If you’re the kind of person to whom the phrase “dreadlocks styles” sounds like an oxymoron, we implore you to rethink your assumptions about the limitations of this timeless hairstyle.
You can create almost as many dazzling do’s with dreads as you can with unlocked hair, provided you have a little imagination and are willing to learn how to work with them properly.
Wait, There Are Different Styles of Dreadlocks?
You bet your bloomers there are.
If anything, dreadlocks are more of a genre than they are a singular style. And within that genre, there are all sorts of subgenres: short dreads, long dreads, fat dreads, skinny dreads, up-do’s, down-do’s, twists, nubs, braids, and so on ad infinitum.
You need only look at the many diverse ways that various celebrities and influencers have worn their locs throughout the decades to see that dreads are anything but one-dimensional.
Think about it like this: dreadlocks are, in essence, just thick strands of hair.
And just as one can transform an undifferentiated mass of hair strands into an impressive coiffure with the right vision and a little skill, so too can a capable stylist take a headful of dreads, apply a few artistic touches, and turn it into something inspired.
Far from being a boring, samey trend, dreadlocks are a veritable goldmine of style potential. How, then, is one to narrow down the dizzying number of options?
While there’s virtually no end to what you can do with dreadlocks, certain modes definitely have a way of garnering favorable attention, a fact which prompted us to put together a list of superlative styles making the rounds in fashion-forward circles.
13 Simple Dreadlocks Styles to Have on Lock
Ready to take your loc game to the next level? Try out one (or several) of these dozen eye-catching looks or their countless derivations, all of which are suitable for men, women, and every beautiful being in between.
1. Natural Dreads
If you have afro-textured or naturally kinky hair, the easiest way to get in touch with your natty side is to simply leave it alone. Stop combing, brushing, or conditioning your silky smooth tresses for a while and embrace the tangles as they begin to form.
In other words, do the opposite of what your meticulous hair-care routine has always called for. Every head of hair locks up at its own pace, but most people can expect to have some respectable ropes to show for their restraint in a matter of months.
2. Short Dreads
Short dreadlocks are all the rage these days. One reason is that they’re such a breeze to get going.
All you have to do is roll, twist, or tease them into the desired configuration (using a dollop of coconut oil or beeswax to encourage them to hold if needed) and repeat your preferred technique every now and then as they become better established.
As a bonus, short dreads are neat and unobtrusive and offer a low-risk way of testing the waters if you’ve never had locs before.
3. Long Dreads
You might be thinking that “long” isn’t a style, but we’ll forgive you for making such a mistake. Truth is, though, when you’ve been cultivating your dreadlocks for some time, their length can become a talking point—and a source of wonderment and admiration—in itself.
Case in point: lengthy locs are a symbol of commitment and spiritual steadfastness in many cultures around the world.
4. Twisted Dreads
As you probably guessed, twisted dreadlocks put a literal spin on their conventional counterparts. Whereas the latter are typically rolled, teased, or allowed to set naturally, twisted dreads need gradual winding and compression of the hair.
Over time, this process tends to produce sleek, well-defined ropes with loads of visual detail. Afro hair looks especially fetching in twisted dreads, as its complex textures highlight the helical contours of each strand nicely.
5. Braided Dreads
Remember when we talked about dreadlocks as essentially oversized strands of hair? Well, braided locs are what you get when you weave those strands together.
Thanks to its pieciness, locked hair braids faster and holds together better than unlocked hair while still lending itself to manipulation into all of the most appealing patterns, including fishtail and French braids.
6. Half-Locked Dreads
Made famous by the likes of Lisa Bonet, J. Cole, Lil Pump, and Captain Jack Sparrow, half-locked dreads are exactly what they sound like.
These are dreads that are matte enough in some sections to have a discernible cord-like shape yet relaxed enough in others to retain a measure of free-flowing fluidity.
The contrast makes for something of an untamed appearance, perfect for countercultural revolutionaries, low-key style icons, and pirates alike.
7. Curly Dreads
Among the few downsides (subjectively speaking) of normal dreadlocks is their bone-straight structure, which unfortunately doesn’t offer much in terms of directional embellishment.
Not so with curly dreads. By starting with slender strands and twisting them religiously, it’s possible to end up with a set of wavy locs that would make Medusa blush with envy.
For some prime examples of how to pull off curlicue dreads like an absolute boss, see Meagan Good, Lil Durk, Logan Browning, or Eva Marcille.
8. Undercut Dreads
Undercut dreads marry the versatility and verve of traditional dreadlocks with the low-maintenance minimalism of the popular undercut.
Shaving off the hair below the temples draws the eye to what you’ve got up top; namely, a waggish tuft of luxurious locs.
What’s more, you can whisk up undercut dreads easily into a ponytail or pineapple-esque top knot for a cleaner silhouette in a matter of seconds.
Having trouble choosing between cornrows and dreads? Dreadrows can allow you to split the difference. With dreadrows, the hair closest to the scalp pulls into tight plaits while the remaining length hangs free in loose locs.
Taking the best-of-both-worlds approach is another great way to model multiple styles at once—you could use cornrows to subdue the hair on the top and sides of your head and let your dreads dangle where they’ll be less likely to prove a nuisance. Party up front, party in the back.
10. Fat Dreads
XXL chunky locs are visually synonymous with reggae music, the colors of the Ethiopian flag, and a certain mind-altering herb, but they’re not exclusively for followers of Rastafarianism.
Anyone with a quantity of sufficiently unruly hair can get in on the fun of fat dreads, which convey a decidedly laid-back aesthetic regardless of how much ganja you puff.
The key to getting nice, plump dreads is to give them the same gentle coaxing you would use to help your dreads along, only in fewer, larger sections.
11. Top Knot Dreads
Let’s be real—no matter how much you love your dreads, sometimes you just don’t want to deal with them. In such moments, top knots can come in real handy.
Piling up your locs in an orderly cluster makes them a non-issue and saves you from swatting them out of your face.
To wear your locs in a top knot, gather them up directly above the crown of your head, fold them over once (if they’re longer than about eye-length), and use a hair tie to bind them tightly near your scalp. Effortless, utilitarian, and, above all, attractive.
12. Dread Buns
The cool thing about deadlock buns is that they present so many different options as far as shape, size, and arrangement.
You might, for example, wrangle all your locs into one big bun that sits comfortably atop your head. Or you could fashion a tighter, more controlled bun to drape at the base of your neck for more of a low-key vibe.
Or you could play around with messy buns of varying heights and degrees of disarray. Or you could roll with a pair of mouse-ear buns a la follicle icon Ariana Grande. Decisions, decisions.
13. Mohawk Dreads
Our last and most audacious style, also known fittingly as the “dreadhawk,” is part Bob Marley, part punk rock, and all no-fricks-given attitude.
If you’ve been looking for a way to shake up the ordinary and make people take notice of your indomitable warrior energy, this native-influenced hybrid hairstyle could just be it.
The beauty of mohawk dreads is that they’re equally fierce with locs of any length. You can even sport them in tandem with twists, braids, curls, or more intricate weavings.
Frequently Asked Questions
We could spend hours discussing the intricacies of styling and caring for dreads, but we thought it would be more practical to spend a few minutes answering some of the most-asked questions we get here at You Probably Need a Haircut.
Can you style starter locs?
Without a doubt. In fact, you could create most of the styles mentioned here with nascent locs, provided you’re careful not to subject them to too much stress. They won’t get to the point where they’re completely secure, so be sure to handle them gingerly.
What’s the best way to style men’s locs?
We’re of the belief that you can do no wrong with clean, well-kept dreadlocks. That said, most lads look particularly well put-together when displaying masculine styles suitable for all occasions, such as short dreads, long dreads, twisted dreads, undercut dreads, or dread man buns.
How often should I retwist my locs?
Get in the habit of rolling your dreads every 2-4 weeks, about the same frequency that you wash them. This will help them maintain their shape as they grow.
You can get away with retwisting mature locs a little less, and you should handle starter locs as little as necessary once they’ve begun clumping.
How do you keep dreadlocks clean?
Despite what you may have heard, you can and should wash your dreadlocks regularly—we recommend a frequency of around once or twice a month.
Here’s the best way to go about it: lather up with a mild, residue-free shampoo, focusing mainly on the hair around your scalp, then rinse thoroughly from root to tip.
Gently squeeze the excess water out of your locs afterward. You also have the option of scrubbing each of your dreads individually with a solid shampoo bar for a more penetrating clean.
Is it possible to remove dreadlocks?
Undoing your hard-earned locs is completely possible, but be careful: it’s not a quick project. Depending on how long and firmly set they are, you could spend anywhere from several hours to several days picking them apart, even with the aid of a steel-toothed comb and a good detangling conditioner.
So, What Are the Best Dreadlocks Styles?
When it comes down to it, the best dreadlocks styles for you are the ones that best reflect your intrepid personality and work for your hair in whatever stage it happens to be in.
Any of the styles highlighted here might do that, though we also encourage you to experiment, explore, and find your own unique means of expression. Whatever you do, rock your locs with pride.