Woman with dreadlocks

Make things easier

There’s a lot of work that goes into starting dreads and maintaining them. Want to try rockin' the fashion yourself? Here are four key things to keep in mind — plus a few little things to consider along the way.



Contrary to popular belief, you have to wash your dreads! There are mixed reviews out there, though. Most people say once a week, but some say once a month. What's important is to know your hair and keep the dreads clean. Try using a residue-free shampoo and a leave-in conditioner to prevent product buildup on your dreads.



You may find this hard to believe, but dreads can grow mold if they are left wet for too long. If your dreads are still relatively new, this is when you add some of your maintenance product, such as a lock accelerator or heavy pomade. Let them air dry for a bit, then, to be safe, use a blow dryer toward the end to ensure they are dry.



If you are looking to maintain nice, clean and natural-looking dreads, it's important to use as little product as possible. The one product dread wearers often recommend is beeswax. The wax will help smooth away any frizz and keep the dreads tights. You work the wax into your dreads by rolling. Remember: A little bit goes a long way!



What does that mean? Roll the dread back and forth between the palms of your hands to firm up its shape a bit. It helps keep all the hairs together and gives the dreads an overall cleaner appearance. While you are rolling, you may want to look for any loose hairs that didn't make it into a dread or have grown out on their own. You have two options here: You can roll these into a mini dread and work them into the nearest big dread, or sew them in with string or dental floss.


Dreads are very deceiving. From the perspective of someone without dreads, they may appear to be maintenance free. But in reality, to maintain nice, clean, healthy-looking dreads, it can take hours after each wash. Dreads are a labor of love, so make sure when you choose to dreadlock your hair that you consider the TLC that goes into it. It's a good idea to consult your stylist for a little help and guidance, too.

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Comments on "Rocking dreads without the drama"

Doe March 11, 2014 | 6:10 AM

I've had my dreads in a relatively short amount of time, but I wash them a minimum of twice a week with my own homemade residue free shampoo made with lemon juice, sea salt, baking soda, and Dawn Simply Clean dish soap, which has no phosphates and is designed for use on sensitive skin. I can easily say that speaking only for myself, I could easily spend $10 for enough ingredients to make all my hair products for about 3 months. For a cleaning boost without all the time invested in washing and drying, I use a spray bottle with water, lemon juice, sea salt, and a few drops of essential oil (for fragrance and aromatherapy). I simply spray the hair, flip it, spray again and towel dry. Lemon juice can lighten hair, so if you don't want that effect, substituting an eighth of a teaspoon of tea tree oil will help with cleaning and purifying your hair. Also, the drier you can keep your hair, the faster it will lock up, so using leave-in conditioner isn't recommended for dreads if you're going for an all-natural approach. Anything that would make the hair slippery can prevent it knotting and make the process of getting to that mature beautiful look take longer. I personally prefer the look of natural dreads. This means less maintenance for me than for those who want tight, uniform dreads. I separate the dreads from each other as they grow out, palm roll just whenever I think about it and have time, and often choose to wear my dreads up with or without a hair scarf. Even in this awkward stage, my hair smells good, it feels like it's supposed to (like woolen ropes), and it is not as terrible to look at as my mother lets on. I spend much less time fussing with my hair in dreads than I ever did before, but I have baby fine hair that tangled very easily and quickly and never took to being styled without a lot of expensive products and treatment masks. Thank you for the reminder to sew new hair in with dental floss. That had escaped my memory and I was starting to wonder just how irregular my dreads would be now that the hair is growing so much faster!! :)

Alexis June 14, 2013 | 7:42 AM

Dont use beeswax, no one uses it anymore. Beeswax tends to leave the dreads gunky and flaky.

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