There are many ways to describe dreadlocks; locks, dreads, ropes, snakes…
There are also just as many ways to make them!
They are a naturally occurring process in every culture known in history. If you stop brushing your hair, no matter race or ethnicity, your hair will eventually lock up.
As to how you go about getting them there faster, I can only speak from my personal experience. I researched for years to determine the best method that I thought would work for my hair.
I tried a combo of methods initially and for my hair, it worked well. I have 60 little babies on my head. Originally I had 42 with the front half of my head left as loose hair.
My dreads matured fast, although I did have quite a bit of shrinkage at first. From what I have seen I believe my hair type was more prone to shrinkage.
My hair is type 1A, very fine and stick straight, with absolutely no ability to hold a curl, not to save my life.
Branden’s hair is coarse and curly when short.
I have also used my technique on a friend with 4C hair, and another friend whose hair was similar to mine, very fine and straight.
All of them took to the process. I backcombed very little on the 4C hair and as well with Branden’s course 2A hair.
I am going to go through this step by step and I will use some better photos throughout when we did my bangs about 3 years into my lock journey.
I left the front half of my head loose. For me, having the loose bangs gave me more to do with my hair during my shrinkage.
We used about 7 inches of human hair to make small extensions when we did my bangs last year, so I could still tie up all of my hair. I tried really hard to take good photos and videos when we could to show the technique.
I took my time with my dreads as I was doing them myself. I had a friend help me separate my hair into the sections to make my dreads roughly even with my hair and how I wear it.
It took me 9 days to do them.
I just backcombed each section a bit, palm rolled it to shape and then used a small .75mm crochet hook to tighten them up.
When my arms got tired of being above my head doing all this I took breaks. My hair went from 5-6 inches below my shoulders at the longest part to sitting right at them.
Within a month they grew but had also been shrinking into a mature dread so it didn’t feel like they were. I had an unusual marker of growth due to my laziness on my last dread.
The last dread I made was backcombed too much because at that point I was just tired of doing them. So it has grown to be a normal-sized (relative to my others) dread, with a fat bottom 2 inches.
It’s clearly shown me how much growth I have had over the last almost 4 years. I have some things I do differently now than when I initially made mine.
I crochet less and learned the more crocheting you do for most hair types means more shrinkage.
After washing my hair for the first couple of times I would lightly crochet them to tighten back up. I believe they would have dreaded without that step but I wanted to control them in the beginning before I knew that was not a real possibility in my journey.
I had big dreams of non-frizzy dreads, that’s not a thing. You have to wait that phase out. While there are ways to lessen the frizz, I suggest embracing it, its all part of your journey.
Now at almost 4 years, the only time I do root maintenance is when I have an event or something I want to look really pulled together for. Other than that I just wash, dry them and add some coconut oil or a safe leave-in conditioner when they are dry.
So we have had a brief (ok it was a long one) overview of dreads, let’s get into how we do them!
Step 1:Sectioning Your Hair
I will start by saying there is no “right way” to do them. For me, putting too many products or the wrong ones at least can gunk up your babies from the beginning so I do not recommend it.
I highly recommend not using any conditioning products for a couple of months prior and starting an all-natural, residue-free shampoo regimen as soon as possible as well. This will prep your hair for locking, and in my hair type, it was a tremendous help to not be so smooth.
We section the hair first using small rubber bands. This directly affects the size of the dreads later on and is a personal choice for everyone.
My sections were relatively smaller than the ones I made for Branden. His vision was really thick dreads, for me I wanted medium to small and a wide mixture of sizes. I’ve done very specific ones where all are roughly the same size.
It is literally a personal choice and will determine this part for you.
I suggest getting a friend to help with parting but you could do in front of a mirror but the back might not be spaced as precise. I would not do these too tight, as later you will either take out or cut off and if you do them too tight you will be sorer than you may be already.
Step 2: Twist and Rip!
Once you have your sections, you need to determine the thickness of each one before backcombing. If you have very coarse or curly hair, you may not need to do this.
I started each section with two “twists and rips”, which I will insert a picture and video of this to explain better. You take a section and split roughly into two, you twist it around one another and then holding together you “rip” down from the tip of the section toward the root and the “twist” and then repeat once.
Some people use twist and rip to form their dreads entirely. For me, this caused more breakage on my hair type and others as I have experienced so I only use it to form a nice firm base to backcomb into.
Then using a sturdy, fine-tooth com, begin lightly backcombing each section from root to tip. You want to use a light hand, and be aware of how much backcombing is bulking the hair section. If you do not do this evenly,
I will note here that on my last few and especially last dread when I started my main head of them. I ended up paying the price for this, as that dread was much fatter on the bottom than the top. I kinda love the misshapen dread it created, but if you don’t want that, be cautious.
You need to backcomb only enough to create a bit of volume and roughing it up before palm rolling and then lightly crocheting the dreads.
To palm-roll take the section in your hand and work from root to tip roll the hair as if it was a play-doh log. I wish I had a better way to describe this guys, but play-doh is what always comes to mind!
Step 3: Crochet
When crocheting the dreads the less you do is better. Some hair types are going to be prone to shrinkage or breakage of hair during the process and for those, the more crocheting you do the more damage you can cause!
Start at the root when crocheting and turn the dread so you pull hair from all sides and make the dread more round.
Move down the dread slowly and palm roll between crocheting it to form the right size and tightness.
If the hair is anything aside from straight and silky, you can crochet a lot less.
After crocheting and doing a final palm roll the section is done!
I always work from the bottom up! For me that is easiest to do first as the top will be the most sensitive for most people.
Step 4: Post-Locking Care
I left my rubber bands on the first couple of days, but by the second day I decided I could not deal with that sensation, and for me my dreads were fine. When I did my first head for someone else they took theirs out pretty quickly as well. For Branden, we took them out the next day.
I wore a bandanna or scarf on the front part of my baby dreads for the first month or so, this helped tame the tendency for tight new dreads to stick up with my hair type.
Initially, I washed my dreads on the 5th day after I started them, I only used shampoo on the front portion of my hair that I kept undreaded at first, and let the soap and water mixture run down the new dreads and rinsed well.
Crochet hooked lightly after each shower for the first couple of months.
It may have not been needed that much, although for me it did not cause harm to my process. With Branden’s thick locks and coarse hair we only did the first couple washes.
Remember that everyone’s journey is different and will lock up or mature at its own rate.
Just feel out your needs as you go. Root rubbing is a method I use to tidy up my roots now instead of crocheting that part as it can pull tightly for a day or so after doing root maitenence with a crochet hook.
If I leave my roots alone, they start dreading each lock on their own within a few weeks. For Branden’s hair type, his roots do it even faster. Neither of us crochets them right now aside from me tidying mine up for my niece’s wedding.
We will post as many photos and videos as we can here. Please send your comments or questions to us, as we always love feedback. We wanted to give out the information we gathered over time, and have helped us.
I have a short article on bleaching my dreads almost 4 years ago, then dying them 4 months ago with Arctic Fox that I will be posting soon with videos as well.
I just bleached that dark red out and went lavender/grey toned blonde so I will try to get that article and video clips loaded up soon if your interested in how to do this yourself and save money while not ruining your locks.
I will also create a photo album soon with my dread transformation from April 2016 to now (April 2020) for you to see.
Let us know what type of dread related content you’re looking for! Stay shining my dears