Natural Hairnamix: Keep it Locked!
June 12, 2013By Rossette Allen

Dreadlocks are one of the most popular ways afro-textured people wear their natural hair with pride. Dreads were initially associated with and limited mainly to the religious movement known as Rastafarianism. Back in the day, if one was seen sporting a head of dreads, it was assumed that they were a Rasta.

As time progressed, the wearing of dreadlocks became less and less stigmatized to just Rastafarians and soon became explored by people of other religious orientations and non-religious individuals. This style of natural hair became increasingly fashionable and socially acceptable in many arenas, hence the popular term "fashion dread” used to describe dreadlocks wearers who do not practice Rastafarianism.

Dreads can be very convenient and easy to wear. They are extremely low maintenance and seem to grow at a far more rapid rate than hair that is not locked. The fact that the strands are locked together allows for little or no breakage, hence creating the ideal platform for length retention. There are pros and cons to wearing hair in a permanently locked state and proper care must be taken to guarantee the best natural hair experience for your locks.

The following hair care tips will help you enjoy optimal benefits from wearing this very trendy and convenient hairdo:

1. CLEANSE REGULARLY – Devout Rastafarians hold fast to beliefs and traditions which are quite different from what non-adherents now hold. Among them was the practice of washing their hair very infrequently, if at all, or washing it with just pure water. No matter the state your hair is worn, cleansing and conditioning are vital to the overall health of your hair. Environmental factors such as dust particles and smoke can cause buildup on the hair. Even though dirt is not easily identifiable on locks, it can become a health hazard if, perhaps, you style your hair where it falls on your face. Individuals with sensitive skin may experience breakouts resulting from dirty hair. If hair is not washed frequently, it can lead to dry scalp, which is not only unsightly, but can also cause your skin and scalp to adversely react to it.

As a side note, be sure to allow locks to dry completely before pinning it up or placing it under a cap. Locks tend to hold on to moisture and if it is not allowed to dry properly, it can result in water being trapped inside the locks, causing it to have a musty smell. Develop a wash regimen that works for you and stick to it.

2. TRIM AS NEEDED – One would think that because dreadlocks are not readily susceptible to split ends or breakage, there is no need to trim. The decision to trim or not to trim is totally up to the individual. There are very plausible reasons why it would seem prudent to get occasional trims if you wear locks. Firstly, dreadlocks usually retain length and can get so long over time that they become too heavy and can literally become a "pain in the neck.”

Secondly, heavy locks can not only place a strain on your neck but also your hairline. The constant weighing effect of wearing heavy dreads can eventually take a toll on the hairline and cause it to recede. Longer locks are also harder to maintain and can take more time and effort to wash, treat and style. Know what is comfortable and manageable for you and don’t be afraid to trim your locks to achieve the length that is most workable for you.

3. PROTECT YOUR HAIR FOR BED – Hair worn in dreadlocks no longer faces the issues that free flowing individual strands do. The risk of getting single strand knots, split ends and breakage if hair is not protected at bedtime is for the most part a thing of the past. Don’t make too heavy a sigh of relief just yet, though, as you are not totally "out of the woods.”

Dreads bring with them their own unique set of worries. So, even though the causes of concern are different, there still is a need to take the necessary precautions to protect your mane.

Sleeping with your locks uncovered will expose them to lint which gets attracted to locks like a magnet. Overtime, this buildup of lint from your bedding can become noticeable to the naked eye and often gets deeply embedded into the hair that it becomes very difficult and time consuming to remove. 

In addition, if there is new growth that has not yet been re-twisted or re-locked, sleeping with an uncovered head can cause friction between your hair and the bedding, causing it to become frizzy. The simple step of tying your hair up in a satin scarf or bonnet can spare you a lot of drama.

4. EASE THE TENSION – Nothing beats a nice, neat, well groomed head of locks. The process of tightening and grooming dreads is one that if not done properly can cause adverse effects on the hair and scalp. When tightening locks at the roots, care needs to be taken to ensure that the hair is not pulled too tightly as this can place undue tension on the scalp and can be potentially damaging to the hair follicles. Pulling on the hair too tightly, especially around the edges and at the hairline toward the forehead, can lead to a condition called Traction Alopecia. This occurs when too much tension is placed on hair that is pulled too tightly. It causes hair loss.

Styling locks in tight ponytails or pinups on a regular basis can also have the same effect. This is more likely to happen in cases where the hair is very long and heavy. Establish a good balance between neatness and safety and be sure to avoid those practices that will harm your hair in the long run.

Dreadlocks are an easy, fun, liberating way to wear natural hair. Make the best of your lock experience and take the steps necessary to making this journey an enjoyable and stress-free one. It’s your life and it’s your style, wear it with pride and until next time….keep it locked!!!

Candie's Natural Hairnamix was birthed a few months after Jamaican native Rossette "Candie" Allen began her natural hair journey in May 2010. She gears this column toward naturals, transitioning naturals, aspiring naturals and the naturally curious, sharing experiences, expertise and experiments while celebrating emancipation from chemical slavery.

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