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How to Start Dreads with Long Hair | Step-by-Step Guide

How to Start Dreads with Long Hair | Step-by-Step Guide

Dreads, also known as dreadlocks or locs, are a predominately African-American style that are essentially twists, braids, or knots of hair. Read on to find out how to start dreads with long hair.

How to Start Dreads With Long Hair

There are several ways that you can get dreads at home, and you can even start dreads with long hair if you style and prepare your hair properly. You can also go to a salon to have a stylist put in dreads professionally.

Two-Strand Twist

If you have natural hair, two-strand twists are ideal for putting together a great-looking head of locs. Two-strand twisting might take a little bit of extra time, but you’ll be pleased with the results. This technique yields smoother, more even locs that lay uniformly all over your head.

The only downside to two-strand twists is that they’re not as durable as braids—but they still last for a long time. You have to work each section of your hair individually and then secure completed dreads back with a clip or a rubber band.

Braids

As with two-strand twists, braids yield uniform, even dreads. However, braids tend to last longer than two-strand twists. Braids take a while to put in like two-strand twists, and you have to work methodically over your entire head to get the complete look.

You’ll need a sectioning comb and clips or bands for your hair. You can also create thinner dreads with braids by working in small sections.

As a general rule, the larger the area, the thicker the dread. So if you want a lot of neat, skinny dreads, be prepared to spend a few hours on your hair.

Wool Dreads

Wool dreads are initially easier and less time-consuming than either two-strand twists or braids. These types of dreads don’t refer to sewing colorful bits of wool into your hair.

But they use wool to create the dreads themselves. The process is simple; start with a clean wool item of your choice and rub your hair until you start to see dreads.

Unlike with braiding or two-strand twists, it’s tough to manage the sides of your dreads through this technique. You will also have to maintain your dreads often, rubbing them with more wool so that they keep their shape.

Unfortunately, some people find wool dreads to be painful. Wool fibers can pull your hair out or snag on your dreads. Exercise caution and patience, and you should be good to go.

Good Hair for Dreads

Although virtually anyone can get a luxe head of dreadlocks, kinky or curly hair works best to keep the loc shape and style.

If you have thinner or finer hair, your dreads might not stick as well, and you might want to see a professional rather than opt for an at-home dread treatment. 

Professional or At-Home Dreads?

Man in a hair salon getting dreadlocks with long hair

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At-home dreads can be a good option if you have the time, patience, and skills. If you want to start dreads with long hair, get a friend to help you create locs in the back.

Depending on your skills, the tools you have at hand, and your patience, you should be able to produce a good head of dreadlocks. You can also go to a professional. Professional stylists can help you to achieve the exact look and feel that you’re going for.

For example, if you have thinner or finer hair, or want to make sure that you have uniform, smaller dreads, professional help might just be the key. Ultimately, it’s a good idea to use your best judgment.

If you don’t have a lot of experience making and maintaining dreads, consider going to a salon for a consultation and treatment. As with any hairstyle, the more time you spend on creating your dreads will reflect how they look in the end.

Starting Dreads With Long Hair in 5 Easy Steps

Once you’ve decided to start dreads with long hair, there are a few steps that you should take to ensure that the process is as seamless as it can be. Don’t skip any of these steps if you want to have beautiful locs that will last the test of time.

1. Wash Your Hair

Always start dreads with clean hair. It’s essential to wash your hair thoroughly with a clarifying shampoo to perfectly prime it for your dreads. Don’t use a conditioner.

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While conditioner is suitable for many hairstyles, it works against the natural matting you want to achieve with dreads. Once you’ve washed your hair, let it dry partially before moving on to the next step.

2. Prepare Your Hair

You will need to section your hair out to start your dreads. You want your hair to be damp but definitely not soaking wet. No matter what technique you use, remember that the smaller the sections, the thinner your dreads will be.

Consider the look that you want before beginning, and then start to section your hair into appropriate pieces. For the best results, have plenty of clips or rubber bands on hand, and keep some water nearby to refresh dry hair as needed.

3. Start Your Dreads

You will need a dread comb to start. Next, backcomb at your scalp and start rolling your hair. You will see that the hair begins to get thicker and form mats right at the base of your head.

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Start twisting or braiding your hair once you’ve created a large enough mat. You can use the dread comb to twist your hair because your fingers might yield dreads that are too large. 

4. Separate The Dreads

After you create each dread, set it aside using a clip or a band. Also, make sure that the bottom of the dread is secured with a rubber band. Leave the bands in for at least a few days until the dreads start to keep their shape on their own.

The time that you’ll need to leave the rubber bands in will vary depending on your hair type. For example, if you have thinner, more delicate hair, you will want to keep them in for longer. 

5. Secure Your Dreads

Whether to wax or not wax your locs is a matter of personal preference. Some people find that wax makes their dreads look nicer, neater, and shinier. Other people prefer to go the all-natural route. Simply do what’s best for you and your style.

If you decide to use wax, apply it right after creating the dread. Use a product designed specifically for dreads that doesn’t have petroleum in it.

Petroleum can make your dreads look greasy and unkempt. If you want your dreads to look nice for the long run, you will have to put a little effort into maintaining them. Work your hair into the dread shape regularly, and add additional wax as needed.

Things to Consider Before Starting Dreads

Guy starting dreadlocks with long hair

Sanatana/Shutterstock

There are several things that you should keep in mind before getting dreads. First, as with any intricate hairstyle, locs take time. You need a lot of patience to put them in and maintain them. You should also give your dreads time to mature.

At first, they might not look as uniform as you want them to be, but over time that natural dread shape will form, and you’ll have beautiful hair. Thanks to twisting and matting, your hair will also lose a lot of length once you put the dreads in.

If you have more delicate, thinner hair, you can expect to see a tremendous difference in length. Those with curlier or kinkier hair will lose less overall. You will also need to maintain and care for your dreads.

Since they’re fragile, you’ll have to avoid putting undue pressure on them. This might mean wearing a scarf to bed or sleeping on a better pillowcase. You should also use products sparingly to avoid weighing down your dreads. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you take the leap and embrace your beautiful new head of dreads, there are a few things that you should keep in mind:

How Do I Take My Dreads Out?

The best way to take your dreads out is to visit a professional hairstylist. However, you’ll probably have to sport a short hairdo for a while, so make sure that you consider what will happen when you want to remove your dreads before putting them in.

How Do I Maintain My Dreads?

Although dreads have an undeserved reputation for appearing unkempt, you can actually maintain this style for the long run by using product. Dreads tend to dry out, so use serums and moisturizers to keep them luxe and lovely. You can also upgrade your linens. For example, satin pillowcases are much less likely to damage dreads.

How Do I Wash My Dreads?

You need to wash your dreads regularly, but not as often as you do other hairstyles. You also can’t use conditioner with dreads. Instead, wash your hair about once or twice a week. Dreads are fragile, so make sure to use lukewarm water and wet them thoroughly before starting. Don’t rub in the shampoo too vigorously. Instead, let it sit on your locs for about two or three minutes, and gently massage it in.

Can I Get Dreads On Really Short Hair?

It’s easier to start dreads with long hair than with shorter hair. Since you tend to lose length with dreads, short locs can look messy or stick up. Unless this is the aesthetic you’re going for, it’s far better to start dreads with medium to long hair.

How Do I Avoid An Itchy Scalp?

Itchy scalps are the bane of dread-owners. Fortunately, you can cut back on the itchiness by regularly washing your dreads and using a product that tames scalp build-up and cuts back on itchiness and flakiness.

So, How Do You Start Dreads With Long Hair? 

If you want to start dreads with long hair, you’ll need to invest in some products. Begin with freshly washed locks. Then, make sure that you have these on hand before starting on your hair:

  1. Wax
  2. Dread comb
  3. Rubber bands
  4. Spray bottle and water

Think about celebrities or other prominent people who have the same hair you’re going for. Do they have skinny or larger dreads? How long is their hair? Take these things into consideration before you start, and remember, skinny locs take a little more time than chunkier ones.

You might also need to have a friend on hand to help style them in the back. Then, all you have to do is start styling your dreads. With a bit of patience and some effort, you can have the dreads that you’ve always wanted in no time.