There's a few different ways to maintain dreads and after 16+ years of working with many different types of dreads, I've seen them all! I'll go through some of the various ways to maintain your dreads or deal with dread issues below. You'll be able to read a description of the method and an explanation of the results that I've witnessed first hand from working on over 2000 heads of dreads...
HOW TO LOCK IN REGROWTH
SPLIT & TUCK or LOOPING THROUGH: This is a very common way to deal with dread regrowth, because it has been known among the worldwide dread community for years. It's common only because it doesn't involve any tools, products or specialist knowledge and anyone with fingers and dreads can do it! First you must have at least 1.5" or 2cm worth of regrowth at the base (top) of your dread. All you do is split the base (root) in the middle to make a hole through it and then grab the end of your dread with your fingers and bring it up to the hole you've just created, and loop it through. Then you make a new hole in a slightly different place in the same base and loop the end of the dread through again in the same direction. You continue to make a holes in the top of your dread and keep looping the end through until all your messy regrowth is twisted up! Many people will just keep the same hole because it's easiest, but this is the worse way of doing it.
THE RESULTS: If you keep the same hole, what you end up with is a prominent "A" frame base with twisted roots. If you do it tightly it is most effective in tidying things up, but it also pulls a lot and doesn't get in the little baby hairs or top fuzz. What you end up with is a compromised root. An "A" frame base has 2 sides and each side is weaker then the whole. I have witnessed people's roots get weaker and weaker using this method and if your dreads are dry, brittle, dyed blonde or too thin, they can be in danger of falling off! If you make a hole in a different place each time, you avoid the "A" frame base but you still get the strange hard twisted effect. You need to know that this is NOT LOCKING hair at all. It is just twisting it. It only stays because it is held together by the actual dread below it. If you use this method for many years and get a significant length of dread created this way and then you cut off the original dread, the "dread" you've created from the split and tuck can literally be unravelled! I have actually done this with a client who started the split and tuck maintenance method on short dreads before he met me. In the end,we cut his little bit of locked dread at the bottom off and we could easily unravel all the split and tucked dread till it was completely open. Then I back combed the hair and applied my Divine hand & Hook method to lock it all up again. Essentially I created new dreads.
DREAD BASE CIRCLING:
The first time I heard about dread base circling was in England where I used to work as a street trader in Brighton and Cornwall. I had a little movable street stall and I sold my handmade jewellery and made hairwraps and dreads for people. AS I had dread too, the usualy conversations about dreads and what we do with them would often arise.
One cornish hippy dude showed me how he did dread base circling to do his regrowth. Did it work? Ummmmmmm...
So what you do, is grab your dread at the base, about 2cm from the scalp or where your regrowth ends and dread begins. It won't work if you have a lot of regrowth, so you have to try this when you only have about 2cm or so. Now you hold on to your dread tightly and push it back towards the scalp and at the same time, rub it in little circles. Some people like circling only one way but You Tube tutorial experts have been known to circle in both directions. For example you can circle the dread 3 times to the right and then 3 times to the left. You have to do this to each dread for a few minutes and ideally do it regularly for a few weeks in a row to get anywhere.
The idea with the method of "doing regrowth" is that, all the rubbing and circling will matt up the regrowth hairs and kinds form a dread from them. Then, the advice may continue to adding a bit of wax to stick the matted hair together.
Well, if you haven't guessed already, this method involves a lot of dread circling, sore arms and........well, not much else. Some hair types (dry, dirty, afros) will start to knot up a wee bit with this method, but most hair types would need 1000 hours of base circling to make much of a difference. I think it gives more a placebo effect. If you do this, you think you're working on your dreads, which you are and maybe that feels good! Unfortunately, doing something so simple can't actually lock your regrowth at all and certainly has no chance in getting in the renegade flyaways! Next option!?.....
DREAD BASE WRAPPING:
Now, I don't know anyone that has ever actually used this method, except when it's happened by mistake when they've noticed that a hair wrap has locked the hair at the top of a dread. I was a hair wrapper for 10 years so I know that wrapping a strand of hair tightly DOES definitely cause the hair underneath to lock up. So if this is a method you wish to try, it will work. It just involves you having some cotton wrapped around the base of your dread (at your scalp) for a few months.
Sounds enticing? Read on!
Unless you want a burst of colour at your scalp then the least conspicuous way to lock your regrowth using this method is to find some tapestry cotton the same colour as your hair. You'll need a friend to do this as it's too tricky to do by yourself.
Get the friend to tightly wrap the cotton around the base of your dread and keep wrapping all the way up until the regrowth is covered. You'll need about an arm's length of cotton doubled over to cover about 4cm and not run out. Tie the cotton with a good knot when you're done. Do this by looping the cotton under a strand that is wrapped around the base & then doing a loop knot there about 3 times.
Now it is vital to LEAVE the cotton there for at least 2 months. It is the amount of time that your regrowth is being squashed that causes it to lock up under the cotton.
Well, the main thing I can say, is that this method DOES actually lock regrowth. BUT it is tricky to do, you do need a friend to wrap your bases, if they don't wrap it well, or tie it off tightly enough, the cotton will unravel, the cotton gets wet and takes ages to dry and the big bummer..............you have to wait 2 months before the hair is locked. And by that time, you'll have another cm of regrowth to do!
DIVINE HAND & HOOK LOCKING:
This is the way that I started locking in my own regrowth when I was a scruffy hippy traveller. I'd just left Thailand where my first ever dreads had been made by a crochet hook dreadlock artist in Bangkok. I'd been in India for a few months when I eventually looked in a mirror to notice that I did actually look like a mop! My dreads were in a short bob and blonde and my regrowth had grown about 2cm. My hair type is fine, but wavy and I get a lot of curly fly aways around my face. These fly aways were caught up with the regrowth and were flying away and I looked just like many dreadlocked travellers do, giving dreads a not so great name. So, I thought I'd better do something about it and I bought a small hook. It was the smallest the little everything store on the corner had. It was 1mm. I went back to my lodging and sat in a hammock and started passing it through my roots. I grabbed loose bits of hair and tossled them up in my fingers and hooked them in.I could feel it pulling and knew I must be locking in some of that fluff. When I stopped 3 hours later & looked in the mirror, I was amazed at the results! I had actually locked together all the loose hair in my regrowth and had gotten most of my fly aways in too! I was looking much better and a few travellers commented on the difference. I've now been using this method for 16 years and have perfected it somewhat.
So, how do I do it?
Ideally set yourself up in front of a mirror and sit on a stool. Make sure your dreads are clean but not squeaky clean. It's best to wash them with a natural shampoo or loc bloc about 4 days before. This will mean you're not going to lock in dirt or grime and the hairs will be in a good state to lock. Pick a dread
to start (I like to work through systematically and begin with one near my ear and then work my way across the rows, but this is all up to you). The main thing is to do all the dreads next to
each other rather than in random places. Get a fine toothed comb ( I don't find the metal "dread" combs easy to use at all) and comb
toward the dread all the loose hairs that belong to it. Then, putting the comb down, I grab those loose hair and twiddle them between my fingers to matt them up. This twiddling makes a little
mini birds nest with your loose hairs. Now grab them and wrap them tightly around the dread base, covering all your regrowth hairs. Hold onto this hair tightly and don't let go. Take your
hook in your dominant hand and make sure it's facing you, then poke it through the dread base and pull it out to a point where it's NOT coming right out the other side. Push it back in from a
slightly different angle and pull it out again. Keep repeating this action at a very fast speed until you feel that the area is locked. Each time to re-enter the hook into the dread, try to
do it from a slightly different area so you're working AROUND and DOWN the dread. You have to be sure to rotate the dread a bit both ways, to the right and to the left so that the hook is
entering the dread from different sides. You're dread is a cylinder, so to lock it properly, you need to lock from at least 3 different points around that cylinder. DON'T LET GO! You must
keep passing the hook in and out, in and out for at least 5 minutes to ensure that all the loose hair you wrapped around has been locked in. If you let go in the first minute, any
unlocked hair will spring out and come loose and you have to re-gather and re-wrap it. So, resist the urge to let go and look and just trust in the process and keep hooking! Once it's feeling
nice and tight and you can't feel any bumps or loops up there, then access your work in the mirror and touch up anything if necessary. Basically, to have really neat, tight regrowth, it's
just a matter of KEEP GOING.
When I'm working on clients who have about 3cm regrowth I usually take about 4 minutes per dread, but you can see a lot more when it's not on your own head and you might be a bit more anal (like I am when it's a client). I tend do only do a few minutes on my own, as I don't usually maintain the same level or perfection for my own, plus I can touch it up later if I need to.
Using the Divine Hand & Hook method to lock in your regrowth really works! In fact, from my experience of witnessing the results of all the above methods first hand, I can say, that it is the ONLY way to really LOCK in all fly aways, all loose hairs and all your regrowth. One of the best things is, it locks your hair instantly. And if you've passed the hook through enough, then the locking you have done is also PERMANENT! If you just spend a minute or less on each dread base then you may get some hairs coming loose after the first wash, but if you have patience and dedicate a good few minutes to each root and lock it until it feels really tight, then I promise you that the hair will be locked permanently. This means that your dreads will look super lush and tidy until there is another 2 or 3 centimeters of regrowth. The only downside is that your arms get sore. But this is the case for every method of doing dread regrowth. I usually rest my arms a bit after each dread, or do 5 in a row and then relax. You can set aside half an hour or 1 hour when you can to get quite a few done and you should find that you can do your whole head dedicating about 3 or 4 hours to the job over a few days. This keeps it doable and simple.
Now if this all sounds like way too confusing, but you're keen to give it a try, you might be better off investing in Divine dreadlocks DIY Dread Maintenance Course. It's only $97 which is half the price of paying a professional loctician and you WILL definitely learn how to do what I've just waffled on about. Also if you "JOIN US" on the homepage you might be able to get it for FREE or at a discounted price.