
I continued to wash with just water until just over 1.5 years. I worked in a restaurant with a VERY STRONG onion and curry smell. I'm talking bad. People visiting stores next door to it would leave with the signature scent on their clothes.
I needed something stronger than water because my hair smelled BAD. But I refused to think that I needed any sorts of soaps on my hair. I tried apple cider vinegar rinses more frequently but it didn't get rid of the smell. Deep cleans weren't feasible because doing them every week is damaging.
So I admitted that my lifestyle and hairstyle changed since I first decided to wash with water, and I needed something new. But I refused to use many of the soaps and shampoos that many people recommended. I know that many "natural" things aren't actually natural so you have to be careful. It also had to work in hard water.
Dr Bronner's bar soap: I've heard that people don't recommend it. But I was caught up with the romantic vision it has: "It says all-one!" I'm stubborn and can't make a decision unless I've learned a mistake for myself. I used it properly, not directly applying the bar to my dreads, but this stuff literally just puts residue into dreadlocks and the hard water made it worse. End of trial, and back to water-only until I found something better.
Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap (liquid): After a lot of research I decided on this one. I tried it, and it completely washed out, as if I was washing with water-only. Not that Dr Bronner's junk. This left no residue and has proven to be great for the second year of dread growth.
While working my restaurant job, I washed once a week, in the mornings on a day off to let them dry completely. Now that I don't work there anymore, I still use Alaffia soap, but I wash my dreadlocks every 2 weeks now. On the weeks that I don't wash, I still separate and use a bit of oil to moisturize. That's also what I do after washing them. I find that going over once a week without separating is too long for me, even now, and important now that they're finally starting to grow.
Hope this was informative!
By JulieCat, 2019-03-30
I'm writing this 2.5 years since I started dreading and for the first time I'm noticing growth of mature dreads! I want to post a timeline of my dreads from start to now, as I've taken photos of my hair every month for the first year, then every few months from then until now. Half a year ago, at the 2 year mark, was when I could say that all of my hair finally locked tightly. Comparing a photo from yesterday to then, I've finally noticed growth, and this is the milestone that many promising dreads are waiting for! It's a good day.
By JulieCat, 2017-03-30
Ah separation, how I took thee for granted when I first heard of you. Everything I read about natural dreadlocks said Separate, make sure you're separating those dreads that are growing together! Make sure they don't grow together at the roots! Pull them apart! So sure I kept separating them, pulling them apart all blissful and ignorant. Not until over 3 months in did I realize OH you don't just pull them apart, GO THROUGH THOSE THINGS AT THE ROOT HAIR. BY. HAIR. Make sure that they're separated at THE ROOT and not just the dread itself or you will end up with a giant hairball with some dreads sticking out of it (sounds cute right). Once I realized how vital this is, it took over an hour (s'okay it was good music time) to go through those suckers hair by hair and even a 15 minute break because it became so overwhelming to separate the last three (see image) and I was convinced that the back right side of my head was forever destined to have just one giant dread. Honestly now that I know this it's all good and my dreads are progressing better than ever, but WOW was it a fun time really separating them for the first time. It is easier after they've been washed, then the single hairs that you're separating have more elasticity and won't break.
By JulieCat, 2016-11-01
This is my first dreadlock update! I've been meaning to do this for a while but being in my fifth (and last!) year of university I've been extremely busy...muahaha all the more reason to let my hair tangle at its will and have one less thing to do.
I'm using the neglect method, and it's working wonderfully for my hair right now! I couldn't be more pleased! (Pictures will follow soon as soon as I find my camera cord.) I've been washing my hair once a week for a while now. This doesn't seem like a lot but it works for my hair. I cut ALL products from my routine back in October 2015 and have been going the all-natural way, using water only washing when possible, clay toothpaste, coconut oil deodorant, all those goodies. After a long transitioning phase to not using any shampoo my hair got used to only using water and actually produced a lot less grease than it used to, so that it only needs to be washed once a week or so. Recently I noticed that the sides of my hair have been being a little stringy (read: greasy), which was fine when I was brushing it. However this prevents proper locking up of dreads so I upped the washings to twice a week. I simply scratch at my scalp under running water for a few minutes, not touching the rest of the hair, then do an acid rinse using a solution of lime juice or raw apple cider vinegar if I'm using hard water. Then I just let it air dry.
(This type of hair care is so wonderful and resonates so strongly with me, since it's pretty much how I've been caring for my hair for years. I only brush it out once every week or so. Because of this I actually don't know my real "dread birthday," or the day that I stopped brushing it, but just chose October 9 since that's the day I decided I wanted to let it dread.)
As of this moment most of my hair is still in the sectioning phase, but I do have five dreads that have upgraded to tangly teenager status: three on the back of my head, one for my bangs-area, and one at the back of my neck. I'm not sure if dread beads are my thing yet, I think I might prefer not using them and just seeing what my hair does (with a little sectioning help) on its own.
This is so freeing really, to let my hair do its own thing. It seems so beautiful that if I just let my hair do what it wants, it ends up being what I want from it too. This is the ultimate way to live in harmony, that you can see a force of nature working its magic on your own head.
By JulieCat, 2016-10-22
Life and evolution make me wonder. Cats' and dogs' hairs grow to a certain length, then stop. So does our leg hair, arm hair, underarm hair, etc. Why does our crown hair ever grow? I believe there's some sort of spiritual reason for this, but I can't be too sure what it is. Maybe it's a manifestation of our spiritual energy, maybe it's a way of marking our human species as a special one. There's no denying that our species does have the most power on our Earth, the most self awareness and cumulative knowledge. There's something about letting your hair grow out that is so primal, so natural, so beautiful that you can't help but feel its positive energy. Hair is also such a personal thing to have, being literally the same thing in every single human being, but why are we subscribing to a mass idea that it all needs to look the same, that it has to be dyed and straightened and cut to a certain style and length for people to understand who you are? When did this happen that instead of seeing another human being as just another human being, one of our own species that we can communicate and share with, we started judging them on how well we think they're being human, to our standards, and don't want to get to know them? We need to take off our glasses that society makes us view other people with, this type of worldview or perception we are expected to have, and see with our own eyes, because there is so much goodness out here. We need to let go of society's grip on us, this image and life we think are expected of us. Live your life! Drink water, let Nature take your hair in her hands and create beautiful branches and roots like in the trees, and be proud of who you are! One Love, Peace