Dreadlocks FAQ

Before I had dreads whenever I would see someone with them I was often curious but unsure of the “dread-etiquette”. Was it okay to ask questions or was it rude?  Now that I have dreads I often get questions from others about them…here are answers to some of the more commonly asked questions:
How did you put them in?
There are a few different ways to start dreads. Factors such as hair type, length of hair, desired look, and amount of patience will influence the method a person chooses. My husband put mine in for me. We first separated my hair into several little ponytails. Then over the course of three days he patiently backcombed each ponytail. He started at the top, near the root, and would backcomb while twisting the pony. Collectively it probably took about 15 hours to get them started. During the first few weeks sometimes the dread would “fall out” and he would back comb it again. I would also palm-roll them with aloe vera on a regular basis. It wasn’t until they were almost a year old that they started to “mature” and actually look like dreads. During the early months I often would cover my hair with head scarfs when I was in public because I was self-conscious about my young dreads.

Day 1

How many dreads do you have?
I currently have 27. I started out with more, but some of them have dreaded together. I actively work to keep them separated because I don’t want them to get any “fatter”.
Do you wash your hair?
A common misconception is that people with dreadlocks don’t wash their hair. I can assure you we do! I wash mine about two times a week. I shower/bath more frequently as needed and just skip washing my hair. People are always curious how I actually wash my dreads. I first wet my hair and then spray it with diluted Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I use my hands to work it into each dread. Then rinse it out. The whole process probably takes about as long as it used to take me to shampoo and condition my hair.

day 3

Do people give you dirty looks or make mean comments?
Surprisingly no! I even get compliments on them from time to time. This has been a wonderful life lesson for me. One of the main reasons I hesitated on dreads for so many years was concern over the judgment of others. I worried people would look down on me or make false assumptions about my lifestyle. However I have not experienced any negativity regarding my dreads. People are often curious about them and will ask questions or make positive comments. This has allowed me to discover that there is more openness in the universe than what I perceived there to be.
Why are some of them wrapped?
My hair type does not “lock up” easily. The first year was an on-going effort to get the dreads to lock. I continue to have a lot of loose, stray hairs that will cling to another dread, causing dreads to connect. I suspect that if I didn’t separate them on a regular basis I would eventually have one giant dread. I wrapped some of the more stubborn dreads in hemp to keep them tight and prevent them from attaching to another dread.
How long will you keep them for?
It’s hard to say? I anticipate cutting them to be a significant transition so I think it should happen at a meaningful or pivotal place in my life. Hard to predict what that transformative event would be? Maybe when I reach a milestone birthday? Maybe when my last child is weaned? Maybe when I accomplish a goal I have been working on for a while? I am curious myself to see how long I will keep them and what will provoke a change.

6 months old

Do you have to shave your head when you no longer want dreads?
Mine are pretty loose on top so I will likely be able to cut them about 2-3 inches from the roots. Basically I will have really, really short hair when I am ready to say goodbye to my dreads.

What don’t you like about having dreads?
They are heavy. They aren’t always comfortable to sleep on. They take a long time to dry which definitely is a factor on when to wash them. Sometimes I miss combing my hair. I also miss having my husband rub my head or play with my hair.

10 months old in a dreadband and Moby Wrap

What do you like about having dreads?

Now that they are “mature” they are very low-maintenance. Additionally there are no expenses such as hair-cuts, highlights, etc to maintain them. Having dreads uses less resources because I wash them less frequently which means less water and less soap. Also I don’t use any type of hair products. All those pratical eco-friendly and economic benefits aside, I just really like the “look” of dreads. 🙂 Also they have taught me the importance of having trust and patience on any journey in life.

Why did you want dreads?
I had thought of dreadlocking my hair on/off for about 15 years but I was worried about what others would think or what it would convey about me. Then in March of 2009 a close family friend who I had known for 28 years died unexpectedly. His death completely jolted my world. With his life ending so suddenly, I realized NOW is the time to enjoy life and feel free to be me. Therefore I needed to let go of fears/doubts and live authentically and consciously. It might sound odd that dreads could hold such meaning in my life but they truly have taught me to embrace desire and accept myself just as I am.


18 months old

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4 Responses to “Dreadlocks FAQ”

  1. Jazmin says:

    I’ve always wanted dreads, but have been to afraid of others opinions/perception. Maybe one day!

  2. Rachel Flynn says:

    So weird that this was in my news feed this AM, I dreamt about your dreads last night, lol… Love you Sarah!