Dreadlocks, locks, rastas: How to get Started? + Hairstyle Ideas

If left to its own devices, human hair tends to tangle and tangle.

And if you let your hair continue to grow without ever brushing or combing it, even if you wash it once in a while, chances are it will start to look like a very popular hairstyle: dreadlocks .

What are dreadlocks? Also called dreads, locks or rastas, dreadlocks are basically matted strands of hair. These are sections of hair that have not been combed, brushed or manipulated. Over time, this hair tangles and knots together, forming the hairstyle we all know. This is a hairstyle like any other with natural hair.

In this article, we explain everything about dreadlocks: history, maintenance, meaning .. we tell you everything!

The origin of dreadlocks

It is quite unlikely that we find historical traces of the very first dreadlocks . However, it can be assumed that prehistoric men did not have combs or perhaps the use of combs was not a priority for them.

Since many hair types naturally start to tangle after a while, chances are dreadlocks are actually one of the oldest hairstyles in human history.

The earliest known documents link this hairstyle to spiritual and religious traditions .

Whether in stories that have been passed down through the centuries or in religious writings, dreadlocks are found all over the world and they have often played an important role in religion.

Locks in world history

Taking a closer look at the history of dreadlocks, it is evident that while Rastafarians are most famous for this hairstyle, dreads have been around for much longer.

The Aztecs

For the Aztecs, dreadlocks were an important symbol of their high position in society. Anyone who joined the priests had all their hair cut and were never allowed to do so again.

Traditionally, a priest’s hair and entire body were covered in soot. When the hair began to mold, the mold signified the importance and power of a priest. The more mold the better.

If a priest was deemed unworthy, his dreadlocks were cut off in a public ritual of desecration.


Maasai warriors are famous for their long, thin red locks. Many people dye their hair red with root extracts or red ochre.

In various cultures, shamans , spiritual men or women who serve and speak to spirits or deities, often wear wicks.
In Nigeria, some children are born with naturally locksed hair and given a special name: “Dada”.

The Yoruba priests of Olokun , the Orisha of the ocean depths, wear locks. Another group is the Turkana people of Kenya.

Around these groups in Africa, this hairstyle is generally referred to as a powerful element for the wearer. It can be a chief, a warrior, a priest or a shaman.

The Rastafarians

The Rastafari movement is known as a movement or a religion but sounds more like a way of life or a culture that appeared in Jamaica in the 1930s.

For the Rastafarian movement, dreadlocks remain an important religious symbol to this day and they tend to reference the numerous mentions of this hairstyle in the Bible.

Dreadlocks in Egypt

In ancient Egypt, bas-reliefs and other objects have been found showing Egyptians wearing braided hairstyles (and even wigs). Also, the earliest archaeological evidence for the existence of dreadlocks claims that mummies have been discovered wearing dreadlocks.

Locks and the Bible

Even the Bible mentions dreadlocks. One can find links with Samson and Jean-Baptiste.

What is the meaning of dreadlocks? 

People wear dreadlocks for various reasons. There are religious, spiritual, political, cultural and ethnic reasons for wearing them.

For many, they are spiritual and symbolize the giving up of material possessions. For others, they are political and a way to rebel against conformity and the status quo. Some just like the way they look .

The emergence of reggae music in the 1970s made dreadlocks one of the most sought after hairstyles of modern times.

The rise of the Rastafarian movement sparked the dreadlock craze, and musicians, actors, rappers, and athletes sported this hairstyle primarily for styling reasons .

The fashion and hair salon industries have further intensified the clamor by offering hair care products specifically designed for the care and maintenance of dreadlocks.

Hairstylists have also come up with a variety of artificial and modified locks, including extensions and multicolored synthetic locks.

Dreadlocks: for which hair types?

Rest assured, locks are not reserved only for frizzy hair. Whatever your origin and your hair type (afro, straight, wavy, curly hair), everyone can do locks.

However, if you have fine hair, this hairstyle will not be recommended. Indeed, it may damage your scalp. However, you can opt for false locks by installing extensions.

How to make dreadlocks?

There are several ways to make locks including:

  • The natural start.
  • The crochet start.
  • Departure in mats.
  • Departure in vanilla.
  • The twist start.

Locks: Natural start

In other words Freeform , to do this method, do nothing! It’s a natural technique of letting your hair grow without combing it. Clearly, let your hair grow in the open air, without combing or cutting.

The advantage of freeforming is that your hair tangles easily. On the other hand, with this method, your dreadlocks will be irregular.

The locks: Crochet start

How to make locks? The crochet method requires the use of a small 0.6mm crochet hook to create your dreadlocks. On clean, dry hair, your hair is divided into several sections, depending on the size you want to achieve.

The locks: Departure in mats

This method is relatively simple because you don’t need any tools. A comb, and that’s it! This technique is perfect for frizzy hair. Depending on the desired size, section your hair and make a classic plait.

The locks: Departure in vanilla

The departures of locks in vanilla are smoother and more beautiful. However, they are less durable than braided dreadlocks because they can come undone over time. This technique is very suitable for Afro hair.

The locks: Twist start

A start of locks in twist (or tortilles), can be carried out as well on long hair, as on short hair. This method requires a comb, to twirl the hair creating even twists. However, this departure can sometimes leave in the first wash.

How to maintain dreadlocks?

Root maintenance 

First of all, if you have not opted for the Freeform method , it is advisable to maintain your roots once a month, by performing twists fixed by gel, or by using the palmrolling technique ( rolling your dreadlocks in the palm of your hands).

Why once a month? Simply because you have to leave your scalp , without manipulating them too much.

Indeed, too much manipulation risks promoting damaged hair, ending in hair loss. You can do protective hairstyles to protect your lengths and ends.

Second, you should wash the locksed hair once a week. The choice of hair products is important, to avoid any trace of residue.

Your shampoos should not contain mineral oil, sulfates, petroleum, or softening agents.

How to wash your dreadlocks? 

1 – Wet your dreadlocks and your scalp well.

2 – Pour a little shampoo in your hand and work it into your hair. If you need more, you can add more as you go. Since some dreadlock shampoos are made with natural ingredients , they don’t produce a lot of lather. But do not worry ! They still work!

3 – When you have produced enough foam, start massaging your scalp with your fingertips. Be gentle and thorough.

4 – Use plenty of water for rinsing . Let the shampoo run over the dreads so it cleans them without you having to touch them too much.

If you have new dreadlocks, wait a few weeks before washing them so you don’t damage all the work you or your stylist has done on your dreadlocks.

5 – If you have mature dreadlocks, massage well but gently. This will help clean them properly.

6 – Shampoo a second time. You can let the shampoo sit on your scalp for a few minutes this time for the ingredients to take effect. Rinse well.

You will feel how clean your scalp is when you are done. If necessary, you can re-shampoo but that should be enough.

Do a deep treatment

Please note – this step is NOT for Baby Dreads! Once your dreads are mature we recommend doing a deep treatment every 1-2 weeks to keep your dreads healthy, strong and hydrated.

A deep locs treatment not only keeps your locs hydrated, but regular use will keep your locs healthy

While your locks are in the boot phase, deep care runs the risk of untangling your boot locks!

So if you’ve started styling your hair recently, consult your hairstylist about when it’s safe to condition your hair.

Apply vegetable oils

Another important point, you can also apply leave-in hair care. A simple spray (or vaporizer), containing mineral water and vegetable oils (jojoba, castor, avocado, coconut oil…) is more than enough.

Locks are made of tangled hair that is vulnerable to residue buildup.

Don’t go too hard! Use less product than you think you need and avoid styling products that leave a lot of residue .

Choose light products and oils, and use them sparingly.

Protect your hair at night

Your hair is strong, but it’s still susceptible to breakage and friction damage.

Whether you’re wearing a silk bonnet or sleeping on a satin pillowcase , protecting them will prevent them from breaking overnight.

In addition, you will retain the hydration of your locks. Indeed, cotton materials absorb moisture, making them dry and brittle.

How to tie your dreadlocks? 

You can easily change your head, doing many haircuts like:

  • Tie them with a scarf.
  • A gradient.
  • A ponytail.
  • Glued braids.
  • Curls.
  • A bun with or without bangs.
  • And many more hairstyles…

How long do dreadlocks last? 

If you take care of your dreadlocks, they will stay healthy and you can keep them as long as you want.

There are people who wear their dreadlocks for 2-3 years and others 10 years without any problems or complications.

Many experts generally recommend only wearing dreadlocks for 5-6 years, as the natural hair should be long enough that an extension is not necessary.

Why are my locks falling off?

1 – Drought

This is the easiest problem to solve, provided it is the only problem. You may need to increase the number of deep treatments you do while making sure your product isn’t so thick that it’s difficult to rinse out.

Also apply light natural oils, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, throughout the length of your hair and on your scalp.

Take some time for yourself and treat yourself to a scalp massage, which is both relaxing and can also stimulate your scalp. Also avoid coloring or bleaching your hair.

2 – Hairstyle too tight

Tension along the temples or anywhere on the scalp is, unfortunately, a major factor in hair thinning and hair loss. It is important to vary your hairstyles.

If you wear a tight ponytail every day, your hair may end up thinning along the hairline, and even at the base of the ponytail.

To avoid tension at the hairline, release your dreadlocks before going to sleep and as often as possible.

3 – Too frequent twisting/twisting

When twisting your hair at the roots, be careful not to overtighten it, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

Some people start twisting their hair at the slightest sign of new growth instead of waiting.

How often you twist your roots depends on your hair texture and how fast it grows, but twisting every week is too common.

4 – Age

Dreadlocks simply age, like any hair on the head that has been there for several years. Age itself is usually not the culprit, but it can go hand in hand with the dryness and/or weight of your individual locks.

5 – The weight 

The older your locks are, the longer they are, unless you cut them regularly. In some cases, they become too heavy for the roots to support, which can lead to thinning and eventual shedding. The thinner the roots, the more likely this is to happen, especially if the locks are thick.

Do dreadlocks damage hair?

If you consider dreadlocks as “traditional” hair, yes they will be damaged because they are knots. If not, dreadlocks do not damage your hair but it is the use of inappropriate methods or bad habits that actually damage the hair.

Pulling the hair too hard, using chemical dyes or products unsuitable for dreads, which can lead to hair damage, breakage or hair loss.

Heavy dreadlocks can cause your roots to pull on your scalp, causing gradual hair loss and headaches.

Your locks can be heavy because they are too long but also because of the accumulation of products. If you don’t reduce this weight, you risk having receding hairline.

My dreadlocks smell bad, what can I do?

Since they are made up of thick, tangled hair, dreadlocks never dry out the same way as non-locked hair.

As a result, they can retain water, which causes the musty smell you get.

After shampooing, wring out the dreadlocks as thoroughly as possible . Use a microfiber towel which will absorb most of the moisture.

When the towel is wet, take another dry towel and gently dab until you can’t squeeze out any more water.

The best thing to do is to let your dreadlocks air dry in the sun . This will prevent any mold from forming inside.

If you can’t do that, set your hair dryer to moderate heat or even cool air and use it.

I don’t want my dreadlocks anymore, what should I do?

Dreadlocks can be detangled, especially those that have been properly cared for over their lifetime, including regular shampoos and grooming.

It is therefore very important that you maintain them correctly in case one day you no longer want to have them.

You have several solutions:

  • Untangle : this requires patience. Go see a professional hairdresser preferably. This will require cutting the hair that is too damaged and doing regular deep care in order to revitalize the hair fiber in depth.
  • Cut everything
  • Untangle and cut part 

5 Ideas Hairstyle locks woman


Questions that will interest you… 

Should you put conditioner on your dreadlocks?
We do not recommend applying conditioner to your dreadlocks. The softening agents in hair conditioners stick to your dreadlocks and cause residue buildup. A hot oil treatment is much better for softening your dreadlocks.

What is the difference between locks and dreads?
Dreads have a negative connotation due to slavery, which can involve unkempt hair, while locks are more of a cultural identity as it is a technique of styling hair belonging to people of Nubian and African origin. … Locks have more defined roots than dreads.

How can I stop my itchy scalp with locks? As your scalp is much less stimulated with dreadlocks, the skin secretes less natural oils and dries out a bit, causing dandruff and itchy scalp. Be sure to moisturize your scalp and hair regularly.

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