It’s probably one of the most common questions I get. Want to know the fun part? The answer varies. It all depends on the method you use to start your locs. In my case, I started my dreads the long, slow hard way, and so it literally took me 1.5 – 2 years to look presentable in public. (I took very few photos of myself during that time, and went through a wear-a-hat-all-the-time phase).
Spoiler alert: There’s a new way to do it that can give you near instant, permanent dreads within a day or two. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Let’s discuss a handful of methods.
Backcombing involves starting close to your scalp and essentially combing your hair backwards with a dreadlock comb. With this method, it is possible to get dread-like locs right off the bat, but there’s a solid chance they’ll look messy and fuzzy for a while. It also takes alot of elbow grease.
Braids and Two-Strand Twists
With this method, you essentially braid all of your hair, and then from there wash it like normal with the braids in. Over time, hopefully your hair will loc. Same with two-strand twists. I tried this method for months, and given my type of soft hair, it didn’t work very well.
With this method, it can take 6 months+, and depends on the texture and condition of your hair. Neglect is pretty self-explanatory: you simply neglect washing, and often combing your hair, and let it do what it wants to do. Eventually it may loc and mat itself up. The downside of this method (aside from the length of time) is that you are making the decision NOT to control how your dreads are divided, so you’ll most likely get some wild-looking locs on your head. Personally, I don’t recommend this method.
Now that we’ve covered the most common methods, let’s discuss a better way…
Say what? Permanent dreads within a day? Enter the crochet hook method.
Crochet Hook Method
With the crochet hook method, you are using a crochet hook to form your dreads by hand. Yes, it takes effort, but with someone helping you, you can have instant, permanent dreads in a day or two. And as long as you have enough original hair length to begin with, this method should work for you. Over time, your new dreads will smooth out and mature while your new growth eventually locs. This method is also great for maintaining your dreads, locking in new growth by hand, and reducing overall frizziness.
This is the method I wish I would have started with…::sigh::…While I won’t get into all the nitty gritty of this method in this post, we do discuss the crochet hook method more on this blog and recommend it as the best way to start your dreads.
Other Tips Worth Mentioning
It’s worth mentioning that there are ways to speed up your hair growth in general, which obviously affect the length of your dreads. Getting — or giving yourself — a scalp massage is a simple yet effective way to stimulate hair growth. Massage works to stimulate blood flow to the scalp, supporting healthy hair growth by sending nutrient-rich blood to the scalp. Also, maintaining a well-balanced diet based around fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean meats may also help to speed up hair growth. Just remember to limit usage of hair products, as many hair products on the market do more harm than good.
The other issue I want to address is hair thickness, and therefore dreadlock thickness. I tend to get the occasional email asking how someone can make their hair grow in thicker. This is a tough one to answer, because hair thickness can be affected by age, general health, and even thyroid conditions. I’m no doctor, but I do know that getting your hair to grow in thicker overall is not an easy process. You can eat better (see above), but you’ll also have to look at your over lifestyle as well. They say that your hair and skin is a great indicator of the general health of your overall body, so if you have thinning hair, than a quick tip or magic serum is rarely going to help you. You have to address your body as a whole.