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 hoursΒ  then can be rinsed out, any longer and you over dry the hair and scalp.

WoolΒ  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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1,378 Responses to how to dread naturally

  1. Jamar says:

    Can i dread my beard?

  2. Jamar says:

    Does wearing a do-rag, head wrap, or bandanna help your hair dread faster?

    • soaringeagle says:

      actually the opposite, leaving them to hang free helps them dread faster a du rag is too tight and may prevent them from ever dreading

  3. Jamar says:

    My dreads are at my ears. My roots are not tight like how regular dreads are. They are loose. Am I supposed to use bees wax and clips to tighten up my roots and make them skinnier or do I just leave them alone? My dreads are also very frizzy. Is that how they’re supposed to look?

    • soaringeagle says:

      bees wax is the number 1 killer of dreads
      if you ever used wax..even once 10 years ago you need wax b gone t0o get it out..its ascam
      no thje roots should not be any tighter then they want to be naturally, forced root tightening has caused an epidemic of traction alopecia, a form of hair loss caused by tension on the roots
      they will have loose roots and frizz but that reduces as they mature but never completely goes away
      frizzy dreads are clean dreads
      wax caked dreads can never be clean cause theres waterproof wax trapping dirt that never washes out

  4. bRudfe says:

    Hey. One question first soak with soda then use salt spray, or maybe conversaly bring better effect? Thx

    • soaringeagle says:

      i no longer recommend the baking soda it weakens hair after long term use
      but its best to use the sea salt, and wash after anywhere from minutes to a couple hours
      but don’t leave the sea salt in days

      • bRude says:

        I get soda soak today πŸ˜› Maybe.. i will be carefull, but i was raeding that the solution should be not stronger than 3.5%.. once time should impair them so much :). The problem is my heairs get really oily sea salt spray should help with it too?
        Cuz i will write… Last time i was growing my hair i didnt use a comb not even once but my hair doesnt get draedy at all xD. I need to find some special system, hope just soaking(not washing) and drying withaout a towel will help.

        • soaringeagle says:

          be careful with the soda soap long term use weakens the hair
          the soda soak should be 1 part baking soda 10 parts water
          its the sea salt spray that should be 3.5% salinity
          the charcoal detox shampoo might help with oiliness (its a special order thing not yet listed on the site)
          and thyme tea ..very strong as a soak or spray will reduce oiliness
          also hot wash to remove oil
          then freeeeeezing cold rinse to seal up pores and prevent oil production

          • bRude says:

            Yeah I will know i just wash it unde shower with no residue (i hope : ) shampoo on ingerdients there’s any PEG or PGG so.. πŸ™‚ I looking on your site hope will find some usefull information and dont want jack You around :). Thx for answers. BigUp!

            • soaringeagle says:

              whats the shampoo?

              • bRude says:

                Jacklon haure care capelli normali with aloe vera its italiano, but damn …. everything falled apart (sry dont know past time) After soaking in soda (i didnt rinsed them xD didnt know :P) hairs started separation and even was comapct, now everything is again like after combing. I need to soaking only. I hope. I considering about it rinsing fault dont now. Need to have more time to figure it all out πŸ™‚

                • soaringeagle says:

                  not familiar with those
                  aloe is conditioning
                  i wouldn’t use the baking soda much it weakens hair
                  i use but overseas shipping is high, but flat rate so you can get several before shipping goes up
                  4-6 or so

                  if you cant order 6-10 months worth at once to get the max out of shipping.. then try to find something locally hand made or natural but not conditioning or with residues
                  you got to be careful with stuff like dr bronners in hard water but in other water its great when very diluted

  5. mpc2kxl says:


    I want to know about the state of my baby dreads, especially in the back of my head. Is it possible to send pictures to you instead of me creating a discussion as I don’t want pictures of me online? Perhaps over e-mail?

    • soaringeagle says:

      yea but i also don’t want my email online flooded with spam (again) so join follow me (soaringeagle) and then you can send a private note

  6. Diana Ritter says:

    Hey I am about to start the process of natural dreads and am curious, by no residue does that mean I should not use any product on my hair outside of natural shampoo, such as hairspray, mousse, or any sort of frizz ease product that I currently use? Thank you.

  7. Amy says:


    Really sorry if you’ve already answered this but I couldn’t read through all of them. I was wondering if keeping my hair tied up for a bit during the day while at work etc would be a problem while they form? Thank you for your advice and encouragement!

  8. Shakiem boyd says:

    I have a pretty good size fro not to big not to small I been trying to free form for like 2 weeks now but I am so inpatient is there any way two speed up the process are at least make them start to have that twist look also should I wash my hair more or less because I heard people tell me both. but I feel like my twist un lock when I wash but please help me

    • soaringeagle says:

      wash often 1-3 times a week but with a dread shampoo (not that mango lime toxic garbage)
      its been 2 weeks they are not going to go very far in 2 weeks..2 months..maybe but not 2 weeks
      dreading requires patience even if not freeforming
      wash, shake out and go about your day letting it dry in the sun\
      when washing mostly concentrate on the scalp then rinse through the hair if your not rubbing the hair al over its not going to undo much
      and knots form most while, and right after washing

  9. tray mccullum says:

    Hello my question for you is what to do in the morning after sleeping on my hair, ive been freeforming for 3 months and have pretty solid knots around my head, my problem is that everytime i sleep and wake up, my hair is all mashed up and standing straight up and some of my hair comes loose so i was wondering if you had a solution to the problem other then just covering my hair up

    • soaringeagle says:

      that’s how they tighten, knots form most when you wash, and when your moving around, then tighten when you sleep. covering them will prevent them from moving around really delaying dreading.
      this is that stage that they are just going to be wild..its the fun stage ..just it happen

  10. Anna says:

    Hi there. I’ll try to keep this short ? my 7 year old son is autistic and brushing his hair was like torture to him so after A LOT of discussion we decided it was best to stop the brushing and allow Dreads to develop. It’s been quite a while now (around 8 months perhaps, I don’t know exactly) and he seems to just have one large mat at the back of his head obscuring view of his scalp with a couple of smaller mats protruding from it. I hope that description made sense! Is this the normal process or have we done something wrong? If it is wrong do you have any ideas how to rectify it? Thank you in advance for any feedback.

    • soaringeagle says:

      no,l nothing was done wrong if you wanted to let it totally freeform but then may end up with huge dreads (what type hair?) i have a bit of experience with different levels of autism and theres such a wide range of how it might affect someone
      if you want to keep dreads smaller you’d have to separate them to keep them to a reasonable size
      now if brushing was torture separating now that they are pretty matted as 1 might be worse if they are separated gentler after every wash its like nothing…
      textually he might like big fat dreads ..but the thicker they are the more special care they need when cleaning
      if they haven’t been separated in 8 months depends how tightly matted they are might be hard to separate them
      without knowing more about him i’m hesitant to recommend 1 course of action over the other can you post a discussion on in the forums with photos of what the matts look like (and if u want we can talk privately about how he would most likely react to different things) ..i just want to be sure i help the bet i can

      • Anna says:

        Thanks so much for replying, I've tried a number of sites and Facebook pages and have heard nothing from any of them! He has naturally very straight, fair hair. It would be great if we could speak privately if you wouldn't mind taking the time, I have a few other questions and he has many issues and can be affected by the smallest thing so I could do with some rather specific information haha.

        • soaringeagle says:

          my brothers new girlfriend/wife/partner (not even sure of official status haha) has a kid with same condition, him, and his ex wife have always since teens i think (i think its his 1sty and only job his whole life but not sure) worked in a group home with all sorts of mentally challenged people
          (i worked in their office data entry of all the files and such so know theres such wide range of issues)
          so yea i understand a lot about not just dreads but people of all types and conditions)
          join http://www.dreadlockssite, post, follow me and send me a message (or i will message u when you join) i’ll give ya my number (or vice versa depends whos faster ..i bet i am haha (though real busy day multitasking like crazy and even though i mostly help with dreads online only had 2 calls in 4 minutes just now) so you might beat me)
          might even consult my bro too

  11. Tanner says:

    Hello Soaringeagle,

    After a couple years of soul searching I’ve come to the decision that I would like to begin my locking journey. I have but one question and that is should I achieve a minimum hair length before I start the dreading process or let it grow and dread all at once? For many years I have kept my hair short probably an inch to an inch and a half long. Also I have Caucasian hair. Thank you for any advice and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • soaringeagle says:

      well, it wont dread till its long enough, but a lot of people begin the process at a shaved head.. it just takes longer that way
      however many feel the longer it takes the more they earned it too
      so its up to you you can start now or wait till your closer to 6 inches

      • Tanner says:

        Thank you so much for the insight! I might even consider shaving and starting from a clean slate so to speak as a sacrament of my old life. I have a lot to consider yet my excitement to start this journey increases everyday. You’ve truly been a blessing

        • soaringeagle says:

          that’s why some do it to shed the old and begin the new
          but each inch lost is 2 months growth
          though you can take biotin and in 3 months double or triple the growth rates
          you should also check out

          • Tanner says:

            Thanks again for your wealth of knowledge and abundance of resources. I will certainly look at biotin since I’ve noticed some thinning over several months as well as make drastic changes to my diet. One love and peace to you brother

  12. Chocolate Wonder says:

    I changed my soap to Dead Sea salt : Dead Sea salt. But now my hair is softer than before. I’m 4 months in. African American. Don’t know if it’s cause I washed my hair circular motion to see what would happen. Wanna give it a try again on next wash day to see how it is the way I normally wash my hair. Should I be worried I hindered the loc process and should go back to kirks?

    • soaringeagle says:

      sea salt is used to dry out the hair ..African American hair doesn’t need to beany dryer then it already is
      but you said you changed your a soap containing sea salt? chances are it also has a lot of conditioners to balance out the over drying effect of the sea salt
      that is unless it was 1 made specificly for dreading

      • Chocolate Wonder says:

        So you think I should still use it? It has shea butter, arg oil palm oil and some other things. I’ll be honest I feel cleaner and hair is fluffy everything intact nothing gone. I think I’m just not used to my hair being this fluffy. Other soaps keep my hair hard this one is different. And is it normal for hands to be dry using while using a bar soap?

        • soaringeagle says:

          yea that’s a lot of conditioners shouldn’t be hard though
          im not sure what you mean about your hands?

          • Chocolate wonder says:

            Ah so it’s a yes to keep using it? The brand is one with nature Dead Sea salt

            And each time I put bar soap or my black soap on my hands they get dry. But that’s before water applied

            • soaringeagle says:

              sea salt bars will dry out your skin but the shae and argon should moisturize ..i’m not familiar with the brand so i can’t becertain it truly natural? is there any sulphates or sulphides (sls or similar) hows the ingredients compareto which i recommend very highly
              if it is nearly as nnatural then probably fine to use yea

      • Finn says:

        Hey are there any natural sea salt sprays I can make it but and or any shampoo to use to make my hair smell good? What should I use that will not mess it up

        • soaringeagle says:

 they are the best
          the liquid contains sea salt..
          you can make your own spray (not at all nesacary but helps just do not over use! use once a week, and rinse or wash out within a couple hours do not leave in or use daily
          having said that the above site makes a himayanan pink sea salt spray that’s not only the purest salt on earth, but she added vitamiins and proteins that make it healthier and safer to leave in or use more often
          but remember..sea salt helps by making the hair dried out
          dry it out too much and the hairs brittle and breaks easily
          you do not need to use it at all though it will help lock them a bit faster
          just using the shampoo (they smell freaking amazing!!!) with the sea salts plenty

  13. Angel says:

    I just started natural dreads how long should I wait before washing them again. I went 3 days and my hair started to get oily and I decided that it was time to wash them. Now every knot I had is gone.

    • soaringeagle says:

      careful how you wash and especially dry
      towel drying will wipe out knots fast..and so will the wrong shampoo
      you had knots in 3 days and your worried that they are gone? wash every 3-4 days if you extend to 4 it will slowly get less oily
      knots that form in 3 days will reform in 3 days 3 weeks they will stick around wash to wash
      just as i said be careful how you wash and dry..carefully only scrub the scalp let the soap rinse through the hair
      then after shake gently and go sit in the sun to dry

  14. Titi says:

    Pls I have so many questions to ask because I’ve been doing this dreads and I think the guy is not doing the right on my head. Pls let me have your contact.

    • soaringeagle says:

      if you have a guy doing anything to your head then yes, he is doing it wrong
      you should not have anyone doing anything, dreads form on their own, salons and locticians use the most harmful methods there are and most actually try to make it harder to dread to keep you coming back spending more money
      post all your questions in the dreadlocks forums

  15. gnostic mole says:

    man love your site, really informative, thanks!
    im starting to dread now, but i have a bald patch on top and thin hair (now dyed red but sides shaved), when the dreads start naturally will the bald patch look stupid or will dreads grow round it and kind of cover a bit?? how much scalp is normallly visible with a full head of hair? thanks!

    • soaringeagle says:

      i have friends with significant hair loss and still looks great
      if its a small spot it will be hardly noticed and only when hanging certain ways
      be glad your dreading naturally and not doing the salon thing that would only increase the hair loss
      by the way
      also run and if you think this lil blogs informative dreadlockssites got about 1.2 million pages of nothing but the best info on dreadlocks available

      • hi, thanks for this! you are a really nice person to share your knowledge and help with others – people like u make the world a better place! i’ll check out the site too – wow!
        one more quick question: is it true that u should first start washing your hair without any conditioner or products for a few weeks BEFORE starting to dread??? does it make a difference really? or can u start just straight away without weaning your hair off that kind of stuff?
        thanks again, love, peace, freedom,integrity

        • soaringeagle says:

          you can do either, but getting the conditioners and residues out 1st helps..its not essential though

          • gnostic mole says:

            ok cool, thanks again for your help! greatly appreciated! πŸ™‚

            • soaringeagle says:

              my pleasure
              and post your progress on

              • gnostic mole says:

                i certainly will when they get going! thanks again πŸ™‚

              • gnostic mole says:

                hi again, sorry, one more question: i found some post on the site talking about biotin, what is this?? is it good? would u recommend taking it? (i presume its 100% organic/vegan/not animal tested? thanks! (i’m not going on the internet to search about it, i prefer to listen to your wisdom on this!) p.s.the site is SO good πŸ™‚

                • soaringeagle says:

                  biotin is a vitamin, sometimes called vitramin h but i think, and maybe wrong, that its 1 of the b vitamins..b6 maybe/
                  its commoinly in pre-natal vitamins and all hair and nail vitamins

                  • gnostic mole says:

                    ok thanks once more for all your help and answers!it was a pleasure to find this blog and the site! πŸ™‚

                    • soaringeagle says:

                      πŸ™‚ always happy to help

                    • gnostic mole says:

                      hi there i have another question (sorry): im not using any shampoo at all now, but am getting itchy scalp and dandruff. i am going to order the shampoo you recommend (i contacted Vicki, she is a really nice and helpful person) but for the meantime is it ok to use a bit of dr. bronner’s teatree? just on the scalp, not the hair itself. i looked today at some natural products in a shop but none seem completely natural (they all have some unpleasant sounding stuff in them). i know i read a post here somewhere saying also dr bronner’s leaves some residues, but for an emergency is it ok? or could u suggest something else which i could find easily in the shops here (not an easy thing here though…. it’s all hyperpriced for ‘beauty’ rather than just organic natural. any advice would be greatly appreciated! πŸ™‚

                    • soaringeagle says:

                      bronners is great, if your waters not too hard in hard water, especially very hard water, it leaves the hair feeling icky sticky and slimy, because its whats known as superfatted the oils in it leave a heavy residue of oils in the hair, which can be nearly as bad as wax
                      if you google hard water map and your country or state you will se how hard the water is
                      no matter how hard or soft, it still should be diluted 12 times more water then soap
                      but since i have been away in the woods 2 weeks and vicki ships very very fast, I’m probably too late and your already using vickis soap anyway

                    • hi thanks for this! vicki’s hasnt arrived yet, italy has a useless postal system (how surprising…not!!!) in the end the itchiness went away after a few days so im ok, didnt need to use anything! but one more quick question: i tried to get some sea salt spray, only thing i could find was in the chemist’s and its supposedly to free blocked noses (?!), like EVERYTHING it’s NOT JUST 100% what it’s supposed to be, i.e. plain old sea water, it has potassium things in it….checking the label on dr bronner’s, i assume that potassium stuff is what they make SOAP with (i.e. it is always in ‘saponified’ things)??? therefore this is NOT a good thing??!!! is this right or am i just getting too paranoid?? πŸ˜‰ thanx, and i hope u had an amazing time in the forest!!!

                    • soaringeagle says:

                      sea salts sold where you buy food its a more gourmet type off salt with a far better flavor
                      so go to the food store get sea salt (non iodized) and mix it with water
                      figure out 3.5% of the water volume that’s the perfect salinity lil less is ok too though

                    • gnostic mole says:

                      well i had looked in the food place, was first place to look, but it was only with iodine added…i ll keep trying if i can escape from where i am to somewhere else! thanks again!:)

                    • soaringeagle says:

                      order it online

                    • gnostic mole says:

                      hi i have another of my possibly strange questions… πŸ˜‰ i washed my hair yesterday (every 4 days) but today i had to do some very heavy manual work and am drenched with sweat. Should i wash my hair again or not bother and wait another few days as normal?? does sweat (whcih is basically just salty water) harm the dread process??? thanks!

                    • soaringeagle says:

                      it helps the dread process but if you have a crappy diet (meats lots of processed foods etc) or are unhealthy in general your sweat will contain toxins too besides just salt water

                    • gnostic mole says:

                      ok cool, thanks for this! my diet is fine, no processed foods, 100% veggie, so i should be toxin-free πŸ™‚

      • Cortez says:

        Can you give some dread friendly shampoos you use

        • soaringeagle says:

          the absolute best there is is
          young non African dreads use the liquid mature and/or African American dreads use the bars
          the reason is the liquid contains sea salt that dries the hair out which makes it dread faster but African type hair is typically too dry already

  16. Zachariah Mohammed says:

    I have a typical african hair. Ive grown the top for three weeks now with the sides and back faded. I want to do the natural freeform so please guide and advice me on what to be doiΓ±g to get there coz am really serious about it .
    Please help me

    • soaringeagle says:

      as i said, just wash with a dread shampoo.. a natural one
      and let nature do the rest
      its really as simple as washing regularly and gently with something natural and healthy

  17. Zachariah Mohammed says:

    Boss please i ve a typical african hair wwhich is about one and half inches long at the top with the sides faded . i want to freeform and needs advice.

    • soaringeagle says:

      well fortunately its very easy to do.. or not do.. wash it often with a good natural dread shampoo (not that mango lime stuff) and then just let it do its thing..

  18. Tray says:

    Hello i am a month into semi freeforming(towel/sponge rubbing) my hair so far its been fine but i have a question

    my hair is still in the Afro/knotting stages and when i sleep on my hair it gets really flat(my hair isn’t loose enough to shake it out) so i try to palm rub my hair to try to make it look somewhat presentable(even when it already looks crazy lol)
    will that affect the dreading process(waking up with my hair flat)? i feel like it flattens the knots which can cause them to unravel, also when i palm rub will that ruin the process too? because im trying not to towel/sponge rub too often because i read it can make your hair fall out. My hair is section pretty well i just have to be patient and let it grow i wash 1-2 times a week no products just wash n go


  19. Kidd says:

    Hello, so I wanted to dread my hair and to do so I started with the twist and rip method. After doing so I decided I’d just prefer to do freeform dreads, however now that I’ve started, it’s been about a month, my hairs started to form one big knot near my scalp. My roots aren’t tangled as I can still easily put my fingers through them and my ends are fine but now there’s a huge knot in just a random spot. Should I leave it be or detangle it and start over?

    • soaringeagle says:

      depends what you mean exactly
      its normal to get a interwoven net at the scalp
      but if you mean several of the twist and rip dreads all joined together into 1 big knot (a congo) then it depends just how big it is and whether you want to deal with hard to care for huge dreads
      your best bet is to join and post your dreads photos in the dreadlocks forums so we can see whats going on

  20. Bboy47lee says:

    I clockwise rubbed for like 6 months until my dreads formed. Now that I stopped I wondered if since they’re still young could they turn into freeform dreads or do I have to take them out and start from scratch?

    • soaringeagle says:

      well..thats a matter of definition and distinction
      freeform technically means formed freely as they wanted to form..
      “natural” covers a spectrum from freeform organic and neglect
      then theres “naturalized’ or what 1 guy refered to as ‘natural surrender” (when you stop fighting it and just surrender to its natural tendency to dread) which is when you start with any method then just let it go as natural as you want from there

      so its hardtop give a distinct clear answer when purists would say unless they freeform from the start they aren’t freeform.. others might say .well he rubbed a lil then let it go so whats wrong with calling them freeform
      me personaly i don’t think theres any reason to have to start over unless its important to you that they be 100% freeform
      but i also don’t see any reason not to be honest about that either saying i started this way but then realized i wanted to freeform but instead of starting over just freeformed from there

      thered be just so much less confusion if people were honest and ..for example salons didn’t refer to ‘natural dreads’ as any dreads that were made of hair not plastic ..nit if people are honest about what they did and what they learned and want to call them freeform or semi freeform ..especialy if they switched to freeforming in the 1st 1/2 of maturing ,,, i guess thats a long winded way of saying that’s up to you to decide how important it would be to freeform from the start
      but you are at that pivotal point to make that decision

      • Bboy47lee says:

        No where I start isn’t that important but I just want the freeform look. I want to know if i can start freeforming when I already have dreads so that I can get the look that a typical free former would have like the dreads with the fingers and whatnot?

        • soaringeagle says:

          yup..thats called congos its just from not separating them, letting them grow together and 2 or more (i have up to 6 or 8) dreads that fuse into 1

          • Bboy47lee says:

            Ok thanks alot. One more question because I know you’re probably tired of me asking them haha, did you start freeforming from already having dreadlocks or did you start from straight hair?

            • soaringeagle says:

              just hair.. added a few beads in back wich wsas longer that dreaded real fast the rest caught up months later once it was long enough

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