Long or short, with beads or with rings tucked inside, colored, gathered on the head, combined with pigtails: definitely the dreadlocks they are an alternative way of wearing hair on which, among other things, various urban beliefs and legends also circulate. Often, these are just trivial stereotypes that have nothing to do, most of the time, with the simple aesthetic taste that is the basis of their realization.
Dreadlock: history and meaning
There is certain evidence of the existence of dreadlocks in Egyptian culture, in particular their use among the pharaohs, as evidenced by documents referring to King Tut, portrayed with this hair. Jews and Celts also made use of it, right up to Eastern Hindus and African tribes, where warriors styled their hair this way to intimidate rivals.
The popularity of dreads dates back particularly to the area of Jamaica when at the beginning of the Thirties they became the symbol of the members of the Rastafarianism, a religious movement born among the black population and centered on the figure of the emperor of Ethiopia Ras Tafari, the first prophet.
For the Rastafarians hair is an expression of the spiritual power of men and of the rapprochement with God and also a way of following the biblical precepts, which repeatedly refer to the importance of hair. In addition, the dreadlocks are reminiscent of the lion’s mane, a symbol of the tribe from which the emperor descended.
Dreadlock and “rasta”: what to call them?
The two terms are not synonymous, although very often they are used as such. What are commonly called dreadlocks they should be called dreadlocks. The term Rasta is short for Rastafari, the believers of Rastafarianism who used to wear this hair. One of the exponents of the movement, an icon of the Rasta movement, is Bob Marley, who contributed to its spread and who wore dreads throughout his life.
How are dreadlocks made?
Dreadlocks are similar to braids, but each strand is made up of “knotted” hair, which cannot be untied. They are made more easily on hair prone to frizz, which is why it is not recommended, before implementation, to apply moisturizing products such as conditioners or masks.
Once washed, the hair is divided into strands, separating them with small rubber bands. At this point, carefully comb each lock one by one, creating a “cotton” effect.
At that point, the locks are turned over between the fingers individually, with the help of a special hair wax.
To give each dread the right consistency, you can help yourself with a small point crochet hook and thus go on to further knot the hair: starting from the root, insert the crochet hook into the lock and hook a small portion of hair with the tip, proceeding then knotting the rest of the dreadlock around the hook, keeping it perpendicular to the lock.
The procedure must be repeated on the whole head and at the end the rubber bands are removed.
For those who do not want to proceed with the creation of dreads on their hair but still have the curiosity to experiment with this look, there are also extensions made of natural or synthetic hair, to be applied occasionally with clips or with seams, for a longer lasting effect.
How to care and maintain dreadlocks: 4 answers
1. Are dreadlocks always dirty?
This is one of the most popular questions about it, the result more than anything else of an urban legend according to which those who wear them could not wash their hair, in order not to damage it. But instead, it’s just a misconception. Dreadlocked hair can be washed with non-foaming shampoos, preferably herbal based (available in pharmacies), the most delicate on the scalp. Instead, it is not recommended to apply the conditioner, which could leave residues in the hair, unsightly whitish spots or product encrustations.
Moisturizing masks are also not recommended, as they would dissolve dreads. The last rinse should be done with cold water, which helps to tighten the knots, or with water and vinegar, to degrease and polish them. As for drying, it is better to proceed at a low temperature and moderate speed.
2. Is it true that they damage the hair?
Some believe that dreads cause baldness, but even in this case the correlation is not proven: dreads require only a little more attention, but their danger is, like their dirt, only the result of bad information. Dreads should only be treated properly.
Marseille soap is very suitable for keeping them compact, as well as dry oils and thyme essential oil, to be diluted in water and distributed (or vaporized) on the head. The use of strange compounds of honey, sugar, lacquer, glue or even toothpaste is just a false belief.
3. Can anyone with short or thin hair do dreads?
Many think that long and frizzy hair is needed to make them: but can even those who have short or thin them make them? Yes, normally they can already be done on strands of at least 3 cm in length and a starting afro hair is not necessary. On straight hair the important thing is to use a good technique and not to use the wrong products (moisturizing or detangling).
4. But are dreads forever?
There are people who manage to wear them even for years, reaching very long hair. In that case, becoming particularly heavy, it is advisable to keep them tied especially when wet, so as not to strain the bases. And speaking of the basics, it is not mandatory to cut all the dreads once you get tired of having them on your head. Just stop redoing the basics for a couple of months to start having the first few inches of “free” hair. To “dissolve” them, we proceed with balm and olive oil packs: for a while it may happen that the hair grows “turned” like inside a dread, but then the growth proceeds regularly.