Firstly, I've had dreadlocks twice. Once with long dreads and once (here) with short dreads. So, from experience, I'd like to dispel a few dreadlock myths....
~ YOU CAN'T WASH YOUR HAIR WITH DREADLOCKS ~
Wrong. Infact, you need to wash your hair regularly! If you don't wash your dreads, the grease makes the knots slip out. Plus you get a smelly head. And fewer friends.
~ YOU NEED AFRO HAIR TO HAVE DREADLOCKS ~
Also wrong. You just need clean, dry hair and lots of knotting. The point of a dreadlock is to matt the hair into matted locks of whatever length and width you like.
~ YOU HAVE TO SHAVE YOUR HEAD TO GET RID OF DREADLOCKS~
Wrong as well. Both times I had dreads I brushed them out. I wont lie, it took a LOT of time and effort, but it's possible. You need lots of conditioner and patience! You will need to start from the tips and tease apart the dreads (it helps to cut the dreadlocks a LITTLE bit shorter in order to start the process) and begin adding conditioner as you tease. Slowly but surely the hair will come apart and you will be able to begin brushing it straight. It WILL take longer than it took to first dreadlock the hair. Or you could cheat and shave your head ;-P
SO! This tutorial shows me dreading medium length hair so the dreads came out shortish and only took 5 hours. I kept my fringe/bangs and had a green undercut and added beads for fun. But remember you can do whatever style you want: Chunky dreads or slender dreads. Natural colours or dyed crazy colours. Long or short. Just take the time to do it properly.
Finally, dreadlocks take a lot of maintenance in the first few weeks and months, so only dreadlock your hair if you are serious about it. There's nothing worse than spending hours and hours dreadlocking your hair only to find that you can't be bothered looking after them. However, after about 6 months dreadlocks are extremely easy to look after.
~ Get your dreadlock wax (I used KnottyBoy, but even beeswax will do if you wish to be 'all natural')
~ Get your comb (I used a metal comb with fine teeth, but a dreadlock comb is also great)
~ Wash, dry and brush your hair but DO NOT USE CONDITIONER!
~ Start sectioning your hair. I wanted chunky, shortish dreads so I did large sections. A good way to gage how thick each dread will be is to twist the lock/chunk of hair and it will be roughly double the size, but almost half the length.
~ Section from the back. This way your worst, beginner dreads won't be seen as much!
~ To make a dreadlock, take a section of hair (remember to start at the back) and begin to backcomb it with the metal comb. Keep on backcombing until the hair is completely knotted. It should puff out at a right angle!
~ Then begin to 'roll' the section of hair between your palms vigourously! As you roll, the puffy knot of hair will begin to elongate and you will see the dreadlock beginning to take shape.
~ Now take a small amount of dreadwax - about a pea size per inch of hair - and rub it into your palms to warm it up. Then 'roll' the wax into the dreadlock. Try to roll evenly from root to tip, letting the wax matt deep into your hair.
~ Now you have your first dreadlock!
~ Dreading your hair is very time consuming, but persevere! Working upwards, dread after dread, backcombing, rolling, waxing and re-rolling each one.
~ This WILL take hours, even with shorter hair. Obviously long hair = long dreads = LOTS of backcombing and rolling!
~ When you are done, give your arms a well earned rest! There is still more to do....
~ Each day you must roll your dreadlocks! In the first few weeks this is essential to keeping them matted and shapely.
~ Don't be scared to give them a good backcombing again when one is coming lose.
~ Add more wax if and when they get dry, but don't cake them in the stuff! That will result in very sticky dreads.
~ Wash your hair at least once a week and DON'T USE CONDITIONER as this makes the knots slip out. I recommend a dreadlock shampoo as it will nourish the hair, keep dreadful dandruff at bay and smells divine. You can get dreadlock shampoo from a bottle or in a bar (like a bar of soap).
~ Your dreadlocks will thrive with the more effort you put in. It will take several weeks of rolling every day before the hair starts to properly dread. After 2 months they will be rounder and smoother. After 6 months they will be PERFECT and take hardly any work to maintain.
~ ENJOY YOUR AMAZING DREADS!