dreads versus braids

There are many pieces of misinformation out there on the debate about dreadlocks versus braids. Though there are some clear similarities between the two, there are also some key differences. No matter what your personal preference is, being educated and informed of the comparisons and contrasting points and making a decision on which you’d like based on those factors.

Time & Placement

First and foremost, and potentially one of the largest contrasting points is the time and the placement of braids versus dreadlocks. When it comes to time, braids don’t take nearly as long as dreadlocks when you put them in for the first time. Getting a few friends or stylists together to braid will take a few hours at the max, however, dreadlocks, even with a team, could take many hours and even need to be done over the course of a few days.

Similarly, placement is very different for dreads and braids. When it comes to placing dreadlocks, it’s so crucial. Because dreads are often thicker and fewer in total numbers, where you place them is very important to ensure they are spread out and spaced appropriately to avoid large, unnatural spaces. When it comes to braids, they will be smaller and more abundant and will rely less on the spacing and will in no way show any bare spaces on the scalp.

The Look

The look is a topic of contention because, it’s true, at first glance, braids and dreads can look somewhat similar, but do have some main differences. For the most part, braids will be smoother, and smaller and look much more uniform and shapely. This is because the braids will be nearly the exact same size, shape, and form.

On the opposite side, dreadlocks are usually thicker and less uniform. This happens for many reasons but mostly because when you are knotting and ripping and rolling hair together, uniformity is often hard to obtain in the same way uniform braids look. This adds variety to shape, size, and thickness of dreads and changes the look fairly dramatically. They will have a more natural, tousled, and sometimes frizzier look overall.


When it comes to permanence, for both braids and dreadlocks, it takes a long time to put them in and even longer to take them out. However, there are some key differences due to the natural factors of hair. Braids are quicker to put in and easier to take out if the need is there. Since braids are relatively uniform and are done in a pattern that is easy to do and easy to remove.

However, removing dreads takes much more effort. The nature of dreads is that of knots. They are torn, ripped, layered, crossed, and tied together into singular dreadlocks that take a long time to perfect in how they look and take even longer to brush out and remove. For dreadlocks, the options you have are to take a lot of time brushing each dread out individually or shaving them off entirely.

Work and Upkeep

Finally, one of the factors that braids and dreadlocks have in common is the work and upkeep. For both of these styles, maintenance is low and style is big! Washing and drying routines are nearly identical in that they should happen infrequently and be completely dry before sleeping for best results.

In the same way, both of these styles thrive when products are used minimally. Overwashing or adding too much product can make these styles dull, flat-looking, or overly frizzy.

Braids and dreads might be in the same realm of hairstyles, but they have very different looks, styles, and preferences for each person. Understanding the similarities and differences between the two before you decide which is best for your hair is the first step in an important decision to get one of two amazing hairstyles.

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1 Comment
  1. Hello, my 5 yo locks are breaking. I’m loseing 1 -1/2 inches on the tips as well as tiny pieces of hair. I feel like I need to cut them.
    Can you offer suggestions?

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