What Are Dreadlocks? How To Make, Care and Maintain Dreadlocks?

Thinking of getting dreadlocks? We don’t blame you. Dreadlocks are awesome! The coolest people wear them and you want them too (so do we).

But as well as looking ace, dreadlocks also look like they’d be tricky to maintain – as well as even make in the first place! So how do you do it?! And is it as hard as it sounds and looks?

In this article, Beauty and Tips has got you covered on everything you need to know about making and caring about dreadlocks, from whether or not you can even have dreadlocks with your hair type, to how to maintain them … and whether or not they need to be washed (yes they do need to be washed!).

But first …

A Brief History of Dreadlocks

Where in the heck did dreadlocks even come from?

If you told you mom that you were dating dude with dreadlocks when you were 14, she would have looked at you in horror. This is the moment most moms dread (get it?!).

“No, you are NOT dating a man with dreadlocks,” she’d have said. “Why can’t you find a nice boy with a fringe?”

Because, mom. Because.

The thing is that, despite their modern day association with certain youth subcultures, dreadlocks have been around for a really long time.

In fact, they’ve been around for thousands of years!

“No way!” you might protest. “There is NO way that a hair style can last that long. Besides, Bob Marley invented dreadlocks.”

Incorrect. Dreadlocks have been around for thousands of years, and the reason they’ve lasted this long is simple – they’re mega cool.

And while Bob Marley played a part in their renaissance (as we’ll find out in a moment), he didn’t invent the style.

So where did they come from?

Now, the problem when recounting the history of dreadlocks is that things are a bit hazy. Different accounts say different things. Some sources reckon that dreadlocks first appeared in India, thanks to their diety Shiva having dreadlocks. Because of this, his followers began to get their hair in dreadlocks.

That said, the very first archaeological proof of a people sporting dreads actually comes from Egypt. Here, mummies with dreadlocks have been recovered.

But while the origin of dreadlocks is a contentious one, what’s less contentious is that dreadlocks have been worn by practically every single people throughout history. Pretty amazing, huh? The Romans described the Celts as having “snake-like-hair” (definitely dreadlocks), while the Vikings and the Germanic tribes wore dreadlocks, too.

Heck, even the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church have worn dreadlocks. So the next time your mom worries that you’re dating a man with dreadlocks, tell her that the monks used to wear ‘em.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of dreadlocks’ history is their association with Sampson of the Christian Bible.

Sampson was a strong man, and he also wore dreadlocks. People linked his inhuman strength to his hair, which means that, for Christians at that time at least, dreadlocks = insane strength.

It makes sense in some ways. Lots of cultures over the years have believed that the human body is a massive source of energy, and that this energy flows from the head to the toes.

This all very cool stuff. But how did dreadlocks enter the mainstream, and how did they become associated with “radical” types of people? Moreover, what has Rastafarianism got to do with all this?

Enter Bob Marley. Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer known for his hits like Buffalo Solider and Is This Love? Marley was also a Rastafarian, a movement that was pro-marijuana and smoking in general. Some people in Rastafarian movement believes that smoking allows us to think more clearly.

Bob Marley was very much of this mindset, and you could argue that he brought both marijuana and dreadlocks into the mainstream. Once concerned parents started to see a link between the two … well, you can see where this is heading. Since Marley brought dreadlocks into the mainstream, all kinds of sub-cultures began adopting the style too, from goths to hippies, vegans to New Age travellers.

So, even though Dictionary.com describes dreadlocks as being a “a Rastafarian hairstyle in which the hair is washed but not combed and twisted while wet into tight braids or ringlets hanging down on all sides,” when you see someone wearing dreadlocks today, it could be for any number of reasons – and not simply because they are Rastafarian or want to mimic that style.

But Wait. Can Anyone Grow Dreadlocks?


Excellent question.

Indeed, a big concern people who want dreadlocks have is whether or not their hair is even right for dreads.

If you take a look around you, most people with dreadlocks are black. One reason for this might be that some blacks see dreadlocks as a symbol of cultural identity and pride, but another reason is that their hair is ideal for dreadlocks. Why? Because it’s a lot easier – and faster – to grow dreadlocks if you have thick, coarse hair.

On the other hand, if your hair is straight, it will take you a LOT longer to grow your dreadlocks. Moreover, you’ll need to use chemicals, and there will be a fair amount of twisting involved.

That said, there is no reason why anyone can’t grow dreadlocks. We all can! Provided you have hair and it grows, you can totally have dreads.

The problem for those with straight hair is that they will need to use chemicals. This is problematic because chemicals can harm your scalp. If you are of African descent and your hair is thick, you won’t need to use chemicals and growing dreads should be quick, easy – and even natural.

Awesome. So How Can I Make My Own Dreadlocks?

If you’ve decided that you want to go ahead and make your own dreadlocks, we congratulate you! This is going to be heck of a cool look you’ll be sporting soon.

These are 3 main ways to make dreadlocks:

1) The backcombing method

2) The twist and rip method

3) The dread braiding method

To make your own dreadlocks, here are the things you’ll need:

  • Dread wix
  • Fine-toothed comb
  • Rubber bands
  • Sectioning clips
  • Blowdryer
  • Residue-free shampoo

Got all your stuff? Let’s make a start with the backcombing method:

1. Give your hair a good wash

Before doing anything, you need to first wash your hair with the residue-free shampoo. It will remove all the nasty dirt and grease deposits while ensuring that it doesn’t leave behind its own residue.

It’s important that you use residue-free shampoo because if shampoo has residue in it, it will probably leave it behind in your hair – which isn’t what you want.

2. Blow dry

Side to side, up and down and any which way but loose. Blow dry the heck out of your hair from every single angle and direction you can think of.

What you’re looking to do here is get as much volume as you can into your hair.

Moreover, you can’t start deadlocking if there’s even just one wet strand.

3. Section

For this bit you need to part your hair horizontally. We’d say that you should part it a few inches above the nope of your neck.

To hold your hair down, use sectioning clips.

Once you’ve section off your hair, pick up around an inch from the sectioned part.

4. Back comb

Back comb from around an inch below the roots. Back comb it towards your scalp.

Why? Because back combing like this will make a tangle that’s going to form the foundation of your dreadlocks. Exciting stuff, right?!

As you move down the length of your hair, keep back combing. The aim is to reach your absolute ends.

5. Twist

Take your newly back combed section and twist it completely until you form a tight cylndrical form.

6. Apply The Dread Wax

Take your dread wax and start rubbing a pinch of it between your fingers.

Then, apply it down the length of your new dread.

As you go along, keep twisting.

What you’re looking to do is smooth and bind the loose strands together. It’s easier to do than it probably sounds right now.

8. Perform a Palm Roll

Begin with your root and roll it up between the palms of your hands. What you want to do is roll it until the ends are really taut.

Palm rolling plays a key role in both forming and maintaining your dreadlocks, which means  you’ll be doing this often.

9. Stagger

The mistake some people make is that they try to implement a set and even pattern when forming their dreads. The problem is that doing this can expose your scalp. It doesn’t look good.

What you need to do is stagger your locks. This will ensure that your scalp is covered as much as possible. It will also make your hair look fuller, which is exactly what you want.

10. Rinse and Repeat

Dreadlocking takes time and you will need to repeat the above until you have properly dreadlocked hair. Sorry!

Now let’s take a look at another method…

How to make dreadlocks using the Twist and Rip method?


1. Section

Section your hair inch by inch. Tie with rubber bands.

2. Wash your hair

Rub your hair either clockwise or anticlockwise but not both. Wash with residue-free shampoo only.

3. Air dry your hair

No need to blow dry your hair for this method. Instead, let it dry naturally. Don’t move onto the next step until your hair is totally dry.

4. Palm roll and apply dread wax

Take each section of your hair and rip them apart one by one. Then apply your wax and roll each section between your palms until you’ve made a dreadlock.

Finally, let’s take a look at next method…

How to make dreadlocks using the dread braiding method?

1. Wash your hair

Again, use the residue-free shampoo to eliminate dirt and grease from your hair.

2. Dry your hair

For this method, it’s not imperative that you blow dry your hair. Air drying will work just as fine.

3. Section

Pick up sections of your hair an inch at a time and section it by tying each section up at the roots with rubber bands.

4. Braid

Take each section and braid them. Secure with rubber bands at the end.

5. Palm Roll and Apply Wax

Lastly, take each braid one by one and roll them between your palms. At the same time, apply wax and keep rolling until each braid forms a dreadlocks.

These are the 3 main ways to turn your hair into dreadlocks. Once you’ve got your new locks – congrats by the way – you need to work hard at …

Maintaining Your Dreadlocks


Ah, maintenance. Isn’t it a drag?!

Dreadlocks require more effort to maintain than a lot of other hair styles. Mom might have been alarmed that you were dating a boy with dreads but did it even cross her mind how much hard work and effort he put in to look like that?!

The first question people often ask about dreadlocks is … do they need to be washed?

Of course they do! Imagine if you never washed your hair ever again just because you’ve got dreads? Dreadlocks are NOT a free pass to be gross.

That said, the first thing you need to do when it comes to maintaining your new locks is …

1. Don’t wash them for a week!

Ha, despite us just telling you that you need to wash your dreadlocks (and calling you gross for even thinking that you could get away with not washing them) it’s acceptable to go without washing them for the first week.

In fact, it’s acceptable and recommended. Why?

After just a week of being alive (what a way to put it!), your dreads will be very delicate and they won’t want you to wash them (aww).

If you wash them too soon, you could loosen them and cause them to unravel – and this wouldn’t be cool at all.

That said, you’ll still need to take a shower of course (yes, you will need to take a shower, don’t be gross), so you’ll need to pop your shower cap each time you wash the rest of your body.

“But what if I have no shower cap? Then do I get to avoid the shower for a week?”

Really? Are we having this conversation?

2. Wash your hair with residue-free shampoo

When it’s time to wash your dreadlocks (after a week, not a year omg), you need to use the residue-free shampoo that we’ve mentioned a few times in this article.

After the first week is over, your dreadlocks won’t be so delicate anymore and you can wash them two or even three time during the second week.

Why do you still need to use residue-free shampoo? The problem with normal shampoos is that they leave behind nasty residues that loosen your dreadlocks by lubricating your hair. Not cool.

Moreover, once residue starts to build up in your hair, it’s game over. It will turn into mould and your locks will no longer be cool – they’ll be gross and icky.

3. Don’t wash unless your dreadlocks are bone dry

Before anytime you wash, you must first make sure that your dreads are totally and utterly dry. It’s up to you whether you blow dry or air dry them, but whatever method you choose, your dreads need to be dry before you wash ‘em again.

“Oh, I see. This is because they might get damaged, right?”

No, it’s because they’ll stink.

Just saying.

4. Apply wax often and palm roll those dreads

Sometimes, you might feel as though your dreads are loosening up. Don’t panic. This happens and it’s totally normal.

In such instances, take your dread wax and apply it to your locks. Palm roll your dreads too and get them nice and tight again.

For some people, this means applying wax and palm rolling each week. It’s effort, but it’s what you’ve gotta do when you’ve got dreads.

Hey, we didn’t choose the life – the life chose us.

As well as maintaining your dreads, here are some more tips that will help you take good care of them.

5. Dread balling

That’s right, dread balling.

“What in the heck is dread balling?!”

Sometimes you might catch some loose strands popping out of your dreads. When you spot these pesky rogues, roll ‘em into a ball and pop them back into the nearest lock with a crochet needle. Palm roll the heck out of it so that it slots in nice and tight.

6. Salt water spray

Salt worker helps with a sore throat, and it also helps to tighten locks.

It’s easy enough to make salt water and you can store it in a spray bottle so that you can use it whenever you need it. Just spray it on your dreads when they’re a bit loose.

7. Conditioning Spray

Conditioning sprays are ideal for any scalp that has become too irritated and itchy. It adds moisture and relieves irritability.

8. Wear a headscarf in bed

Seriously. Do it.


Because a headscarf will stop your dreads from attracting all kinds of fuzz and lint from your pillow.

9. Have a head massage

Now that you’ve got dreadlocks, you’ve got an excuse to have more head massages.

You’re always having a head massage!”

“Well, d’uh! I’ve got dreads.”

Dreadlocks can weigh down on you quite heavily, and they can make your scalp uncomfortable.

Kindly ask your partner to give you a head massage before bed each night. If they refuse, you’ll have to do it yourself.

How To Make Your Dreadlocks Thicker?

So, you want thicker dreadlocks, huh? Who doesn’t?! Thin dreadlocks suck!

If you want thicker dreadlocks, you need to use bigger sections to begin with.

What do we mean?

The more hair that is in each dread, the thicker they will become. Therefore, you need to use bigger sections.

If your dreadlocks are brand new and your sections are pretty small right now, you could take the time to start out all over again and this time use bigger sections.

On the other hand, if you’ve had your dreads for a while, you could try combining two dreads together. Just use a rubber band at the base and tip to tie a pair of dreads together. This encourages new growth, and it allows the pair of dreads to sort of merge into one.

How To Get Rid of Lumps and Bends In Your Dreadlocks?

Lumps and bends in your dreads happen. The smaller ones often clear up of their own accord as your dreadlocks get tighter. But if your dreads tighten too fast, bends will appear.

As weird as it is, our hair locks and tightens at different speeds to others. If one side of your dreadlocks tighten quicker than the otherwise, it will be tighter and smaller – and the lock will then bend. That said, the other side will tighten eventually and once it does, the dreadlock will straighten out.

If you have severe lumps, you can use a comb to eliminate them. Take your comb and begin at the tip. Then, slowly come towards any bumps you have. Comb the bump out and then return to the tip.

Wax and a rubber band is useful here and you can use them to hold the tip tight as it begins to re-dread (we love that phrase).

The thing is that, dreadlocks are very rarely perfect. Look around and you won’t find many totally symmetrical dreads. Nuances add a bit of character, so there’s no need to obsess over them.

We hope you enjoyed our guide on dreadlocks. This type of hairstyle does require more maintenance than most styles, but once you’re up and running you’ll be totally fine.

Now go out and look amazing!

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