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Frequently asked questions about dreadlocks

dreadlocks - FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I bleach or dye my dreads, and should I do it before or after I lock up?
You can bleach or dye before or after you dread your hair, it don't matter. Before is better, if possible, as it will be easier to do without your hair all locked up. Colouring before will also help to fry the hair a bit, which will help the dreading process. It's not difficult to dye or bleach once your dreads are in, though, just proceed as you would with normal hair and really squish the dye out when washing. It's up to you. Just make sure that your dreads are strong enough to handle the action, which could be up to 3 months or more after you put them in, and don't use the wax in there for a while, as the bleach/dye might not take to it very well. You'd have to wait until the dreads are really tight and together.

How long should my hair be to start dreads?
If you are using Knotty Boy, you can start dreads as short as 3 inches long. It is difficult, but not impossible, and the dreads actually turn out better in the end when started short. They will be very short dreads, kinda Buckwheat-style for a while, but that's supa cute if you ask me. However, the longer the hair is to start out with, the easier it will dread. Without Knotty Boy, no less than 6 inches to start dreads - they won't hold together if it's any shorter.

My hair is thick as a beast... is this good or bad for starting dreads? What about Asian hair?
Thick hair is always good for dreads, makes them really nice and heavy but takes a bit more maintenance to lock up, just cuz it's not as manageable as thin, fine hair. Don't let that scare you, though, especially if you're locking up KBoy styles - the wax REALLY helps all kinds of hair dread easier. Our customers are from all over the world - from Singapore to India to Korea, so that should say something about Knotty Boy's success and popularity with Asian dreadies!

Is it true that if I make smaller dreads now, that they will kinda grow together into bigger ones in the future?
Yep, they'll definitely thicken up. See, all those hairs that swirl around in gross clumps in the tub after your shower will still be falling out of your head every day, BUT they're just staying in the dreads. Therefore, after a few months or so, you'll notice that they are starting to get thicker, and this is the reason why. If you prefer thin dreads, start thin and they won't get huge or anything, just a bit fatter. You can ALWAYS cut them down the middle if they get too fat. But don't start too thin! Hair is always breaking and retangling and regrowing, and you don't want your dreads to be so thin that they start breaking off, eek! Just use your judgement, one finger wide is usually a good guide.

My hair is about 5 to 6 inches long. If I use Knotty Boy Dread Wax, will my dreads stick up or lay flat?
If you use Knotty Boy and the backcombing method, they will stick up a bit for the first week or so - but one thing you can do to minimize the Side Show Bob look is this: When you begin backcombing your hair, hold each lock straight down beside your head rather than straight out or up, and then backcomb it. Then at least it won't be everywhere. It will still stand out a bit, but that will calm down a lot over the next week or so, especially if you wear a hat or beanie to mash it down. Also it will calm down after your first washing.

Is it a good idea to use elastics or rubber bands on my dread tips and roots to keep them more together?
Well, think about elastics for a second. They're really tight, right? Right. So why would putting them around an area you're trying to dread make any sense? Dreads form because of the constant movement of the hair tangling and untangling, tangling and untangling until it starts to mat up. But if you stop this process from occurring by constricting all movement, no dreads are going to form!
It may appear to be a bit more together, but even that's debatable; it's just going to look like there are elastics around your dread tips and roots, and the rest of the dreads all puffy... How cool is that? But in the end, that is NOT really going to help your dread tips or roots come together. In fact, along with the roots, your tips are one of the last parts to dread anyway. It's normal!

I've been thinking about dreading my hair for a while now, but for some reason I'm not sure where the rest of my hairline has gone to... do you think it's a good idea to lock up?
Well, we hate to tell you this... but if you have male-pattern baldness in your family and can see it coming on even now, we wouldn't recommend locking up because dreading your hair can cause a lot of extra stress on those already-weak hair follicles. And your locks only get heavier as your dreads come together over time. If you want the hair you have on your head now to stay as long as possible, we wouldn't recommend dreads - sorry!

If I put dreads in and they don't look cool, or I don't like them, do I have to shave my head to get them out?
Nope, not wanting your dreads anymore no longer means you have to shave your head bald, thanks to Knotty Boy! You have two choices:
1. If you want your luscious locks back without having to cut your dreads off, click here to learn how the phenomenal Knotty Boy Emergency Dreadlock Removal Kit takes the 'dread' right outta removing dreadlocks!
2. If you do want to cut them off but don't want the freshly-Gilletted look, try cutting them off about 2 or 3 inches from the scalp, as your dreads are the loosest near your scalp. Once you have cut them off, you should be able to untangle what is left of your dreads using a lot of shampoo, conditioner and hot water, and be left with a few inches of undreaded hair that you can style a bit better than no hair at all.

I heard that if you want dread locks you can't wash your hair for a month before hand, is this true?
No, this is a myth. Most people are convinced that if you stop washing your hair, it helps speed up the locking process, but this is simply not true! Think about what happens when you don't wash your hair for a while - the natural oils make your hair very greasy and conditioned, and separates each piece of hair. What you want to do is wash your hair very well the day before with regular bar soap (or grab a Starter Kit from our Products page) and NO conditioner, then brush it out really frizzy the next day and start dreading. Then it's dry and will dread up much more happily.

I was wondering if it is possible to do it alone? Time is not an issue.
No, you don't need another person to dread up your hair. But it REALLY, REALLY helps. It's very tiring to try and reach around to the back of your head for long periods of time, you know? Your dreads will also probably end up looking a lot nicer if you have someone help you out because they can see where the next one should be, how big they should be to fit your head properly etc. Try and get someone to help if possible, you'll be glad you did.

What's the best way for me to part my hair when starting dreads?
In our experience we've found that doing dreads with a definite part down the middle is not a cool idea, unless you dig a blinding white part on top of your head for a few years. Best thing to do is to grab random, alternating chunks of hair from either side of your natural part. And be sure that you don't make the chunks too big, cuz 1) they puff up a lot and 2) the fatter they are, the longer they take to actually become dreads. They WILL GET FATTER as the months go by, we promise. You may however, find it easier to section the rest of your head though, so that your dreads are even and well distributed.

I have fairly short (3 inches approx) hair and it's very silky. I want to dread it, but I've tried before and it just slides right out. How should I even start? Will Knotty Boy Dread Wax help?
Yes, actually KBoy will help, tons in fact, because it will give your very soft hair much more texture and something to work with. Use the wax and just smooth it over your hair, before you start dreading, to give it some weight and texture. And use a very fine comb! Also now included FREE with most Knotty Boy Dreadlock Starter Kits is our new, amazing Bee Washed soap bar for pre-washing your hair before you lock up, helping it on its way. All these things will help considerably. And for longer, straight hair, try braiding it wet a day before dreading to give it some kinkiness and texture, too.

Are my brand-new locks going to be presentable after just being done? Or is it a take-a-week-off-work type thing?
Yes, your dreads will definitely be presentable the day after locking up with Knotty Boy Dread Wax. That's what's great about it - makes you look like you have dreads right away, even before it's had a chance to start locking for real which will happen after a couple of weeks. Just try dreading one or two to make sure you like how they look, and then go for it!

If I use a blow drier will that help set up and dry out the dreads after I've waxed? Will that help the dreads set?
Yes, heat really helps melt the wax into the dreads and stick 'em all together. Try it with a blow-dryer, or sitting in the sun. This isn't completely necessary for good locks, though, just another thing you can try to speed up the process.
Using a blow dryer right after you are all freshly waxed will also melt the wax right into your dread, realllly saturating it. This is also great if you can see the wax at all, or if it's making your hair look a little dull. Blow drying each dread until the wax melts will fix these problems easily!
Also use a hair dryer on 'low' to quickly dry the Knotty Boy LockSteady Tropical Tightening Gel after application. Gets them dreadies nice and tight!

I was wondering if your hair still grows while you have dreadlocks?
Well, the clearest example of the fact that dreads do indeed keep growing after you lock up is all the Bob Marley album covers. Look at his hair on the cover of Catch a Fire (little tiny buckwheat naps), and then look at his dreads on the cover of Kaya, say. By the time he died, they were nearly down to his waist! Yes, dreads definitely do grow!

Do you have to use the wax before you use shampoo or can you just use the shampoo?
You can use the shampoo whenever you want, before or after dreading.

Why, when you put Knotty Boy Dread Wax in your hair, does it have clumps? Also how long does it take to dry?
You just have to smooth the clumps out with your fingers. There's a high beeswax content in the ingredients so it's quite stiff and waxy, but it's better that way then too greasy. And don't use too much! Your new dreads will dry out in a few days, takes a little while for the wax to sink in. As your dreads develop and get more spongey, it will take less time for the wax to absorb.

I have had dreads now for about 20 weeks. Should I cut the ends? And how far should I cut them?
You can trim your dreads to any length you want, but if they're still soft and not very tight, you might want to wait till they're more together before you snip so they don't unravel. But if they're pretty good and locked, then try snipping one or two from underneath so you can see what it might look like before you go for the top dreads. And maybe try snipping them at a slight angle, or on either side to form a 'v' so they don't look hacked straight across, if you want.

When I sleep, all the dreads at the back of my head get squished and pressed against my head in weird positions, and also I get a bunch of stray hairs floating around back there. Am I maybe using to much or not enough goop?
This problem of flat dreads is very common with new, soft dreadlocks. They are still really just hair glued together with wax, and haven't yet started developing into the tight, matted knots that make dreads. So when they are still soft, they will get squashed and fall apart sometimes. The best thing for them is just patience and back-combing to make them tighter when you have the chance. It's a pain, but worth it. The flat dreads eventually join others and fill out as they tighten up - they will not be flat forever. It's just another one of those little tests of endurance that make you so glad it's all over once they really start rocking. Don't worry about it too much, and just use enough wax to keep them stuck together in the beginning.

How long I should wait before I start washing my dreads with your shampoo once they are freshly dreaded?
You should probably let your new dreads go for at LEAST a week before you wash them for the first time, two weeks if you can stand it. When you first put your dreads in, they will be only made up of loose hair stuck together in locks with the wax, until about 3-6 weeks later when they actually start to mat and dread. So they are pretty fragile in the first few weeks and don't take to getting washed too well. The longer you can wait, the better, but if you have to, it's ok to wash them sooner than that, and use the dread shampoo. Just be VERY gentle, don't use super hot water or you'll melt the wax out!, and only scrub your scalp to get it clean, not the dreads. They will get clean enough from the soap rinsing down from your scalp. Then throw the whole mess in a big hat and let it dry there all day - that'll help them tighten up.

I heard that when you get dreads that you can't reach your scalp to clean it. Is that true?
Nope, not true... dreads are just like any other hair style, and very much like braids. You can wash braids, and you can wash dreads like normal too.

Hey, I've had dreads for a little over a month now and I was wondering if I have to wait for my hair to dry after a shower before I can re-apply Knotty Boy to my dreads? Will the beeswax be repelled by the water?
Yeah, it's best to let them dry as much as possible before rewaxing, because the wax is repelled by water. Just let them air-dry for the day, and at night see if they're dry enough. Use your good judgement, you'll be fine.

I was just wondering, does your dread shampoo take out semi permanent hair dye?
Nope. Using the shampoo bar with dyed hair is no more a problem than using regular shampoo on dyed hair. The point is to scrub your scalp and get it clean, not your dreads really. You want those to hang together, not get all scrubbed and come apart. Some dye will wash out just from the water and stuff, but the shampoo won't strip it. It's totally natural and mild.

I have had dreads for about two years now, but they never seem to get any longer. Is this normal and is there anything I can do to make them longer?
Well, the first thing is... dreadlocks sometimes shrink. This is totally normal and we see and hear about this all the time. Eventually they get as tight as they are gonna, and then you'll notice them growing again.

How often should I rewax?
Wax as often or as little as you need to - the point is to keep everything together so that your dreads can form faster, so if they feel like they're falling apart or getting messy, just add more wax. Most people with new dreads find that they need to wax about twice a week, or after they wash and have completely dried out their dreads. As time goes on, they find they use it less and less, and eventually they'll just need it for keeping their dreads conditioned and healthy.

I have had dreads for over a year and they're pretty matted. Do I have to keep on using the wax and keep backcombing my hair?
Whenever your locks are really tight, together and strong - fully developed - without many loose ends anymore, you can just use KBoy for maintenance after that . It's just for giving them a little help in the first year or two, keeping them together so they lock faster, getting the loose hairs in, etc. You may just want to smooth down the frizzes with it every once in a while, or use it to condition them against breakage and brittleness. That's a good thing to keep doing, too.

With thanks to the Knotty Boy website for these tips.