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How To Transition From Relaxed Hair To Dreadlocks

It is not impossible to transition from relaxed hair to dreadlocks. But you should appreciate that the follicle locking process that locks the hair and turns them into dreadlocks can start in as little as six months. 

However, it can take 24 months for the initial dreadlock process to mature and individual locs to fully matt. And the traditional method of transitioning hair into dreadlocks is usually predicated on the idea of the hair being chemical-free.

The dreadlock process works best if your hair is full of chemicals or residue from non-organic hair grooming products. And hair that naturally curls, coils, and twists will lock, fuse and become matted easier than straight hair. 

And this is not to say that straight cannot become dreadlocks. Any form of hair can be transitioned to dreadlocks. But it takes longer for straight hair to transition to dreadlocks relative to non-naturally straight hair.

And that brings us to the issue of transitioning from relaxed hair to dreadlocks. Relaxed hair is naturally curly or kinky hair that is chemically altered to become as straight as possible.

So, you should be able to see the inherent issues with transitioning from relaxed hair to dreadlocks. Relaxed hair is chemically altered to stay straight for weeks and months. And this does not mean that relaxed hair can't be transitioned to dreadlocks, but it does mean that the follicle locking process to make dreads will take even longer.

Additionally, the style glory of wearing dreadlocks is the pride of wearing your hair as naturally as possible without the use of organic hair products. Wearing dreadlocks is a style statement, but it is also a personal statement for many wearers who are proud of their natural hair.

It is not our intention to judge anyone who wants to relax their natural hair chemically. It's your choice and your decision. Our point is that if you're going to get dreadlocks, you may be better off waiting until the relaxing chemicals in your hair naturally leave your hair.

But if you want to transition from relaxed hair to dreadlocks, we have your basic guide. Firstly, let's discuss what happens to natural hair when relaxed.

Your dreadlocks need natural, vegan, and organic grooming products to stay as healthy as possible. Check out Lion Locs today.

Related: 12 Celebrities with Locs

What is Relaxed Hair?

A beautiful black woman with chemically relaxed hair striking a modeling pose.

We encourage anyone who wants to wear dreadlocks to get them. However, it is important to stress that transitioning to dreadlocks is time-intensive. It requires a lot to groom and train your hair follicles to begin locking up.

And this process can be lengthened if you have relaxed hair.

And we swear this is not a rant against relaxed hair. Over two-thirds of African American women chemically relax their hair all the time, occasionally, or every once in a while.

Our point is that if you want to transition from chemically relaxed hair to dreadlocks, then you are creating a process that requires a lot of time sacrifice and hair manipulation even more intensive.

Why? Let's discuss what happens when you chemically relax naturally curly and clingy hair.

Chemical Hair Relaxing 101

A chemical relaxer is a topical cream or lotion designed to convert naturally curly hair into straight hair with a sheen and no curly frizzing. Chemical relaxers chemically alter hair at the molecular level, breaking the natural bonds in hair follicles that make them curly and straighten them out. 

Chemical relaxers are caustic chemicals that have been chemically designed to react to hair but can quickly burn and damage the skin if left on the scalp for too long.

The chemical relaxers that you can buy in stores could contain chemicals like lye, sodium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, guanidine carbonate, thioglycolic acid salts, and many more chemicals with hard to pronounce names. 

The first part of the relaxing process involves topically covering the hair in a relaxing solution that breaks the molecular bonds in the hair. Your hair is curly because your DNA and heritage have programmed it to be such. And a chemical relaxer destroys those molecular bonds in your hair temporarily.

And that is why you can't keep relaxing chemicals in your hair for more than 10 or 15 minutes. If you left them in your hair any longer then, your hair would be literally destroyed by chemical burning. And the hair on your scalp would suffer chemical burns.

After thoroughly washing and rinsing out all of the chemical relaxer, a neutralizing agent is applied to the hair, reclosing the molecular bonds broken by the chemical relaxer. And the neutralizing agent then chemically re-alters your naturally curly hair to become very straight.

A chemical hair relaxation usually lasts about ten weeks before it converts into its natural form. 

We would advise that you wait a month or two to allow the caustic chemicals in your hair to dissipate naturally. After all, this process would try to force unnaturally straightened hair to become natural dreadlocks.

However, if you can't wait, here is how to transition from chemically relaxed hair to dreadlocks.

How To Transition From Relaxed Hair To Dreadlocks

A beautiful black woman with glasses and dreadlocks laughing.

First, wash your hair thoroughly multiple times with an organic shampoo and conditioner. You want to strip away as much of the relaxing chemical residue as possible from your hair.

After thoroughly drying your hair, you can start segmenting your hair into one-inch size blocks. Use a rubber or nylon hairband to tie the hair at the base of the scalp. Each segment of hair will represent a future individual dreadlock. So, you can decide the size of each block. The one-inch size is a general guideline.

And now, you will want to start using the backcombing method. Hold a length of hair and then firmly hold the end. Then comb back towards the scalp in regular motions instead of away from it. 

Using the backcombing method is a way of getting your hair follicles to begin learning how to lock together. Keep in mind that your hair will not start magically locking – this is just the beginning of a long road to transition your straight hair to dreadlocks. You will have to repeat this process repeatedly until your hair follicles begin locking up.

You can then start using a dreadlock crochet comb. It is a comb with two or three prongs that you gently poke in and out of your hair to promote natural hair follicle locking and fusing.

After that, you can apply a natural dreadlock oil or gel to your hair and begin palm rolling your hair. Roll your hair between your palms like you are holding a candle. This process will also promote natural follicle locking.

Be advised that you will have to continue this process daily for months before you see any results since you are starting with chemically relaxed hair.

If possible, enlist the help of a hairstylist with experience grooming dreadlocks.

Another method you can use is to braid your hair and start your dreadlocks that way. Keep the braids locked and just wash them and dry them thoroughly. The braids will naturally become dreadlocks within months. Or you can unbraid it after six months and traditionally start your dreadlocks.

Get the latest organic, vegan, and organic hair grooming products for your dreadlocks at Lion Locs.

Related: How to Get Rid of Dandruff in Your Locs

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