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All About Locked Hair

Thinking about locking your hair? You're not alone. Locks have become more and more popular with...

Fotolia_3716508_S Dreadlocks have been around for very long time, at least since the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt if not before. They are truly a style with a lot of history.

Despite its long lived history and recent popularity dreadlocks still remain a misunderstood hair choice. The average person usually doesn’t know the myths about dreadlocks from the facts. Many people still believe that dreadlocks have to be dirty, you can’t wash your hair, dreadlocks damage your scalp and other such things. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dreadlock Types

There are three basic types of dreadlocks : organic , free form , and cultivated . There are methods for forming dreadlocks that correspond with the type of lock.

Organic dreadlocks are formed by basically leaving your hair to its own devices. If your hair is curly or coily, if you just wash it and leave it alone, in time it will lock.

Free form dreadlocks are form by washing your hair often and separating the natural bunches that your hair forms. Free formed dreadlocks can vary in size from super small to really big. It all truly depends on how much or how little you divide the hair clusters.

When you get into cultivated dreadlocks there are a lot of ways that they can be started. Some methods are better suited for one hair type over other but I will list them all because I don’t know what type of hair you have. I don’t want to close off any of your options.

The method you choose will depend on the size that you want your finished lock to be, your goals for locking, and the resources that you may have (or not have) to help you.

Locking Methods

When I decide to lock my hair the first time six years ago, I searched all over to find information. What I found in print as well as online that many dreadlock wearers are biased to the method that they used to start their locks.

Over the years I have found that there are several dreadlocking methods. And the way you maintain your dreadlocks will depend on the method that you used.

I have also found that hair type can play a huge role in your journey and the final look. I have two distantly different types of hair and I learned – the hard way- that some method just won’t work uniformly on all hair types.

You won’t have that problem. I think I have unearthed all of the basic dreadlocking methods and some that are not so basic.

  • Comb Coils
    Comb coils can be started on hair that is coily to kinky. If your hair will form a natural coil you can usually start your dreadlocks this way. You are basically using a comb to coax a section of hair to form a curl. This method is great if you have hair that is really short. However, any length of coil hair can be comb coiled.
  • Single twists
    Starting dreadlocks with single twist is a lot like starting dreadlocks with comb coils. The only difference is that you use your fingers instead of a comb to form the lock. If your hair will form a natural coil you can usually start your dreadlocks this way. You can start any length of hair with this method.
  • Palm Rolls
    Starting dreadlocks with palm rolls is a lot like starting locks with comb coils or finger rolls. The only difference is that you use your palms to form the lock. If your hair will form a natural coil you can usually start your locks this way. Your hair should be at least three inches long to start your dreadlocks with this method.
  • Two strand twists/ Double Strand Twists
    If you are looking for a way to start your dreadlocks that can be handled a little more at the beginning you may want to consider starting your locks with two strand or double strand twists. Dreadlocks started with double strand twist are a lot more durable than dreadlocks started with coils, finger coils/roll, or palm rolls. This method will work on coily, curly and wavy hair types and hair that is at least two inches long.
  • Braids
    Braids are one of the easiest low maintenance ways of starting dreadlocks. It really is as simple as braiding or getting your hair braided. Dreadlocks started with braids can be a wide range of sizes from the size of your finger to the size of a piece of yarn and every diameter in between. This method works on all hair types but is especially good for those who have hair that will not coil or have various types of hair on your head.
  • Woven/Interlocked/Tool Started Methods
    Weaving or interlocking the hair is a sure fire way to start dreadlocks (and maintain locks) on any hair type. Even the straightest hair can be locked with this method. The hair is woven from tip to root with your fingers or a tool. When you get to the base you are done.

    It is kind of like braiding only backwards. And like braids, dreadlocks started by weaving or intertwining the hair are a lot more durable than other methods. You can use this method to start dreadlocks of any size. If you want exceptionally small “micro locks” this would be the way to go.
  • Yarn Braid Extension
    If you want dreadlocks and: a.) have a perm and don’t want to cut it or b.) think you want them but are not completely sure consider starting your dreadlocks with yarn extensions. Yarn braids (a.k.a Nu Locs) are simply extension braids that are braided with acrylic yarn instead of synthetic hair. You really only need an inch or two of hair.

Locking Stages

Once you have your starter locks, if you are like most may be impatient to be completely locked. It is understandable but remember that dreadlocks are a lesson in patience. No matter what way you start your locks there will be an amount time that you will have to wait before they are completely mature. The amount of time will depend on your hair type and the method that you used to start your locks.

Washing your dreadlocks

How you wash your dreadlocks and how often will really depend on how you started them. But here are some basic guidelines that will work for all lock types.

Lock Maintenance


All dreadlocks with the exception of organic require some type of regular maintenance to insure that they don’t mat together into a few large dreadlocks. There are there basic types of lock maintenance: free forming/ separating the roots , twisting and rolling, interlocking/intertwining. If you want your dreadlocks to have a consistent look it is better to pick one method and stick with it.

Test Driving Before the Commitment

If like lock but still aren’t sure if the are right for you there are several ways for you to “try out” the style before you commit. Now just like test driving a car, you will only get a taste of what it will actually be like but it may help you in your decision to go for it or not.

There are several extension styles that you can try that will give you a feel of how dreadlocks might be for you as well as letting you gauge the reaction of family and friend. Here are a few of your options:

  • Silky Dreads
  • Comb coils/ Finger Twists
  • Yarn Braids/Nu Locs
  • Dread Extensions

Trying any of these before committing could be a good option for you if you have a tendency to always want to change hair styles and if you really aren’t ready to commit to dreadlocks yet.

Dreadlock Styling

If you are worried about a lack of styling options, don’t worry. There are lots of styles that you can do with your dreadlocks. And locked styles can be stunning. It is best to wait until your dreadlocks are in the late teen stage or mature if you have rolled or twisted dreadlocks, other wise locks can be style in many ways similar to unlocked hair. Here are just a few of the things that you can do with your dreadlocks.

  • Roller set
  • Braid outs
  • Twists
  • Pin ups

What you can do with your dreadlocks will depend on how thick and how long your locks are. In general it is easier to style thinner dreadlocks than think and longer dreadlocks than short.

That doesn’t mean that if you have thick short lock you cant do anything with them. You can accessorize with scarves, and hat. You can braid in ribbons, add shells, beads, or other hair accessories. You may have to think outside of the box but there are ways to make any locked head look stunning.

Taking Dreadlocks down

In general dreadlocks are considered a permanent style. It is hard and tedious to try and take them down. But some day you may choose to take them down and if you do you don’t have to shave your head to do it. Here are some other articles that may be helpful:

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