This is a detailed step by step guide on how to care for your new dreadlocks. Let’s get started!
What to expect after starting new dreads
The first few months after installation can be stressful. While the experience varies from one person to the other depending on hair type, you should at least expect some messiness and itchiness.
It’s normal to experience itchiness in the first few days, and in no time, your scalp will get used to your new hairstyle, different shampoos, and fewer washes.
To remedy itchiness, we recommend you to wash your hair less often a few weeks before starting your dreads. Ideally, wash your hair once a week to make the transition as smooth as possible. It’ll take a while to find the best routine for your locks, products that work best for you as well as your head getting used to the new hairstyling.
Your scalp will get sore regardless of the method chosen to start dreadlocks. It’s normal to experience soreness alongside itchiness, but this will disappear over time.
Dreadlocks Maturation Process
Your dreads will take time before they reach maturation. Let’s have a closer look at the whole maturation process.
Baby Locs to Mature Dreadlocks
Baby locs created with a crochet hook will stick up/out a little bit and will also be harder than mature dreadlocks.
Shorter hair will stand straighter than long hair. You can wear a sleep cap to train your baby locs to stay down. After a few weeks, your dread will soften.
In the first few months after installation, your baby dreadlocks are going to be loose, messy, and will have plenty of pesky flyaways.
Your locks may look flat when you sleep on them. This shouldn’t be a problem because you can easily palm roll them to their original round shape. Shampooing your locs will make them looser. They’ll be fixed in your next maintenance schedule.
Additionally, your dreads will shrink and get thicker as they mature.
Young dreads and mature dreads have a different appearance. You’ll be surprised to see the results after the maturation process.
As long as during the maturation process, your dreads don’t fall apart, you shouldn’t be worried about a thing. You should be patient at this point, especially in the first few months.
You should expect your dreads to mature in about 12-18 months. The maturation time, however, depends on the texture of your hair.
You shouldn’t worry if you’re over a year, and your locs aren’t mature yet. Looser hair textures will take longer to mature.
Characteristics of mature dreads:
- Matted appearance
- Feel dense and solid when squeezed
- Few loose hairs on the surface
At times, thinner dreads maturation can’t be tested through the characteristics given above. This is because they may not have sufficient hair to feel fully mature when they’ve reached full tightness.
Our best advice is patience. Don’t use fancy products to speed the maturation process. Make sure you wash them with the recommended product, perform regular maintenance checks, and they will turn into locs in the end.
Best Products for Dreadlocks
The product you choose for your dreads can make a big difference. Below are some of our recommended dreadlock products:
- Organic Dreadlocks – Natural Oil Shampoo
- TRESEMMÉ Deep Cleansing Shampoo
- SUKIN Purifying Shampoo
- ECOSTORE Normal Shampoo
- HERBAL ESSENCES Daily Detox Shine Shampoo
- Kinky Curly – Come Clean
- Neutrogena – Anti-residue shampoo
- A’KIN by Al’chemy Lemongrass Shampoo
- Everyone, Nourish, Shampoo, Health + Happy
- Lock and Twist gel from Organic Root Stimulator (our recommended retwisting locking gel)
Dreadlock Products to Avoid
1. Conditioners, masks, and leave-in products
Conditioners, masks, and leave-in products can affect your dreads maturation and can prolong the process.
The reason is, these products prevent knots from forming, and we all know that knot formation is the main goal for dreadlocks.
Using conditioners will also leave a whitish residue on your dreadlocks, which can be impossible to remove, or removing can interfere with dreadlocks formation.
2. Wax and butters
Wax is the last product you’d want on your dreadlocks. It’ll result in build-ups on your hair. Some waxes act as lubricants and will slow down the maturation process.
Other waxes hold shampoo residue and moisture inside the locs, which can lead to the formation of mold and mildew common known as “dread rot.”
Here’s an article on How to Maintain Your Dreadlocks without Wax
3. Baking soda and shampoos
Baking soda will react badly with your hair and scalp. It scrapes everything, even natural oils on your scalp. You should use it when doing a deep cleanse.
Most of the shampoos you’ll find on the market today have ingredients that will affect your dreadlocks maturation process such as silicones, conditioning agents, butters, and oils.
For best results, stick to the shampoos recommended above.
How to Wash Dreads: Wash Routine
Wash your hair a week after starting new dreads. However, if during that time your scalp is too itchy or oily and you don’t feel comfortable anymore, you can go for a gentle wash on your baby locs.
Here is a step by step guide on how to wash properly dreadlocks without leaving residue.
The cleaner and dryer your dreads are, the quicker they will tighten and mature.
Your scalp produces natural oils known as sebum. It’s waxy and completely healthy, but too much of it can affect your scalp.
Daily hair washes will remove sebum from your scalp. As a result, the scalp is forced to produce more natural oils to compensate for regular removals.
To avoid getting stuck in this vicious cycle, it’s recommended you gradually decrease how regularly you wash your hair to allow the scalp to readjust to natural sebum production.
The frequency of washes should gradually decrease throughout the maturation process.
Wash Frequency According To Your Dreadlocks Age
0-6 Months – 1-2 times per week
Frequent washes in the first six months will keep your hair and scalp free of oil, speeding uptight knot formation.
Make sure that you give your dreads enough time to dry before the next wash. You can wash every 3 or 4 days or once a week, but for best and faster results, it’s best to wash 1-2 times per week.
6-12 Months – wash weekly
After the first six months, a single wash per week is good because knot formation will have already occurred, and your dreads will be a bit tight.
1 Year plus – weekly or bi-weekly
The maturation cycle is almost over, and at this point, you can wash them once every two weeks.
You shouldn’t go for long without washing your dreadlocks because it may result in an accumulation of too much sebum and other oils on your scalp.
Washing Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t wash your dreadlocks every day, or every other day
You should give your dreadlocks enough time (at least a day) to dry, or else you risk the growth of mold and mildew.
Even if your dreadlocks feel dry on the surface, the chances are that they’re still damp inside. Thick mature dreads can take 2-3 days to thoroughly dry depending on your hair type while thinner dreadlocks dry in 1-2 days.
The time it takes for dreadlocks to dry also depends on climate entirely. High humidity slows down the drying process, and thicker dreads can take longer to dry in this case.
Avoid infrequent washes
Too much spacing between washes can result in the accumulation of sebum and natural oils on your scalp and locs.
In case you experience this, perform a Deep Cleanse, and start regular washes. Here’s is a detailed guide on how to wash dreadlocks.
Dreadlock Deep Clean
We highly recommend you perform deep cleansing every 3-4 months. Here is our detailed step by step guide on how you can perform deep cleanse: How to deep clean dreadlocks.
Skip this entire session if your dreads are over half a year old. New dreadlock requires frequent maintenance than mature ones.
Separate the dreadlocks
- Always separate dreadlocks when they start to grow together
- It’s recommended to pull them apart after every wash and be sure to separate any hair part that connects two or more locs together
- If dreadlocks grow together for too long, they’ll reach a point where you can’t separate them- the only option will be cutting them.
Palm roll dreadlocks when they are damp
- This will speed up the drying process because water is squeezed out
- Palm rolling will also reduce the fogginess of your dreadlocks
- Will help reduce loops and bumps
- It’ll tighten the dreadlocks knots and speed up maturation
- Excessive palm rolling can ruin your dreads- 1-2 time a week after washing is enough
- Over maintenance can damage your dreads
- 1-2 palm rolling per week is enough
- Perform interlocking every two months
- Stick to one crochet/retwist maintenance per month
What to Avoid With Dreadlocks
Getting to know what to avoid is as important as knowing what best for your dreadlocks. You can use all the recommended shampoos and proper maintenance, but a simple mistake can kick you back to step one. Below are the things you should avoid with dreadlocks.
Avoid rubber bands
Rubber bands can be hard to remove, and when tied too tightly, can make dreadlock thinning, which may lead to breakage.
Additionally, a rubber band can embed into your dreadlocks if left for too long. Some standard bands decay, leaving a sticky substance in your locs.
Use baking soda properly
Use baking soda properly because it can destroy your hair when not used carefully.
Avoid regular use of baking soda even when it’s diluted enough and only use when doing a deep cleanse.
It’s recommended to mix baking soda with 50/50 apple cider vinegar and water in order to neutralize its harsh effects.
Avoid scissors or clippers
Every single strand of hair contributes to the overall strength of your dreadlocks. Cutting or clipping loose hair will weaken your locs, making them prone to damage.
Avoid bleaching your locs
Dyes and bleaches to lighten your hair will make it brittle and prone to damage. If it’s a must you bleach or dye your locs here’s what you should do:
- Only dye or bleach the surface and avoid penetrating dreadlocks with bleach or dye
- Rinse the dye or bleach thoroughly
Don’t cut loops or bumps
Cutting loops will only make your dreadlocks weaker and increase the possibility of breakages with time.
As earlier mentioned, every single hair strand within the loop contributes to the strength of your dreadlock.
Un-crocheted loops will results in bumps over time.
Tips for Healthy, Matured Dreadlocks
To keep your matured dreadlocks healthy, here’s what you should do.
Swim in the ocean
Swimming in the ocean is one of the most effective ways to tighten your dreadlocks. A trip to the beach during summer will help you cool down but will also be beneficial to your dreadlocks.
Alternatively, if you can’t access a beach, you can soak your dreads in a solution of sea salt and water.
Use beads to deal with loops and bumps
Don’t use rubber bands; instead, use beads to control loops and bumps effectively. Use a bead to tightly over a bump or a loop to contain it.
Leave the bead in position for as long as possible. You can wear a bead for about 2-4 weeks, but the timeframe depends on the age of your dreadlocks.
Use a satin pillowcase
Never sleep on anything but satin or silk. Sleeping on cotton sheets or other pillowcases can damage your locs.
Under a microscope, a cotton sheet resembles a cheese grate that can easily slice your dreadlocks. These sheets will also rob your dreads of moisture.
Protect your dreadlocks by sleeping on satin or silk pillowcase and sheets.