How long does my hair have to be before I can have dreadlocks?

Your hair needs to be at least 8 cm's.  The longer your hair is, the easier it will be to dread and quicker it will mature so if your hair is on the shorter side they may just need a little more maintenance before they really start to lock and tighten.

How much will my dreads shrink after install?

Just like if you had curly hair, you'll lose some length once your hair is dreaded. How much you loose depends on your hair type as thinner hair tends to result in more shrinking than thick hair. The thickness of the actual dreads also tends to play a part. The thinner the dread the less shrinkage occurs. On average, expect to loose about 20% of your length

How long will it take for my dreads to mature?

Well this depends on a couple of things - some hair types dread easier than others (think curly, coarse hair) and how much time your spend on maintenance can influence the time they take to mature also. Here is a quick run down of what most people experience:

On day one you might find some of your dreads feel quite stiff and not very solid. Perhaps some are standing straight up, particularly if your hair is shorter, but over the coming days and weeks these little guys will start to settle down.

From about the 1st to 4th week it may seem like they are starting to loosen and you'll have lots of loose hair coming away from the dreads. Don't panic, this is normal as dreads tend to tighten and mature from the inside out. Keep them on track by dread balling, palm rolling an perhaps the occassional recrocheting. Check out our maintenance and techniques page for more info on what to do.

By week 6 - 8 you should notice them really start to tighten and mature. You may notice them shrink a little more and perhaps get a little lumpy and bumpy as some mature faster than others. Your dreads are basically going through puberty but hang in there, they're are well on there way to adult hood!

At the 3 month mark they are becoming smoother and tighter by the day. If you chose to use wax, less wax would be needed at this point and you may need to clockwise rub more often to tighten up the new growth. Be sure to keep them clean with a residue free dreadlock shampoo as this will also help encourage the new growth to lock up.

6 -12 months and they should be well over shrinking and you're on your way to getting some length. They should feel tight and smooth and no doubt can hold a lot of water - make sure you squeeze them out after washing and allow them to dry thoroughly.

By their 1st birthday you should be sporting a hot head of mature dreadlocks - congratulations! From here on in maintenance only gets easier. Keep them clean, clockwise rub the new growth and to prevent them from becoming dry and brittle, you may wish to consider the use of Dread Empire's Conditioning Spray or Balm.

Can you dye or bleach dreads?

Yep and coloured dreads can look amazing! It's best to dye or bleach the hair before it is dreaded and don't use the deep conditioner which is often supplied with the colour. Colouring and bleach does tend to dry out the hair but this is all good for dreads as it means knotting and locking up will be easier.

If you already have dreadlocks just wait until they are about 10 to 12 weeks old before colouring them. Give them a good deep clean and remove any build up by soaking them in a little Dread Empire shampoo and very hot water (obviously taking care not to burn yourself). Again, don't use the conditioner which comes with colour kits but if you are concerned about them become dry and brittle as a result of the colour or bleach, then the Dread Empire Conditioning Spray, Dread Balm or Wax are all excellent ways to replenish the moisture in the hair and improve the hairs overall condition.

What about swimming with dreads?

You can swim with dreads. Chlorine won't hurt them and salt water helps the hair dread faster but It is a good idea to rinse chlorine out after you swim. If you have baby dreads you may end up with a few loose hairs but just follow your swim with our recommended maintenance routine of palm rolling and dread balling. Rubber bands at the base and tips are also a good idea to keep new dreads intact and always squeeze your dreads and get them as dry as possible. Don't let them sit with water in them or they will smell like a wet towel. It is also worthwhile considering getting your hands on one of our Swim Caps. We make a range of swim and shower caps large enough to accommodate the size and bulk of dreadlocks.

Click on the below link to view our range of Swim Caps & Shower Caps.

Swim Caps

Will sports or sweating effect my dreadlocks?

No, sweats fine and dreadlocks should not inhibit your ability to get amongst it all! Lots of sweating though means lots of showers and those can loosen new dreads. Always use a residue free dread shampoo and handle new dreadies with care. If your hair is very short wearing rubber bands at the root and tip of the dread will hold the hair secure giving it time to dread and tighten.

Can you take dreads out after install?

Dreadlocks, or at least the method we promote, are not a one time only hair style. They will tighten and mature over time, so if they are only a few weeks old then combing them out will be much easier than trying to comb out mature dreads. Combing them out is tedious but can be done using deep conditioners or coconut oil and a dread comb.

Will Dread Empire products cause build up?

Dread Empire products do not cause build up, mildew or rot. This is assuming you are following instructions, using the recommended quantities and of course, shampooing (and very importantly, rinsing!) as required. Now there is an exception to the concern regarding build up - wax and to a lesser degree the balm are more heavy duty products, designed to stay in your dreads in order to bind and tighten. We totally understand, they are not for everyone! Often our customers who purchase these products have Afro hair or very dry and coarse hair so it works well for them

What hair types are Dread Empire products suitable for?

Dread Empire can be used on any hair type including dead straight, soft and silky Caucasian hair to thick, coarse hair types such as Afro hair.

To wax or not to wax?

Wax is not a critical part in the dreadlocking journey but it does offer great benefits providing it is used correctly. Wax accelerates the locking process of dreads by bringing the puffy loose knots close together so they can begin to find their place in the dread. When only the smallest amount is used (less than the size of a pea) and it is worked into the dread properly, it will help the dread tighten and smooth the loose fuzzy hair down. Our customers who use the wax tend to have either afro hair or very dry, coarse or curly hair.

Wax also delivers excellent conditioning properties which prevents dry brittle hair without inhibiting the locking process. Hair on the outside of the dread is always exposed to friction, sun light and perhaps bleach and other chemicals so dreads by their very nature can cause the hair to become dry. Another way to condition the hair is the regular use of Dread Empire's Dread Blam or Conditioning Spray. These are lighter alternatives to the wax and won't build up.

And finally, if you prefer your dreadlocks to have that well groomed and maintained look then wax does a great job in achieving this. Of course it's all personal preference because dreadlocks are unique to you - some people prefer the more ruggered look and want to achieve dreadlocks through the neglect or free form method, others don't mind the loose fly away hairs so much and use lighter wash out formula's like the Dread Balm and Tightening gel as alternatives. The loose fly away hair can also be tackled with the use of a crochet hook. So the bottom line is do what's right for you and if you do use it, use it sparingly and only as needed.