How to Get Dreadlocks: A Complete Guide And History

‍Photo by ifatpeled0 on Pixabay

Photo by ifatpeled0 on Pixabay

‍Dreadlocks have always been a symbol of cultural identity and personal style. They hold a unique place in history and continue to be a popular hairstyle today. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the process of getting dreadlocks, the different methods available, and delve into the intriguing history behind this iconic hairstyle. Related Post: The Dreadlocks complete guide Check it out for all of the details.

Dreadlocks are more than just a hairstyle – they are a form of self-expression and a reflection of cultural heritage. Originating from ancient civilizations and deeply rooted in various cultures around the world, dreadlocks have stood the test of time and continue to captivate people of all backgrounds.

In this guide, we will not only explore the process of getting dreadlocks but also delve into the rich history behind this remarkable hairstyle. I will address common misconceptions, provide maintenance tips, and share styling ideas to help you embrace and care for your dreadlocks.

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2. What Are Dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks, often referred to as “locs,” are rope-like strands of hair that are intentionally matted or twisted together to form long, cylindrical locks. The process of creating dreadlocks involves allowing the hair to naturally coil and tangle, resulting in a unique and textured hairstyle. Dreadlocks can vary in size, thickness, and length, offering endless possibilities for personalization.

3. The Process of Getting Dreadlocks

If you’re considering getting dreadlocks, there are several methods you can choose from. Each method offers distinct advantages and considerations, so it’s essential to find the one that aligns with your hair type, desired aesthetic, and personal preferences. Let’s explore the most popular methods:

Method 1: Natural Method

The natural method, also known as the neglect or freeform method, involves simply allowing your hair to mat and form dreadlocks on its own. This method requires patience, as it can take several months or even years for the hair to fully lock. During this time, you will need to resist the urge to comb or brush your hair regularly, allowing the natural locking process to take place.

Method 2: Backcombing Method

The backcombing method is a more controlled approach to creating dreadlocks. It involves sectioning the hair and using a fine-toothed comb to backcomb each section from root to tip. This process creates knots and tangles, which are then palm rolled to encourage the hair to lock. The backcombing method provides immediate results, but it requires regular maintenance to ensure the dreads mature and tighten correctly.

Method 3: Twist and Rip Method

The twist and rip method is a technique that combines twisting and ripping the hair to create dreadlocks. This method involves dividing the hair into sections, twisting each section tightly, and then ripping it apart. The ripped sections are then palm rolled to encourage the hair to lock. The twist and rip method offers a balance between the natural and backcombing methods, providing a structured yet organic look.

Method 4: Interlocking Method

The interlocking method utilizes special tools, such as a latch hook or interlocking needle, to create dreadlocks. This method involves threading the tool through a section of hair, creating a loop, and then pulling the hair through the loop to form a knot. The interlocking method provides a neat and uniform appearance, but it requires regular maintenance to prevent the loops from unraveling.

Method 5: Crochet Method

The crochet method involves using a crochet hook to pull the hair through itself, effectively knotting and tightening the hair. This method is particularly useful for hair that is already partially locked or for maintaining mature dreadlocks. The crochet method allows for precise maintenance and is often used to tidy up loose hair and promote consistent locking.

It’s important to note that each method has its pros and cons, and the choice ultimately depends on your hair type, desired outcome, and commitment to maintenance.

4. Maintaining Your Dreadlocks

Once you have your dreadlocks, proper maintenance is crucial to ensure they stay healthy, clean, and well-maintained. Here are some essential tips for maintaining your dreadlocks:

Washing and Conditioning

Contrary to popular belief, dreadlocks require regular washing and conditioning to maintain hygiene and prevent odor. However, it’s essential to use residue-free shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for dreadlocks. Avoid products that contain heavy oils or waxes, as they can leave a buildup and hinder the locking process.

Palm Rolling

Palm rolling involves rolling the dreadlocks between your palms to encourage tightness and smoothness. This technique helps maintain the cylindrical shape of the dreads and promotes the locking process. It’s a simple yet effective way to maintain the appearance of your dreadlocks.


As your dreadlocks mature, the hair naturally wants to merge and combine. To prevent this, regular separating is necessary. Gently pull apart any sections of hair that are starting to merge, ensuring each dreadlock maintains its individual structure.


Retwisting is a method used to tighten loose hair at the roots. It involves twisting the new growth in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, depending on your preference. Retwisting should be done carefully to avoid causing damage or weakening the roots.

Regular Maintenance Tips

  • Avoid using excessive products and oils on your dreadlocks, as they can cause buildup and prevent the hair from locking.
  • Be mindful of the way you sleep to prevent flattening or distortion of your dreadlocks. Consider using a satin or silk pillowcase to minimize friction.
  • Protect your dreadlocks when engaging in water activities or exposing them to excessive sunlight. Consider wearing a swim cap or using a UV protectant spray to shield your hair.
  • Regularly inspect your dreadlocks for any signs of damage, such as weak spots or thinning areas. Address these issues promptly to prevent further damage.

By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your dreadlocks looking healthy, vibrant, and well-maintained.

5. Styling Your Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks offer a plethora of styling options, allowing you to showcase your creativity and individuality. Whether you prefer elegant updos, casual half-up styles, or accessorizing with beads and wraps, there are endless possibilities for expressing yourself through your dreadlocks. Let’s explore some styling ideas:

Updos and Half-Up Styles

  • The Classic Bun: Gather your dreadlocks into a high or low bun for a timeless and sophisticated look.
  • Top Knot: Create a high top knot by twisting your dreadlocks and securing them at the crown of your head.
  • Braided Updo: Incorporate braids into your dreadlocks for an intricate and eye-catching updo.
  • Half-Up Ponytail: Gather the top half of your dreadlocks into a ponytail while leaving the rest loose for a playful and effortless style.

Accessories and Embellishments

  • Beads and Charms: Thread colorful beads or small charms onto your dreadlocks for a vibrant and personalized touch.
  • Headscarves and Wraps: Wrap a stylish headscarf or fabric around your head, incorporating your dreadlocks for added flair.
  • Hair Jewelry: Adorn your dreadlocks with decorative hairpins, rings, or clips to elevate your style.

Creative Ways to Style Short Dreadlocks

  • Mini Buns: Divide your short dreadlocks into small sections and create mini buns all over your head for a fun and playful look.
  • Twist-Outs: Twist small sections of your dreadlocks, allow them to dry, and then unravel them for a textured and defined style.
  • Headband Style: Place a headband over your short dreadlocks, allowing some to peek out for a chic and effortless style.

Tips for Long Dreadlocks

  • Fishtail Braid: Create a stunning fishtail braid by incorporating your long dreadlocks into the traditional braiding technique.
  • Wrapped Ponytail: Gather your long dreadlocks into a ponytail and wrap a section of hair around the hair tie for an elegant and polished look.
  • Layered Styles: Experiment with layering your long dreadlocks for added dimension and movement.

Remember, the possibilities for styling your dreadlocks are limitless. Embrace your creativity and have fun exploring different looks that reflect your personal style.

6. Common Myths and Misconceptions

Dreadlocks have often been subject to myths and misconceptions that perpetuate stereotypes and misunderstandings. Let’s debunk some common myths surrounding dreadlocks:

Myth 1: Dreadlocks are dirty and unhygienic.

Dreadlocks can be just as clean and hygienic as any other hairstyle. Regular washing, maintenance, and proper care are essential to keep your dreadlocks fresh and odor-free.

Myth 2: Dreadlocks are permanent and irreversible.

While dreadlocks require commitment and patience, they can be undone if desired. However, removing dreadlocks can be time-consuming and may require professional assistance.

Myth 3: Dreadlocks are only for certain ethnicities.

Dreadlocks are not exclusive to any particular ethnicity. People from various cultural backgrounds and hair types can wear dreadlocks, as they are a personal choice and form of self-expression.

7. The History of Dreadlocks: A Journey through Time

To truly appreciate dreadlocks, we must explore their fascinating history. Dreadlocks have been present in various cultures throughout the ages, often carrying deep spiritual and cultural significance. Let’s take a journey through time and discover the roots of dreadlocks:

Ancient Origins

The earliest recorded evidence of dreadlocks dates back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, India, and Greece. In ancient Egypt, mummified remains have been found with dreadlocked hair, showcasing their existence as early as 2,500 BCE. In India, dreadlocks are mentioned in Vedic scriptures dating back to 1500 BCE, referring to Lord Shiva’s hair as “jata,” meaning “twisted locks of hair.” In Greece, depictions of individuals with braided and possibly dreadlocked hair can be found, influenced by their contact with neighboring cultures.

Spiritual and Cultural Significance

In many cultures, dreadlocks hold deep spiritual and cultural significance. For instance, in Hinduism, dreadlocks are associated with Lord Shiva and are considered sacred. In Rastafarian culture, dreadlocks serve as a symbol of African identity, resistance against oppression, and a connection to Jah (God). Similarly, in various African and Caribbean cultures, dreadlocks are associated with spirituality, strength, and cultural pride.

Dreadlocks in African and Caribbean Cultures

Dreadlocks have a long-standing presence in African and Caribbean cultures. In West Africa, tribes such as the Fula, Wolof, Maasai, and Kikuyu are known for their association with locked hair, often worn by warriors to symbolize strength. In Jamaica, the emergence of dreadlocks as a prominent hairstyle is often attributed to the influence of Rastafarianism and reggae music, particularly through the iconic figure of Bob Marley.

Influence on Western Pop Culture

In the late 20th century, dreadlocks gained popularity beyond their cultural origins and became a symbol of counterculture and individuality. Musicians, actors, and artists embraced dreadlocks as a form of self-expression, further propelling their visibility and acceptance. However, this popularity also gave rise to cultural appropriation and the need for respectful appreciation of dreadlocks.

8. Cultural Appropriation and Respectful Appreciation

Cultural appropriation occurs when elements of a marginalized culture are adopted or appropriated by members of a dominant culture without proper acknowledgment, understanding, or respect. Dreadlocks, with their deep cultural significance, have often been subjected to cultural appropriation.

It is essential to approach dreadlocks and other cultural practices with respect and awareness. Educating oneself on the history and significance behind dreadlocks, understanding the cultural context, and acknowledging their origins are crucial steps towards respectful appreciation.

9. Embracing Dreadlocks as a Symbol of Identity

Dreadlocks have the power to serve as a symbol of personal identity, cultural heritage, and pride. By wearing dreadlocks, individuals can celebrate their uniqueness, express their creativity, and embrace a hairstyle with a rich history and cultural significance.

It is important to remember that dreadlocks are not just a trend or a fashion statement – they represent a connection to history, heritage, and personal identity. By cultivating an understanding and appreciation for the roots of dreadlocks, we can promote inclusivity, cultural exchange, and respect for diverse traditions.

10. Conclusion

Dreadlocks are more than just a hairstyle – they are a testament to the diversity of human expression and cultural heritage. Whether you choose to embark on the journey of getting dreadlocks or simply admire them from afar, understanding the history, significance, and maintenance of dreadlocks is essential.

In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the process of getting dreadlocks, provided maintenance tips, shared styling ideas, and delved into the captivating history behind this iconic hairstyle. By embracing the beauty and cultural richness of dreadlocks, we can foster a more inclusive and appreciative society.

Remember, dreadlocks are a personal choice and a reflection of your individuality. Wear them with pride, respect their origins, and celebrate the diverse tapestry of human hair and culture. We wrote this article on What Is The Disadvantage Of Dreadlocks? Check it out for all of the details.

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