Open for debate is the question: dread vs locs, what is the difference?  

Because of the passage of time, there currently is no difference.  If you were living in Jamaica after it gained independence, it was a different scenario.  Most of the songs by Rastafarians detail the strife and persecution they faced during this period.


In my book “Dreadlocks, A Hairstylist’s Manifest”, I do a little blurb on some of the challenges I

remember faced by people who had locks.  For example:

  • Leaving your hair to lock was frowned upon by the majority christian following;
  • Most jobs would not be available to you in offices etc;
  • Girls who got into relationships with people with locks were thrown out of their families;
  • People with locks had a difficult time getting their children enrolled in schools.

At that time, those wanting dreadlocks cited “Samson and his “locks” in the bible. People of the

christian faith respected the wealth of knowledge held by Rastafarians on stories from the bible.  However, there were young men who liked the “locks” hairstyle but not the teachings of Rastafari.  The differences between them were:

  • They wore the hair but were unemployed; Rastafarians were entrepreneurs making tams, brooms, singing etc.
  • Some committed petty crimes;  Most Rastafarians led quiet lives and were knowledgeable about life and health.
  • Rastafarians would usually wrap their hair and be neatly dressed.

Unfortunately, the Rastafarians were getting caught in the police net with these people who only enjoyed the hairstyle.  There was a problem.  

In true Jamaican style, folks started calling people that were not Rastafarian, a  “Dread”, to draw a

difference between a practicing Rastafarian and people with locked hair.   Their hair  was called “dreadlocks”.  Prior to this, the word was never used for this hairstyle.

Please call (613) 789-2179 for An Appointment If You Are In The Ottawa, Ontario Area.

I have read things written by people saying they do not appreciate the name.  This ship has sailed.   The name stuck, still people want to debate dreads vs locks:  what is the difference?  Nowadays, none.

By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design