Locked Up and Liberated

July 31, 2013



It’s been over a year since I began the process of locking my hair into knotty dreads. A year! I think everyone assumed (myself included) that I would be over this “phase” by now but I’m still rocking it. I started my dreading my hair on a whim – but over the past year they’ve evolved into a declaration of independence, of sorts. I was sending a very bold message to The Man that I would not be confirming to his rules any time soon. I’m going to send out a Letter for Creative Entrepreneurs today talking more about breaking the old corporate rules society puts on us and making new ones (sign up in the right sidebar of my blog or sign up and see more of the kinds of exclusive content we send out in these letters over here at Braid).

So… aside from being a rebellious statement my dreads are a daily reminder to not take myself so seriously. And sometimes it’s simply just a hairdo. But I still get lots of attention (the youngest sibling in me loves it) and questions. So I thought I would take a minute to answer some FAQs. Feel free to ask me more questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Q: How long did it take you to grow those?
This is hardest question to answer. Because I’m still growing ’em. I’ve had my hair in dreadlocks for 1 year and 2 months. It took me about a month to dread my whole head (+ dread and weave in the extensions).

Q: Are those real?
We can get philosophical with this answer. Everything is real. Nothing is real. Lots of people weave their undreaded hair into pre-made dreadlock extensions. At any point they can take out the extensions without their hair being damaged or affected. I dreaded my hair – but it was only collarbone length when I started. So I dreaded some extensions myself and then wove those into my actual hair. It’s pretty seamless and all looks very much like my own hair. Over the past year about 3 or 4 extensions have fallen out. It’s kind of cool to see how long my actual hair would be (about chin length to collarbone length now).

Q: Did you dread your hair yourself? How? 
Yes. I did it myself. I basically treated it like a crafting hobby for a month. It took me about an hour per dreadlock (that includes the extension). I used the twist and rip method + crochet hook. I pretty much watched every single one of this girl’s dreadlock tutorials on how to actually dread my hair and do the extensions. In hindsight I’m glad mine aren’t as small as hers – I like ’em a little more wild.

Q: How many do you have?
At last count I think it was 63. But I always forget.

Q: If you stopped dreading them at the roots could you just grow them out? 
No. At this point my hair dreads itself. The locks at the bottom of my head are dreaded right up to the scalp – the dreads at the top of my head have about 1 inch, give or take, of non-dreaded roots. But they eventually start dreading themselves.

Q: How do you maintain them?
I wash my hair about once every two weeks with a concoction of baking soda, scent-free shampoo, Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, and a few drops of essential oil. Sometimes if I have extra unruly stray hairs I’ll use a crochet hook to weave them into a dread. But these days I dig the more natural / wild look – so I don’t do a whole lot to maintain them.

Q: How long do you think you’ll have them? 
I get this question from my close friends and family. The answer is I don’t know. I could kind of see growing old and grey with my dreads. I feel more like me than ever before – so I don’t plan on ditching the ‘do anytime soon.

Q: How do you bleach them? 
If it’s not obvious I do bleach my hair. I go to a salon to have them done professionally (Adrienne at Revel8 in OKC is my gal- she used to have dreads herself) but you could probably do them yourself (the girl I linked to above has a tutorial on bleaching). I get the roots touched up every 6-8 weeks.
A note on bleaching while pregnant: I did some serious back-and-forthing on whether or not to bleach my hair while pregnant. I did my research and felt good about bleaching my roots after I was out of my first trimester. Adrienne, my hair stylist, was sure to use ammonia-free bleach on my hair and I washed it twice to make sure all the bleach was off my head afterwards. I’m also trying to extend my salon visits closer to 8-10 weeks vs. 6-8. If bleaching your hair while pregnant is going to stress you out than don’t do it. But if fixing your roots will give you a major self-esteem boost and your doctor or midwife says it’s cool than I say go for it. 

So that’s the big hair update! Let me know if you have any questions – I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.

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