It takes a lot of extreme dedication to improving yourself continually. And if you have decided to get dreadlocks, we congratulate you on your decision.
Dreadlocks are humanity's first and natural hairstyle. For many people, wearing dreadlocks is a religious, spiritual, or political statement that aesthetically manifests their personal ideals and mindset.
And while it is true that dreadlocks have become stylistically acceptable in popular culture, there are caveats to that acceptance. Usually, everyone loves dreadlocks when it's a millionaire rapper, billionaire rapper, or non-black celebrity rocking them.
You must be dedicated to growing your dreadlocks, maintaining them, and adjusting your mindset about what it means to wear your hair naturally.
Trust us; we will present an essential step-by-step guide on how to start locs in this piece. But firstly, we want to discuss the importance of dedication with you.
You can wear whatever hairstyle suits your preference. We want to stress that it takes dedication to start growing and maintaining dreadlocks. Dreadlocks are not like any other hairstyle.
You have to sacrifice to get dreadlocks, and you have to sacrifice even more to get rid of dreadlocks if you change your mind afterward.
So, let's talk about all the factors you must consider before getting dreadlocks before presenting our dreadlock starting guide.
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A little later in this article, we will discuss the importance of asking "why" you chose to wear dreadlocks.
And that question is an important part of understanding why dedication is so important when it comes to wearing dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks are not like any other ordinary hairstyle; it is quite literally one of the world's first hairstyles, if not the first.
It might take you an hour or several hours to get or change a traditional hairstyle. However, it could take anywhere between six months to 24 months before your dreadlocks fully develop.
To better understand the level of dedication you will need to develop dreadlocks, we need to talk about the internal dreadlock matrix. It is not a complicated concept; you need to understand it properly to appreciate the dedication you will need to achieve your dreadlocks.
Internally, a dreadlock stand is an interconnected web layering of coiled, fused, and locked hair follicles. As your hair grows out of the scalp, you will need to twist it to maintain the dreadlock aesthetic along its length continually.
The exterior of a dreadlock strand resembles a matted and rope-like aesthetic. But if you could see inside of it, you would see a spiral latticework of fused, coiled, and connected follicles.
You are going to have to spend months, if not a year or two, meticulously twisting and coiling your hair follicles to develop dreadlocks.
You definitely need to alter your mindset to get dreadlocks. If you stop in the middle of developing your dreadlocks, then you just spent months or a year wasting time and effort.
You will have to cut them off if you change your mind completely. There is a dreadlock detangling process, but it could take days to accomplish. And if your dreadlocks reach an appreciable length, you may have to sacrifice up to a third to half of its length to detangle them.
You will also need to accept that others may look at you differently after you get dreadlocks. There are many stereotypes, stigmatizations, and lies perpetuated about dreadlocks, including, worst of all, that they are unclean or a sign of militant ideals.
In the United States, it is legal for an employer to discriminate against your application or fire you if you have dreadlocks.
Attaining and keeping dreadlocks requires dedication. If you are ready, here is what you need to know about starting them.
There are many locking methods for beginning dreadlocks. Some begin the process with professional services, where others are comfortable starting their dreadlocks themselves. Whatever the case, this article will help you understand the following key points:
- The importance of planning your first deadlocking journey
- The why behind the journey
- Various locking methods to choose from (depending on hair type), and
- Importance of selecting the right method
We’ve put together a wealth of information that took some time to put together… but what I noticed is during all my research, I never came across an article of why someone would want to start dreadlocks.
So, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to start there.
As a person with locs (what we call them in my culture), there are many reasons to consider locking your hair. Most are drawn to the trend, where others are drawn to the spiritual meaning associated with locs. Whatever the “why” behind your reason, it is essential to know.
For myself, I began my locs during a very important time of my life, my spiritual awakening. Therefore, planning was essential to my locking journey.
This was not a temporary decision but a long-term commitment!
According to Raging Roots Studio, "the decision to lock your hair carries a lot of commitment, which places the obligation of properly researching all the necessary things before you jump in" (Dreadlock Education, RagingRootStudio.com).
So, step one to the locking process is doing the proper research so you can properly plan.
Related: How to maintain your locs
What Are Dreadlocks?
Dreadlock is a process that allows the hair to intertwine until it locks and creates big ropes of hair. The rope of hair consists of loose hairs, normally damaged hair that falls out, that become matted together, creating locs. Although locs can be created by neglecting them, there are many other ways to begin the locking process by placing them in locking styles.
There are many locking styles available, but this was not always the case. Before the creation of Crochet and Dread Perm, people were only given three options: gel and two-strand twist, and the rip and pull method. Now with the many options to choose from, how do you choose the right style for you? Locking styles are based on two factors: hair length and texture. To select the correct locking style, you must know your hair type. Please see our list of the top 5 commonly used locking styles:
- Crochet – is a method that uses a crochet hook to interlock the hair, creating small locs. This technique is used for all hair types but used mostly on hair types that are coarse or straight silky.
- Dread Perm – is a method that utilizes chemicals to freeze the hair in a dread formation. This is a two step process that uses perm rods and requires you to leave chemicals in your hair for a set amount of time. Locks all hair types.
- Natural/Organic – the only process that requires no action. If you have a residue-free shampoo, you are good to go! Locks all hair types.
- Sister Locs – is a locking technique popular amongst professionals. This technique creates small locs that appear neat and tamed. This locking style is good for all hair types, but commonly used with coarse or silky straight hair.
- Two-Strand Twist – is a locking method that requires the hair to be twisted into individual strands. This process is very popular and is one of the most used. This technique can be used on all hair types but note some hair types twist better than others. So, having the proper locking cream is important.
Upon understanding the type of locking styles available, it is also essential to choose the correct parting method, also known as sectioning. Sectioning is vital to the locking journey, as it is the foundation of your dreadlocks. In the professional realm, the brick and fan patterns are the most popular section types; however, there are many other types you can use.
Please see the below chart for a sample of the most popular section types available:
Section Types, Google Images
As you can see, each section offers a different type of pattern. This will help your locs as they form. Although sectioning is essential, you are free to choose whatever sectioning type you like, regardless of your hair type or length.
Now that you understand the foundation let’s begin.
Determine which locking style is best for you. Remember, hair type is vital to choosing the correct locking style.
Choose the sectioning for your loss, which helps with size.
Gather the required products and materials. (Dependent on which locking technique you choose.)
Wash hair with residue-free shampoo
Allow hair to dry naturally (For faster results, use a hairdryer).
Step 6 through 8
Varies on locking technique. (Please reference individual “How-To”)
Related: History of Dreadlocks
When deciding to begin dreadlocks, it is important to understand that this journey is a process, which has stages. In the locking journey, your hair will undergo four stages of growth. These stages are:
- Starter Lock Stage
- Baby Lock Stage
- Teenage Lock Stage, and
- Adult Stage
Each stage is important to your locking journey and may take up to 18 – 24 months to move through all stages completely.
Please see the below image of each stage, courtesy of curlynugrowth.com.
Four Locking Stages, CurlyNuGrowth.com
Each stage has a significant meaning and challenge of its own. During the starter stage, people are often frustrated because of the fear of washing out the locs. In the past, people were told not to wash their hair for 3 to 4 months after receiving their first installation. This is no longer the case.
So, understanding the four stages is also essential because it will help eliminate a lot of unnecessary frustration.
I hope this information offered the foundation needed to complete the locking process. Because locking methods vary, depending on the style of your choice, it is essential to reference the individual “How-To” for a complete breakdown of the process.
Thank you for reading!
Looking for products to help with the step by step process of creating your dream locs? DreadLocks Pride has a wide array of selection for you to choose from!
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Gutierrez-Morfin, N. (2016, 09 21). NBC News. Retrieved 11 26, 2019
Making Dreadlocks - Learn how to start dreads and make'em grow! (2019, 11 26). From Dread Head HQ: https://dreadheadhq.com/pages/making-deadlocks-learn-how-to-start-dreads-and-make-em-grow
Mariuta. (2019, 01 20). How to Start Dreadlocks. From Love Locs Natural: http://lovelocsnatural.com/hot-to-start-dreadlocks/
Mishra, A. (2019, 11 12). How to have deadly dreadlocks. From Business Insight: http://bi.gale.com.dclibrary.idm.oclc.org/global/article/GALE|A362462345/dd2f41b507a465c4848977f157da41c3?u=dclib_main
Renee, J. (2019, 11 26). 7 Ways to Start Locs: Benefits, Drawbacks and What to Expect. From Curly Nu Growth: https://curlynugrowth.com/7-methods-to-start-locs-drawbacks-what-to-expect/Roots, R. (2019, 11 12). The History of Dreadlocks. Retrieved 26 2019, 11 from Raging Roots Studios: ragingrootsstudio.com/the-history-of-dreadlocks/