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While dreadlocks give your hair the look of an au natural free spirit, the irony is that they actually take time and dedication to grow. While you can drastically shorten the dreadlocking process by using a binding agent such wax, wax is also more difficult to wash out because of the serious hold it puts on your hair. If you're dreading the thought of semi-permanent dreads, then use a less-powerful product to hold them in place -- or, if you want, no product at all.
Wax is the ideal dreadlocking product for lasting, uniform and blunt-tipped dreads. If you want something more natural-looking, though -- an uneven, wispy-ended set of dreads -- use a product with less hold, like a tightening gel. Tightening gels are like less-powerful dreadlock wax; they hold your hair in place, but not as tightly or for as long a time. The palm-rolling method of forming your initial dreads remains the same, but instead of prepping it with wax before you roll, you spray the dreads with gel after they're rolled.
A Dreadful Comb
Odds are, you don't already have a dreadlocking comb. Similar to your pet's flea comb, it has thin, strong metal bristles that are close enough together to tangle your hair -- that's right, tangle. When you prep your hair for dreadlocking, you need to texturize it. The process entails sectioning your hair and then combing the sections from tip to root and back again -- this back-and-forth roughs up your tresses and creates the texture they need to get matted when your roll them. This is especially important when you don't use wax, because you won't have the benefit of the wax's powerful hold.
Wash and Dry
Forget the old wives' tales about how dreadlocks are dirty -- if you're going to grow dreads, you need to start with hair that's as clean as can be. Before you start, your hair has to be completely free of dirt, oils and product; otherwise, the product you use won't stick. That means using a heavy-duty shampoo the night before you dry, and don't even think about using conditioner -- you want your hair as frizzy and dry as it gets. In fact, brush it out to amp up the volume and texture after it drys to make the dreadlocking process all the easier.
Clips and Bands
Without the use of wax, dreadlocks take a little longer to form and stick on their own -- you'll need to help them stay in place with hair accessories. Hair clips are your best friend during the dreadlocking process, which typically takes several hours. Once your hair is rolled and gelled in place, it still needs extra help to stay put, so wrap it up with rubber bands -- the tiny tight ones used specifically for hair treatments like this -- and leave them in place.