Difference Between Dreads And Dreadlocks

I’ve got the inside scoop on the difference between dreads and dreadlocks, so let me break it down for you. Dreads and dreadlocks are essentially two terms used interchangeably to describe a hairstyle that consists of matted or tangled hair. However, there is a subtle distinction between the two. While dreads usually refer to the process of creating this hairstyle, dreadlocks refer to the actual hairstyle itself. So, to answer your burning question: Are dreads and dreadlocks the same thing? The answer is yes, but it’s more accurate to say that dreads are the means to achieving dreadlocks. Intrigued? Let’s explore this fascinating subject further.

Difference between Dreads and Dreadlocks

When it comes to hair styles, there is often confusion between dreads and dreadlocks. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually some differences between the two. In this article, I will explain the distinction between dreads and dreadlocks, their definitions, origins, appearances, creation processes, maintenance requirements, and various styles and variations. Let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of dreads and dreadlocks!

What are Dreads?

Dreads, also known as dreadlocks, are a type of hairstyle characterized by matted or tightly coiled strands of hair. They are often formed by intentionally allowing the hair to mat and lock together naturally over time. Dreads can be created on any type of hair, regardless of its natural texture. One of the defining features of dreads is their rope-like appearance, with the hair forming cylindrical or flattened strands.

Definition of Dreads

Dreads can be defined as sections of hair that have naturally or intentionally tangled and matted together to form rope-like strands. This process may occur spontaneously or with the intentional manipulation of the hair. Dreads are often associated with a bohemian or countercultural lifestyle, but many people choose this hairstyle for its unique look and low-maintenance nature.

Origin of Dreads

The origins of dreads can be traced back to various ancient cultures around the world. They have been found in ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and even among the Vikings. Dreads are commonly associated with the Rastafari movement, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. Rastafarians see dreads as a symbol of their African heritage and spirituality.

Appearance of Dreads

Dreads have a distinct appearance that sets them apart from other hairstyles. As the hair locks and matts together, it forms long, cylindrical strands that may vary in thickness. The texture of dreads can range from tight coils to looser waves, depending on the individual’s natural hair type. Dreads can be worn in various lengths and can be styled in different ways to suit personal preferences.

How are Dreads Created?

Dreads can be created through different methods, depending on individual preferences and hair type. One common method is the natural or neglect method, where the hair is simply left untouched and allowed to mat and lock up over time. Another popular method is the backcombing method, which involves teasing the hair backwards to create tangles and then palm-rolling the hair to encourage the strands to lock together. Other methods include twist and rip, crochet hook, and interlocking.

Maintenance of Dreads

The maintenance of dreads is significantly different from that of other hairstyles. Unlike traditional hair care regimens, dreads require less frequent washing to allow the strands to lock and mature properly. Regular maintenance includes palm-rolling the dreads to help maintain their shape, separating any strands that have merged, and occasionally tightening them to prevent loosening. Additionally, using natural products and avoiding heavy conditioners or oils can help keep the dreadlocks healthy and prevent buildup.

Styles and Variations of Dreads

Dreads offer a wide range of styles and variations, allowing individuals to express their creativity and personal style. Some popular styles include the classic dreadlocks, where the strands are left loose and hang freely, while others prefer to style their dreads into updos, braids, or buns for a neater look. Adding beads, decorative clips, or other accessories is also a common way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of dreads.

What are Dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks, also known as dreads, are a type of hairstyle characterized by intentionally matted and locked strands of hair. Unlike dreads, which are often formed naturally over time, dreadlocks are typically created through deliberate methods that encourage the hair to lock together. Dreadlocks can be worn by individuals of all hair types and have become popular for their unique and statement-making appearance.


In conclusion, dreads and dreadlocks may seem similar at first glance, but they have distinct differences in terms of creation methods, maintenance requirements, and origins. Dreads are sections of hair that naturally or intentionally tangle and mat together, while dreadlocks are intentionally matted and locked strands of hair. Both hairstyles offer a range of styles and variations, allowing individuals to express their personal style and creativity. Whether you choose dreads or dreadlocks, embracing these unique hairstyles can be a bold and empowering statement of self-expression.

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