How to Start Dreads?

How to start dreadlocks

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There are several methods by which you can start your dreadlock journey. These procedures have their own pros and cons so it is better to study carefully to determine which method will work best for you.

Can You Dread Any Hair Type?

Can You Dread Any Hair Type?
Can You Dread Any Hair Type?

Yes! Contrary to popular belief, all types of hair are dreadlock-friendly.

Dreadlocks are nothing more than strands of matted hair. There is certainly no science or technicality behind them.

Untouched and unmanipulated hair will eventually dread on its own, naturally. Try not to brush your hair for a week and notice how many knots you can form in such a short amount of time.

The ranging determinant for mature dreadlocks is the hair texture. All hair texture knots at different speeds so the procedure and timeline will not be the same for everybody. In fact, even your own locks will be somewhat different from others.

While you shouldn’t expect them to be perfect or all the same, you will surely love them regardless because they are yours.

Dreadlock Starter Kit

Dreadlock Starter Kit
Dreadlock Starter Kit

Before you dread your hair, we strongly suggest getting your hands on a Dreadlock Starter Kit. It has everything you require to create beautiful, neat, and healthy dreads, as well as products that you can use for ongoing maintenance.

Residue-free Dread Shampoo

Squeaky, clean hair makes dreading your hair straightforward. Deep cleansing your hair and clearing it of any residue build-up from regular styling products is your first step. Ongoing application of dread shampoo will help your dreadlocks to continue to mature, lock and knot up.

Dread Comb and Dreading Crochet Hook

The dread comb should have metal bristles so it won’t break when you pull it hard against the dreads. The bristles should also be closer together. 

The dreading crochet hook must be 0.6mm – 0.75mm in size. Alternating between backcombing and crocheting can produce a smooth, tight dreadlock.

Pro Elastics or Rubber Bands

The pro elastics included in the Dreadlock Starter Kit are small poly bands that hold up quite well through the first washings. They don’t pull your hair as much as normal rubber bands and they are nice and small.

Hair Clips

Use the hair clips to keep the sections of your dreads in place. Pretty much any clip will do as long as they take the hair out of your way.

Dread Accelerator and Dread Dust

There’s no uncertainty about it, dreadlocking is a labor of love, and the more help you have with accelerators the better. Accelerator and Dread Dust just make the whole process so much easier. The dreads will tighten and smoothen as they will form faster without generating a build-up of product.

Tightening Gel or Wax

After you have formed dreads using the backcombing and crocheting method, sealing the deal with the Tightening Gel or Wax will make them immediately neat and tidy. Moreso when you support it the kick-starting of the maturing process. 

You can choose whether you want to include gel or wax in your starter kit. 

The Gel is very common given its light, wash-out formula, and easy application. It has an Aloe Vera base, aiding with maintaining the hair’s health. And thanks to the Rosemary and Lavender essential oils, it can make your hair fragrant.

On the other hand, the wax is most suited for thickening, coarse hair types like afro hair or hair which tends to be very dry. It has the best binding ability and staying power so we suggest it is used sparingly.

A Friend or Two

Last but not least, dreads are not challenging to do. Sure, they are labor-intensive and you may need to ask your friend for help.

3 Ways to Start Dreads

Dreadlocks require planning, preparation, and regular maintenance to keep them healthy.

If you’re about to start your dread journey, you’ll first need to consider your hair type and the process that you’d prefer to use. Dreadlocks were produced for and will work best in black (African) hair, but Caucasian or Asian people can also achieve dreaded locks.


Divide your hair into small sections. You must ask a friend to help you with this method. That’s because you’ll need a pair of hands or use a comb to part your hair into several small squares.

It will be your decision on how many squares your friend makes. Every square will become a single dreadlock, and smaller squares will produce thinner dreads. Ideally, a dread strand is made of one inch to 2.5-inch squares.. 

  • Backcombing produces dreads on hair that is already at least 3 inches or 7.6 cm long. If your hair is shorter than three inches, you have to wait a while to grow your hair. Another option is to use another method to create the hairstyle.

Backcomb each section of hair if it is naturally straight.

Your friend or loctician should securely grasp the section of hair within each square.

Using a dread comb, constantly comb the hair back towards your head, starting with the hair about an inch from your scalp. As the hair starts to build up towards the roots, your friend can work farther from your scalp until they backcomb the whole strand of hair.

  • You can purchase a dread comb through major online retailers, a local hair salon, or beauty store. They may also be available for purchase at your local drug store, department store, or even in Walmart.

Never backcomb naturally curly hair.

African hair typically doesn’t require being backcombed. Thus, start your dreads by making sections to your hair, applying the product, and then using a dread comb to twist the whole section of hair in a spiraling movement, from the roots to the ends.

Do the same process for each square.

This is a time-consuming procedure. You have to wait while your friend back combs the section of hair in every square on your head (it could be as many as 30). As they backcomb every section of your hair, they can also start rolling the hair of each dread back and forth between their fingers. This will help push the hair in each dread as tightly as possible. 

  • Be aware that you can lose length when you build dreads by backcombing. Expect to lose at least 1/3 of your hair length. If you start dreads in 6-inch or 15-cm of your hair, the finished dreads may only be 3 inches (7.6 cm) long.

Secure each dread with two rubber bands.

Once every dreadlock has been fully backcombed, fasten the end of the dread with a small rubber band. You or your friend can place a small rubber band around the root of each dread (as close to your scalp as possible) to stop the base of the dread from loosening or unraveling.

  • If you have African hair, using rubber bands is optional. The curliness of your hair should be sufficient to keep the dread from unraveling.
  • Any type of rubber band will work.

Apply a dread wax to your dreads. After every dread has been completely backcombed and has rubber bands at the tip and base, it’s time to wax the dreads.

Ask your friend to liberally apply a dread wax to each of your new locks. This will help hold loose ends on each dread and will help the hair form proper dreadlocks instantly.

For safety purposes, it’s best if the wax you use does not comprise petroleum.

  • You’ll probably be able to buy dread wax at the same location you purchased the dread comb. Try looking for online retailers, hair salons, drug stores, beauty parlors, or big department stores.
  • Even after waxing your newly formed dreads, it will normally take dreads 3–4 months to attain maturity.


Divide each section into two or three strands. As with the process of backcombing, you must first need to part your hair into several small square sections. Once the squares are done, divide the hair from every square into two sections (you can also do three sections, although that needs more complex twisting). Secure each section using small hair clips or rubber bands.

  • Twisting is an effective method to begin dreadlocks in long or textured hair. This procedure will also work if you have short hair.
  • This method does not work well in Caucasian hair since it will unravel easily.

Cover each strand with dread cream or wax. This thick gel-like material will help the large strands of hair adhere and form quickly. Before you begin twisting the strands of your locks, make sure that each of them is fully covered with a thin layer of dread cream. Additional cream gives no added benefit, so you don’t need to apply too much on each strand.

  • You can buy dread cream or wax at a local hair or beauty salon, online through large retailers, or at a local drug store or big department stores.

Twist every strand counterclockwise, and then twist pairs together clockwise. At this point, you’re now ready to twist the strands of your locks. Start by taking each strand of hair and make three or four twists counterclockwise.

Once you’re done twisting a set of two strands (from the same square of hair), you can now start twisting the strands together. Pass one strand of lock clockwise over the other two or three times. This will create a large natural hair spiral.

  • Once you’re done twisting two strands of hair together, secure the lock together using a hair clip or rubber band at both the tip and the base. Because of the different directions that the strands have been twisted, the sections of hair will start to lock together and form dreadlocks.

Give each strand some time to mature into dreadlocks. The twisting method of creating dreadlocks takes time. The strands can usually take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to combine and give the appearance of a single, solid dreadlock. During this period, you should only wash the dreadlocks no more than twice a week.

  • As the locks start to mature, it’s necessary to keep them tightly rolled. If your dreadlocks start to unravel at the ends, re-roll the dread (using a comb or your hands) so that the strands remain tightly woven.
  • As your new hair starts to grow, you should avoid re-doing the twisting method. Doing so will lengthen the time required for dreadlocks to form. You can dread new hair by twisting them at the roots to match with the closest dreadlock.

Letting Dreadlocks Form Naturally

Grow your hair until it reaches a length of about 10 inches or 25.5 cm long. This process of developing dreadlocks does not work with shorter hair. Your hair will require a substantial length to form natural dreadlocks. This method also takes at least three years to form naturally.

  • Natural dreadlocks will only form for people with curly, natural, black hair. Individuals with Caucasian or Asian hair will have to use another process—or visit a hair salon—to acquire dreadlocks.

Wash your hair. For your hair to produce natural dreadlocks, you should wash it first. While numerous rumors may suggest that hair needs to be unwashed—or even intentionally soiled—for dreads to develop, this is untrue. Your hair produces oils, which are essential to keeping it healthy. But too much oil will stop hair from forming dreadlocks.

  • Once you start to grow dreadlocks naturally, you should take a two-week break from washing your hair, to avoid splitting the locks apart. After these two weeks, start washing your hair regularly again, once or twice a week.

Let your hair tangle. This is the primary method to forming natural dreadlocks. However, you’ll need to avoid the temptation to brush or comb your hair. Let your hair naturally fix itself together.

It’s hard to predict the growth of natural dreadlocks. And unlike other procedures, you will not be able to manage or control the shape of your dreadlocks.

It’s possible to produce minor adjustments to naturally formed dreads, however. For instance, if your hair grows a thin dreadlock, you can merge this into a larger dread using rubber bands and dread cream.

How to Start Dreads with Short Hair

Dreadlocks are a popular and meaningful hairstyle that has been worn by various cultures all around the world. If you begin to dread your hair while it’s short, it causes growing out full locks much easier later on.

You can either make your dreads with a brush or you can twist your dreads with a comb. By following the precise techniques and applying the right products, you can start your dreads before your hair is even an inch long.

Brushing Method

Do small circular movements with a soft-bristled brush. Brush small, inch-sized circles in a clockwise motion until your hair begins to form into balls. This normally takes about a minute or two. Once a ball of hair is formed, move onto another section of your hair and continue making dreadlocks throughout the hair.

  • The brushing method works great for coarse hair that’s 3/4″ to 2.5″ or 1.905 cm to 6.35 cm long.
  • You can also use a sponge brush, which is built specifically to produce dreads and curls in someone’s hair.
  • Using a sponge brush often works great on short hair than using a bristle brush.

Apply cream or wax to all of the balls.

Once all the hair is formed into small balls, you should apply a dread wax or cream to moisturize them and keep them in place. Place a dab of cream into your hand and rub it straight into each of the dreads.

  • Famous brands of dread wax you can use include Jamaican Mango & Lime, Doo Gro, and Africa’s Best.

Fasten the dreads with a hair clip or elastic band.

You can help keep the dreads with elastic bands or small hair clips. Put the elastic band under the ball, near the root of the hair. Make sure not to place the bands too tightly or it can produce discomfort to the person getting the dreads.

  • If the texture of your hair is medium to coarse, you can skip this procedure as tightly coiled hair will not unravel.

Dry the locks and let them rest for at least three hours.

Use a hairdryer to dry your locks entirely. Touch them to make sure that they are no longer wet, but keep them moisturized using wax. Once they are dry and set, you can start removing your hair clips or elastic bands.

  • If you have a hooded dryer, use it instead of a normal hairdryer, as it will work more efficiently. Don’t lay your head for three hours or the dreads may come loose.

Twisting Method

Section hair into inch-sized (2.54 cm) squares.

Take a small piece of hair and comb the knots out of it. Keep on doing this all over the head, producing 1×1 inch or 2.54 cm x 2.54 cm squares. Every section of hair will be a distinct dreadlock.

  • If you want, you can secure the end of the hair by placing a rubber band or a small hair clip. However, this is optional.
  • Twisting dreadlocks is perfect for coarse hair as short as 2 inches or 5.08 cm.
  • You have to wet your hair if you want to get the knots out.

Comb through a division of the hair and apply a loc cream.

Apply a moisturizing loc cream into each portion that you divided with your hand. Make sure that the cream is spread throughout before moving onto the following separated section of hair.

Insert the comb through the root and twist it.

Use a rat tail comb and insert it through the root of the hair. Twist the comb while pulling it, until you work your way to the end of your hair. Keep the hair in the teeth of the comb as you twist it. When you’re done with a portion, twist it into a small dread.

  • This process is perfect for short hair because you don’t need much longer to twist portions of the hair into dreads.
  • If you apply enough loc cream, you won’t need to tighten the dreads with rubber bands.

Keep on doing the dreads in neat and organized rows.

Continue forming dreads across the head horizontally, separating them an inch or 2.54 cm apart from one another. Once you are done with a row, move onto the next portion of the hair until the entire hair is dreaded.

Let your dreads dry.

Let your dreads dry for at least three hours before touching them or going to sleep. You can use a handheld hair dryer to take out any leftover moisture from dreading.

If you can, use a hooded dryer rather than a normal hairdryer. This works more effectively because it gives an even airflow.

Maintaining the Dreads

Maintaining the Dreads
Maintaining the Dreads
  • Remove the rubber bands out of your dreads once they are locked.
  • As your dreads entirely lock, there is no longer a requirement to hold them in place with rubber bands. Remove the rubber bands out from the roots and the ends of the dreads after about 3 months.
  • Keep them shampooed once a week. Oils and residues that build upon the scalp may have the hair kept from locking properly, stopping it from knotting up with the rest of the dread. Keep the new growth clean and dry so it will simply become a part of the rest of the dread.
  • Condition your dreads with an apple cider vinegar rinse twice a month. Mix 8 ounces (230 grams) of apple cider vinegar with 16 ounces (450 grams) of water. After you rinse the shampoo out from your dreads in the shower, pour the ACV-water mixture over your scalp and massage it in. Let it sit in your head for a couple of minutes before rinsing it out.
  • Place a headwrap to your dreads with a silk cap or scarf while you sleep. This will defend the dreadlocks from unwanted breakage and help them stay moisturized. You can buy silk nightcaps at beauty stores or online. Alternatively, arrange your dreads up in a bun and wrap them with a silk scarf. In the morning, when you wake up, take out the cap and give your dreads a moisturizing spray.

What to Expect After Starting Dreadlocks?

What to Expect After Starting Dreadlocks?
What to Expect After Starting Dreadlocks?
  1. Your scalp will be in pain, especially when you use the crochet method.
  2. If you begin your dreads using the crochet method, your dreads will surely be stiff for a few weeks. After applying a few shampoos, your dreadlocks will grow more flexible and soft. You don’t need to use any products. Just be patient.
  3. You might begin having dandruff. You most likely lessened the frequency of your wash. In this instance, wash your hair more frequently (at least once a week).
  4. Your dreads will get frizzy very quickly. This is the reason you should cover your dreads at night and do monthly maintenance until your dreadlocks are mature.

Get the right fix if you are suffering from any of these?