Tips for if you would like real dreads

Dreads vlak na het zetten en 9 mndn later

Dreadlocks made from your own hair are more than just a temporary haircut for most people. When the dreads have just been made, the look like thin greasy things. Beautiful locks usually take years to becaome thick and felted. It is the process that makes dreadlocks so special; patience is a very handy companion.

'Take' dreads

Once the dreads have been made, the real work starts. You can do nothing with them (except for washing ofcourse), but that can look dirty and neglected. This is because you always get new hairs that grow from your scalp, and the fact that loops and bumps can develop. If you don't like that, you will have to spend some money and time in the maintenance of your dreads. Expecially th first 6 months can be demanding if you want your dreads to be neat. It can even cost more time than you still would have had normal hair.


For caucasian hair the following 2 methods are often used:

  1. Backcombing and perm fluid.
    - Disadvantage: dreads are a bit loose in teh first half year (lots of maintenance)
    - Advantage: dreads are allowed space to get thicker on their own and usually get a smooth structure
  2. Knotting
    - Disadvantage: the knotty structure (little bumps) is not prefered by everyone and it can take longer before the dreads get thicker
    - Advantage: firm dreads straight away

When you have very curly hair you can use the backcombing method (perm fluid is not necessary) and the knotting method as well. Other methods include twist, Andere methodes zijn twists or braids. There are many more methods, which you can find on the internet.

The number of dreads

The more dreads you have, the thinner they are. Thinner dreads take more time to become a nicely felted dreadlock and are more time-consuming in terms of maintenance. Thicker dreads go faster through the locking process end the fewer dreads you have, the less time you need to spend on maintenance. Thinner dreads are generally better accepted by other people than very thick dreadlocks. 55 dreads is about average.


For dreadlock maintenance it is easy to have your scalp divided in small squares. A variation is a divisino into triangle or diagonal squares. A section that is about the same width as heigt will result in a round dread. We can guarantee you that a long/rectangular section will result in a flat dreadlock.
It is also possible to take random bundles of hair. This gives it a more natural look, but can cause the roots to tangle together more easily.

It is also to think about if you would like to have a parting and if so: if this should be in the middle or not.

Find a dreadsalon

If you are serious about dreadlocks, you are planning to have them for at least a couple of years. Don't go to a hairdresser just because he's just around the corner. It's worth to travel 100 km further if you are sure that that person can do it well.

Ask the hairdressers (or take a look on their website) if:

  1. they have experience with your hairtype (a hairdresser that only does very curly hair is not a very good plan if you have straight hair. That's because there are lots of techniques for curly hair that just don't work for straight hair. The other way around should not cause any problem: methods for straight hair -like backcombing and knotting - work well for curly hair)
  2. what method they use
  3. what they advice you to do for maintainance: applying lots of Murray's wax? The hairdresser who tells you this lacks some vital knowledge about dreads. Wax does not improve the locking process, it is just to stick loose hairs to the dreads and prevent older ones from getting too dry. Genuine bees wax would be the best kind of wax to use, and not petroleum-based products.
  4. how much experience they have and if you can see some photos. Don't get tempted by photos that were taken a year, 2 years or even later after the dreads were made. The way dreads come out depends largely on how the owner maintains the dreads.

FAQ taking dreads

"Once my dreads are made, I don't need to do anything about my hair ever again"

No, in any case you should pull loose hairs into your dreads. It's up to you how neat you would like to have your dreads. Especially the first 6 months can be demanding.

"Perm fluid kills my hair and is bad for my hair"

Firstly: hair does not live. The only living part is the root that's in your scalp. So perm fluid does not kill anything.

Secondly: it is indeed true that perm fluid damages the scales of your hair. It's exactly because of this that perm fluid is being used. Not just to maintain the form of the dreads, but also because slightly dry /damaged hair knots easily and helps getting compact dreads quicker. Dying and bleaching your dreads isn't really good for the hairs either, but will accelerate the process of getting pretty dreads. For the same reason there are people who spray lemon juice (contains acids, just like perm fluid) on their dreads.

Thirdly: dreads, with or without perm fluid, aren't good for your hairs anyway. Only when you are allergic to perm fluid or when you already have very dry hair, it is absolutely necessary to have your dreadlocks made without perm fluid.

"You cannot wash dreads"

Wrong. Dreads are basically knotted wisps of hair. When you don't wash your hairs, they get greasy. And greasy hair will knot very well. So just keep your hair clean to keep the locking process going. It is wise to wait a couple of weeks after the dreads were made, but after that you can wash them as often as you want.

"When I have had enough of my dreads, I will need to shave my head"

Wrong. There are plenty of people who removed their dreads with a comb and ended up with long beautiful hair.
It is certainly not easy to get dreads out of your hair and you should keep in my that you will probably end up with a short haircut, but definitely not bold! Dreads that were made with the knotting method will be a bit harder to remove than dreads that were made with backcombing method. The newest parts of your dreads (closest to your scalp) can be removed easily. If you are someone who want a new haircut every 3 months, you should probably not even consider real dreadlocks.

The end

Think thoroughly about the options you have. Be also prepared for some nasty prejudices: "dreads are dirty" is the most common one. Are you still convinced that you are meant for dreadlocks? Well then, have them made and enjoy them!