Clumping in Dreadlocks: What To Do & How to Avoid It

Dreadlocks are known for a few key looks; a really smooth, well-kempt look, or a ratted, dirty look. This contrast of images is almost the first thing that comes to mind to a person who’s never had dreadlocks before. While the former look is one that you should always strive for, sometimes life gets in the way and a lack of care and maintenance might lead you to look more like the latter image.

Taking care of your dreads will take a lot of time and effort, just like with non-dreaded hair, and if you want great results, you have to do the research, ask questions when you are unsure, and be prepared to learn on the go because every dread experience is different.

When Two Become One

One of the many common problems with dreads is when they get clumped up. You know the look when two or more dreads start getting knotted together and turn into a big ultra dread that takes up way too much space on your head. This phenomenon can happen for a number of reasons but they can be fought and fixed as well.

What is Clumping

Clumping is exactly what it sounds like. When two or more dreads start to get stuck together. This can happen with or without any product like wax too. It will sometimes just happen over time in most cases when they aren’t cared for perfectly. Clumping has a very specific look, too. It’s not the smooth, small dreads that you will have anymore and instead, it will be large chunks of numerous dreads. If you can, picture what a dog with matted fur on top of your head for the best mental image.

Why Does it Happen

Clumping can happen for a number of reasons. First is when too much product is being used. Wax is something people with dreads use to get dreads started because it helps hold things together. However, it sometimes holds it together too well and causes clumping. Using too much wax or other products like, are a common cause of clumping. In addition, poor maintenance is another reason clumping happens. When people with dreads don’t have the tool or time to tighten their roots. Clumping almost always starts at the root when the individual dreads lose their tightness and start to get stuck together into one.

What to Do About it & Avoid it

If you’re noticing some lumping at the roots of your dreads, there’s a chance you can catch it early enough to fix it easily. This just requires some separation of each dread all the way down to the root of the hair at your scalp and tightening all of the hairs there so that each dread will stay apart. If you’ve waited too long, you might have a single clump of hair near your scalp that deviates into two different locks and this is harder to deal with. It’s usually recommended that if you get to this point, you’d consult a professional to use tools, hooks, and fancy handwork to help readjust these dreads.

To avoid it in the future, always check the roots of your hair. The hair closest to the scalp will constantly be growing and if you aren’t tightening it periodically, it will stay loose and start to knot in directions that aren’t in line with your current dreads. Using a crochet hook, a metal comb, or just your hand will help tighten, knot, and mold the dreads from the scalp to the base so they look their best.

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