Getting Started! What you'll need:
So you've decided to get knotty. Here are the must have tools and products to kick start kick ass dreads. We strongly recommend you get your hands on a Dreadlocks Starter Kit. It includes all the products, tools and comprehensive instructions needed to create dreads as well as leaving you with enough products for ongoing maintenance.
The dread comb should have metal bristles so you can pull hard against the hair without the bristles snapping. The bristles should also be close together.
The rubber bands included in the Dreadlock Starter Kit are small and hold up pretty well through the initial washings. They don't pull your hair as much as regular rubber bands and they are nice and small. Also available on our site are pro elastics - a premium alternative to rubber bands and are also available in clear.
Use these for holding hair back while you section and dread. Pretty much any clip will do as long as they can keep the hair out of your way.
Dreadlock Accelerator and Dread Dust
There's no doubt about it, dreadlocking takes a while and the more help you have with accelerators the better. Accelerator and Dread Dust just make the entire process so much easier. The dreads will look better as they'll be tight and smooth and they will form faster.
Wax holds the hair together so it looks better while it's locking up and it will bind tighten and accelerate the locking process. Be sure to use a wax especially made for dreadlocks as normal styling products, gels and waxes will leave lock inhibiting conditioning residues. Dread Empire's wax has a bees wax base and a blend of essential oils to strengthen hair in the process. The key with using wax is only use a small amount! A little most definitely goes a long way.
A friend or two!
Last but not least... dreads are not difficult to do, just very labour intensive so try and wrangle your friend, neighbour, mother, brother or sister (it doesn't really matter who) to get in on the action! Get some movies out and make a party of it.
Step 1 - Shampoo
Ok Its dreadlocks time!... First thing you should do is wash your hair with your dreadlocks shampoo. We can't stress enough that it needs to be a Residue Free Shampoo. Regular shampoo's leave residues that condition your hair and keep it silky smooth which stops it forming knots and locking up, this is bad bad bad for dreads. It's also just as important to make sure it has been washed, oily or greasy hair will make the dreading process twice as hard. If you feel the need, perhaps you have product build up or oily hair, you may want to wash your hair 2-3 times with dreadlocks shampoo leading up to starting your dreads.
Step 2 - Apply Accelerator
Once your hair is completely dry, liberally spray Dread Empires Dreadlock Accelerator through out hair and allow to dry completely.
Step 3 - Section your hair
OK, if you want your dreadies in rows go ahead and section the hair off. This might seem like a lot of work. It does take a little while but we highly recommend it. If you don't section it, there is a tendency to end up with some dreadlocks a lot bigger than others and spaces in between. If you don't want straight rows that's fine, but sectioning it is still a good idea.
Start by parting it in the middle. Take one side and clip it to get it out of your way. Take the unclipped 1/2 and section it into squares. Each square should have about the same amount of hair. Put a rubberband on each section to hold it so it doesn't get caught in the dreadlocks your about to make. Don't worry about the sections and rows being visible in the finished dreads, as the dreads grow and thicken the sections won't be noticeable. Try to keep the size sections as uniform as possible. The amount of hair in the section, of course, determines the size of the dread. Bundles of hair about the size of a pencil are good for dreadlocks of average size (about 60mm in diameter) . If your hair is very fine the size bundles may vary, your diameter of hair may be smaller than a pencil and create sections of hair that are too big. Sections that are too big leave unnecessary space between the dreads. We recommend keeping the sections between an 12mm square at the smallest to 35-50mm square at the largest. The larger the section the thicker the dread will be.
The dreads will end up being thicker than the bundle of hair (so if the bundle is as big as your pinkie the dreads are going to be bigger around than your pinkie, probably about 12mm in diameter) and the dreads will come out smaller than the section. After you do a few you'll have a pretty good feel for this. You'll be making the first dread in the back of your hair so you can make sure the size of your sections is right. You can adjust the others by the first one. Use your good judgment and take your time and they will come out supa nice.
Remember, they don't have to be perfect but getting them around the same size will pay off later on. Different size dreads will lock up at different speeds. Bigger dreads have the advantage of locking up faster. Thinner dreads have the advantage of drying faster and being more easily accepted by conservative straight haired folk.
Step 4 - Back Combing
Now for the actual dreading. Can you believe it? It's finally time!
First off remove the rubberbands and put them aside for later. Sprinkle the hair with just a little Dread Empire Dread Dust. Now you want to start backcombing, starting at the back of your head and working your way to the front.
Backcombing is kind of like teasing the hair and kind of not. If you took the comb and stuck it in the strands you're holding and slid it up towards your scalp, not letting any hairs slip loose and get pushed forward, not much would happen. I suppose if you did it real fast your hair would get warm but that's about it. The trick is to very slowly let a hair or two slip on each stroke forward. These loose hairs will get pushed toward your scalp and start to form a dread.
Pack the hairs in tight by pressing the comb firmly against the newly forming dread on each stroke. You can turn and roll the dread as you go to make sure it comes out round. Make sure the knots closest to the scalp are as tight as you can get them. This does involve some pain, so if you don't have a beverage this is a good time to crack one open (providing your over 18 of course).
When the hair grows you want it to get tangled into the dread. Keeping the knots that are closest to the scalp tight will help new hair to dread as it grows. Continue to back comb the hair slowly (yes it does take a while) working your way to the end. Keep dreading until you get to the end and have nothing to hold onto.
OK , now a rubber band to finish it off. Tighten the tip up as much as you can with the comb. You'll notice it's kinda hard to get a good grip on the little guy cause you have only a small bit of hair to grab and pull against. Grab the very end in your fingers, fold the undreaded hair you have left back on itself, and fire an elastic on to hold it. Make sure the elastic is really tight. If you want to, instead of folding it over, you can just put the elastic on and clip the very end of the tip off where it sticks out after the elastic. If you do, cut it on a bit of an angle, otherwise the hair will have a tendency to flair out instead of forming a little point. When you feel loose hairs on the ends, get in the habit of rolling them in your fingers to tangle them up...in time this will give you nice smooth rounded tips.
Step 5 - Waxing
Now its time for the wax! Unscrew the lid. Bring it up to your nose and sniff. Woo Damn! That's a great smell! With your thumb press into it and scoop out a little bit, no bigger then the size of a M&M. You should start waxing at the roots right after your rubberband. (Roots are where the dread connects to your head. I'm guessing you probably know what roots are by now.)
Rub the wax in with your thumb and forefinger. Rubbing the wax smooth between your fingers before applying it will help it melt in evenly. Work your way from the root to the tip. Add more wax slowly as you need it. The amount you need to use for each dread will vary with the size of the dread. Unless your dreads are really long you shouldn't need more than like 2 or 3 M&M's worth. Don't over do it. Your dreads should have enough wax that you can feel it, but not so much that you can see it. You're not making candles here. After you have waxed your dread, use a hair dryer to heat the dread and melt the wax inside the dread. You'll know when the wax is fully melted and worked into where it's supposed to be when it disappears. The hair dryer isn't necessary but it works a treat.
There he is, your very first dread. This is a proud moment. Well, go ahead and name the little fella. Write down his birthday somewhere, and you can measure him if you want : )
Depending on the size dreadlocks your making you probably have about 30-40 more to go so get busy......
Once you've finished waxing your all done.
Congratulations! You have just entered the world of dreadlocks!
Now that your sporting some phat nasty locks, there's a couple things you need to know to keep them happy and healthy! Proper maintenance is the key to healthy dreadlocks... yes mom I'm going to wash them! Seriously though, maintenance is KEY! So check out our maintenance section for what to do next.