There are many different techniques for dreading hair and there are also many different types of hair. Essentially matted hair is just a density of knots tied to knots. All dreading methods result in a 1/4 – 1/3 initial reduction in hair length as the hair is knotted and pushed up against other knots. All commercial shampoos and conditioners leave a chemical residue on hair in order to stop it knotting. If you want dreads you want your hair to knot as much as possible so use natural soap or residue free shampoo and no conditioner. A lot of people use wax in their dreads; everything from surf wax to candle wax. Don’t use wax, wax is unnecessary. It builds up inside the dread and stops it from drying properly, causing mildew to form and a nasty smell. The weight of lots of wax in your dreads can also put a lot of pressure on your scalp. Your locks will tighten as they mature, patience is all you need.
The simplest method, which isn’t recommended, is neglect. If you stop washing your hair it will matt up but it will take many months and your scalp would probably suffer. This method normally results in thick random shaped dreads and an irritated scalp. Even with the neglect method the hair still needs rinsing in water as greasy hair won’t knot as it is too lubricated. Other methods include braiding, perm dreads, twisted dreads and synthetic extensions. The base method of dreading hair is back combing; combing the hair in sections toward the scalp from the tip, whilst twisting it and rolling in your palms occasionally. Most methods involve some back combing. Lots of salons interlock dreads to tighten the root, by passing the tip through the base repetitively. This results in large knots that won’t matt up properly, too much tension on the scalp and weak spots on the dreads when they grow out.
The technique Dreadmonkey uses is a mixture of back combing and using a small crochet pin to matt the dread up and tighten it, a method which is very common in Asia. This method produces natural dreads with no wax or chemicals, rounded tips (if wanted) and tight locks. Using this method there is no need for any wax or waiting months for your hair to matt and it works on all types of hair. This method produces very tight, stiff locks and to begin with they have visible sections. After a week or two the locks will relax and drop, by this time the sectioning is blended and more subtle. Over the following months the bodies of the dreads will soften and be more flexible. This is the locks naturally forming and getting used to being matted, it is common for them to fuzz up a little at this point while at the same time the bodies become more established. I normally recommend the first tidy up after 2-3 months for this reason, as it locks any stray hairs back into the body of the dreads and sets them to finish forming.
After this first tidy the average time for a tidy is 4 to 6 months, although some that like them really neat come every 2 months and those that like them more messy and natural come once a year. Obviously the more regularly they are tidied the less time that is required for the tidy, if done every few months it can take just 2hrs but if done yearly it can take up to 6hrs. The forming time and the tidy up regularity varies considerably depending on hair type and lifestyle. Curlier hair needs less attention than straight and swimming in the sea helps tighten dreads and swimming in a pool can loosen dreads. At the same time we all lose 50-100 hairs every day and in washing and sleeping some hairs will inevitably come loose from the body of the dread no matter what hair type and lifestyle. Generally speaking the older the dreads the less attention they need and conversely for young dreads they need more attention. If you would like any other information on the process or anything else don’t hesitate to email me a query, the address is on the services page.