There is a recurring myth about dreadlocks that questions whether they are washed. ¬†Yes, dreadlocks are washed, just as you would wash any hair! ¬† It requires more upkeep than regular hair and I am always amused when people ask to get them because they believe it will save them on hair maintenance time. ¬†You only save on hair maintenance time if you are bald–all others have to put the work in, especially those with locks.

I found that this myth gets repeated for the following reasons:

  1. Originally, those who had locks installed instead of growing them naturally, had the tendency to use a lot of beeswax. ¬†This ended up clumping in the dreads and could not be washed out. ¬†When there is too much beeswax in the hair, it takes on a white consistency that looks like “stuff” is always in the hair.
  2.  Persons who basically live on the street can end up getting  locked and those observing them draw the conclusion that they are not washed.
  3. Dreads have a rope-like appearance:  this makes everyone else think it is harder to wash.  Not so!  Dreads are really porous!  This means they will suck in water at a fast rate.  If you have a huge number of dreads, you do not want to go jumping in a lake like everyone else!  You might find yourself being pulled under if you are not a strong swimmer.
  4. Dreadlocks need a dust-free environment:  If you work or live in a dusty environment, your dreads can attract a lot of dust and this makes the dreads look dirty.  Cleaning regularly to get rid of dust is essential.  A du-rag or a bandana is a good thing to use when sitting around.

Since each person has a look they prefer for their dreadlocks, it is really easy to offend with your remarks.  For example, as a hairstylist, I prefer locks that are neat with every strand in place.  There are people who prefer their locks wild; some who maintain them but not perfectly so they look really laid back.

In conclusion, never make assumptions regarding someones hair.  In this north american society, people are choosing hairstyles that bring out their true selves.  Maybe it is not what you like, but in some way, it fulfills their desires and that is what is important.

By Paula Barker,

Buy my e-book: ¬†Dreadlocks: ¬†A Hairstylist’s Manifest

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