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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1,378 Responses to how to dread naturally

  1. David says:

    My hair just 1 inch long, but I can already feel clumps in my hair, and they feel like twists and knots, I have a lot of loose hairs coming from my scalp, but I’ve been going to the beach quite often, and sometimes stay in the water for several hours, by any chance if my hair becomes to dry will I still be able to dread? Or will I have to condition and start over?

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      arfrican hair will dread very short and dread while being conditioned regularly caucasian hair should be on the dry side to dred and should not be conditioned during the 1st year
      being dry it will dread faster but african hair can be too dry and get brittle and break spending alot of time in the ocean can over dry any hair especialy if not rinsed out after

  2. Marcus Davis says:

    Hi, I am an african american. I want to start dreading my hair naturally but i dont now if i can start them if my hair is only an inch long. Plus, i have been on various sites and everyone of them says something different on how to start them or what to put in them.

    Can you please help me!

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      yes african hair will dread very short
      and put nothing in them at all wash with a dread soap like dont comb or brush
      its up to you if you choose to seperate or not ..for most ppl id recomend seperating so they dint form too huge but some like the total out of control just let whatever happens happen look

      go to read the dreaducation page
      you may want to join too for advice and support

  3. Latarus Brown says:

    Im African American about a month into my baby dreads, is to okay to use the sea salt spray? Ive heard it helps durong this stage I just dont want interrupt whata happening. I also want to know how often in this stage should I ger my hair retwisted, my hair grows kind of fast.

  4. Chris says:

    Hello, you have probably been asked this a hundred times before but here goes! I am about 7 weeks into growing natural dreads, and all is going pretty much as expected. My hair is very thick and curly, and dreads are forming and looking a bit wild with kinks a plenty! But a lot of the dreads that are forming are pencil thin, I have a few thicker ones but I’m worried about the thin dreads, will they thicken up over time? Also they seem to be forming faster at the back of my head than the front, is this normal? Many thanks.

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      yes they will thicken but whats wrong with thin dreads
      most of mine were pencil thick or thinner
      and yes perfectly normal since u sleep on your back

  5. Melissa says:

    Hello good sir,

    I have 2 questions for you. Let me begin by explaining that I am an older hispanic woman with thinning mid back length soft spiral curly hair. Question #1. Due to my job I am required to have my hair pulled back in a tight bun every work day. Will this cause any issues regarding the formation of dreadlocks? Question #2. Im concerned about a statement you made in regards to how much length could possibly be lost once the dreads begin maturing. Is a huge loss of length most definitely inevitable? I am only 4 days in and seperation has begun. My goal is to try to have them form as close to actress Lisa Bonet as possible. I think her hair is breathtaking.

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      oh yes she is
      well yes length loss is inevitable and necessary
      take a string.. stretch it out straight
      then crumple it up into a ball
      essentially thats what your doing your hair goes from straight or curly to zigging zagging every wich way even upwads chaoticaly so u do lose a bit of length though its more gradual when going natural
      the tight bun will have 2 effects
      1 slowing progress and 2 encouraging congoes
      you will have to seperate more often so you dont end uo with a bundread

      just leave em loose soon as u step out the door after work
      leave em free on the drive home

      • Melissa says:

        It made me happy to hear that I’ve been doing what your recommendation said I should 🙂 I had to separate them today because they were looking awkward so I will most definitely take your advice and continue on that path. I’ve also been letting them loose as much as possible when I am not required to put my hair up. As far as the slowing down …..well….good things come to those who wait so I think I’ll just hang in there and enjoy the ride.

        Thank you!!!!

  6. Ella says:

    Does your hair dread faster if you are using the baking soda wash instead of a residue free soap bar or is there no difference?

  7. viktoryia says:

    Hi, I wanna start the process. But im nervous for the change. I have not combed my hair. Its only been a couple days. Do I really just let it do its thing?

  8. Ras Eason says:

    Greetings I have been re-twisting my hair for about 6 years now and decided today that I no longer want to do so..I want free form locs. Is this possible after 6 years..they are kind of small now. like regular size the perfect size..and Im just done with Babylons ways…I want to be free…is this possible.

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      not only possible but absolutely essential that you stop ..however its possible you may need extra steps to recovery do you have alot of scalp showing do you have widening gaps between dreads and the roots are thinner then the tips (interlockings way worse but both cause these)
      traction alopecia is caused by over tightening the roots nearly 100% of salon dreads and maintained or “tidy” dreads (among african americans ..among others the % is less) have traction alopecia in fact salons define this as tidy but its a medical
      what to do
      stop twisting use the popping method to seperare if desred
      if you have scalp showing ..dont tie em up or style em in any tim=ght styles wear em up loose in a tam if its bad or hanging loose with no tension on the roots
      massage the scalp daily with pepermint oil or other essential oils that stimulate bloodflow
      the root tightening kills the root prevent ting bloodflow so it wont grow back
      biotin stimulates hair growth too
      umm look at this
      that was caused by 12 years of twisting
      he was so far gone i was afraid there was no hope
      but hes had 85% recovery last i heard by now problty over 90 ..wich i find amazing i didnt think there was much hope
      but his names jay sillons
      on there find him in members look at his posts
      especialy pay attention to panterra caraways responces
      shes a tru expert in hair care and the only reason we were able to save his dreads
      twisting is really a horible thing to do to dreads so stopping is the best decision

      i hope u werent twisting with wax if so u need wax b gone too

  9. Lorraine says:

    Hey there, really needing help! I have been growing my dreadlocks for 5 months now and until recentley have been maintaining them with the help of a hairdresser. But after reading this and some other websites I have decided to go it alone and just let my hair be and form as it wants. My problem is mainly that she has used yarn to keep the ends tied up…as some undone after she crocheted my hair and I asked her to chop them after as it was too long! My mistake, but she has sewed them in to keep them uniform. I don’t think she understood my desire to go natural. I trusted her as I didn’t know enough about it until now. So now I’m lost at what to do for the best! I don’t want to cut them off yet….until there’s some length behind it. Can i just let my hair grow and dread itself with me just seperating it. Or should I do the rip and twist way myself, because it’s already sectioned?? My hairdresser is used to doing afro hair mine’s a mixture which is why I thought she could help. But I don’t like having thread in my hair but there’s sooooo much of it! I hoping I can just grow my dreads from this point naturally and chop the ends off when my hair grows long enough and what grows dreads naturally. Some advice would be great. Thank you!

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      not sure i understand (salons do really confusing things to dreads) ok she crochetted the dreads then added yarnm as extentions? wtf?
      or i am confused but if its just the ends with string/yarmn dip the ends in olive oil and comb them out up to 1-3 inches enough to get all the yarm=n and string out
      then wash to remove the oil
      was wax used or anything

      • Lorraine says:

        Thanks for your reply. Unfortuatly shes sewed down the entire dread…..all of them she thought they were too thick and not dreading at the bottom. She folded the ends up and sewed them in so it looks like a blunt rounded end. Which my hair is now slowly coming out of. She also told me not to wash my hair but I couldn’t do that so washed it every 2 weeks. I wish I had found this website at the start of my journey. But at least I have you now! Thank you for your guidence.

        • soaringeagle2 says:

          salons are such scumbags the only thing you should do is wash way more often minumum 1 x a week but 2-3 times a weeks better just wash with the right stuff in the right way
          the roots are suposed to take a long time to dread they will be loose till 8 months in or so
          they need to be
          i would seriusly demand a complete refund she has no right doing dreads if she doesnt know the 1st thing about them
          absolutely everything she did was wrong

          ok recomendations
          well actualy before i give recomendations i want you to join
          in the salon dread recovery section of the forum post a discussion explaining everything she did and used
          add multiple detailed photos (not as attachment in the toolbar above where u type click the 2nd lil photo button)
          after we see whats going on then and only then will i be able to recomend what to do
          but..definately demand a full refund
          theres a chance your best option might be to comb it out and start over but i cant be sure till i see what was done
          also list all products that were used if any

  10. Kyle says:

    Can i still get my hair wet everyday without washing it?

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      u could wash it every day but the reason why you dont want to wash or wet it every day is once dreaded they can take hours or even over a day to dry and if they are always damp u can get dread rot so typicaly every 3 days is good but in hot summers it dries fast if u sit in the sun so dont avoid water if u need to cool down just be sure they get completly dry also never tie up or cover when wet make sure they are loose and get airflow around em

  11. Carissa says:

    I’m 2 weeks in to the dreading process, the first week I lightly backcombed then I read on natural dreading and I’m now letting it do its own thing, I also used a crochet needle to loop the ends…I wash my hair with anti residue neutrogena shampoo every 3 days and I sometimes lightly spray my hair with a lemon baking soda water mix I notice few knots forming but the rest is loopy and I have flyaway hairs EVERYWHERE. I have very long hair about 2 1/2 feet. I’m white and I have super straight virgin hair… I know it says not to worry but I’m worrying lol at the rate I’m going will they form well? And do you know the estimated time my hair will take to loc?

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      your doing many things wrong 1never use a crochet hook you dont want to blunt the tips or thwt will make em take 5 times longer to dry and will cause a mold risk
      nutragena is not non residue its anti residue ,.a residue stripper thats extremely toxic and only safe to use a couple times a year!
      never mix an acid with an alkeline lemon juice shgould never combine with baking soda baking soda is a wash not a spray and shouldnt be left on and should be followed by acv to restore ph (after rinsing it out)
      your 2 seeks in its suposed to be loopy with flyaways if it wasnt thered be a problem loops are how it dreads
      how long? longer then 2 weeks! thats the last thing your doing wrong..worrying
      to mature takes a year..or more but month by month they will get better..after a couple months of getting worse (when u backcomb..going natural its all forward progress backcomb u step backwards a few notches 1st)

    • soaringeagle2 says: shiuldnt even own a crochet hook unless its big enough to make tams..if u have 1 small enough for dreading u maybe temped to use it ..if u use it it will do severe harmn and break alot of hairs that then pop out so your tempted to use it again and again till they aree so weak they break
      crochet hooks re dread abuse

  12. Mary says:

    Okay, I’m trying to let it do it’s thing naturally but I have really frizzy thick hair. It’s ending up in just a ball of knots. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I have only one section that is actually dreading. Any advice?

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      well seperare it if 2 sections try to merge into 1 (if too thick over an inch at the roots) or seperate any single sections that are too big
      some have to seperate more often daily even but weekly is typicaly enough do it while wet its easier
      but dont seperate whats not knoted let it get knotty and form clumps before seperating
      just be sure to not let it dread into 1 big dread

  13. kesha says:

    Hi so i’m a little confused ,how to i start dreads ,right now i have an afro so do i just stop styling it and wash it every 2 days ?. how do i dry it ,is it bad to rub it with a towel? or should i just let it air dry ? do i put products in coconut oil

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      african hair dreads so easy u will need to prevent dryness with a minumal ammount of jojoba (better then coconut) or aloe avoid a towel if u can shake out and air dry

  14. Chad says:

    what helps make the dreading process faster, its been 21 weeks since i last combed my hair, i see other dreaders hair forming faster than mine, is there anything i could do to speed up the process

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      too many factors involved but its not a race
      hair length texture what u wash with and how how you dry and sleep daily activities wind hair oiliness or dryness
      you shouldnt compare at all but fill me in on youir entire routine and if i spot any issues ill offer suggestions but
      go to the pink himalean sea salt helps alot

    • Kadeem says:

      I have a very small Afro, I was wondering can I start letting it take it’s natural course now or should I wait till I got at least a couple of inches.

      • soaringeagle2 says:

        african haur dreads way shorter then most so chances are it will dread at under an inch so start now

  15. Mystie says:

    So I started my process today!! No brushing but my hair is naturally greasy and its already looking that way. Also my hair is only sitting on my shoulders. Would it look bad starting them with my hair this short? And also how do I wash my hair without messing up the process? Any pointers?!

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      ok so your hairs about 6 inches thats perfect
      but its greasy and u want to know how to wash without messing up the process well i got the solution for both
      greasy hairs usualy over washed to prevent oil buildup but its the stripping of oils that sends the scalp into panick and triggers over production of oils to compensate, that and oily hairs too acidic
      so use 1/2 cup baking soda (bicarbonate in other coutries) and 5 cups waer pour on and soak 10 min then rince repeat every 2 days then every 3 then every 4 when you get to 4 and its not too oily at day 4 start slowly introducing a very weak apple cider rinse after like a spoonful to 5 cups then 2 rinse it right away
      as they dread and mature u can switch to a dread soap makes the best ones or just increase the acv to 1/2 cup and soak in it 3 min b4 washing the bs/acv is a no touch method no scrubbing pour soak rince so no knots are disturbed
      dont towek dry shake it out gently then sit in the sun wind or by a fan blow dry if needed in winter
      gently on a cooler setting

  16. cathy says:

    Hi Soaring eagle,
    unfortunately i just have my 50% hair done into dreads by using backcombing and crochet method, and i really regret what i did, now i want to free form the rest of my hair grow into natural dreads. by the way, i even used to firm my current dreads with crochet hooking which led my hair to a higher level of damage. i dont want to cut all the dreads off because my hair is very long, it reaches to the hip. so as i’ve only done half of my hair, i really want to keep them grow naturally along with my future dreads (free forming dreads), is there any possibility or solution to safe all of them? and will the new grown roots of the dreads be able to combine with the old dreads (the damaged one)? please help! thanks!!

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      unfortunately crochet takes a very long time to recover from (damage is permenant) but takes 6 months to loosen enough to dread right and could be a year to lose the harsh crochet look but just leave em alone to naturalize and they will be fine as canbe
      go on post a freeform/crochet timeline so you can track the progress of both and show others the diference

  17. Beth says:

    Hi, ive only just started my dread journey (im about 4 days in) and ive already gpt a lot of babys forming. I was just wondering if its alright to towel dry my hair after I wash it as my hair has a habit of holding in water as it is. By the way, your dreads are incredible!

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      well towel drying can undo knots best to shake em out then go sit in the sun
      10 min in the sun dryies more then an hour towel rubbing or blow drying
      in fact a towel wont do much at all

  18. Tim says:

    These Questions are for Soaringeagle.

    I have stopped combing my hair, for a week now and i just purchased a bar of loc shampoo from this site. Will a dread hat worn during the day hours help with forming dread locs? And where can I get the hats and Wool Tams?

  19. Jaelen Porter says:

    What should you do if your hair flattens when you go to sleep?

  20. Lovey says:

    Aloha 🙂 thanks for this page…so my very long curled hair is now naturally dreading….its now I guess 4 month and i think they’re just change to teenage age right now….
    My issue: I am mostly not caring at all trusting the process and wearing a dot…(is this “bad”..the dot?)_
    Now they are not seperated at the top clean but start to (i think you called it) congo…what can I do now to seperate them…shall i do anything or is it just fine..thank u so much 🙂

    • soaringeagle2 says:

      not sure what u mean by dot but most hats will slow progress and u will have to seperate lots more or u get a hat shaped megadread if u wear a hat a tams best but give em equal or more time to hang free and to seperate pull them away from eachother when wet ripping the connecting hairs u shouldnt see scalp between them tho but any hairs connecting up the body of the dread need to be released
      if they wont come loose when wet a lil olive oil on the connecting hairs might release em easier
      if they are too fused u may need careful surgical snipping if thats the case come back and we’ll go over what to do or just join

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