how to dread naturally

How to dread hair naturally

Dreading hair naturally is easy as can be. However some tips will make your natural dreadlocks journey easier and faster.

Dreading hair naturally tips:

  • Clean hair dreads best– wash your hair often but not every day. use a non residue dread friendly shampoo or the baking soda deep cleanse, and wash at least weekly, at most every 2 days.
  • Dry hair dreads best– dry hair dreads faster, however african hair gets brittle if too dry so should be moisturized throughout the process, other hair types it helps to reduce oiliness and dry the hair out somewhat, sea salt sprays and soaks can help. baking soda without acv afterwards will slowly make oily hair less oily, also, washing slightly less often will also reduce oiliness slowly.
  • Longer hair dreads best– if hairs too short it is harder to hold in knots, (african textured hair however will dread short) the longer the hair the faster it can dread typically, but longer hair also shrinks more, and may try to congo more as it dreads.
  • let it dread don’t make it dread– try not to play with it much, don’t twist roll or mess with it. when washing, if you use shampoo just scrub the scalp ignoring the hair. if you use the baking soda soak dont scrub. when drying shake it out and air dry.


Phases of hair dreading naturally

When hairs allowed to dread naturally it goes through fairly predictable stages.

  1. Sectioning stage: the hair separates into sections, groups of hair begin to cling together in groups typically this happens within days to a couple weeks of stopping combing.
  2. baby dread formation stage: the sections begin to get tangled and knot, loose knots but still the sections are held together by many knots forming baby dreads. This can begin in days, but more often in weeks, sometimes it can take longer.
  3. Looping wild teenager stage: the dreads will get loops, bumps, kinks, and change dramatically day by day. this stage is fun and exciting if you dont worry about your teen dreads misbehavior. this is the stage where they develop personalities that make them unique, typically in the 3-8 month stage.
  4. shrinking stage: as loops become tighter the dreads shrink drastically, longer hair can shrink from hips, to ears, shorter hair will lose about 1/2 the length typically or more.this is also the tightening stage leading to maturity
  5. mature stage: they change less noticeably over time
  6. growing stage: once mature they will begin to grow, slow until fully mature then faster.

Natural dreading dos and don’ts

do wash them

don’t force them

do enjoy the journey

don’t worry

optional seperate as needed to prevent congos (dreads combining)

tips sea salt sprays and soaks help sea water is 3.5% salt content. don not leave it on too long, it only needs to be in the hair 10 minutes to 2 hours  then can be rinsed out, any longer and you over dry the hair and scalp.

Wool  tams, wool sweaters or blankets put over your pillow will help encourage knotting.

feel free to post questions in the comments.

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1,119 Responses to how to dread naturally

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  1. Spiritbear says:

    I’m in the beginning stages of letting my hair dread. My hair was already pretty long and I’m wondering if during this process does it hurt to occasionally put my hair up to keep it out of my face? I look like cousin it when its windy.

  2. Jamar says:

    Greetings. So long story short, my family keeps agitating me about cutting my beautiful dreads. They say stuff like “you won’t be able to get a job” and other stuff like that. I want to embrace my beautiful hair and culture. I don’t want to conform to society and cut my hair just to get a job that I might not be happy with. What do u think about this?

    • soaringeagle says:

      1st off you will never be happy with any job that doesn’t accept and embrace you as you are. 2nd
      this covers your rights in the workplace
      although race and culture was found to not be a defendable reason because they are aspects that can be changed (a decision i find despicable) the fact that dreading can be tied to nearly every religion or spirituality or “sincerely held belief’ as defined by title IX which states that even if this is a belief that you alone hold, as long as you sincerely believe it it is guaranteed by law to be accepted.

      now on a personal note..i cut my 1st set off dreads due to parents pressure and went to school for computer programming (mainframe corporate computing yuck!!!) for that year i felt such a loss of self .. felt like i wasn’t even me or being what i was meant to be
      it took breaking my back at my graduation to save me from that corporate hell i would have been miserable in ..and let me grow my dreads
      now, after growing my dreads, i got every job i applied for.. one (only 1 i loved) well i’ll tell the whole story:

      at the interview i worried my dreads might be an issue so tucked beard dreads inside my shirt and the rest put up in a tam
      now this was back when they were not even to the floor…but close.. 1st day on the job came in the same way, but not /2 an hour in just said screw it.. took off the tam, dreads spilling out to near the floor .. just as the president walks by, stops dead and just says “wow’
      now this job was managing 200+ web designers that did the websites (for free) for every non profit in the 3 state region .. every university, every multinational multi million org (united way etc) we partnered with pbs broadcasting (incidently a good friend with dreads has a management position with mtv now) i had meetings with the governor (1st head of homeland security) heads of all the credit unions etc etc
      that ‘wow’ on day 1 was the only time my dreads were mentioned ..except i think 1 or 2 clients asked to touch them admiring them.
      when it came time we did our promo materials, me and my dreads were pretty much the most prominent position in the photos
      this was what they used as the company image

      now.. on a wider scale you can tell your mom that i personally know 3 people at nasa with dreads .. 1 (not 1 i knew personally) was 1 of the head designers off the 1st rocket to the moon and now is the ceo of the largest biodiesel refinery in the country i know teachers withy dreads teaching every grade from preschool to phd

      dreadlocks wont keep you from getting a job only from getting a job you would hate. (ironically, i knew dozens who cut to try to get a certain job, didn’t get the job and instead got 1 that didn’t care if they dreaded again (they cut before even seeing if they cared)) on the other hand, most who wouldn’t cut for a million dollars tend to have no problems getting jobs (although, many do prefer being self employed)

      that’s the other thing.. you can’t not get hired from a job you create for yourself, you can’t get fired when you’re your own boss
      you do not need to rely on someone hiring you to make a living

    • Chrissie says:

      Hi. I am a ‘woman of a certain age ‘ with dreads and run my own business. When I started out, I worried about the reaction of prospective clients, many of whom are of the older generation. Turns out I needn’t have worried about it. Four years down the line, business is booming and I have made many lovely friends along the way. My advice is to be yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

  3. gnostic mole says:

    hi can u give me some precise instructions on how to separate baby dreads please? im about 3 months in, using vicki’s cool shampoo, but as i have to flatten the front/top strands after (naturally)(i.e.letting them dry pressing down and back on top rather than hanging any old way, as i have sides shaved), i noticed now i have big clumps of two or more strands knitting together at the bottom (baby congos?!), and the distance on one is WAY too big so i want to separate them, but they are REALLY knotted, so how do i split them? puling them wont work with the really extreme ones, can i split with a knife? many thanx!

    • gnostic mole says:

      sorry missed out some words when typing! i wanted to say flattening them after WASHING, and DRYING naturally! i hate keyboards! 😉

      • gnostic mole says:

        and sorry, one more post. on the dreadlocks forums, i found some posts about this stuff, including this comment from a guy: I didnt start seperating untill one day i noticed that one of my baby congo’s, about a inch and a half in width at the root, was slowly pulling another one like two inches away from it, forming a sort of webbed bridge between the two.
        that’s EXACTLY the thing i’ve got! but i cant separate them just by pulling…what should i do?? thanx and sorry for many mails on same thing! 😉

        • soaringeagle says:

          yea exactly as i said, try pulling when wet 1st, then try adding a little olive oil to the connected webbing..
          ind if theres no other option snip only a minimal amount of hair to a lot the rest to pull free

    • soaringeagle says:

      try pulling when wet, if that don’t work add a lil olive oil to the connected parts only… if that don’t work, approach it like brain surgery..pull them apart putting tension on the areas matted, and use like a razor or exacto blade to slice only a few hairs at a a mm in or so… try pulling.. repeat.. only cut the bare minimum to alow you to pull them free a bit
      stop pressing them down, let them hang free any way they want to be

      • gnostic mole says:

        ok cool, will do so, thanks as always for sharing your wisdom with us all! greatly appreciated! 🙂

        • gnostic mole says:

          hi there, first off, i read your reply to the question about cutting dreads for jobs, and was really impressed with your story!!! 🙂 now, a question: i’m about 3 months in, hair is knotting ok, i have these like lumps near the base, are these the ‘kinks’ mentioned at the top of page about progress (step 3)?? when will they start getting rough all the way down? (they are short, about maybe 8 inches, now). finally, the hair right at the front isnt knotting (probably cos i dont sleep on that part pressing the hairs down!) – would u recommened putting a bead in them to start them off? the whole lot of those hairs is about the size of a table tennis ball. i really want a unicorn horn dread right at the front!! thanx 🙂

          • soaringeagle says:

            yes those are the looping that make the hair dread
            and well you could but the front will catch up, just takes a lil longer ..a tennis ball sized dread might be problematic with drying times and may even pull and hurt

  4. Ivan Delgado says:

    I’ve been dreading my hair for 2 months now using the towel method, I have noticed alot of my hair isn’t dreading and it’s just popping up wildly what should I do? When I wash my hair, it tends to undread also any help?

    • soaringeagle says:

      stop the towel rubbing in fact stop using them completely
      what do you wash with?
      and how?

      • Ivan Delgado says:

        I use a regular silk bar of soap, I wet my hair lather into my scalp and rinse, but am not seeing the results I want. Is the towel method hurting my results? It’s somewhat dreaded but looks like loops at the ends. Thank you for the help.

  5. Nick says:

    Hi I have really thick oily straight hair and I’m not sure how to start and pull out all the oil I tried sea salt but it’s still not dry enough any suggestions?? it’s native American hai

    • soaringeagle says:

      o’siyio (sorry i know probably the wrong tribe but its the thought that counts)
      well oiliness is a complicated thing, it means that the scalp and hair ph is slightly more acidic then normal in general. and washing often to remove oils actualy sends the scalp into a panic “survival mode” which causes over production of oils to compensate for the constant stripping
      what can be done:

      1. reduce the washing frequency slowly from daily to every 3-4 days
      2. add a little baking soda to the shampoo .. temporarily don’t use long term or too strong it will weaken hair after years of use
      3. wash with hot, which reduces the oil viscosity making it easier to remove the excess, then rinse with as cold as you can stand to seal the pores so they are not open leaking oils all day has a charcoal based deep cleanse called detox (not yet on the site use the contact page to special request it) that may work as well for you as it has for others. technically its meant for an occasional deep clean like monthly but it won’t hurt to use every wash either
      avoid acidy foods that may change your bodies ph towards the acidic side
      let me know if these steps don’t help

  6. Triumph says:

    I am a nigeria..a hair is mostly curly and can grow large if i let it, i want to start keeping mohawk waist length dreads…how can it work out?…plus when is it right to use biotin?

    • soaringeagle says:

      well just let the Mohawk dread and grow
      the biotins only needed when hair grows very slow or is weak then biotin strengthens it and increases the growth rates

  7. Kev says:

    Hey I’m black and I’ve been freeforming for about two months now and I keep getting a lot of thin fuzzballs at the end. Is this a sign that I need to moisturize more? Or is it normal? Thanks

    • soaringeagle says:

      its normal it could be just normal budding or shed hairs just hanging on just leave them be don’t pull them off
      if the hair feels brittle though then moisturize

  8. Oliver Fulayter says:

    Sorry that I posted two, now three, comments. I thought the first one didn’t go through. Please feel free to ignore my second one, as it is the same as my first pretty much. Thank you so much!

  9. Oliver Fulayter says:

    I have three questions:

    -I have fairly young dreads, really only a couple weeks in. They’re already knotting and twisting beautifully. (I have naturally kinky hair). I was wondering how to go about separating them to avoid Congo’s or extremely thick dreads? I have decently pong hair, about halfway down my back, and have a tough time reaching it. Any tips?

    -Beading? I Love this style and was wondering when, or even if, I should do this?

    -I get my hair colored every few months, kept up and whatnot. My personal stylist has yet to know I am beginning the dreading journey. Would there be any tips you could give me about coloring (professionally) that I could also relay to my stylist?

    Thank you for your time,

  10. Oliver Fulayter says:

    I am new to doing dreads, only a couple weeks in, forming baby dreads and rougher texture. I’m familiar to be concept of dreading and have looked into it in the past u derstanding how to properly care for it and whatnot. So, I do have a question or two, how do you keep dreads from congoing, or say, how do you keep them separate? I have decently long hair and it’s a little difficult for me to reach all of it. Also, I really love beading, and was wondering when and if I should even start that with such young dreads? Annndd one last thing, I’m someone who likes to go and get my hair colored regularly and professionally. Is there any tips you could give me to coloring baby/young dreads that I could give my Hair Dresser?

    Thank you so much for your time.

    • soaringeagle says:

      well, separate by pulling the dreads apart from eachother riping the connecting hairs beads are ok but can become permenantlyy stuck as the dread thickens
      coloring id avoid if you can, but if you must, only coat the oputdside, don’t let it penetrate ..henna is safest and healthiest but not so easy to rinse out..and thouroughly getting the dye out is a must

  11. Jamar says:

    Hello, I use “Head and Shoulders” shampoo. Is that good or bad? I am unaware of what impurities on the ingredient label look like so I don’t know. If it is bad shampoo, can u tell me the best shampoo to use? Shampoo/ conditioner that you use? Thanx

    • soaringeagle says:

      anti dandruff shampoos are among the most toxic 8 of the top 10 most toxic shampoos on the market are anti dandruff
      plus with dreads you want no residue no chemicals ..if your not African American no conditioners (for 1st year then as needed but not all the time) is by far the best!!!! compare the ingredients
      bars if dreads are mature or African American
      liquid for young non African american

  12. Devesh says:

    I have been growing my hair from past 4 months.dread formation hasn’t started yet.kindly guide me what measure I will take so dread formation start take place in smooth way.I have a swimming schedule in the morning for around 25 minutes,other then this I am not using any conditioner, just wash with shampoo and some oiling.

    • soaringeagle says:

      wash with a dread shampoo ( is best) since your oiling i’m assuming African American? well use the bar not liquid if so
      if you use the bar, washing 1-3 times a week you won’t need to oil (much) the chlorine is the 1 thing that will dry it out so you’ll have to use some
      other then that..dont’t mess with it.. don’t towel dry wash mostly the scalp trying not to disturb the hair
      if you don’t want huge dreads separate them as needed so they don’t all grow together
      if you wash with a dread shampoo minimize or eliminate oiling and leave it alone it will dread
      your hair type (if your African American) does tend to need some oiling sometimes but usually its way overdone and way underwashed
      most African americans find if they wash more (with pure natural shampoos) they cn oil less…or not at all
      its weird that typically your told oil oil oil all the time and don’t wash except every few months
      if instead you wash wash wash .. you will almost never have to oil (except as i said the chlorine can really dry it out)
      tip for chlorine
      saturate your hair in fresh unchlorinated water 1st ..your dreads and hair will absorb less chlorine if its saturated with fresh water 1st
      then wash after swimming or at least rinse very well

  13. Mac says:

    I am naturally dreading my hair. As of right now my hair is in several different stages. I have like two baby dreads, but they are really loose at the top(near my scalp). I’m wondering if they will eventually tighten up there or would I have to do it myself? If I have to do it myself, what are some ways I can tighten them without having to brush them out and starting over??

    • soaringeagle says:

      you do not have to be “dreading your hair’ how are you doing it? stop! it will dread itself
      the roots will be loose if you use a method (except the absolute worse methods) and will get looser
      but then they tighten on their own
      if you force tighten them you are very highly likely to cause a medical condition called traction alopecia which causes balding
      so before you do anything more tell me exactly what your doing

  14. Jamar says:

    Did bob Marley have natural dreads? His dreads did not look like the average salon made dreads. The texture of White people dreads and black people dreads look different. Most black people get there dreads tampered with at salons; but all of the white people that I’ve seen with dreads look like yours. Why is that?

    I like the way white people dreads look more natural than black people dreads. That is why I grow mines the correct and proper way. I am black by the way.

    Some people in my family say that I should get them cut off and get them redone the salon way, but I refuse to do so. I guess that they don’t understand what real dreads are supposed to look like. I love being natural.

    • soaringeagle says:

      all true rastas dread as a vow they dread the natural way
      believe me a lot of white people have salon dreads too
      they all look so fake! manufactured
      unfortunately African americans tend to overmaintain the worse.. feeling like the natural texture of their hair will bring down judgment
      so 95% of them have traction alopecia due to over tightening so the scalps exposed..and damaged
      (by them i mean those with ‘locs’ maintained by salons) African American hair is sooo beautiful when left natural, especially in natural dreadlocks

  15. gnostic mole says:

    hi again, i have a question: the top of my head is getting like a net – some hairs are knotting, but there’s like a mesh on the very top in front (im letting the front part grow back not falling). i read somewhere on the site about this but cant find it again and cant rememebr what it said, so can u please advise? should i try to do something about this part?? as i said in earlier posts, im a bit bald on crown of head, and sides are shaved. Rest is knotting quite well though! thanx! 🙂

    • soaringeagle says:

      this is up to you
      the net at the scalps normal you cant typically separate entirely to the scalp
      but after awhile that net travels up the dread combining 2 dreads (or more i have up to 6) into 1 dread known as a congo
      congos are awesome but, when too big can cause pain, pulling, mold (the added thickness makes drying time drasticly higher) and can just be a lot harder to care for
      so, if you don’t want them to congo, separate using the “popping” method simply pull the connected dreads away from eachother popping the connected hairs loose
      but that will not go clear to the scalp 5till leaving a fine net at the scalp
      so only worry when the dreds are comnnecting
      well theres a more extreme case typical of people who wear beannies, or du rags or anything like that that forms almost like a ‘hair helmet” where the hair has nowhere to go but merge into a tight flattened matt covering the whole head in 1 dread

      • gnostic mole says:

        hi, thanx for this! i’m only about 2 months or so in, and my hair is not so very long, but in fact ideally i love congas! so will just leave them to grow and do their own thing – that’s why i started dreading naturally anyway! 🙂 thanx again as always for your help!

  16. Drew J says:

    I’ve been doing the neglect method for 2 weeks now, and I want my hair to congo, but what should I do if people try and comb my hair out when I’m not looking. I’m 14 by the way.

    • soaringeagle says:

      why would they do that? don’t let them touch it.
      if they dare touch a comb to your hair, take that comb and toss it in the trash.. and make sure they see you do it

  17. Jamar says:

    So my school is making me swim for 4 weeks and I have no choice. I will swim 4 days a week (Monday-Thursday) for 25 minutes. I really don’t want to get my hair wet. I feel that the water will make my roots even more loose and the chlorine might damage my hair. Then I’ll have to wash it everyday and that might make my hair bad as well. They say that wearing a swim cap won’t do much and your hair will still get wet. Somebody told me not to worry about it; that my hair will not mess up. I do not believe him, he has short hair.

    My main concern is are my dreads in danger? I had my dreads for a year now.

    • soaringeagle says:

      you had them a year and your scared to get them wet? they love to get wet! they love the water
      chlorine on the other hand is not great
      but heres the trick
      1st before you go into the pool, soak your hair really get the dreads saturated this way less chlorine gets into themafter you swim wash and dry thouroughly
      wetting is not an issue the only issue is making sure they get completely dry before getting wet again
      you can wet and wash your dreads every day… and they will love it
      but they have to dry completely between or you run the risk of mildew
      do not cover or tie them up or back or anything while even slightly damp
      till the swimmings over i wouldn’t even tie them up at all ..just leave em to hang free and spend as much time as you can in the hot sun

      with dreads the more often you wet and wash them the better as long as they are not staying damp all the timer

  18. Kent Edwards says:

    What’s your opinion on mane n tail? May go back to that. Use to always use it before I went natural. And it felt good and made my hair nice may check out the herbal grow. Kirks makes my hand dry and hair dry. Dr bronners dries as well. One with nature is kinda drying.

  19. Jamar says:

    All of the men on my dad side of the family go bald. My mom’s dad is kind of bald. Once when my dreads get longer (let’s say 3 1/2 feet), am I still likely to go bald? I don’t want that to happen to me.

    I hear that people’s dreads fall out regardless though; mostly the people with the unatural dreads. Like when they keep twisting it then the root breaks and the whole dread falls off.

    • soaringeagle says:

      its your moms not dads side of the family that passes down the balding genes
      so your not high risk
      your right most dread loss is from dread maintenance..funny that they call it maintenance not destruction
      i know a few with dreads who are balding and it still works well for them

      • soaringeagle says:

        all of those leave residues except bronners…but that leaves the worse residues if you have hard water is by far best
        liquids made to dry out non African type hair so it dreads faster
        the bars if you have African type hair you will almost never need to use extra oils or anything

  20. godson says:

    i don’t think my hair has grown much for dreading. its about a month old now and doesn’t grow pretty fast as i dont use any enhancers. i comb my hair often but havent really thought of keeping dreads.. im a first timer pal. please help me out… i want to have a dread.. how do i go about it?

    • soaringeagle says:

      hair grows at 1/2 inch a month
      if you take biotin after a couple months that doubles or triples
      stop combing!
      combing causes split ends which require trims which means every inch you grow you cut off 1/2
      and to dread all you need to do is stop; the combing

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