By Terez Howard

Dreadlocks today are far from dreadful.  Dreads are sections of hair allowed to mat over time.  These locs have become a popular natural hair style, known to encourage natural hair to grow very long.  How did dreadlocks get their start?

Dreadlocks date back to ancient Egypt.  The dreadlocks we know today, however, started in the 1930s when crowned emperor of Ethiopia, Ras Tafari, was forced into exile during an invasion.  Guerrilla warriors refused to cut their hair until Ras Tafari was reinstated.  The ‘Rasta’ movement was seen as a threat to Christianity, and the dreadlocks the warriors wore were thought to be frightening, disgusting and, you guessed it, dreadful.  The people from this movement actually called themselves “Dreads” because they feared God.

Men and women of various races wear dreadlocks for many reasons.  Today, some express spiritual or religious convictions or manifest their ethnic pride with dreadlocks.  Others are making a political statement, and still more get dreadlocks as a fashion.  Whatever the reason, dreadlocks can be found the world over on natural hair.

Ways To Start Dreadlocks

With any of the following methods, you can either choose to have your dreadlocks started professionally at a salon or start them from home.  Salon costs vary, depending on the method you choose, but it’s safe to say you can expect to pay $20 to $30 per hour.  The length of your natural hair and hair texture determine how long it will take to install your dreadlocks.

You can also choose to start your dreads at home.  If you do this, I highly recommend checking for step-by-step instructions on You Tube.

You can use aloe vera gel or another petroleum-free gel to keep your dreadlocks together.  Stay away from thick waxes and butters because these will get stuck in your natural hair, making it next to impossible to remove this residue from your locs.

Palm Roll/Comb Coil – The comb coil method is achieved when loose hair is coiled around the toothless end of a rat tail comb.  Palm rolls are started when natural hair is rolled between the palms of the hands or index finger and thumb.  Palm rolls and comb coils are the best way to start dreadlocks on tightly coiled, natural hair.  Water and humidity will frizz them, but if you groom them every couple weeks, you will maintain a neat appearance.

Two Strand Twists – Dreadlocks also can be started with two strand twists, which can be achieved by twisting two small sections of hair around one another.  Twisting is similar to braiding, except rather than alternating three sections of natural hair, you only use two.  Two strand twists also work well for tightly coiled natural hair.  Dreadlocks also can be started with this method on hair with looser curl pattern.  Even though they will frizz in the presence of moisture, two strand twists can grow into beautiful dreadlocks with frequent maintenance, from every couple weeks to once per month.

Latch Hook – A latch hook is a tool you can find at a craft store and oftentimes is used to make rugs.  You can also use this device to start dreadlocks.  You start by back combing sectioned-off strands of hair and use the latch hook to pull knots into your hair.  When you start dreadlocks with a latch hook, you have little chance of unraveling.  You also can retighten your roots with a latch hook.

What You Can Expect To Happen To Your Dreadlocks

Your dreadlocks can take anywhere from six months to two years to full loc.  A tighter hair texture will loc faster.  Short hair also will loc faster.  No matter your length or what hair textures are in your natural hair, dreadlocks will go through the following stages:

Baby stage – This is the beginning when your dreadlocks still look like coils or twists.  Toward the end this phase, you will notice little sprouts and buds (these look like pea-sized knots) forming on the ends of your hair.  Leave them alone because they are part of the locking process.  Just maintain your original parting.

Teenage stage – You now have dreadlocks forming.  Your natural hair begins to look like locs, with those initial buds and sprouts expanding and traveling up the loc.  Even if they feel loose and soft, these locs will not unravel during a shampooing.  They hang down, or have “dropped.”

Mature stage – This is when your locs compress down and become tight.  The ends will close; however, with some hair textures, curls will stay on some ends.  Your growth will become noticeable because your dreadlocks will have formed a contracted, cylindrical shape.  As you maintain your roots, that loose hair will intertwine with the loc.

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