A lot of people leave the salon, feeling pretty good, and then as they get home and live with their dreads for a couple of days they realize that they have no idea where all this hair is going - what the ultimate destination is. When you know what’s going to happen you can guide your hair care efforts, and calm your freak-outs. So below is the wonderful story of the Maturing Dread.

The First 2 Weeks: The scene

You have nice tight knots, and you feel like a rock star, and a bit freaky. Things are sticking out all over the place, and each new dread feels like a piece of barbed wire. Sleeping isn’t comfortable the first few nights. You start to get a feel for what a face lift would feel like. You head starts to itch like crazy, but you’re afraid to wash your hair. Little hairs start to escape from the dreads. They start to get frizzy, and you think you look like crap, and you think your dreads are falling apart. You think about calling us to tuck in every hair. The ends that we left don’t look good and you wonder what we were thinking. You ponder trimming the ends.

The solution

Everything described above is totally normal. You are on track. There is an adolescent phase to the dreading process that can last for a couple of weeks to a month.


The itchiness - Your hair follicles are being tugged and pulled in ways there never have before. They are irritated. Use tea tree oil in a spray bottle to calm your scalp. Other oils will also do a good job. Your head isn’t itchy from being dirty. It’s like wearing a tight ski cap all day; at the end of the day, your head itches. Time will fix this. In the meantime, put as much junk on it as you can to make yourself happy. Aloe, vit E, Tea tree oil, wet wipes, Skin moisturizers, etc. This is about your scalp, not your hair.

The frizz - This happens, and will happen a lot more. The dreads are not coming apart. The goal here is to get the frizz to go with the flow. Use aloe to tame it down and make it lay in line with the rest of the dread bodies. Over time the frizz will serve a purpose and eventually look good.

The ends - The ends are there on purpose. Don’t trim them off (leave 2 inches if you can’t stand it), because as the dreads open up, and become more felted, the ends will make a nice finish to the dread. Rub a little aloe, or sculpting gel on the ends to get them into the flow of your hair, and let them be for now. In 6 months we’ll talk and be able to make something out of them.

The barbed wire feel - This is very transitional. The barbs are the knots we put in your hair to encourage dreading. They will loosen and get soft and fuzzy, which can also be called felted, with a hard core. This is the state you are going for. If they don’t have a hard core, they are starting to come out. You may feel areas of the dread body that are ‘cored’ and other parts that are not. This is pretty normal, and we will be able to tighten them up when we see you for maintanence. Don’t freak out. This is part of the scene, and will ebb and flow all through your dread career.

The next 4 Weeks: The scene

Things are looser, and flow like thick hair. You’ve washed it a couple of times, and notice that some of the dreads weather it really well, and others just keep getting looser. The frizz has tamed down to a dull roar, and it starting to be part of the general hair flow. You’ll start to battle things like too oily, or too dry hair. Both are loosening your dreads. You’ve figured out that rolling your dreads with your finger tips, or palms helps tighten them, and keep them tidier. You also have started to notice a bit of root growth, which is making everything more floppy, which can be cool, or not cool, depending on your hair. You have a couple of dreads that are tight and amazing, and a couple that are totally apart, and a bunch in various medium states. You may have had a brush with mildew, or stinky head. You may be wondering if this was a good idea or not.

The solution

Everything described above is totally normal. You are on track. You are starting to come out of the awkward teen state.

Loose Dreads - Don’t worry about this, it’s part of it. Some stick really well and others are more stubborn. Just fuss the loose ones into the flow with the rest of your hair shape and let them be. We’ll be fixing them up at your maintenance appointment. In general the shorter hairs have a harder time dreading. That goes away in time, because your hair grows.

Oily or Dry - If you are oily, you need to wash more or use more drying products on your hair. The sea-salt, aloe, and the dread-happy shampoos will all dry your head out. Don’t use extra oils on your head. If you are dry, which is more common, your need to add a small amount of oil on a regular basis. Essential oils mixed in a water spray bottle sprayed on a couple of times a day will give your hair a nice mellow amount of moisturizing, plus keep your scalp happy as well. Don’t get carried away with heavier oils, you’ll just make a mess of things. Too much oil on your hair will loosen your dreads. Too much would be characterized by your dreads laying limp on your head like dead worms.

Brushes with ickiness - Mildew, stinky head, fungus, yeast, and other yuck happen. Don’t freak out, just deal with it. This is part of the learning process. Don’t use terrible chemicals on your head. Some dread sites recommend bleach rinse. Yikes. Try washing your hair really well, use Dr. Bronners tea tree shampoo. Tea tree oil in any form is a natural fungicide and bactericide. Get some in pure form and rub it on your scalp. A combination of Thyme, Oregano, and Rosemary essential oils is also a great bactericide. You’ll notice these ingredients in a lot of organic shampoo products if you look. These oils are good for your dread as well as acting like a natural killer of yuck. If this route isn’t fixing the yuck, you need to move to a special shampoo. It’s called Nizrol. It’s sold in the medicated shampoo section in most stores, and it’s main ingredient is Ketoconazole. It’s a killer of fungus, and yeast. Pretty harmless in the realm of topical drugs, and if this isn’t doing it your doctor can give you a prescription grade version of the same thing. Once you kill what ever it is, with better self-care you should be able to smooth sail from there on. Don’t feel bad, this kind of thing can happen to anyone. Our bodies are all different.

The next few months: The scene

You’ve seen us for your touch up. You are wiser and have most of the care issues worked out, and love your hair. It’s not at all what you expected, but you love it. It’s doing it’s own thing, and you’ve come to accept it. You’ve controlled your frizz, in fact, you don’t even think about it any more. You still have the occasional loose dread, but you know how to live with it, and work with it to tighten it up. Your hair is getting longer, and it’s looking great, and hanging in a way that works. Friends and relatives are now coming up to you and saying “oh, so that’s what it’s supposed to look like! Nice!”. You see us once in a while when you need to get the few trouble makers tightened up, or you’ve got roots that are getting longer.

The solution

You’ve made it. Sit back, feel beautiful and GROW!

Six months: The scene

You are so dreaderific! Your dreads are getting long. You are looking pretty cool. All your care issues are pretty much worked out, and the days of itchiness and stressing are gone. Loose dreads are a thing of the past. In fact, you have noticed that the longer your hair gets, the better things go. You may have lost a few little parts of the ends of some dreads which got thin or too dry. You freaked out at first, thinking it was a trend, but all was well. Frizz is your friend now because it fills things in. If you are the older male type - it covers any balding spots, it you are the younger ‘devil may care’ set, then it’s all texture. You are having many more of those ‘I am sexy and awsome’ moments as you pass your reflection on the street. Your loved ones are no longer afraid to touch your hair for fear of greasy strangeness, and older relatives or in-laws have gotten used to it and no longer make ‘homeless’ comments .

The solution

You are really there! It’s a thing now. It’s part of you now!