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Lock accelerator helps dreads lock up more quickly, but not everyone needs this product. The dread-locking process requires careful backcombing of each dreadlock, and it can take a long time for people with slippery hair to get a good lock. Lock accelerator, whether homemade or purchased commercially, acts to open the hair cuticle, making it rougher and more likely to catch. It also makes the hair a little more brittle. You can use a few alternative methods to get the same effect.
Lock accelerator can contain a wide variety of drying ingredients. The most common are sea salt and lemon juice, mixed with warm water into a sprayable solution. Aloe or baking soda may also be added to some recipes. Essential oils improve the smell but don't significantly affect the action of the spray.
Accelerator sprays roughen the hair cuticle, causing the tiny scales on each strand to lift up. Lock accelerator also strips some of the natural oils out of your hair, making it even rougher. Even hair that's naturally smooth and slick will catch and knot after treatment with an accelerator. You should find backcombing easier and more efficient after treatment with these sprays. You can also apply the lock accelerator after forming the dreadlock to help catch stray hairs.
People who already have hair that tangles and locks easily may not need to apply accelerator. This product does the most for people of European and Asian descent, who often have difficulty creating a good bond between individual hairs. In general, people of African descent have an easier time producing dreadlocks. Each person is individual, though, and you may need lock accelerator for a good result, even if your hair is of a type that should lock easily.
An accelerator product isn't the only way to encourage your hair to lock readily. You can also wash your hair with shampoo only, not conditioner, for a week before starting your dreads. If you intend to bleach or dye your dreadlocks, do it before you form them. Coloring hair tends to roughen the cuticle, making it easier to produce a tight lock. Avoid deep-conditioning treatments and hair products that contain silicone derivatives, as they may decrease your hair's ability to produce attractive dreadlocks.