The human hair if left to its own devices, tends to form knots, tangles and eventually large matted sections. Anyone who has tried to run a brush or comb through a child’s hair that hasn’t been combed for a few days can tell you how tangled it would become in just that short amount of time. And if you let the hair keep growing without ever brushing or combing it, even if it is washed occasionally, chances are that it would start to resemble one of the world’s most misunderstood hairstyles: dreadlocks.
ttAnyways, don’t let the reputation that’s often associated with dreadlocks fool you. While they certainly can be caused by sheer hair neglect, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily dirty or messy. Most people who wear dreadlocks, in fact, achieve the look through careful styling and maintenance, by building the locks strand by strand on their own, or with the help of a professional “locktician.”
Let’s go back in time to how this hairstyle started. While dreadlocks became popular in the Western world through the rise of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica in the 1960s, and the spread of both the philosophy and the hairstyle through reggae musicians like Bob Marley, intentionally wearing hair in long matted strands actually dates back much earlier in human history.
Some of the earliest depictions of dreadlocks date back as far as 3600 years to the Minoan Civilization, one of Europe’s earliest civilizations, centered in Crete (now part of Greece).
In ancient Egypt, examples of Egyptians wearing locked hairstyles and wigs have appeared on bas-reliefs, statuary and other artifacts. Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with locked wigs have also been recovered from archaeological sites.
In Ancient Greece, kouros sculptures from the archaic period depict men wearing dreadlocks while Spartan hoplites wore formal locks as part of their battle dress. Spartan magistrates known as Ephors also wore their hair braided in long locks, an Archaic Greek tradition that was steadily abandoned in other Greek kingdoms.
The style was worn by Ancient Christian Ascetics in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and the Dervishes of Islam, among others. Some of the very earliest adherents of Christianity in the Middle East may have worn this hairstyle; there are descriptions of James the Just, first Bishop of Jerusalem, who is said to have worn them to his ankles.
Pre-Columbian Aztec priests were described in Aztec codices (including the Durán Codex, the Codex Tudela and the Codex Mendoza) as wearing their hair untouched, allowing it to grow long and matted.
Regardless of their origin, dreadlocks have been worn by nearly every culture at some point in time or another. Dread heads today have varied reasons for chosing to wear their hair in dreads. Some of them are based in spiritual purposes such as suggested above, others because they identify as Rastas, and others simply because they love the look! More importantly than what your reason is, is knowing your reason so that someday when someone asks you why you “lock”your hair you can respond without a doubt on why you have dreads and what your dreads mean to you!
Maintaining dreadlocks is very different from maintaining other natural hair styles. Dreadlocks don’t need to be brushed and don’t require regular trimming. Like other natural hair styles dreadlocks need to be kept clean. Contrary to popular belief clean dreads lock up and tighten faster than dirty dreads. While other natural hair styles require combing to put stray hairs back in place, dreadlocks need to have stray hairs tucked back into the dread so they can dread up and lock with the rest of the hair. You’ll also notice that dreadlocks look better and better over time. As they continue to mature they become tighter and smoother and they require less maintenance. Your maintenance routine will vary depending on the age of your dreads and the method you used to start them. The two most popular methods for starting and maintaining dreadlocks in natural black hair are twisting/palmrolling and latching.
Here are tips on how to care for those locks;
Find a good locktician:
This is so important especially in your beginning stages of growing locs. You want a locktician that can give you great advice and recommend healthy products. If you’re cutting off the last of your perm and going natural so that you can start locking, or if you are twisting your already natural hair, please have a real conversation about your hair objectives and your desired look with your potential new stylist prior to them twisting your hair. Make sure you feel comfortable with her or him and get a sense of how knowledgeable they really are about dreadlocks.
Massage your scalp:
Not only is it very relaxing, but it also stimulates hair growth. You’d be surprised how the simple act of gently massaging your hair at night for about five minutes, will really help you achieve the beautiful locs you desire.
Avoid retwisting your hair too much:
We all like the fresh look of a retwist, but if done too often it can start to create breakage and thinning at the root. Look around for new, chic hairstyles that you can try out to stay in love with your hair in between retwists—it’s the perfect time to experiment with your look.
Practice night care:
Just like with any other hairstyle, sleeping with a night scarf (a silk wrap to avoid breakage) is so important. Locs tend to shed a lot, and protecting your edges and your scalp is crucial. A silk nightcap helps keep the moisture in your hair and scalp, as well as protect your hair from pillow friction. Make a practice of never going to sleep without protecting your hair.
That’s the best advise for growth. This isn’t a process that will happen overnight. Locking your hair is a journey, and it’s a little different for each person. Some people’s hair locs faster than others.
The good thing is that if you nurture and take good care of your hair, then the growth and shine will come. It really will. Don’t get discouraged. If you have any questions or comments about locs or natural hair, kindly share with us in the comment section.