Are You Ready For Dreadlocks?
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Considering Getting Dreadlocks?
I knew when I was ready.
It was April 19, 2008 and I was ready. Getting dreadlocks was not a hasty decision or an urge to jump on a hot trend. I had been considering getting locs for about 6 months before I actually took the jump. And after talking to my mother, who had been locked for about 9 years, I knew it was the right thing for me, too.
How do you know when you're ready? What kinds of things should you consider?
- Consider your current hairstyle and the things you like AND don't like about it. Make a list, likes on one side, dislikes on the other side: For example, if your current hairstyle is synthetic braids and you seem to always have braids, dreadlocks will give you the freedom of not having to style your hair every morning AND you don't have to take them down and reinstall them every 6-8 weeks. That was the case for me. But if you wear more elaborate hairstyles like pompadours, Mohawks and victory rolls and you really like to stand out, guess what? YOU CAN DO ALL OF THOSE HAIRSTYLES WITH LOCS! Dreadlocks are versatile, easy to maintain and they require way less product. You can curl them, wash them and style them like normal loose hair and even easier in many cases.
- Will you be doing a big chop (BC)? A big chop is when someone cuts off a significant portion of their hair because it is relaxed, dyed or otherwise chemically treated or damaged. The result is a short afro or short mane of curls, depending on your hair texture. The purpose of this is to give your dreadlocks the best possible start. Hair that is relaxed or damaged is very difficult to lock and requires much more maintenance. The ends of dreads started with this type of hair often has straight, raggedy ends that will never curl and may even eventually break off. If you do plan to do a BC, start looking at natural hairstyles done on short hair. Find products made especially for this purpose and decide which ones to buy. If your BC left you with very short hair, you may have to wear this style for a few months before your hair is long enough to start locks.
- Do your research. **I cannot stress this one enough!** I've seen people take dreadlocks down and start over again just because they were hasty and did not take the time to really decide what they wanted. Once you have decided that you do want dreadlocks, spend some time looking at pictures of people with dreadlocks. Think about how thick or thin you want yours to be. Try to look for someone who has a hair thickness and texture close to yours. Don't worry about how many dreadlocks the guy in the picture has. For him 146 locs may look great but your hair may need only 135 locs to get the same look. Every head size is different and every hair texture and thickness is different. Also, research the different ways to start dreadlocks and pick the method that is right for you. They can be started with 2-strand twists, backcombing, dread perms, interlocking/crochet method, braidlocs, extensions, and free form
- Consider your employer.I hate to say it but there are still employers out there who frown upon dreadlocks and natural hairstyles. Unless you work in law enforcement or the military most jobs don't have strict dress codes written into their employment contracts. I personally know a female deputy with dreadlocks and she has no problems with her employer. So just check you employee manual. I started my dreadlocks the day before starting a job working for a member of congress. Yikes! There was an initial shock for the first day but I was already hired. Respect yourself and your employer by keeping your locs well-groomed. Most employers have scary mental pictures of dirty, matted clumps of hair. Prove them wrong by showing up in neat, clean locs. Do not disclose, just do it! If you simply can't bear going through the early stages of dreadlocks at work you should consider dreadlock extensions for instant locs that are nice and tidy. I do not have extensions and I have been in the corporate world the entire time. My hair has never been a problem.
- Find a loctician. The easiest way to do this is to stop someone with awesome locs and find out who did their hair. If people with locs are scarce in your area you can always search online by typing in 'dreadlocks near Los Angeles' or whatever city you live in.
Now let us do some myth-smashing!
Myth #1- You can't wash your hair if you have dreads. This is just stupid. Dreadlocked hair is still hair, right? Not only is this false but it's the number one reason why some people think dreadlocks are gross and dirty. Dreadlocks need to be washed and conditioned on a regular basis. I wash mine at least twice a week. Unwashed hair does not lock faster than clean hair so you can leave that lie behind. And unwashed dreadlocks stink! You can use whatever shampoo you want and there is no special technique. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Myth #2- You can't do any styles with them. Ponytails, curls, waves, mohawks, victory rolls, bangs, buns, french rolls, french braids and flat twists are all possible with dreadlocks. And that's only a partial list. Plus, you can do all this with hair elastics and hairpins. No more hairspray!
Myth #3- They stink and they grow mold and bugs live in them and stuff. See Myth #1
Only you know when the time is right for you. After you begin your dreadlock journey you may experience temporary "buyer's remorse". This is normal and it goes away. People will say stuff. Stupid stuff. Often. Over time the newness will wear off and the questions will stop for the most part. You don't owe anyone an explanation. Own your decision and keep it movin'.
- DIY Aloe Vera Hair Moisturizing Spritz
Make your own aloe vera moisturizing spritz. Great to use on hair and skin. Cheap to make and lasts longer than most other hair moisturizers and conditioners.