The Dreaded Lock: What’s it doing to your hair?

Dreadlocks, a style currently known as a “hippie” or Rastafarian style, actually date as far back as ancient Egypt where you can find mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with dreads. There are lots of religious and cultural reasons why people may choose to get dreadlocks. For instance, a group in Kenya used them as an act of rebellion, Hindus use dreads to show their spiritual understanding that physical appearances are not important and most recently (1970s), the western style gained its popularity for, well, the style.

Now that we know a little bit more about the history of dreadlocks, let’s talk about what they do to your hair! Dreads are created in two ways. There’s the neglect method where you stop brushing, cutting and only shampoo occasionally. This will leave your hair to its own devices and typically make it tangle and grow together eventually into twisted, matted ropes of hair. Now while you may like the idea of not needing to wash your hair every day, it’s important to note that once your hair is tangled into knots and matted together, it’s going to be really hard to get it back to normal.

One solution is cutting it off. You can cut it at the root and grow out new healthy hair. Another option is a process called “take down”. This process requires time and patience but if you want to save your length, it may be worth it. There are take down kits you can buy but essentially you just need a lot of conditioner. You’ll need to sit down with your hair and slowing pull apart and untangle your hair.  (A big thanks to our new friend Natasha at for the info!)

If your hair has no texture (like mine) then getting dreads can be a little more difficult than the neglect method. This is when you have to double check your commitment because like I said, the only real way out is cutting them off. The way to dreads for the straight and no texture hair or if you don’t have the patience to wait 6-12 weeks is:

  1. Wash and dry your hair.
  2. Divide your hair into sections. The closer you can get those sections into squares with plenty of hair in each, the better end result you’re going to have.
  3. Product! Waxes, glues, pomades, or if you’re a purist, use water. Also, backcomb (tease) your hair sections.

Dry all the product with a hair dryer and bam! You should have dreads.

Extra product, back combing, excessive heat, drying out and tangling of your hair…it’s not exactly a recipe for happy healthy locks.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think dreads look really cool! If I had enough hair and wasn’t scared of the commitment, I think I’d consider it.

Keep in mind, just because someone has dreads doesn’t mean they are dirty or careless about his or her appearance  That’s a common misconception. There is still maintenance involved in keeping your dreads looking well-groomed. You need to continue washing your hair (but only once or twice each week), you need to dry them to prevent any mold from growing (eww), and if you want them to look “put together” they need constant tending to with gels, waxes and palm rolling.

For now, I think I’ll be happy with my low maintenance straight hair. What about you? Do you have dreads? Would you ever consider getting them? Tell me more!

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