Curious about dreads but have questions? You've come to the right place. Here we have heaps of general information, the answers to lots of frequently asked questions, bits of trivia as well as some useless but interesting facts. Can't find what you're looking for? Flick us an email!
First, let's get down to the common questions everyone asks.
DO YOU WASH YOUR DREADS: YES: you wash your dreads. Dirty & greasy hair is slippery, doesn’t lock well & is just plain gross. We recommend washing your dreads once a week with residue-free Redwin Tea Tree Shampoo (no conditioner). Recycle an empty dishwashing liquid bottle with a nozzle, combine the shampoo 50/50 with water and use that to squirt right into the bases of your dreads.
DO I HAVE TO USE A DIFFERENT SHAMPOO WHEN I HAVE DREADS: Yes, yes yes!! This is very important! We use Redwin Tea Tree Shampoo as it’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and not only keeps dreads clean and healthy but also helps them to tighten. It's available from Coles or Woolworths and is cheap as chips. You shouldn't use anything that leaves any residue in the hair as it inhibits the locking process (so no conditioners, etc).
WILL IT HURT: Firstly, everyone is different with varying pain thresholds – what may be slightly uncomfortable for some might be very sensitive for you! Dreading is physically knotting each strand of hair on your head into natty locks and this process can involve some pain, especially when dreading the root bases close to your scalp. However some people say it doesn’t hurt at all… some even fall asleep! Your head may feel a bit tender put in from having your scalp tugged at all day and the tenderness will pass within a day or so. If it becomes too unbearable, scalp massages and maybe something like clove oil to desensitise the nerves a little. If you take commercial pain relief, try some ibuprofen or similar. The first few nights of having dreads may also be a challenge. Newly tightened dreads can feel like sleeping on a pile of cords. The best thing to do for this problem is to sleep on your side and wear a dread sock or beanie. Eventually you will get used to it and they will soften a bit. You can also expect your scalp to itch quite a bit. Try not to itch, as difficult as it may be; this may be the hardest part of the dreading process. If you absolutely do HAVE to scratch, use our 'itching stick' which is available in the Boho Dreads shop.
HOW MUCH LENGTH WILL YOU LOSE: Usually the hair is about 20% shorter after it’s dreaded. Thinner hair shortens more; thick hair shortens less… also the fatter you make the dreads the more it shortens the hair. If you’re worried about loss of length, we can add extensions to fatten up or lengthen your dreads. And don't be fooled... there are locticians out there promising very little loss of length but I PROMISE you that even if your hair doesn't shrink at the time of getting your locs, it will absolutely shrink in the coming months. Our dread method focuses on getting you a head full of dreads as quickly as possible, cutting out the months and years it takes for them to form on their own with other methods (think neglect method). There's nothing wrong with other methods, but we find ours to be very effective in giving you gorgeous locs from the very beginning.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET FULL HEAD OF DREADS: The short answer? Ages. Like hours. And hours. You may get bored and may get a sore bum from sitting all day. I am using nothing but a comb and a crochet hook to lock up each and every strand of hair into beautifully formed and tight dreadlocks. Depending on your hair thickness, length and texture, you could be looking at anywhere from 6 - 10 hours. If you want extensions, it takes longer. If you want pencil thin dreads, it takes longer.
CAN YOU DYE OR BLEACH DREADS: Dying or bleaching the hair is easier before its dreaded as the dying and bleaching process will leave the hair a bit dryer and more fried which will make it dread faster. So if at all possible bleach or dye before you dread. If your hair is bleached before you dread, it’s easy enough to carefully bleach just the roots / regrowth.
CAN YOU SWIM WITH DREADS: Yes you can swim with dreads. Chlorine won’t hurt them and salt water helps the hair dread faster. New dreads that haven’t tightened up yet will probably loosen up a bit every time they get wet. Always squeeze your dreads and get them as dry as possible or they may smell and get mouldy *yuck*.
IS WAX GOOD FOR DREADS: ummmmm HELL NO!! We don’t advocate wax for dreadlocks at all. Some locticians do, they even sell or promote it. We don't. In our very humble opinion, it makes dreads slimy & sticky which inhibits the locking process. It attracts dirt, lint & dust, prevents hair from drying out and can cause ‘dread rot’. Dread rot=mould. Gross. Some people like to use it to smooth down some flyaways for the odd night out, for work or in between maintenance sessions. Don't. There's plenty of other options to use that work better, that don't mess with your locks and don't leave a slimy build up in your dreads. Try aloe vera gel, either straight from the plant or a tube. Or normal hair gel. Or even hair spray. All of these will wash out easily with your next shampoo but keep your hair tidy when needed.
HOW LONG DOES HAIR HAVE TO BE FOR DREADS: For dreads alone, we recommend at least 10cm. You'll have groovy lil dread spikes all over your head. If you're after extensions, we recommend at least 8-10cm. We have dreaded hair as short as 5cm but the extensions tend to slip out when the hair is that short. We need it long enough for the dread extensions to ensure they bind seamlessly.
EXTENSIONS... SYNTHETIC OR HUMAN HAIR: We offer both so it's up to you. Extensions can be applied to natural hair or be applied to existing dreadlocks for length, volume or added thickness. Installment is 100% natural and leaves you with a well manicured set of locks from the start. There are only a couple of downsides to using synthetic hair that we've come across.
Synthetic hair CAN NOT be dyed, bleached or colored and is heat sensitive.
Synthetic dreads tend to be a bit stiffer and 'scratchy' than real hair and takes a few washes to soften up.
A small number (5% of the population) are allergic to the coating of the synthetic hair and can have an allergic reaction when they get synthetic dreadlock extensions. This is due to the alkaline covering the manufacturers put on the hair during processing. Allergy symptoms may include itching, flaking or breaking out with small white and red bumps on scalp. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can generally sooth this allergic reaction. Mix 1.5 cups of ACV with warm/hot water into spray bottle and thoroughly spray all over scalp, hair and dreadlock extensions. Let this sit for approximately 40-45 minutes on your hair. During this time, the acidity of the ACV removes the alkaline base from the hair. Rinse in the shower with cool water, shampoo with Tea Tree Shampoo, rinse well and let it air dry. Try this 2-3 times and it should alleviate the symptoms. For more severe reactions, the dreadlock extensions unfortunately need to be removed.
Ok so you've done your research, pinned plenty of cool pics to your latest Pinterest board and you've decided you're finally ready to jump straight on this dread-wagon. What's next?
Are you ready for dreadlocks? Dreads are AMAZINGLY AWESOME but are like having a tribe of kids on your head… they need lots of love and attention before they mature into adults. Over the next 6-12 months, they need regular maintenance and help in their adolescent stage. You need to use different shampoo, get bigger hats (standard ones won’t fit on your head), deal with itchiness, frizz, shrinkage, loops, bumps, possible dandruff AND get used to sleeping on a pillow of cords. This is all part of the journey.
You may experience prejudice of other people’s pre-conceived notions of what dreads mean and you will definitely get asked if you wash your hair. They will ask how you started them, what you put in them, if it’s all your own hair, if you take them out at night, can they touch them, do they smell…etc, etc. Be patient. It's a mysterious thing to most people.
Prepare hair for new dreads
To prepare your dreads, wash your dreads with a natural and drying shampoo. This helps to remove and silicons and other build up that can be lurking in the follicle from using regular shampoos and conditioners. Tea Tree shampoo is perfect, cheap and accessible from Coles / Woolworths supermarket or a health food shop.
Come to your appointment on time and with dry brushed hair (no knots please).
Make sure you bring some lunch / snacks / drinks to your appointment. There is a corner shop close by however they do have limited hours.
Also bring with you anything that you might want to that may help pass the time – laptop, book, DVDs, music etc – you may be here for a while!!
You're welcome to bring a friend.
I have new dreads.... what now?
Firstly… ENJOY THEM! The first night can be a bit of a challenge with your scalp feeling a little tight and uncomfortable when you go to bed. Don’t worry this will pass quickly - your poor scalp has gone through a bit of trauma. If you do have an itchy scalp then try some Aloe Vera straight from the plant – even keep a leaf or two in the fridge for an extra cooling effect. You can also try using Clove Oil, Tea Tree or Coconut oil, and applying a very small amount to the dry or itchy area, and massaging it in.
When should I wash my new dreads?
It is recommended that you wait a week before the first wash to allow the dreads a chance to settle in. After that, you can wash them as often as you like. The longer you go between washings, the more grease and dirt will build up in your dreads and the harder it will be to keep clean.
How should I wash my hair?
Use only a small amount of soap on your scalp, and massage it in to a lather. As you rinse your scalp, the soap will work its way down the dreads. Make sure your dreadlings are dry before putting up into a ponytail or bun. You don't want mould.
What can I do to help speed the locking process?
You can use a salt spray on your dreads twice once a day to help with the locking process. Mix up about 3 tablespoons of sea salt in hot water, let cool and add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Put in a spray bottle and spray twice a day being careful not to get too much on your scalp as it may make you itch. If you find you are itchy after using the spray then water it down and keep it away from your scalp as much as possible. Not only does it smell delicious but it helps to keep your dreads in place and nice and firm while they are forming and growing.
My dreads are starting to frizz out! How long will this process take?
This is perfectly normal! After installing a fresh set of dreads, or even doing maintenance, you may notice the dreads loosening a little bit and a few loose hairs escaping. Over time, some of these hairs will pull themselves back in to the dreads, and the locks will continue to grow on their own. Get regular maintenance - keep in mind it takes about 12 months for your dreads to mature.
How often should I get maintenance done?
Depending on your hair type and how you are looking after them, your dreads will take about 12 months to mature. This means that they will harden up on their own and become ‘real’ dreads naturally. During this time they may get looser before they tighten, or they may just tighten. They may develop the odd lump or they might stay smooth. How your dreads will form once your hair starts to grow from your scalp depends entirely on your hair type and also how you are looking after them. Some dreads require regular care and maintenance while others do not. Most people come in for maintenance every 2-3 months. DO NOT USE WAX!!