How to make dreadlocks

A complete video demonstration:


We strongly recommend getting your hands on a Starter Kit. It has everything you need to create beautiful, neat and healthy dreadlocks as well as plenty of product left over for ongoing maintenance. Here's the low down on what you'll need to get started...

residue free, dread shampoo

Squeaky, clean hair makes life so much easier when you are dreading. Deep cleansing your hair and ridding it of any residue build up from normal styling products is your first step. Ongoing use of dread shampoo will help dreadlocks to continue to mature, lock and knot up.

Dread Comb & Dreading Hook

The dread comb should have metal bristles so you can pull hard against the hair without the bristles snapping. The bristles should also be close together. The dreading hook, or crochet needle, needs to have a hook no bigger than .75. Alternating between back combing and crocheting will instantly give you a smooth, tight dreadlock.

Rubber Bands

The rubber bands included in the Dreadlock Starter Kit are small and hold up pretty well through the initial washings. They don't pull your hair as much as regular rubber bands and they are nice and small. Also available on our site are pro elastics - a premium alternative to rubber bands and are also available in clear.

Hair Clips

Use these for holding hair back while you section and dread. Pretty much any clip will do as long as they can keep the hair out of your way.

Dreadlock Accelerator and Dread Dust

There's no doubt about it, dreadlocking takes a while and the more help you have with accelerators the better. Accelerator and Dread Dust just make the entire process so much easier. The dreads will look better as they'll be tight and smooth and they will form faster.


Wax holds the hair together so it looks better while it's locking up and it will bind tighten and accelerate the locking process. Be sure to use a wax especially made for dreadlocks as normal styling products, gels and waxes will leave lock inhibiting conditioning residues. Dread Empire's wax has a bees wax base and a blend of essential oils to strengthen hair in the process. The key with using wax is only use a small amount! A little most definitely goes a long way.

Wax tends to stay in your dreads long term, and when used and worked in properly this is fine but perhaps, not for everyone. Tightening Gel is a great alternative. It's lighter and will wash out. It tames, neatens and as the name suggests, helps with the tightening of dreadlocks as they mature.

A friend or two!

Last but not least... dreads are not difficult to do, just very labour intensive so try and wrangle your friend, neighbour, mother, brother or sister (it doesn't really matter who) to get in on the action! Get some movies out and make a party of it.

Step 1 - Shampoo

Ok Its dreadlocks time!... First thing you should do is wash your hair with your dreadlocks shampoo. We can't stress enough that it needs to be a Residue Free Shampoo. Regular shampoo's leave residues that condition your hair and keep it silky smooth which stops it forming knots and locking up, this is bad bad bad for dreads. It's also just as important to make sure it has been washed, oily or greasy hair will make the dreading process twice as hard. If you feel the need, perhaps you have product build up or oily hair, you may want to wash your hair 2-3 times with dreadlocks shampoo leading up to starting your dreads.

Step 2 - Apply accelerator

Liberally spray Dread Empires Dreadlock Accelerator through your wet or dry hair (it doesn't matter) and allow your hair to dry completely before sectioning.

Step 3 - Section your hair

We highly recommend spending a little time in the planning stages by sectioning off your hair. If you don't section it, there is a tendency to end up with some dreadlocks a lot bigger than others and spaces in between.

Try to keep the size sections as uniform as possible, about the diameter of a pencil works well. The amount of hair in the section, of course, determines the size of the dread. The dreads will end up being up to twice as thick as the bundle of undreaded hair. After you do a few you'll have a pretty good feel for this. You'll be making the first dread in the back of your hair so you can make sure the size of your sections is right.

Different size dreads will lock up at different speeds. Bigger dreads have the advantage of locking up faster. Thinner dreads have the advantage of drying faster and being more easily accepted by conservative straight haired folk.

Step 4 - Back Combing & crocheting

Now for the actual dreading. Wohoo, It's finally time! Start by taking the rubber band off your first section and putting it a side. Sprinkle some Dread Dust on a hard surface, press your fingers in it then run it through the section.

Backcombing is kind of like teasing your hair. Hold the section firmly in one hand and push the comb through the section of hair back up to the scalp. Depending on the length of the hair, it's ok to start the stroke by puting your comb in just part way down the length of your hair. For long hair, starting the back combing from about 8cm down works well. Let only a few hairs move up at a time to ensure they are tightly packed in. Try and get the knots to start forming as close to the scalp as possible as this will help encourage new growth to dread up in the future.

Pack the hairs in tighter by pressing the comb firmly against the newly formed dread on each stroke. You can turn and roll the dread as you go to make sure it comes out round. Before long your first wee dread will form... albeit a puffy, messy one.

The Dreading Hook will now take your little dreadling to the next level. So you have an option here - slowly backcomb the entire section of hair, right to the end until you have nothing left then crochet OR alternate between backcombing and crocheting. Backcomb about 5cm's worth of dread, then go back over that part and crochet, back comb the next bit, then crochet and so on. The latter is what we recommend as it mixes it up a little and gives your hand muscles a break.

So there's two phases to crocheting. The first involves holding the dread in one hand and using the other to rigorously push and pull the hook back and forth through the dreadlock while pointing it diagonally down and across the dread. You might pull hairs from one side then out the other and that's fine. This is the first step to consolidating that puffy section created by backcombing.

Now for the second phase. This will really tidy it up finish your dreadlock off. So go back over the area you've just worked and start pushing the hook across the dread (rather than downwards). Grab a few loose hairs each time and pull them back into the middle of the dreadlock. Once the hook is back in the middle of the dread swing the handle of the hook upwards in order to release the hair within the dread. Keep repeating this and slowly rotate the dread as you go.

This may sound a little confusing but don't stress too much as there are many techniques out there regarding the use of the hook and there's no real right or wrong way.  Soon enough you will discover a motion and technique that does the job and works for  you.

As you move down the section of the hair, you will probably need to top up the Dread Dust. Periodically, push your fingers into the Dread Dust and stroke through the undreaded hair.

How you finish up the end of the dreadlock is up to you. Letting it taper off into a nice thin, wispy end is easy and will most likely be what you naturally end up with. If you want a more rounded end, fold the last part of it back along the dread and use the dreading hook to weave it back into the dreadlock.


Step 5 - Wax or gel

Waxing your dreadlocks will give you a nice, smooth finish instantly. It also helps encourage the dreadlock to mature and conditions the hair in the process. That said, 5 minutes off googling dreadlock wax and you will see that waxing is often a topic of debate in the dreaded world. If used correctly, that is work with only the smallest amount and don't over do it, wax lends itself to super neat, beautiful dreadlocks. But it's also not a critical step in the process and not waxing certainly won't detract from your dreaded gloriousness so the use of wax is totally up to you. Of course, Tightening Gel is a great alternative.

So how do you wax? The wax is fairly hard at first glance, even harder in colder weather. Use a blunt knife to chip out a small bit, about the size of an M&M or even smaller and then rub it between your hands to warm it up. Apply it to the dreadlock by rolling the dreadlock between your palms. Start at the top and work down the dread. Palm rolling does a great job it rounding the dread and giving it a good shape.

And what about gel? Same deal as the wax, work small amounts into the dreadlock by palm rolling.

Step 6 - Pro Elastics

It's a good idea to finish off by tieing a pro elastic around the base and end of each dreadlock. This will help the little dreadling form and keep shape its first few days. Keep them on for a week or so or at least until after the first shampoo.

Congratulations! You have just entered the world of dreadlocks!

Now that your sporting some sweet locks, there's a couple things you need to know to keep them healthy and help them on their way to maturity. Check out or Maintenance section for more information.



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