Rocking dreads without the drama

Apr 16, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. ET

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.

Woman with dreadlocks


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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