One of the frequently asked questions clients going on the “journey” will have is whether dreadlocks can be removed without cutting.  This question also comes up when people change careers, leave university, have a baby (yes, really!) , parents are visiting (happens a lot!). There are a million reasons usually with the desire to retain length.  So can dreadlocks be removed without cutting:  yes and no.

Everyone’s hair texture is different and therefore, the hair locks differently.  Someone with really dry  or fine hair will probably have locks quicker than someone with oily or thick hair.  If the hair texture was changed say by bleaching or the ends not cut for a long time, this could also speed up the locking time.  The hair will lock for some in 6 months to a year depending on the technique used or conditions you live in like if you were by the sea for example.  The locking during this period is not as tight as it would be in year 2.

If you had to remove your locks at some point for medical reasons or just tired of the effort required to maintain them, you will be better off doing it during the first 3-4 months.  As I said before, it’s always possible to remove them after the first year but it will be painful and time consuming.  Honestly, if you feel the need to do this, prepare to go solo.  Not a lot of people will help as it will take hours and possible days to complete.

When you do finally comb them out, you will think you have gone bald.  This is because the added weight of the hairs which you would normally have lost are now gone.  The hair will look very thin and scary with frayed ends.  I cannot describe the horrified looks from clients when they run their fingers through for the first time.  The hair needs time to recover along with a deep conditioning treatment and a trim.  It might take a month or two to see better results and to get used to the feel.   A common side effect of the comb out is the hair will have a tendency to want to stick together.   This too will go away if it is kept conditioned.

If you find the process too painful or time consuming, you have the option to not twist, interlock, palm roll or crochet them for a time until you have a length where you can cut them and have some length.

By Paula Barker,

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

***This post has affiliate links for products I feel may be relevant to you.  I may be compensated for purchases made through these links.  Thank you for your support.

Call (613) 789-2179 If You Are In The Ottawa, Ontario Area.