Dreadlocks are much more than just matted hair. They usually convey an attitude to life, a feeling and many people only feel completely through them. But how do you actually make dreads and can you make them yourself? In this post I will show you everything you need to know about it – from creation to maintenance to combing out.

History and origin

Most of us surely think of Rastafaris when it comes to dreadlocks. But in many parts of the world the matted hair was popular, not in the form as we know it today, but in a few variations. So they existed from 1577 to 1648 in Denmark at the court of King Christian IV as well as with the Aztecs and in Hinduism.

How are they made?

If you think that dreadlocks are nothing more than an unkempt, matted pile of hair, you’re wrong. Most dread heads go to great lengths to make their felt curls look reasonable. Usually the hair is divided into strands depending on the desired thickness. Then you can use various methods to create the best conditions for the hair to matt together. You can find out which these are and whether you should have dreadlocks made or made yourself.

Have dreadlocks made

I would personally recommend having dreadlocks made by someone who can. So many factors play a role that you will be happy and satisfied with them afterwards. And especially if you don’t want natural dreads, but those with a reasonable division, then you will probably have a hard time alone. It also requires a bit of experience that in the end you will get the result that you wanted.

dreads auskommen

How long should the hair be?

A basic requirement for creating dreadlocks is the hair length. They should be at least 15 cm long so that they can be created sensibly using the classic methods. If you have short hair, you must first say goodbye to your dream until the hair is long enough.

Read More: Is daily hair washing healthy?

Who creates dreads?

There are now a few places where you can have dreadlocks made.

In this case, you don’t go to the hairdresser. There is usually a lack of experience and often it is not offered.

Often it is other dread heads who offer the creation and maintenance or those who have had some. Before you make an appointment, it is best to have a few works shown. So you can quickly decide whether they like you or not.

Afroshops also often offer the creation of dreads. However, you should make sure that the creator also has experience with European hair, because that needs a completely different treatment than the frizzy African hair.

Of course, price is also an important factor that should not go unnoticed.


You are probably wondering what dreadlocks cost. Logically, I can’t give you a general answer here. It depends on a couple of factors, like:

  • Hair length,
  • With or without extensions,
  • Duration of creation,
  • commercial provider or private dread fee.

I personally paid almost 200 Euros to create a total of 60 dreadlocks. That was almost five years ago. The procedure for two creators lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. – 12 hours.

I have heard of prices fewer than 100 Euros or over 400 Euros. It is best to ask before making an appointment. Based on your hair length and wishes, you should be able to get a rough price. By the way, some also offer this in the form of an exchange transaction.

Make dreadlocks yourself

Of course, in this context the question immediately arises whether you can make dreadlocks yourself? The answer is pretty simple, yes you can. However, it is not as easy as you might imagine.

First the hair has to be divided and then spread out. If you have no empirical values, you cannot estimate how thick the dreads will be due to the division. You also don’t see yourself at the back of the head. Accordingly, you can imagine how difficult it is to separate the hair cleanly. At least for this you should definitely organize help.

The right division

Before we start the Dreaden, the hair has to be divided. Depending on the desired thickness of the dreadlocks, you divide them up or down. Another important factor is the correct arrangement. As you can imagine, there are large gaps if, for example, you arrange them all in a row from front to back. That is why you divide in order to avoid gaps.

The professional will usually divide your head like this:

Brick pattern

The arrangement here is staggered, so that you have nice volume in the finished dreadlocks and you will hardly be able to see the scalp. This is probably the most common classification.

Honeycomb pattern

This pattern has the advantage that the dreads do not felt together so quickly at the base and the arrangement is also offset here. The longer you have your curls, the more you will appreciate that.

After the division, which is fixed with small rubbers, the individual strands are felted. Again, there is not just one option, but different methods, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages.

The cleaner and tidier it is, the more you will enjoy your dreadlocks. There is nothing worse than a zigzagging and aching scalp because the hair felt all over the place.

By the way, mane rubbers for horses are particularly robust and can stay in your hair for a few days. You should be careful with normal rubbers. They can become soft and sticky by washing your hair or when the sun is too strong. Under no circumstances do you want to fray this mass out of your dreads.

Different methods of creation

Depending on how you want your dreadlocks to be and what you prefer, there are now different methods of how to do them.

I would now like to introduce the three most common ones to you here.

  • Twist & Rip / Highlighting Method

The highlighting method, also called Twist & Rip, works quite simply. After you have divided your hair, work your way strand by strand. First twist the lower ends until they knot a little. Then pull the strand apart in the middle so that the knotted part slides towards the base. This is how you proceed until the strand is completely matted / knotted. At the end, crochet briefly and you’re done.

  • Backcombing

The most commonly used method for creating dreadlocks is backcombing. Here the previously divided strands are topped with a metal comb and then crocheted. Disadvantage of this method, if you overpower too much, you lose a lot of length, which is not the case with the twist and rip variant.

A Flea comb for dogs is ideal to toot the strands.

  • Scratching

Method This method is for those who like natural dreads and have no problem with the fact that it takes quite a long time to see a development. Here the dry hair is always rubbed in the same direction with a towel or washcloth for at least 30 minutes a day for the first 3-4 weeks. This creates natural dreads that take a very long time to form. You can find detailed instructions in the Dread forum

Tip: Before creating, think about whether you want open or closed tips.

Extensions for longer curls of felt

If you want long dreadlocks from the start, you can of course work with extensions. On the one hand there is the possibility to buy loose hair and then to have it dreaded or created. On the other hand, you can of course also buy real dreadlocks that someone else has cut off and use them to extend.

I personally also had real hair extensions in the beginning. But at some point I just wanted my own hair on my head and that’s why I removed it.

Dread jewelry for embellishment

Many want to embellish their dreads with pearls, wraps or other accessories. The offer is almost endless. Most use pearls that are simply pulled onto the dread or wrap them with colored yarn. Just make sure you use materials that don’t felt in your dreads.

The same also applies to fluffy wool sweaters. It is incredibly exhausting when you have to fumble individual wool fibers out of the dreads.

Dread care

Like any other hairstyle, dreadlocks also need a certain amount of care. Of course, this includes washing, on the other hand, the approaches also have to be copied and the lengths crocheted from time to time if you like them properly. So if you think that you have less work with matted hair, I have to disappoint you here. Ordinary dreadlocks need reasonable care, especially in the early days.

Palm Rolling: You will come across this term from time to time. This means the rolling of the dread between the hands. Above all, that makes sense after washing. This way they stay nice and round. At the same time, you press fallen hairs back onto the dread.

Wash dreadlocks

Unwashed, matted and smelly hair – many people wrongly associate this with dreadlocks. Certainly there may be some people who don’t wash their dreads, but in my experience that’s more of an exception.

The big advantage is that you don’t have to wash dreads as often as you have loose hair because they don’t look greasy so quickly. It may take a little while for the scalp to get used to the longer intervals, but then it is often enough to clean it properly every 4 to 8 weeks. But of course this also varies depending on how quickly your scalp regreases.

Wash dreadlocks, you should know:

  • Do not use nourishing shampoos or conditioners with silicone.

Especially at the beginning, it can lead to the strands that have not yet been matted so well that they dissolve again.

  • Washing dreadlocks takes longer.

Yes, it takes longer than normal hair washing. On the one hand, it takes a little more time to properly soap the scalp and on the other hand, washing it out is more time-consuming.

  • Lather the shampoo in your hands before adding it to the dreads.

In order not to have large residues in the dreads, you should foam your shampoo in your hands beforehand and only then drive it into your felt curls. So less soap residue remains in the hair.

  • It takes ages to dry.

You can almost imagine dreadlocks like a sponge. They literally absorb the water while washing. That’s why it’s important that you wring them out properly afterwards. And yet drying can take between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the thickness. A dryer hood can help here. I personally wash them every morning, so I don’t have to go to bed with wet worms.

Felt approaches

From time to time you will have to take care of your approaches if you like it tidy on your head. The dreads are actually growing out and most of us are not lucky enough that the approaches felt themselves. Accordingly, a little help is needed. There are also different methods here:

  • Pulling the dread through the base

You take a dread and pull it through the open base. This method is super simple on the one hand, but on the other hand the dread can split quickly if you don’t do it correctly. Only a few hairs are pulled from the roots to the side so that a hole is created through which the dread is then pulled. Then repeat on the opposite side and then in front and behind until the strand is tight against the roots.

I personally don’t like this method so much because the structure always looks like braided. In addition, in my opinion, the dreads become uncomfortably hard and knobbly.

  • Tighten-Roots

In my eyes, the most effective method for re-felting the approaches is Tighten-Roots. Here the dread is taken about 1 – 2 cm above the base between the index and middle fingers, like a cigarette. Now you press it on the head and start with circular movements going in one direction. After a short time you will notice how the hair mattes at the base. Do this until the approach is firm. Then, depending on the situation, crochet briefly and done.

Just make sure that not loose hairs are used that do not belong there.

  • Poking method

With the poking method, you simply take your crochet hook and try poking the loose hair back into the dread by poking around. You should work carefully here, because it can happen that you include those that do not belong in the approach. Otherwise, you could thin out the dread.

Most providers for creating dreads also offer maintenance appointments. It is definitely worth having all dreadlocks worked through once a year. Especially at the back of the head you often have spots that you can’t see yourself.

Read More: Oily hair, which home remedies help?

The right crochet hook

Of course, you need a suitable crochet hook for your dreads in order to be able to crochet them properly. I personally have two pieces – one 0.75 mm and one 0.5 mm. It’s best to buy those with a firm grip, which makes crocheting much easier. And be careful, nothing is more unpleasant than the hook of such a fine needle in your finger.

Tip: Never use a felting needle. The risk of tearing the dreadlock off is far too great.

Crochet is often less. I know from experience that especially at the beginning you tend to crochet your dreads dead because you think that any hair sticking out is a potential danger for the development of the curls. But if you crochet too much, your dreads will be extremely hard and you may end up coming. You no longer through, so don’t overdo it and just let it develop.

How to crochet dreads correctly

There is actually no right and no wrong. However, I can give you a few tips that will make it easier for you at the beginning. Again there are two different methods.

  1. Simply take the dread between your index finger and thumb, then pass the crochet hook between the two fingers through the dread, pull the protruding hair back to half of the dread and continue until no more small hair can be seen. So do nothing until the end.
  2. If you have several hairs that protrude from the lock of felt, you can also twirl them with your fingers, then run the crochet hook through the dread, wrap the twisted strands around the hook and pull them back halfway. Now turn the hook so that the strand slides off the crochet hook.

Recipe for deep cleansing

As a fresh dread head, you will eventually stumble across the subject of deep cleaning. It does not fail, no matter how well you care for your felt curls, soap residue and dust and fluff remain in the dreads. So it can be worthwhile to clean them from time to time (I do it once a year).

The recipe for deep cleaning comes from  Dread factory  and works great.

You need:

30 gr. Baking soda

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp lemon juice

60 ml apple cider vinegar

Here’s how it works:

Fill a large bowl or sink with warm water. Now add the sea salt until it has dissolved. Then add the baking soda, the lemon juice and finally the vinegar.

Now hang your dreadlocks into the mixture for about 15 minutes. Then rinse the hair well and wash as needed (but need not be).

As you will see from the broth that remains, it is well worth it. The ingredients result in a sodium hydroxide solution, which has a stronger cleaning effect than classic washing.

You have to cut off dreadlocks

Again and again you hear that you can only cut off the matted hair and then as a woman you have to walk around with bald or very short hair. This is what keeps many from getting dreadlocks. But that is simply not true. There is another way to get rid of the felt curls:

You can comb out dreads.

But I have to say one thing right away: combing out is a lengthy task that does not go overnight. Ultimately, it can be said that combing out the dreadlocks usually takes just as long as creating it.


Comb out dreads, how it works

For this it is advisable to wash the hair for a certain time with care shampoo, conditioner and nourishing oils. This will make your dreads a little softer and maybe loosen them a bit.

When the time comes, the easiest way is to use a fork, knitting needle or similar. Now you have to comb your dreads slowly from bottom to top. Make sure that you don’t pull out too much hair. Work your way mm by mm and always pull only a few highlights with your aid.

Tip: If you cut off part of the broken tips anyway, you will have to comb less.

After combing out, give your hair a lot of care. And don’t worry, you’re going to lose a lot of hair and when I say something I really mean a lot. But that is because people naturally lose a certain amount of hair per day. This is not noticeable with dreadlocks because the loose hair simply felt in the strands. Of course, when you comb it out, you lose it.

Read More: Daily shampoo

Fake dreads

In addition to real dreads, there are of course those that don’t last forever. You can put them on your hair for a party night or a few weeks, for example, and thus test whether you like it and how you get along. So if you’re not sure, fake dreads would be a great way to try that. Whether you prefer artificial or real hair is entirely up to you.

Braiding is incredibly easy. You divide your hair the way you would for real dreads. Then you connect your divided hair with the fake dreads and the voluminous hair is ready.

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