I get a lot of enquiries about what to know about starting dreads and it is sometimes challenging to remember all the points when asked on the spot.  I do answer according to the individual situation but being human, I might think of some other information  I could have said later.  Because of this, I am hereby compiling a complete list of things about what to know about starting dreads:

Hair Length

  • Super curly or frizzy hair length has to be at least 3 inches to make twists if you are starting them with short hair.
  • Hair length has to be 6 inches or chin length for curly wavy hair.
  • Straight hair has to be 6 inches or chin length
  • Most mixed or biracial hair will need 6 inches as it looks more like “shirley temple” curls than twists if you wish to start dreads that way.


  • Hair can be washed and dried the day before so you start with clean hair.¬† It is more difficult to backcomb the dreads if you wash them that same day.
  • For super curly/frizzy hair it holds twists better and if your hair hair is longer then backcombs better too.
  • Avoid putting too much oils or creams on the hair as it makes it difficult to hold.


  • The length of time to make the dreads varies.¬† For super curly/frizzy hair, it could take me from an hour up to 4 hours, depending on how much hair the person has.¬† This is for starting dreads by comb twists or backcombing.
  • Straight, wavy or mixed hair can take 3 hours and more.¬† I have done dreads that took 8 hours and it is murder for both client and me.¬† Well, mostly the client, if they have a sensitive head.


Currently I charge by the hour and not by job because everyone has a different-sized head, different amount of hair and sensitivity.  A person with more hair can take more time than a person with a larger head or about the same.  Sensitivity can be an issue as we might have to take a break often.




After Care

  • I recommend not washing the newly made dreads for the first 3 weeks unless you absolutely have to.
  • I use a tiny bit of beeswax when I make them and say the client could use a small amount just to maintain the frizzies once a seek until the first 3 weeks are done before washing.¬† They usually do not need it after that.
  • Next appointment is scheduled for 3 weeks to do first maintenance unless client is able to do own work on the new dreads.
  • I tell them to get a good quality moisturising shampoo and conditioner.¬† As I do not use a lot of product in the hair, my clients do not have a lot of build up so I cannot speak for other locticians.
  • I recommend a silk scarf to sleep or bandana to tie hair if clients works in dust or sits anywhere the hair will get messed up.
  • Colour is best left until the dreads lock as the wash to get it out will eliminate them.

And now the most asked question:  When will they lock?

I do not know but typically between 6 months to a year.  If the person has dry hair it can happen in 3 months but this is rare.  If the person likes to play with the hair and make styles etc.  even longer.  Patience, is really a virtue here.


By Paula Barker, Silkielocks.com

Buy my e-book:¬† Dreadlocks:¬† A Hair stylist’s Manifest (Silkielocks.com/Amazon.com)

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