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Topic ClosedGetting Started With Dreads

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    Posted: March 22 2005 at 9:20am

For all the new visitors to this forum, please start by reading the information posted here to give you a good basis for understanding the dreadlock process.  We will continue to update information as it becomes appropriate and relevent to this forum. was one of the first websites to begin providing information and selling products that supported dreadlocks since late 1999.  Since that time we have continuously offered dreadlock articles, dreadlock products and information.

How To Get Started With Dreads

Things To Keep In Mind Before You Get Started

Depending on the length and texture of your hair, it could take many hours from the time you begin until you

Step One

Section hair into equal sections laid out in a gridwork. If you prefer, start at the back of your head and work forward using your fingers to pick up section of hair that are 1/4 to 1/2" wide. You may want to have a ruler handy and a predetermined size that you prefer. Keep in mind that the size of the potential dreads will differ according to the length of your hair and the texture.  Someone with short strands or thin texture, will need to do thinner strands.  Those big fat cigar type of dreads are stared on really thick nappy hair.  Keep in mind also that as dread age they will fatten up and get thicker.

The advantage to using a grid method, which will take a lot longer, is that it will ultimately make your dreadlocks look more professional but it is not necessary to have them in a grid pattern.

Avoid a glaring middle part down the center of your head by picking up sections randomly alternating from either side of the part and dread in a criss cross manner.

Step Two

Take the first section of hair, and with the dread comb, "back-comb" the hair like crazy starting from the very scalp and working your way down to the tips. Back-combing is the process of combing the hair TOWARDS your scalp. This process will tease and tangle up the hair. If you are unsure of this method, just ask virtually any Mom about back-combing and the response you get will be, "Oh my, like we did back in the 60's with the beehives.

It's actually very important to make sure the hair is really good and knotted at the base, next to your scalp, because that is where the dreads must start to come together on their own when your hair grows another inch or so. This phenomenon is also known as those #!@*! roots.

We've found that a really good way to keep the roots tighter for longer is to braid each section a few times tight against the scalp before beginning to backcomb, then the root is braided and doesn't get loose as fast as without the braid! Woo! **

So anyway, do this back-combing thing a couple of times until you feel it's sufficiently knotted and tangled, then twist that lump of hair into a semi-dreadlock. You may be surprised to find this dread is a lot shorter than the rest of your un-dreaded hair, especially if you have quite fine hair. Don't worry, you're doing everything right. It's normal for dreads to end up about 1/3rd shorter that the length you originally started with. 

Another thing to note is this process of pulling and back-combing my cause you some occasional scalp pain!

Step Three

Now, open the KnottyBoy Wax and remove the dust-cover. Inside, the surface of the wax will appear hard and smooth, so take your fingernail or the tip of your comb and just break the surface in, using your finger to start softening the wax up, making it more workable and pliable. It may take a bit of muscle to get it going at first, but it's better to have the wax this way than a product that is too soft and greasy and gets all over your face when you sleep at night.

Step Four

Now that you've got your goop ready and your new dread knotty, take a blob of the wax on your finger (work out any little clumps of the wax) and start working it into the tangled hair , starting, again, from the scalp and working down to the ends. Take more blobs of wax as you need it and just get it thoroughly waxed and twisted up - but not so much that it would be a sticky mess. Use your good judgment about how much your dreads need to keep them together in the beginning.

Step Five

And just keep repeating the grab-backcomb-twist-and-wax process the whole live-long day! Well, it won't really take all day... actually, yes, it will...well, about 3-5 hours of it anyway!

After the first shot at getting them all locked up, sit down and re-wax each one as best you can at least twice a week to begin with, if not every few days, but use your judgement. You'll find that the first few days things will feel a bit tacky and sticky up there, but as your dreads start to lock in the next few weeks and aren't as soft anymore, things dry out a lot.

After they've started to form into real dreads (anywhere after about 2-6 months), you can use Knotty Boy to get the loose hair back into the main dreads and goop them up whenever you feel it's necessary, and when you're at that stage, the waxiness lasts for only about a day after you reapply it.  

Some people will also use their comb to backcomb the loose hair into the dreads again, and other find 'palm-rolling' their dreads to be very helpful - rubbing each dread back and forth very quickly between their palms to help it dread up tighter and better. Do whatever works best for you and your hair type.

Also, a very good thing to do for sleeping after you've just waxed is to either find an old pillow case that you don't care about to put on your pillow for the next while, or pin a towel to the pillow. Knotty Boy isn't slimy or anything, but it may get your pillow a bit waxy after just having put it in your hair. If you're hair is long enough, tie it back, and if it's short you can always wear a 
nylon stocking to keep it away from your face when you sleep. Doing this will also help keep them from rubbing apart and getting really fuzzy when you sleep.

Interview With Founder Of KnottyBoy Dreadlocks

Read an interview done by Karen Shelton, founder of with Adrienna Hepper, founder of KnottyBoy Dreadlocks in 1999 at: been carrying the KnottyBoy line of produts in their store since 2000 and has added every new produts that KnottyBoy has rolled out since that time.  To this day - March 2005 - continues to do business with the folks at KnottyBoy.  For more information on the KnottyBoy products you can check them out at:

Adrianna provided a list of the most commonly asked questions and some of her personal answers to pass along to visitors interested in dreadlocks.

Listed below are Adrianna's Original Answers To Karen's Questions About Dreadlocks Posed During Their Interview:

QUESTION: Why would someone cut their dreadlock?

ANSWER: They are not always considered socially acceptable by everyone. Some people find that they are not professional and it could be career limiting. People cut their dreadlocks off for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they just get tired of them and want something different.

QUESTION: How long would someone keep their dreadlocks?

ANSWER: Many people will keep them for years, if not a lifetime. People with dreadlocks develop a very special pride in their hair and it takes a lot of time, commitment and maintenance to keep them looking great. People put tremendous love, care and pride into their dreadlocks.

QUESTION: What is the most common concern that people have with their dreadlocks?

ANSWER: The roots are always something that people worry most about. Everyone with dreadlocks has roots. That is just how hair grows. It is impossible to get the hair matted all the way into the roots. There is always some root area showing. No matter what, there will always be from 1-2 inches of hair at the roots. It is the biggest problem. Friction and rubbing the hair together is what causes the matting. It is impossible to get the hair to mat past a certain point. Even Bob Marley who had world class dreads, had roots.

The mistake people make is to try and add extra goop. All this does is make the hair oilier and it does not add more matting to the root area. The key is to Love Your Dreadlocks.

QUESTION: How do you find salons that do dreadlocks?

Most salons that do hair extensions or unusual braiding will also do dreadlocks.

QUESTION: Do you personally create dreadlocks for customers?

ANSWER: Sometimes when there is time. It is very time consuming and labor intensive to create dreadlocks. It can take anywhere from 4-6 hours to complete the process. The longer and thicker the hair, the longer the process.

QUESTION: Why are dreadlocks so popular right now?

ANSWER: They are considered very chic. They provide a fresh new look that is individual and can not be copied exactly. No two dreadlocks look exactly the same and are as individual as the person wearing them. The music industry has embraced dreads and they promote the look because their fans want to copy their hairstyles.

QUESTION: Besides Japan, where else will Knotty Boy be available soon?

ANSWER: It will soon be available in the United Kingdom. Of course it can always be purchased right online like at

QUESTION: What type of maintenance is involved?

ANSWER: You have to tuck in the hair and keep it waxed and keep the dreadlooks dry and tight. You also have to keep the scalp clean and cared for.

QUESTION: Who is the biggest consumer of Knotty Boy?

ANSWER: Younger people are currently most interested. The fashion magazines are starting to show more dreadlocks.

QUESTION: How often should you shampoo when you have dreadlocks?

ANSWER: About once a week is acceptable. The goal is to keep the scalp clean. The best thing to use is regular bar soap that does not contain any type of conditioner of softener because it will soften the locks. Use the bar soap on the scalp and then let the suds gently wash over the rest of the hair. Don't use the soap to rub the locks. It is also important to remember that the water should be lukewarm since the wax can melt under hot temperatures.

QUESTION: Is there a specific type of hair that would benefit most from wearing dreadlocks?

ANSWER: Naturally curly hair is great for dreadlocks because the dreadlocks basically remove the curls and allow the hair to grow longer and straighter.

QUESTION: Would the dreadlock style not be advisable for anyone?

ANSWER: People who are losing their hair should probably avoid it since there is a risk that all the rubbing and friction and tightness of the hair could pull on the scalp and speed up any existing hair loss.

QUESTION: Should any oils be used?

ANSWER: Rosemary oil and tea tree oil can be used for keeping the scalp free of any itchiness or bacteria.

QUESTION: Why do people disapprove of dreadlocks?

ANSWER: In general people have the wrong misconception of dreadlocks. They assume that they are just naturally dirty and unclean. The reality is that most people with dreadlocks take very good care of their hair and wash their scalps and dreads carefully to prevent dirt or other problems with the locks.

Many teens and young adults love dreadlocks but have problems with parents or teachers over the hairstyle because of the misconception that dreadlocks are naturally smelly or dirty.

Once a non-dreadlocks person understands how much work and effort is put into having great locks, they understand that they are just as clean as cornrows.

In a lot of ways, dreadlocks are similar to cornrows which were so popular in the past.

QUESTION: How do people wear their dreadlocks if they want to dress them up?

ANSWER: We get all sorts of email from Knotty Boy friends who tell us of new ways that they decorate their hair. Many people like to tie the locks back to give them a Hippie look. One female wrote that she decorated her locks with tiny little cars that she pinned throughout the knots.

Many people experiment with tons of different styles for their locks. They will tie part or all of the hair back. They will wear it under their caps. Or they will decorate it with an amazing assortment of things.

QUESTION: How long does it take for new dreadlocks to settle down?

ANSWER: After the dreadlocks are created it generally takes about 3-7 days for them to calm down and lay down well. You can wear a stocking cap or a tube cap to help them lay down. Dried wax binds the tangles together and helps form the dreadlocks. The wax also helps them calm down. Wax them up.  Dried wax disappears after a few days.


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