I pretty frequently get facebook messages and emails from friends and strangers inquiring about my dreads and asking for pointers on getting them started/maintaining them. Since 2010, I've accumulated some experience with dread life, so if you're reading this, it's because you inquired and I sent you the link to this post or you stumbled upon it.
These are the answers to a few of the most common questions I receive. Hopefully the information is helpful to someone along the way.
Every person's dread journey will be different because every person's hair is different. Your hair, like your personality, is the sum of nature (your genetics) and nurture (your lifestyle and the products you use/have used). Some people have hair that wants to dread and some do not. With my very Caucasian genetics, my hair doesn't really want to dread, so it's a constant battle. The process I used to get started and methods I use today might work for you and it might not. Do your own research.
Pictured left is me before dreads (and that's my brother on the left). My hair is naturally very strong and moderately thick with a moderate wave.
Above is my hair a couple months before dreading it (and that's my fiance-now-husband). I bleached it to a medium blonde shade before starting. Bleach is very hard on hair and tends to weaken, dry it out and make it prone to tangle. Frankly, bleach gives the perfect texture to start dreads.
#6. Don't you have to, like, shave your head when you don't want dreads anymore?
Ah, the most common question I receive. The answer is no, I could comb them out of my hair just like any knot (start and the bottom and work your way up). Like I said before, my hair doesn't really "want" to dread.
Also I could grow them out (as in, not re-dread the roots as they grow).
But the real question is why would I ever not want dreads anymore?
- Leave them be. Depending on the diameter of the dreads and texture of hair, this might work for you
- Clockwise Rubbing: Probably the most common technique
- Interlocking: The dread world doesn't like this method but I've used it on and of. My two complaints are that it gives your dreads the texture of a braid over time and also shortens them because the hair is all twisted up.
- Visit my Thai friend in West LA: He uses a crochet hook to basically "weave" dreads into your hair. He specializes in Caucasian, Latino and Asian hair (all the difficult hair types) and he charges by the hour, but there's no one better. People fly from all over the country to sit in his living room and watch The Wizard of Oz while he works his magic.
Yes. Or rather Dusty bleaches them while I hold a laptop on my lap with a movie that we watch together. We bleach the roots every couple months as they grow in with these two products (pictured), which I buy from Sally Beauty Supply.
Mix, brush on roots, cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap, wait 40 minutes or so, rinse out.
I repeat, that's normal.
Just like people, dread locks go through an awkward phase before they mature. Commit to survive, stay the course, and don't judge or compare for the first 8-12 months you have your dreads. Just keep palm-rolling and trust me. More wisdom on this here.