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Getting dreads for the first time is an exciting, if anxious, event.    Normally, you would have researched how it is done, the amount of hair you need and what look you want.  Another factor could be price and eventually you want to know how to keep it looking good.  In the salon, it is unusual to find a client who has not done all this.  What we have found are clients who may have fantasies on how their hair will look and a short term horizon for it to happen.***

On one of my fave social media platforms, (Locnationtm) there are numerous posts from people with gorgeous dreads.  Unfortunately, some people who are getting dreads feel their hair will be like that the first day.  The journey to getting the hair fully locked is full of ups and downs, and a lot of people get lost along the way.  Here are some examples of what to expect when getting dreads for the first time:

  • You might not be able to scrub your head in the first couple weeks.  As the dreads are just done, they are delicate.  I advise clients to use witch hazel with a cotton ball for the first 3 weeks after getting them done.  This will help clean the scalp or get rid of any itchiness until the real wash.
  • You will have to sleep with a silk scarf to avoid pulling out the hair.  Cotton pulls on the hair and new dreads will have a lot of frizz so you do not want any additional pulling.
  • No swimming or getting the hair wet unless absolutely necessary.  Water will loosen anything eventually, so you do not want it near your new dreads before they have time to set.
  • If you decide to wet/wash them, they will become frizzy.  Unless you are doing neglect dreads, in which case you would not care, you will either have to palm roll,  interlock or crochet them to make them clean again.  For those who need to look professional for work, booking your hair appointment when you are going to wash is essential.
  • Twisting once or twice a week is good for the hair as it looks neater at the roots.
  • If you decide to do neglect dreads, research new hairdos and have various hair accessories like headbands if you work in a professional environment.  I believe this hairstyle is best suited for those who are their own boss or works with like-minded people.
  • Beeswax is to be used with extreme moderation.  I got into flack with some natty dreads who took offence when I said that using it on dreads was not  bad.  I said it is not bad for the hair if you use it very lightly.  If you pile it on your hair you will end with white, dirty-looking dreads over time.  As a guide, one bottle of beeswax last me about 3 years–and I make and maintain dreads on the regular.  For someone at home, you would only need to use it once or twice sparingly for the first month, maybe 2 and then you might have to gift it to a friend who is just starting out.
  • On a daily basis, you have to pull the dreads apart.  That frizz I spoke about before, they like to cling together.  If the dreads are left sticking together over time they will become like one.  Unless you like thick Congo dreads they are called, make sure you pull them apart daily or every other day.  When you pull, just peel them down to the root like a banana.  There are those who cut them but I feel it detracts from the “natural” look when this is done.
  • When you have dreads, always tie your hair if you are in a dusty environment or anywhere there is something the will stick in the hair.  I have had incidents of gum, paint, you name it.  Also if you wear a scarf, for those of you who know the trials of winter, some scarfs leave fuzz on the ends of dreads which makes it look really messy.
  • A lot of people ask what to use on the scalp.  You may be able to use an oil like almond or even coconut but only in moderation.  Researching the oils that smell better to you is best.  I find tea tree oil a little drying if used too much.  Always be mindful of how strong the oil  smells as it can be like a scent from perfume and others might not like it.

I hope I have prepared you for your journey.  It is exciting and you will become a mountain of patience and understanding from dealing with your hair and ignorant people.   Most clients say this is something they had wanted to do all their life, enjoy it!


By Paula Barker,

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