Like any hairstyle, baby dreadlocks require maintenance. There are essential steps to take routinely to get the perfectly formed and separated style you're going for. Because it's such a specific look, regular maintenance is perhaps more critical for baby locks than for other hairstyles. However, creating a well-developed maintenance routine can be fun and rewarding, offering the best results for your new baby locks.
Starting Baby Locks
Before maintaining your baby dreadlocks, you have to get them started. Some people think that locks are just unwashed sections of hair. In reality, they require active shaping to form correctly. The process begins with backcombing and twisting.
First, the hair is divided into sections and held in place with clips or rubber bands. The sections can vary in size to one to two inches apart. The size of the sections determines the size of each lock. They should be divided consistently across the head.
Once you or your stylist divides the hair into sections, it's time to backcomb. Starting at the root of the section, comb the hair backward to gather at the base. Repeat the process from root to tip on each section of hair.
After backcombing the hair, it's time to twist. This helps to form the dreadlock shape. Place the palms of your hands around the lock and roll the section between your palms for each divided section. Repeat the process with every section until your entire head of hair is dreadlocked. You or your loctitian may want to use loc gel or loc butter to help your hair hold its shape.
There's a lot of conflicting information about washing dreadlocks. Some sources even suggest that you shouldn't wash your locks at all. In reality, regular washing is necessary to keep your hair and scalp healthy. Failing to wash can result in dandruff and excess dirt in the hair, which will detract from the overall look of the dreadlocks. It can also cause an uncomfortable, itchy scalp.
To contribute to the tightest, healthiest dreadlocks, wash your hair once every two weeks. Because hair washing can result in the locks unraveling, one way to protect them is to wear a washing cap to wash your hair. This method allows you to shampoo through the cap rather than rubbing it through your hair directly, helping the dreadlocks keep their shape.
When washing, pay special attention to the scalp. Rub the shampoo into the scalp while avoiding disturbing the locks. Allow the shampoo to run down the length of the locks, cleaning them without unraveling any hair. Be sure to rinse the hair thoroughly to avoid any buildup of residue in the locks. Residue buildup can lead to uneven, unhealthy dreadlocks.
Drying your hair is very important for dreadlocks as moisture can remain inside them for an extended period. The long-term presence of water can lead to smelly or even mildewy locks. So, after washing the hair, use a hairdryer to dry the locks altogether.
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Frizziness and Loose Hair
Frizziness is a natural stage of the process of growing dreadlocks. However, it may be unpleasant for someone looking for an orderly, controlled look. One way to cut down on frizziness is to wear a satin scarf or do-rag to control it.
Loose hair can be reincorporated into locks either by twisting or using a crochet hook or hair tool. When twisting loose hair into the dreadlock, use the same palm rolling method you used to create the locks in the first place, working sections of loose hair into existing dreadlocks.
The use of a hook can create more immediate, tighter results. With this method, the hook pushes through the existing dreadlock, then hooks over loose hair and pulls the hair back through the lock. Repeat the process until you reincorporate all the loose hair.
Note that while re-rolling is an integral part of dreadlock maintenance, you should avoid twisting your locks too frequently. Overtwisting can result in weak roots and broken or damaged dreadlocks. As with many of these maintenance tips, the key is balance. Work on your dreads enough to help them continue to form, but not so much that you damage them.
Related: How to Tighten Your Locks
Protecting the Locks
Equally crucial to active maintenance is protecting your dreadlocks. It's easy for them to unravel in the early stages, so avoiding anything that could disrupt their shape is essential. One daily activity that has the potential to ruin your new look is sleep. Rolling around on your pillow can create friction on the locks, which can cause them to loosen and rub out. To avoid this, use a loose-fitting cap while you're sleeping.
In addition to keeping them from coming out in your sleep, you should protect your dreadlocks from the environment. Particularly if you work in the trades or another field with many environmental particulates, it's a good idea to keep your locks covered. Covering the hair prevents excess dust and dirt from gathering on the locks. It's essential to keep them as clean as possible in the first place, as you won't be able to scrub them to get the dirt out. That could cause them to loosen, and it would be a shame to lose all your hard work.
One often-overlooked aspect of dreadlock maintenance is food. Hair health intrinsically links to diet. The first element is protein. Because protein is critical to hair growth, a protein-rich diet will encourage healthy, strong, and beautiful hair. Strong hair is vital to dreadlock maintenance.
In addition to getting enough protein, fruits and vegetables are critical elements of a hair-healthy diet. Go especially heavy on leafy greens like kale and spinach. They are loaded with vitamins A and C, along with iron and folate. These nutrients aid in the production of sebum oil and the repair of damaged hair and follicles. Fruits also have vitamins that are critical to protecting your hair follicles.
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Creating an effective monthly maintenance routine for your dreadlocks will help create the orderly, attractive hairstyle you're aiming for. By regularly retwisting, cleansing, and eating right, you encourage the best results. Remember that the entire act of dreadlock maintenance is one of balance. While it's necessary to take regular action to ensure their health, it's equally necessary to avoid overwashing or over manipulation.
Related: How to Maintain Dreadlocks