Dreadlocks are awesome, let’s face it. Who cares about the Dirty/Hippie/Granola/etc stereotypes associated with them, they’re rad and that’s that. Just ask the internet…. The internet loves them. There’s countless websites and fan pages dedicated just to them…
And there are plenty of opinions out there about how you should go about getting locked. Should you backcomb? Should you crochet? Should you leave them to form on there own? Blah blah blah! And let’s not get started on how to take care of them, shampooing, wax/no wax… It’s truely endless.
I’ve had dreads four separate times in the past 5 years… All started in different ways.
The first time I backcombed them like crazy and washed them with dish soap until they were over-dry. I combed these out, not because I wrecked them, but because I had started with my hair waaaaaaaay too short and didn’t want to deal with the awkward shrinking. I think I combed them out within 3 months.
The second time I started with just a few self-made, back comb started dreads intending to let the rest of my over-bleached hair to do it’s own thing and dread itself. However I’m impatient, and started others slowly over time. Again they were too short for my taste but this time I cut them off instead of waiting patiently.
The third time was the worst. A few months after cutting off the last set I was sad and upset for not allowing it to grow. I wished I hadn’t cut them off… I wanted my hair how i wanted and i wanted it NOW. This, of course, is never a good signal to my poor little hairs, to them it’s a red flag that i’m getting ready to come up there and tear it up in my impatience.
I did a little reseach on how to dread extensions into my own hair. By extensions I mean i wanted to add hair into my own hair by taking a latch hook and knotting it all together. Does this sound like a bad idea? Thats because it probably is, but read on… So I went to sally beauty and bought the hair and the dye to match it to my then-current fire engine red. “Real human hair” it said… and I believed it. After all, sally beauty supply was selling it…. Right? (oh geez…)?
Let me just say that human hair does not melt like plastic.
Only after adding them all in (the wrong way might i add) did I realize they weren’t natural. I used the latch hook until it broke and when it did i took some red thread and sewed on the rest keeping my fingers crossed that it would be alright. Yeah, i was already off to a bad start. Then it was time to dye them, if only i had thought to do that first….. It was after I washed the dye out that I really started to suspect something. It didn’t dye.
My hair was now half red with random “chunks” of blonde sewn on with obvious thread…. But i kept them in regardless. Maybe I didn’t want to admit it, or maybe to pacify my want for dreads, they stayed in almost a week. But at some point the truth always reveals itself. I couldn’t hide from it any longer. So just to prove it to myself once and for all I took one out, stuck it over a lighter and found, of course, that it did melt.
It took a really, really long time to comb them out from there. Unfortunately i kept no photos of this ridiculous time, I don’t exactly want to see it again.
After that i waited, planning on waiting two more years and just dreading my own hair.
While talking to a friend of mine about what all had happened she told me she had a whooooole lotta old extensions that were human hair that she wanted to gift to me. not wanting to be rude i accepted, although i didn’t want to use them right then in the middle of summer.
So I waited.
It wasn’t until late November that I got that itch again. I thought about it, researched crochet extentions, looked at countless photos, and ultimately decided to attach the unclearly sourced, random bits to my hair.
This time the first step was to dye the weft as close as possible to the same shade of red/pink my hair was at the time to match them to my own hair and make sure they were natural human hair. It actually worked this time. Being of different shades of blonde itself gave it a nice variety of color after the dye set.
The next step was a bit more intense, but not nearly as much as I’d soon find out the last step would be.
First I back combed sections of weft in estimate of how much of my own hair I would attatched them to. Then, with the most super-teeny-tiny little crochet hook (NOT a latch hook!) I began forming the bottom ends into dreads by GENTLY pulling as little hair as possible into loops through the sides and up or down in the middle over, and over, and over, for many hours until they were just slightly poofy. I also made sure to leave a good 4-6 inches of the top undone so that i could use the same method to attach them to my own hair.
I decided that pulling as few hairs as possible at a time would mean less loops and less of the “woven” look and that by leaving them slightly poofy they could reduce the problem further. It worked, although I did have to go back and tuck in hairs while they tightened.
Attaching them to my own hair was very much the same process, I back combed random sections of my hair to match the dreads I had created and one by one wrapped the loose ends of the extensions around the section of back combed hair. just a s slowly and gently as before, I used the hook to create a fine weave between my own hair and these new (and heavy) things I SO wanted to be on my head. They got tighter and tighter until finally I stopped to allow them to finish the process on their own. Yes, my dreads were fairly poor at first, and pink too.
For nearly 48 hours over the course of a week I sat with a hook, a mirror, a comb, and a slowly growing pile of loose hair next to me. Until, after time and sore arms and nearly bleeding fingers, i was finally done.
They tightened up nicely, looked as natural as they could possibly be for pink dreads, and did awesome tricks:
But in the end, as all things done to my poor head eventually do, i changed them for one last time and took out the extensions:
Would ever want to do the extensions again? No. Do I think I’ll keep these dreads forever? You know, who can really say… But would I change anything at all about the history of my hair? Never… Even through all the frustration and time spent fussing and fighting with it I learned to love it, finally.