A complete video demonstration:
Below is a list of items we suggest for dread making. We strongly recommend you grab a Starter Kit which includes all the tools needed for dread making and a selection of our organic Dread Empire product range which will prepare the hair and make forming knots so much easier. There will also be plenty of product left over for ongoing maintenance.
0.75mm Crochet hook ~ The perfect size for making dreadlocks.
Pin Tail Splicer Comb ~ For backcombing and preparing clean sections.
3 x Sectioning Clips ~ These will come in so handy as plan and work your way through the sections.
Pro Elastics ~ Small elastics are perfect for holding each section.
Residue Free Dreadlock Shampoo ~ The Classic Dread Empire shampoo included in the kit deeply cleans, remove oil and product build up preparing the hair perfectly for dreading.
Locking & Tightening Accelerator Spray ~ Just like taking a dip in the ocean, our sea salt Accelerator spray thickens and texturises the hair to create an environment in which dreadlocks thrive.
Dread Dust ~ A texturising powder so helpful when backcombing in particular and also ongoing for maintenance of loose hair and messy regrowth.
Tightening Gel ~ A quick way to tidy up loose fly away hair and encourage locking and knotting.
And a friend or two (sorry, the kit doesn't include this :) )
Step 1 - Preparation
Prepare the hair by shampooing with a residue free deep cleansing shampoo the day before dreading (do not use conditioner) as clean hair dreads best. The Dread Empire Classic shampoo included in the Starter Kit or any of the Dread Empire range is perfect for preparing your hair. If you feel you have a lot of product build up or tend to have oily hair, you may wish to shampoo 2-3 times in the lead up to D day.
Step 2 - Sectioning
Spend a little time here because this is where you are laying the foundation for your dreadlocks. The placement of the sections will determine the scalp coverage and the size of the section will dictacte the thickness of the dreadlock.
An average section is usually 2-3cms or an inch squared at the scalp. If you have a particular thickness of dreadlock in mind, it's difficult to say how big the section will need to be as it will depend on how thick your hair is and how much hair you have. As a really rough guide, take a bundle of undreaded hair and it will roughly double in thickness once dreaded - this also does depend on your exact crocheting technique and how dense you make the dreadlock. We recommend your start dreading at the nape of your neck, that way you can always adjust your sections if you aren't quite happy with the thickness it's producing.
Use a brick lay pattern where each line is offset from the one below it. This will maximise the coverage of your scalp. If you have a part at the top of your head you wish to maintain, keep this in mind and place your sections either side of this. Use the pin tail on the comb to create nice clean sections.
Now's a great time to spray the locking and tightening Accelerator spray through your hair and allow it to dry before proceeding.
Step 3 - Backcombing
Backcombing is essentially teasing up the hair by taking a section of hair and combing the hair up towards the head. This is where Dread Dust will come in handy! It texturises the hair and gives the comb something to grip too. Only a small amount is needed so carefully sprinkle a small amound of Dread Dust directly from the jar onto the hair or sprinkle some onto a hard surface and press your finger tips into it before applying it to the hair.
Allow just a few strands to move up with each stroke and take your time to create even knots, packing them in and rotating the hair slowly so that you are covering front, sides and back. You may need to recomb the same section and you can insert the comb part way along the teased section, push the teased hair back towards the scalp to further compact the hair.
Before proceeding, we now recommend you palm roll the teased section of hair. It will start to condense that wadded fluffy hair into the beginnings of a dreadlock shape and palm rolling right now, will minimise some of the length that is lost when dreading. When you first start palm rolling, the hair will tend to flatten so apply enough pressure to shape the fluffy hair into a cylcinder shape.
Step 4 - Crocheting
Now the real dreading begins! This is absoloutely the most time consuming stage of dread making so take your time and don't be too concerned about your exact technique or the way you're holding the hook etc. You need to find a grip that suits you and if you keep visualising what you're trying to achieve (which is to condense the hair into tightly knotted dreadlock shape) you'll find your groove in no time.
There's really two parts to crocheting. The first involves pushing the hook on a slight downward angle in and out at a fairly rapid pace. These fine hooks are sharp and stab woulds are not uncommon so you may wish to tape up your thumb and forefinger at this point. When you are pushing the hook in and out, try not to pull the hook all the way out the side the hook first entered. Move your way down the section whilst rotating it so all sides are being covered.
The second part is going back over the same area but this time be more careful and intentional about what hairs you are pulling into the dreadlock. When you pull some loose hair into the dread, push the hook back and forth a few times whilst remaining inside the dreadlock, tilt the hook towards the front then towards the back. Spending a little time inside the dreadlock after you pull hair in will really tighten the core and and ensure the hair doesn't come back out.
The thumb and forefinger holding the dreadlock also play an important role. You can push the hook inbetween your thumb and forefinger and feel the pressure and guide where the hook is going. You also need to continually rotate the hair so you are covering all sides of the dreadlock. And finally, you will also get a feel for where the dread is tightening and compacting and where it may feel a little looser and puffier - these areas will require more crocheting.
Continue with the above process until you work your way through each seciton of hair. As mentioned above, this is a lengthy process and often people will dread their full head over a matter of days.
Step 5 - Palm rolling & ongoing maintenance
Palm rolling is a great way to finish off the dread making process but is also worthwhile doing occassionally moving foward. Start at the scalp and roll the dread back and forth between your palms, applying downward pressure as you make your way to the bottom. Palm rolling shapes the dreadlock, allows you to separate the dreadlocks at the scalp (this is usually the first place dreadlocks start to merge), it's an excellent way to apply the Tightening Gel and finally, the downward pressure will minimise that shrinkage which comes as dreadlocks mature.
Hold off from shampooing for a couple of weeks if you can but be aware of the health of your scalp. Build up of scalp oils can lead to irritation, fungal overgrowth and dandruff so some people may need to shampoo sooner. It will often feel like you are taking a step back after shampooing in the earlier stages but keep in mind that ultimately, clean hair will dread better. After shampooing is often a good time to grab a crochet hook and pull some of those loose hairs back into the dreadlock.
Spray the Acclerator through the dreadlocks after shampooing or once or twice a week and use the Dread Dust on your finger tips as you tend to loose hair and new regrowth.
How often you perform maintenance really comes down to personal preference - how well your hair dreads and what look you're going for - neat and tidy or do you prefer the more messy free form look? Some hair types dread much easier than others and won't need much help at all whist other hair types may be more stubborn and take more time and attention.
For more information and a guide to ongoing maintenace, please click here.