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A beautiful black woman with thick dreadlocks looking off in the distance.

The Best Ways To Detangle Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks are probably the most ancient hairstyle in the world. Historians believe that the first recorded depictions of the dreadlock hairstyle occurred over 4,500 years ago. But even then, it's plausible that the dreadlock hairstyle is even older than that. 

Dreadlocks are an aesthetically majestic hairstyle with deep cultural roots in black history. While many people wear dreadlocks as a bold fashion statement, wearing this hairstyle can be a profoundly spiritual decision for others.

And even though dreadlocks are now popular in many circles of 

culture, they are not in many others. Western writers and researchers popularized the very name "dreadlocks" in the early 20th century. It was an honest and knee-jerk response to the rise, influence, and popularity of Rastafarian culture and music.

And the name did not have a positive connotation at first; outsiders first who first saw the hairstyle experienced fear and dread. And those discriminatory feelings about dreadlocks still persist to this day. 

Discrimination against people with dreadlocks persists to this day. You could lose your job and be prevented from getting one for having dreadlocks. 

And even with those realities, the truth is that having dreadlocks is a high-maintenance and grooming-intensive hairstyle to wear. Many people get tired of it.

If you want to detangle your dreadlocks and convert them back to individual hair follicles, you can. It is not an easy process, and you will have to cut some lengths of your hair. And the more matted your dreadlocks are, the more complex the process will be.

If you detangle your dreadlocks, you could end up with a cleanly shorn head.

If you want to detangle your dreadlocks, we have the fundamental guide for you. But you should first consider why you got dreadlocks before you do.

Dreadlock Discrimination

There could be valid reasons why you want to detangle your dreadlocks. You may want a new hairstyle. Or you could be tired of the constant maintenance. But if you are worried about what others think, then that defeats the purpose of getting dreadlocks in the first place. And detangling them to please others only empowers discrimination.

In 2015, as film star Zendaya wore faux dreadlocks to an event, a fashion commentator said she probably smelled like cheap essential oils and marijuana.

In 2018, a champion high school New Jersey wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks in the middle of a match because the referee decided on the spot that they were too long for the match.

And back in 1843, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a medical paper that tried to link dreadlocks with mental illness.

In 2016, a court ruled that firing someone in the workplace for wearing dreadlocks is not illegal and nondiscriminatory.

The point is that if you are going to detangle your dreadlocks, it should be for personal reasons. Because in the same ways that it takes a lot of time and effort to create dreadlocks, it takes a lot of effort to detangle them. 

Your dreadlocks deserve the best care. Get all of your dreadlock care products from Lion Locs.

Related: How To Find The Best Hair Stylist For Your Locs

The Best Ways To Detangle Dreadlocks

If you are determined to detangle your dreadlocks, we highly recommend that you find a professional salon or hairstylist with experience detangling dreadlocks.

Depending on how fused and matted your dreadlocks are and the length, detangling your dreadlocks could be a multi-hour or days-long process. 

Detangling is a process that occurs one dreadlock at a time.

Going to a professional hairstylist with experience detangling dreadlocks gives you a better chance of maintaining more natural hair after the detangling.

If you attempt to do the process on your own, do so methodically and carefully. 

Cut Fully Fused Dreadlocks

Black woman with thick, twisted dreadlocks staring at blue wall.

Dreadlocks that are older than four or five years will be almost impossible to untangle. The dreadlocks near the tip are fully fused and entangled. The hair at the scalp base is relatively less entangled.

You may have to cut a third to half of the length of your dreadlocks from the tip. The dreadlocks will be easier to detangle from the middle. Untangling dreadlocks from the end will result in damaged and torn follicles. 

The dreadlocks' ends are just too fused to detangle thoroughly. You want loose and non-fused ends to work with when detangling.

So, work a dreadlock specialist hairstylist if you don't want to decide where to cut.

Wash and Soak Your Dreads

Wash your dreadlocks multiple times and thoroughly. This will wash away any hair grease or the residue of grooming products you used before. 

Then, soak your dreadlocks in a bathtub or sink with hot water. Soak your hair for at least 25 minutes.

Your dreadlocks must be very wet and oily for the untangling process. Otherwise, the follicles would break and rip as you untangle them.

Get Multiple Bottle of Hair Oil or Conditioner

Lightly dry dreadlocks with a towel, but not too much. You need to soak your dreadlocks to hydrate the follicles in the interior of the dreadlock, which is now easily accessed after cutting the length.

But now, you will need to constantly oil or hydrate the dreadlock with a hair conditioner as you detangle them. Your dreadlocks must be slick to the touch as you detangle them.

Get multiple spray bottles of your favorite hair oil or hair conditioner. You could dilute the hair conditioner with water so that you will have more bottles to work with.

Each dreadlock has to be constantly sprayed with oil or conditioner as it is detangled to keep follicles wet enough to detangle without ripping or drying out.

Gently Comb Through Dreadlocks

You are now ready to comb through the dreadlocks with a surgical precision to detangle the years of twisted knots accumulated to create the hairstyle.

Don't skimp on the hair oil or conditioner. Spray each dreadlock liberally as you detangle them. 

Use a rat-tail comb with a pointy end to poke into sections of the dreadlock and then slowly and strategically comb out the hair.

Let's make sure that you understand the depth of the task here: when you detangle dreadlocks, you are detangling every single hair follicle on your scalp that has fused and knotted together over the years.

This process will take time. Do it one dreadlock at a time. And this process could take hours or days. Get it done by a professional hairstylist, and it could take a few hours.

Shampoo and Condition

You should soak your newly freed hair follicles when you have detangled all of your dreadlocks. And then you should give your hair a deep shampoo cleaning and conditioning.

Hair Trim

Stylish black woman with green-dyed dreadlocks in art gallery.

After drying your hair, you should examine your hair, especially at the mid-length and at the ends. 

A lot of the follicles could be damaged, ripped, torn, or split. You won't just magically have the same hair you had before you converted them into dreadlocks.

You may have to have a significant length of hair cut to expedite healthy future follicle growth.

It takes a lot of sacrifices to grow dreadlocks. And it will take a lot of sacrifices to detangle them as well.

Always take care of your dreadlocks with natural, vegan, and organic hair products from Lion Locs.

Related: 4 Ways to Moisturize Your Locs

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