How to maintain the perfect Dreadlocks


1. What is a good maintenance routine?

2. How do I get rid of lumps and bends in my dreads?

3. How do I make my dreadlocks thicker?

4. How do I tighten my dreads?

5. How do I tighten my roots?

6. How do you get rid of those loose hairs?

7. How long will I need to use the wax?

8. What is the best way to wax your dreadlocks?

9. How will I know when my new dreads are tight?

10. How often should I backcomb my dreadlocks?

11. I have a very thin spot part way down my dreadlock, it looks like it's going to snap in half. How can I fix it?

12. When and how do I crochet my dreadlocks?

1. What is a good maintenance routine?

So you're now rocking your new set of dreads but what's next? Dreadlocks take time to tighten and mature but a good maintenance routine with get them there faster.

1. If your dreads are brand new you won't need to wash them for around a week. With the extra bulk the dreadlocks give, you may find that your regular shower cap won't fit but we offer extra large shower caps and for that matter, swim caps big enough to fit dreadlocks. They are newly waxed and probably hurt a little because initially they are very tight. If you have a pair of pantyhose, pop those over your head while you sleep to help keep the frizz at bay. .

2. Ok, so they are a week old and probably right about now you are ready to give them a good ol' shampoo.  Ideally, keep the rubber bands in place at the base and tips of your dreadlocks which will help keep them in tact whilst they are so new. It's really important you use a residue free dreadlock shampoo.  Normal shampoos leave behind conditioning residues - great if you want soft, silky, knot free hair but not so much if you have dreadlocks! Anyone of the Dread Empire liquid shampoos or shampoo bar are perfect for newborn dreads.

Washing your hair is pretty straight forward. Soak your dreads well with water in the shower, squirt a little Dread Empire shampoo and gently work them into the dreads. Be sure to rinse out the shampoo really, really well.

Ok, time to dry. Lean over letting your dreads hang down in front of you and squeeze as much water out as you can. When there's no water coming out spray them down with Dread Empire's Dreadlock Accelerator and squeeze any excess off. Now throw a towel round your head to soak up any left over moisture and after 15 minutes or so whip it off and let them air dry.

3. Now that they are dry, clean and full of Accelerator this is the perfect time to dread ball loose hairs, palm roll your dreads (Palm rolling is when you roll the dread back and forth between your palm like you are playing with Play-Doh®), and to use the clockwise rubbing method. Your dreadlocks will knot and tighten easily now because being clean, there is a lot of friction between the hair strands. They may get a little frizzy while you work on them but just dread ball the frizzys and work them into the nearest dread. Once you are all rubbed out, if desired treat your dreads to a small coat of Dread Wax. Work it in real good and smooth out any frizz as you go. You can use a Hair Dryer to help melt the wax in really good, although be careful not to overdo it as it can dry your dreads out. If you prefer, the Dread Empire Tightening Gel can be used as an alternative to Dread Wax or if you need extra help in smoothing down loose hairs, use in addition to wax. At this point your dreads should look pretty well maintained and this should last up to a week.

4.From here on in, you are welcome to wash your dreads as frequently as you want because clean hair locks and tightens better than hair with oily build up. Just follow the steps above, the rubber bands are a good idea for the first few weeks and be sure to let them dry out thoroughly.  As for waxing, after your first shampoo followed by a wax, re apply wax once or twice a fortnight - always following a shampoo and be sure to let your hair thoroughly dry before applying. When your dreadlocks reach their desired tightness you can pull right back on the wax and only apply it when you feel the dreadlocks have become a little loose or if you find them particularly dry. Wax does inject your hair follicle with necessary vitamins so it is a good way to condition mature dreadlocks but if you're after a lighter, wash out formula then go for the Dread Balm or Conditioning Spray.

If you ever feel like the wax needs a freshen up or you have waxy build up then de wax by heating each dread with a hair dryer. Press a paper towel into the dreadlock to mop up as much excess wax as you can and then soak them in hot water (taking care of course not to burn yourself). The follow this with a good wash using a Dread Shampoo and if necessary, repeat this process.Top

2. How do I get rid of lumps and bends in my dreads?

Most small lumps will work themselves out as the dreads tighten and smooth out. Bends appear if the dreads tighten really fast. Some hairs lock and tighten at different speeds, since the dreads shrink as the tighten. If one side of the dread tightens faster than the other side it will be smaller and tighter and the dread will bend. Fortunately the other side will eventually tighten and as it does the dread will straighten itself out.

For really severe lumps that you have to do something about you'll need to comb them out. Just start at the tip and comb the hair out with the dread comb working your way towards the bump. Comb it out and then redread it. Work your way back to the tip. Use a rubber band and some wax to hold the tip tight while it re-dreads. Some loops and lumps add character or at least I think so, dreads are not supposed to be absolutely perfect and symmetrical. Top

3. How do I make my dreadlocks thicker?

The amount of hair in each dreadlock dictates how thick the dread will become. Therefore the only real way to increase their size is to use bigger sections. If your dreads are real new I would just recommend combing a few out and starting those ones over again using larger sections. If they are more mature you can combine two dreads by tieing them together with a rubber band or pro elastic at base and tip. This will encourage the new growth to merge together and eventually you may be able to snip off the part which hasn't merged. You might also find a dread cuff helpful in binding the two dreads together.Top

4. How do I tighten my dreads?

Use the clockwise rubbing method and palm rolling (rolling the dread back and forth between your palms) to help the body of the dreads and the roots tighten. Tighten the tips by tip rubbing. Keeping them clean and free of residues helps them tighten tremendously. Of course spraying them with Locking Accelerator or using a light sprinkle of Dread Dust helps too. The Accelerator increases friction between the hair strands by separating the tiny shingles that make up each strand. This increased friction tightens them super fast. Sun helps the process too, spray the Accelerator in your hair and allow it to dry in the sun. Lightly sprinkle Dread Dust onto dry hair. Top

5. How can I tighten my roots?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions so let me start by saying that it's normal to have an inch or so of undreaded hair at the base of your scalp.  The roots are always the last part to dread and they are never fully dreaded as hair continues to grow.

The fastest way to tighten roots is to use the clockwise rubbing method. Besides this palm rolling will help the roots tangle and dread as well. If your dreadlocks are farily new, rubber bands are a good way to bind the dreads together at the scalp. Top

6. How do you get rid of those loose hairs?

Essentially you need to create a little dread ball and push it into the closest dread. Ideally start with freshly washed, dry hair. Gather the loose hairs between your finger tips and roll them together to form a little ball. Dread Dust works wonders in encouraging these loose little hairs to knot up. Press your finger tips into the dread dust before getting started.

Once the dread ball is well formed tie it to or push it inside the larger dreadlock. It's a little fiddly so you could use a crochet hook or large needle when doing this. Once inside, smooth over a little wax to help keep it in place. Done. No more lose hairs! Top

7. How long will I need to use the wax?

Dread Wax helps new dreads, tighten, lock and mature. It brings the puffy loose knots close together and encourages the dreadlock to tighten properly from the inside out. Once your dreadlocks have reached their desired tightness then you can stop waxing so often.  Wax only when you feel your dreadlocks need to be retightened or if they have become particularly dry and scratchy. Due to the nature of dreadlocks, with the strands rubbing together and creating friction and the same hair always on the surface dreadlocks have tendancy to result in dry hair. Wax will add nutrients back into the hair follicle to strengthen and condition but if you prefer the a lighter, wash out alternative then go with the Tightening Gel instead. It also has binding and locking abilities and some conditioning properties. Top

8. What is the best way to wax your dreadlocks?

The rule of thumb is a little goes a long way when it comes to wax. Use only enough to hold loose hairs down and keep the dread together. Start by getting a little pea size amount of wax out the jar (note that the wax is very hard, particularly if you are in a cooler climate and keep in mind you can also get more out later). Now warm the wax up between your hands and then apply it to the dread, starting at the top and working your way down. Palm roll it as you go and finish it off by using  a hair dryer if you wish. The use of the hair dryer eliminates whiteness caused by the wax sitting on top of the hair which is sometimes visible in darker hair. Top

9. How will I know when my new dreads are tight?

You will know....trust me. They feel like cotton ropes. You can bend them and flex them but you can't squish them flat no matter how hard you try. It's also harder to see the knots they are all packed together and form a surface of hair. Top

10. How often should I backcomb my dreadlocks?

Never backcomb mature dreads unless you want to undread them. Backcombing is used first to start the dreadlocks and just after to push towards the roots. Keeping the hair at the roots knotted helps it dread as it grows but backcombing hair that has started to lock up will undread it. It's a good idea not to backcomb any more after the 2nd week or so. Rubberbands will hold it tight. It's natural to have an inch of hair at the root even 2 inches when the dreads are new. This is where the new growth decides to knot and lock up. If you want to help this tighten use the clockwise rubbing method. You can also alternate wearing and not wearing rubberbands right at the root. Both will help the roots lock. Top

11. I have a very thin spot part way down my dreadlock, it looks like it's going to snap in half. How can I fix it?

If a section of dreadlock has thinned out due to breakage then the best way to fix it is effectively sew the two thicker parts of the dreadlock together. You'll need a Dreading Crochet Hook for this. Start by pushing the two thicker parts of the dreads together. Hold the join firmly in with your thumb and forefinger in one hand and use the other hand to push the Dreading Hook into the dreadlock at the join and out the other side. Collect some loose hair and bring it back into the dread. Once back inside the dread, give the hook a little twist just to help it knot and lock and then push it out again to grab some more. Repeat, repeat, repeat and do this until the join feels nice and secure. There's really no right or wrong way to do this- you'll get your own groove going soon enough. If you wish, you can finish this join off by applying a small amount of dread wax and then palm roll it in. You may need to do a little bit more crocheting in again a couple of days later if some of the hair has slipped out.   Top

12. When and how do I crochet my dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks can be created from scratch using the crochet method or it can be done in conjunction with back combing when creating dreads and finally, it can be performed on mature dreadlocks. In fact, it is one of the best maintenance methods used to pull loose hairs into dreads which will lead to neater and tighter dreads. Whether you are crocheting to create or to maintain dreadlocks the method is pretty much the same. Hold the dread or section firmly in one hand with your thumb and forefinger. Use the other hand to push the hook through the dread and out the otherside, grab a hair or two and pull it back into the dreadlocks. Once inside the dreadlock give the hook a little twist. This will help release the hair and encourage the knotting and locking to happen inside. Now push it back through the other side, grab a couple more hairs and repeat. There's really no right or wrong way to do this so once you find a grip that is comfortable for you you'll be clocking up the speed in no time. Slowly roll the dread as you do this to cover all sides. It is important to use a hook no bigger than .75 and take care not to poke yourself as the hook is quite fine .   Top

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