FAQs About My Dreadlocks

These are some of the many questions I’ve answered over the past year, as well as some all of you asked me recently. Here they are, in no particular order.

Day 4 ~ I'm bringing sexy back. Yeah.
Day Four – Can’t Fight the Funk

Are they real? Uh, yes.

Can I touch them? Um, no. That’s creepy and I don’t know where you’re hands have been. 😉

Can/Do you wash them? Yes and yes. However, it’s not suggested to wash them frequently (more than twice a week) as they are slow to dry and this can increase the risk of stinkiness. Not washing them also increases that risk. lol

How do you wash them? Similar to washing straight hair, although with slight differences. You must use a non-residue soap (which eliminates 99.9% of shampoos) and no conditioner. Regular shampoo and conditioners leave a buildup in your hair, which is nearly impossible to get out of dreadlocks and leads to yucky funk. Most dreadheads use Dr. Bronner’s soap with baking soda and apple cider vinegar as a rinse. Some use soaps specifically made for dreads. The former leaves my hair greasy and the latter usually contains tea tree oil to which I’m allergic. Thus, I use Neutrogena’s Non-Residue shampoo for now until I find a “greener” alternative that won’t leave me in hives.

How will you get rid of them? I’ll ignore the implications that this is a phase I’ll soon regret 😉 and answer by saying, anyone who wishes to remove their dreads can undertake the painstaking process of combing them out. Or they can cut their dreads very short and only need to comb out a small amount. Shaving is not the only option, but most definitely the easiest.

How long will you have them? Until the time is right to not have them anymore. I can’t really know what to expect and I tend to trust my intuition when it tells me to do something, so anything is possible. But I can easily see myself as an old lady with grey dreads done to my ankles. 🙂

Dreadlocks and "Foody" - 7 weeks
7 weeks along – loops and bumps taking shape

Are you Rastafarian? If you mean do they have a spiritual connontation to them, yes. You can read about that here. But no, I am not Rastafarian.

Aren’t dreadlocks on white people cultural appropriation? In my opinion, no. Dreadlocks are what naturally happens to any person of any ethnicity who stop combing their hair. While they are most often associated with African-Americans or Rastafarians, many other cultures and races have them as well. They have been recorded throughout history, dating thousands of years back: remember the story of Sampson and Delilah from the Old Testament and his “seven locks of hair”?

Do you smoke pot/like Reggae/listen to P.O.D./know my dreadlocked friend, Bob? No. Yes, but that’s not why I have dreads. No. Not likely.

Will the roots grow out straight? How do you dread the roots? No, the roots will somehow work themselves into the dread. I have no idea how that happens but no (or perhaps little) effort on my part is needed.

Why I Tend to Wear Them Up
6 Months and craaaazy…but isn’t Zeb’s painted bathroom awesome?

How long did it take you to put them in/what method did you use? My husband backcombed my hair for 14 long, painful hours.

Did you use wax? Do you recommend it? I do NOT recommend it. I made the mistake of using very small amounts when we first put them in and it took months to get it out. I’m sure there is some that will never come out. Keep in mind that the comanies telling you wax is okay are trying to make money from you.

Why in the world would someone ever do that to their hair? Right after I unwrap them and let them fall down in all their glory to freak you out more…I’ll ignore you.

I really want dreads but have no one to help me put them in. What should I do? How close do you live to me? 😉 Search for a “loctitian”; make sure they don’t use wax. Search Craigslist for a dready person to help you out. Bribe your closest friend. Or do them yourself by either backcombing or neglect.

How does one go about getting dreadlocks? Backcombing is one method (sorta like the teasing of the 80’s). Neglect is another. Crocheting is yet another but is more difficult to find instructions on.

1 Year Old Today!!
One Year and only slight less crazy

How long have you had yours? Since May 17th, 2008

How many dreads do you have? I’m not sure. Somewhere around 36 but the count changes nearly every time. Go fig.

What’s with all the loops and bumps? Loops, bumps and flat spots are a natural occurrence with dreadlocks and fix themselves given time. Dreadlocks have a mind of their own and given the freedom they will express that to you. 😉 I could have spent time each day palm-rolling to avoid these but that would defeat their purpose for me.

Why do some of them look crazier than others? The dreads that get the most friction – namely the ones in the back and the right side, where I tend to sleep – lock up the fastest. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to sleep on the top of my head.

Do you know a lot of dready mamas? Not in real life. But here and here and here are just  few I’ve met online. And here’s an awesome Flickr group to scope out more.

Do you believe your dreadlocks to be sustainable? I do, although that wasn’t my intital purpose. However, the fact that my showers are shorter because I’m not washing daily, I only wash my hair 1-2x a week thus use less products, I can only use the most natural of products, and I don’t need a brush or fancy whatever, have convinced me of their “green” factor.

Where can I learn more? KnottyBoy.com has lots of info. Just ignore anything they say about wax.

Phew! Did I cover everything?

36 Replies to “FAQs About My Dreadlocks”

  1. I need to cut mine down.
    I think I have about ten, and my hair is so thick that I should probably have about forty.
    I have to use my burly sewing scissors, I broke my hair shears the last time I cut them. :/ lol
    (Mine were completely the natural sort, so they are not tidy beauty-shop dreads, as I call them.)
    I’ve always had long (past my waist) beautiful curls, so even still I have a love/grrr relationship with my hair. 🙂

  2. One of my best friends had dreads for a couple of years. Yours are great!

    We homeschool too, mostly unschooling (but also some math workbooks) and it’s interesting that I found you through a non-homeschool path. I’m even a member of Growing Naturally, but I’ve never been to your blog before.

    I love your list of things to do in 2009. I was just thinking of putting up a shorter list of more immediate projects, because I love the satisfaction of a crossed-through item.

  3. Tara, last year (?!) I was researching dreads, because I’m entertaining the idea, and I came across you on the flickr pool.

    It was only recently that I came across your blog via another blog!

    I am still considering dreads, but just don’t know…. I have always been counterculture in who I am but not as much in how I look (aside from earlier piercings and hair dye). Mostly I go for the librarian look. I can’t stand to have people’s eyes on me. And that is one reason I feel called to have dreadlocks. I am in a place where I want to re-create myself. But I’m vascilating. One day on. The next off. (Today I want to shave my head!) My family doesn’t believe I’ll do it. I guess I’ll know when I know!

    I really loved reading your process.

  4. You look amazing! I love your hair and I learned so much reading this Q & A 🙂
    Your blog is awesome. Are you still having trouble accessing mine? Let me know if the problem is persisting…sorry about that!

  5. Interestingly, I’ve read that when the Romans invaded Britain they were surprised at the hair of the native British, remarking that the Brits had “hair like snakes”. Some people think this means the Brits had dreads and they were clearly not of African descent.

  6. I’ve never thought too much about dreadlocks, but I’d be lying if I said I was never curious. So, pretty low maintenance, eh? Looks like fun. I’m currently trying to reduce the maintenance factor of my hair…trying to go no poo and thinking about cutting it short…Pretty sure my husband would appreciate dreadlocks about as much as a shaved head, which he has already vetoed! LOL.

  7. Hi,
    Love your dredies, they look all soft and cute at the ends.
    Last year I had 3 dredlocks. Big fat momma ones, they were great and sooo sutainable, I never had to use any hairties! And they gave my head of hair so much body, I loved them! But then I came to the point where I felt like I was sitting on the fence – do I go full dreds or not at all. I decided to comb them all out. Which I was happy about because I could brush my hair after that and it felt soo good!
    My bf Linda has a full beautiful head of blonde dredlocks. Once she decided she didn’t want her hair to be her identity so she cut them all off. She cried and cried and cried and as soon as she could, made new ones. She realised they are her identity! She is a walking human artwork…tatoooed skin, dredlocked hair and such arty interesting clothes always, she also called her son Django Moondog, creative!! I could write a book about her…
    Thanks for posting yours 🙂

  8. Awesome! I’ve thought about going the dread route, but to be honest, I’m way too whimsical to have hair that would be so set. I need something to change and play with, something that can change with my moods.

    Every summer I get cornrows, and that is a lot of fun. I’m getting ready in a few weeks here to get them braided in again. One of the hard things about them though is that while I feel funky and fun in them, I have a hard time feeling femenine and elegant. For a girl who is always in earrings and skirts that was tough. Is that a problem you have come across with your hair?

  9. One of my best friends has had dreadlocks for nearly 5 years. It’s been so long I completely forgot she even had dreadlocks. I saw your post, and thought, hmm, I *think* Carla still has dreads. She must. I can’t picture her without them! LOL.

    Do you have natural curl in your hair? Is it any harder to start dreads with straight hair?

  10. I started my dreads Feb. 17, but instead of backcombing I used a tool from Nappy ‘n Happy that made them look more like braids. Really skinny braids, on a 47-year-old white chick, from Wisconsin. Ick. I held out hope that I could live with them like that until they started fattening up. After about 8 weeks, I ended up undoing them and backcombing anyway. Right now my biggest worry is that the new growth will never lock up and I’ll have these 8″ ropes hanging off loose hair no matter how much root rubbing I do.

  11. Thanks for all the comments!!

    Amanda, I have straighter than straight hair – won’t even hold a perm, let alone anything else. But it’s dreaded just fine. I don’t have anything to compare it to but I’ve heard some curly hair dreads easier, while others may not. I think it has a lot to do with texture.

    Shirl, as cliche as it sounds, be patient. Somehow, someway the roots will dread. I haven’t had more than an inch of straight hair at the roots. I wouldn’t mind having a cpl inches though. Might look cool pulled back. I have heard rubbing the roots can lead to damage though. May be something to look into/consider.

  12. Ah yes, the dreaded “P” word once again. LOL I’m sure I’m worrying too much. I’ve seen enough pictures of people who started out with straight hair and now have awesome dreads that I shouldn’t sweat it.

  13. your dreads were born only a year before mine but i guess i kinda crossed two methods i had them back combed very loosely but very notty and then just stoped combing it so far a little over 2 and 3/4 months

  14. i have to say, i found your page, organic sister, just after i started my dreads, maybe 3-4 weeks after, and your site name made me feel warm inside. When i read your blog, i was very comforted, as i was unsure of what people would think. I had always wanted dreads in my hair, started them on two different occasions, but due to my business i chose to stop them before they got carried away. This time, it just felt so right, and i had finally decided, this is my hair, and i really want it. Well, it’s been 2 months now since i started them, and i feel great. I enjoyed reading about you and your journey with your hair, as i can tell you its a journey all right. I feel i have earned great patients in my self. I NEVER did my hair, i bought sauve shampoo, and that is all i used on my hair. My hair is down to my pantline,(well use to be before the dreads started) Most of the time my hair would go up into a bun, without being brushed and then at bed time i’d take it out, and in the morning repeat. My hair was so long, which i love, but i hated my hair. I could never wear it down,but couldn’t cut it off!.
    ive spent an hour a day on my hair since i started the dreads. This is weird to me to do my hair. I find time, and i enjoy the time, i’m doing my hair. I feel solitude, and comfort. Its amazing, some people drive fancy cars, some have the most expensive clothes, some people have to have their nails done, just to feel good. I never had any of those things, and i never really felt good. I have my beautiful hair, and i love it, it is down, i want to feel them flop around, i feel free, and it cost me nothing. I have gained patients, and a love for me! how great. I want to thank you for sharing your story, as it gave me strength to continue in my journey.

  15. I love dreads. My boyfriend has had them since his middle school years, he is know 23. I have been playing with the idea for the last two years. I let my hair go, and then comb it out, rinse and repeat. The other problem is that he (boyfriend) doesn’t want to see my beautiful hair go away. I like doing certain things to it, but I really like the way it would look and feel with dreads! Im just feeling stuck on the idea. Any words of wisdom?

  16. Love everything you’ve talked about 🙂 You’ve said some really sound stuff. Ive had my dreadlocks for more than a year now and this is my second time round. Nice to come across someone with a similar mind set who can share some decient information with everyone. Thankyou

  17. Thanks for sharing your dready info..it’s funny – in my research I saw one of your pics on Flickr, then just happened upon your blog another way tonight. I put my first dreads in a week ago and I’m doing this in stages. Now after reading your post I’m going to put a few more in tonight 🙂
    I also spent 7 hours a few days ago putting them in for a friend who’s on a journey right now. My last blog post tells the tale. I’m so into this and excited about my new project. Loved all of your pics!

  18. I’m 53 and have 90 dreadlocks. Almost one year now. Am looking for nice ways/ideas to flip it up and wear on my head w/out a lot of effort. Any ideas?

    Pick on facebook:
    Leah Wilder

  19. I have had dreadlocks for two and a half years and I’m so glad you have come to the same conclusions as me about their care. There’s too much bad info out there about not washing or using wax, all things that if you wouldn’t do it to brushable hair, why would you do it to knotted hair?
    I had two points of disagreement (minor ones). I would say that you can wash wash as often as you want, as long as they dry between. And secondly, that the kind of shampoo you use is overrated. I have used many things to wash, dishsoap, baking soda and bronner’s, Suave whatever, and dandruff shampoo. I wash twice a week and I mix a regular clear shampoo with dandruff shampoo and then add a little baking soda. Then I pour the mix into a squirty bottle and add water so it’s a soup and squirt directly to my roots. Works well as dreads have a hard time feeling “wet” while in the shower and can lead to overusing shampoo.
    The second point of disagreement was knotty boy. They’re selling something. You don’t need any of their products except maybe the comb. You don’t have to pamroll or flip roots or use lock peppa, etc.
    I also do not know how the roots lock up. I only have about 1/2 inch of straight hair leading to the knotted part and I don’t do anything to the roots, really. It’s probably just friction?
    If you want to see pictures, see my livejournal! http://bobandiarepals.livejournal.com/

  20. ahhhh you LOCK! (rock, get it, ah, yea anyway!)
    my dreads are 5 months old, as old as my daughter, she inspired me, I figured with my thin hair I was never gonna have as much hair on my head again as post pregnancy. I spent two weeks (or more) recovering post-partum, and they just grew themselves into my skull. I had some for a year when I was 20, and 16 years later… well, I am just starting to find the me I really like again, and coincidentally (or not) I have dreadlies again!
    BTW, my other be-dreadlocks-slowly-forming-on-her-skull friend discovered your blog and shared it and I think I am in love with your way of expressing what is going on in my head as of late too!

  21. I adore this!
    I only have one dread as of yet, since it was spar of the moment.
    I plan on getting my whole head done before the next festival I am going too comes up.

    You let me know that the looping and the bumps are normal. I was panicky a bit! I love my little baby dread!

  22. Thought your dreads were so gorgeous at LIG. I rarely wash my hair more than once a week and haven’t combed it years! Tried to do the switch to only Dr. Bs for months one time, but I remained unmatted as could be. My hair just won’t do it through neglect and I am having a hard time philosophically doing it another way. Maybe one day….

  23. LOVE your dreads! I’ve been contemplating them for about 3 years now. But I’m so nervous! lol

    I’m curious if you know anyone who’s taken their’s out & what their hair is like aftewards. Does it go back to how it used to be? I’ve had super short hair before so that doesn’t scare me but I wouldn’t want to get them in, not like them, take them out & have messed up locks for life!

    1. Dreads won’t do anything permanent to your hair itself, just the bits that lock up tightly over time.

      I thought about them for so long, like 5 years. I was nervous and I thought I’d miss my “old hair” but I don’t. I absolutely love my dreads and they’re so much more interesting then loose hair. So much easier too. They just do their own thing, being crazy and funny. I think once you let go and just enjoy them it’s be hard to look back.

      But yeah, hair will go back exactly the same if/once you get rid of them.

  24. I’ve had my locks since the late summer of 2007 and definitly used pea sized amounts, per 1/2″ round lock, of PURE BEES WAX (NO PETROLEUM! is KEY) to help fight the fuzz and start the locking process. I only did this for the first 6 to 8 months; I was thorough and diligent about washing my hair (with Bronners) and never had ANY complication due to using wax. My locks are tight, mold free, and fresh smelling. Just because it didn’t work for some, doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwile product for others. You just need to use your head and show your knatty friends some TLC.

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