Hair Texture and Length: Why is the texture of your hair important for dreadlocks? The texture of your hair is the best indicator for which technique you should choose and how long it can take for your hair to lock. Generally, softer textured hair takes longer, as long as a year and coarser textured hair can lock in as little as a few months.
Curly, kinky, coily hair naturally twirls and tangles around the neighboring hair strands. This natural action is the key component to creating dread locks. If a person with naturally curly hair chooses not to comb their hair for a period of time, nor use any type of detangling product, their hair would lock effortlessly – on its own.
Does length really matter? You can begin your starter locks with as little as an inch of hair (that’s two months of growth, on average) with certain methods. For shorter hair, a locking tool will be needed to coax a coil pattern that will eventually morph or transform into a lock. If the hair is at least a few inches long, the fingers can be used and no tools are required. When the hair is long enough to grab and manipulate, the locking method is different.
Starter Locks: Starter locks are just that – they are the beginning babies that will transform and morph. Think of starter locks as two strand twists that are purposely installed with the intention of allowing them to mat and form into mature locks or dreadlocks.
Always wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo like Giovanni Triple Treat Clarifying Shampoo or Kinky Curly Knot Today to start with a clean slate and remove any product build up or oil from your hair strands. Do not apply thick, creamy conditioners to the hair, as this will cause build-up. Instead, use a hair rinse like Aubrey Organics Green Tea Finishing Rinse.
Never, under any circumstance, Back Comb or use Beeswax on your delicate tresses. Backcombing is never necessary for kinky, curly or coily hair and Beeswax causes buildup.
The base for starter locks = dreadlock size: Deciding on the base or how big the sections will be is important for two reasons: a good base provides a strong foundation for the lock and is a determinant for the size of the lock. Think of the base, just as you think of a foundation for a house. The foundation provides strength and stability to the structure of the house. If the base is weak, eventually, it will thin and due to the weight of the lock, the lock can fall off. So to prevent this from happening, choosing a base size that will support the weight of the locks is a best practice of preventive maintenance.
A large base does not necessary mean better. However, choosing the size that is proportionate with your desired thickness (size) of locks is more ideal. Understanding the thickness of your hair before you start creating your base will prove to be an invaluable piece of knowledge as you start your starter locks. If your base appears to be considerably bigger than the twist, where the twist looks too skinny or too thin compared to the base, make the base smaller in proportion to the thickness (size) of the twist.
How to part your hair for starter locks:
Parting is when you use a smooth rounded tip (ex. tail/handle of a comb) to draw a line in your hair and separate it into sections. This line can be straight, curved, or designed and any length. Parting can also be done with your fingers, but using this method creates a less defined line and uneven sections of hair.
The best practice technique, when creating parts for the dreadlock base, is to work in sections and in rows; regardless if you are using your fingers or a comb.
- Place the rat-tail comb firmly behind your ear; glide the tail of the comb up and across your scalp to the opposite side. This step creates two sections of hair from ear to ear.
- Use a duck bib clamp or ouchless bands to secure the front section of hair.
- Working with the hair that is loose in the back, place the tail of the rat-tail comb along the hairline, at the base of your neck in the center and move the comb upward until the middle part is reached. This step creates two sections (a left and right section) using the loose hair in the back of your head. You should now have three sections: front, left-back and right-back.
- Use a duck bib clamp or ouchless bands to secure the hair on the left side.
- Place the tail of the rat-tail comb ¼ inch or your desired height from the base of your hairline. Glide the comb straight across to the opposite side. Congrats, you have created the first row for your locks.
- Use a duck bib clamp or ouchless bands to secure the loose hair, so only your first row is loose.
- Working with the loose section only, part a ¼ inch wide vertical line (or your desired width), near your right your ear. This will create a box that will eventually mature into a beautiful healthy lock.
- Use your desired technique to create your starter locks (ex. Two Strand Twists)
- Once you complete the first starter lock, return to step seven to create another box for the next twist. Steps seven and eight will be repeated until all the loose hairs are starter locks.