Dreadlocks are hair that's been matted together. There are several techniques for creating locs; one of the most common ones for natural black hair is palm rolling.
What products are used?
Many people use a special cream or wax to roll/twist the hair.
How long do dreads take to form?
It takes a few months (as many as 18 months) for the dread to form and for hair to grow in a matted fashion.
How do you maintain dreads?
For the roots to look neatly bunched up as in the picture to the right monthly maintenance is required by re-twisting the hair. Some people can do this themselves but others prefer to see a specialised, loctician.
Sisterlocks involve much smaller partitions than dreadlocks. The initial installation of sisterlocks takes 10 to 20 hours - two to three times longer than dreadlocks. However, sisterlocks mature into a locked look quicker than traditional dreadlocks.
Brotherlocks are similar to sisterlocks but tend to be a little larger. They remain smaller than traditional locs.
Sisterlocks and brotherlocks are easier to wash and moisturise because of the smaller sections of hair.
Who can form locs?
Dreadlocks form much easier on type 4 (kinky or curly hair). It is much more difficult to get dreadlocks on straight or wavy hair and the techniques available are different and limited. Straight or wavy hair cannot form sister/brotherlocks.
Can you unlock dreadlocks, brotherlocks and sisterlocks?
Some people claim it's possible but the reality is it is extremely difficult and leads to so much breakage that there is no point; most people just chop their locs off when they no longer want them.
Benefits of dreads/locs
Disadvantage of dreads/locs
Dealing with people's misconceptions, e.g. that they're dirty, can be a real headache!
Dreadlock thieves on the loose!
When I was growing up the older generation, that is, my parents and their friends looked down upon locs. At the time, the only people that had them were weed-smoking rastafarai that hadn't ever held done a "proper" job. Locs came to be associated with this group, hence the negative image.
Those days are swiftly sliding away. A two hour flight away from my native Malawi, in South Africa, long locs are hot property.
If you're rocking long dreadlocks don't pass out at a party; yes, your smartphone and cash will remain intact but you'll have to start growing your locs from scratch because they will be G-O-N-E.
Long locs fetch as much as $300 on the black market, that's right, $300, so they're more precious than a second hand smartphone.
These locs are then sewn onto the heads of people that want instantly long locs. Personally, I find that kind of gross. But different strokes for different folks!
Hair theft is also common in the US, the only difference is that they steal it from a store not right off someone's head!
There is a lesson to this story...
...if you're planning vacation time in South Africa, remember to insure those locs!
I'm sure this question has crossed your mind before.
The answer is actually very simple:
1) Strands that are bunched up together in a loc have a lower tendency to break.
Hair is naturally better protected if it's together. It's easier to break a lone strand than strands of hair that are wrapped around each other. Hair in plaits or twists enjoys the same protection.
However, lower breakage is only half the reason.
2) Shed hair's aren't released.
Shedding is a natural process in hair growth. At any given point in time, 11% of the hairs on your head are in the telogen or shedding phase.
Normally shedding hairs fall out as you comb and style your hair. However, if you have dreadlocks shed hairs remain stuck to the loc. This can help to give the head a much fuller look.
In summary, locking your hair allows it to get on with the business of growing undisturbed by combs, brushes, blow dryers, flat irons and other styling. This allows better length retention . In addition, by not releasing shed hairs you add to the length and optical thickness of hair.
I now blog about wealth creation - so if you have any money questions meet me there, you can do all sorts of cool things like leave me a voicemail.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx