Most people associate the dreadlocks hairstyle with the Rastafari movement and reggae music. Hey, you may not like his music but Bob Marley was and still is a really influential figure on both modern music and popular culture.
Just go to any college campus in the US and you’ll see a handful of students in dreads. Not to mention, the style has also remained popular among African Americans who wear the style in creative ways.
But did you know that the unique hairstyle has a long history dating back to 3,500 years ago spanning various cultures and civilizations? Thus, accusations of cultural appropriation when white people choose to wear dreadlocks become a bit more complicated and even sound ridiculous.
As long as you enjoy it and don’t disrespect any culture, feel free to rock a dreadlock hairstyle any way you want it.
To give you an idea of the many ways you can wear and style dreads, read on and discover plenty of tricks and styling tips that’ll make maintaining your hairstyle a breeze.
Get an All-Natural Look by Keeping Locks Long
In the 1970s, dreadlocks became popular among the members of the counterculture movement in the United States. Due to their preference of the hairstyle, dreads have become associated with the desire to be one with nature as well. In this context, dreadlocks were usually worn on long hair.
To keep with this theme, wear your long and touch up your roots every three months or so. Keeping your natural hair color is also recommended. For women, we find that opting for thinner dread strands often looks better. Besides, having thinner strands means that you’ll have more to style and play with.
As your dreads grow longer, they may also loosen up significantly. You’ll know you need to tighten up and compress your hair knots through the pencil test. Take a number two pencil and try to pierce it through one of your strands. If the pencil goes through without much resistance, it’s definitely time to tighten your dreads.
Don’t Be Afraid of Incorporating Hair Beads and Other Accessories
Although some people wear their dreads plain, there are also plenty of people who prefer decorating theirs with colorful beads and threads. If you’re new to dreadlocks accessorizing, starting with a few beads in a color of your choice on some strands is a great place to start. You can also use colorful threads and strings when knotting your hair to add interesting elements to your dreadlocks hairstyle. Hemp string is a popular choice when it comes to string wrapping. Get creative with your style by wrapping your strings in various patterns from crisscrosses to other weave patterns.
Don’t limit yourself to beads. You can definitely incorporate other trinkets like amulets or old pendants into your dreadlocks as well. Whether you think it’ll just look cute or has sentimental value to you, try wearing it in your hair and see how it looks.
Just learn to balance out your hair accessories so you don’t end up overcrowding your hair. This boho chic look with partial locs is complemented with the sparse yet strategic placement of accessories.
See the difference adding color and beads make in your hair? Both look cute but you gotta admit, the one on the right is much more fun and interesting than the plain one on the left, right? The great thing about strings is that you can easily remove them and add new ones depending on your mood.
You can also refine your accessories by keeping a theme. Say you have a fascination with heavenly bodies. You can gather accessories that go with your preferred theme (star-shaped beads and the like) to end up with a cohesive look.
Color Your Dreadlocks with Fun Colors
There’s no doubt that colored dreadlocks look absolutely cool and awesome. The question is, do you dread your hair first or can you color hair after it’s been knotted? Well, you can do it either way. If you decide to color your hair after it’s been styled into dreadlocks, make sure that all your strands are locked and tight before applying bleach or hair color on them.
After that, make sure that there is no wax residue on your hair. You can use a blow dryer to do this. Removing excess wax will make it easier for hair color to dye your hair. Another tip: Skip on using the conditioner that comes with box dyes on your hair as it will just damage your dreadlocks. You can use your own conditioner as an aftercare product.
Don’t be afraid of trying out bright colors like the magenta dye job above. Just remember to put extra attention to caring for your hair after dyeing it as the chemicals from the bleach and hair dye can be very damaging.
If you’re not into the idea of bleaching your hair, you can opt for synthetic dreads instead of hair dye. They’re pretty easy to install on your hair and give you the option of changing colors much more often. What more, you won’t have to worry about damaging your hair.
Sounds interesting? Check out Doctored Locks and Etsy to find affordable but high-quality synthetic dreads in a wide variety of colors. Give Ch527Kerosene’s Youtube channel for dread inspos and installation tutorials.
Another safer route you can take is to dip dye the ends of your dreadlocks for a sort of ombre effect. If you have naturally dark hair, you can even use no bleach hair dyes to avoid damage. Splat Hair Color is a great brand you can try as they have plenty of semi-permanent hair dyes that don’t contain bleach.
You can definitely achieve colors like this electric blue with semi-permanent dyes. The only downside is that they tend to fade faster than their permanent counterparts. Well, that’s a small price to pay for keeping your dreadlocks safe from bleach, right? You can always re-apply a new coat of color once it starts fading.
Get Creative with Styling Your Dreadlocks and Incorporate Curls into Your Hair
People often think that dreadlocks is a very limiting hairstyle. There’s certainly some truth to it but that doesn’t always have to be the case. You can definitely still style your hair in curls if you want to.
There are plenty of ways you can do so. For example, you can opt to partially knotting your hair. As you can see from the photos above, the ends of the hair were left untouched leaving them free to be styled in curls.
Say you want to keep your bangs or the front portion of your hair untouched. You can also choose to leave out a portion of your hair loose in a similar fashion to the pirate wench-inspired style above.
Of course, you can just as easily curl your dreadlocks, too. Just a warning though, it would take more time and effort to curl knotted strands compared to regular hair.
For starters, you can try using perm pads to curl your hair when it’s still a bit damp and leave them in to dry overnight. If you follow this route, you’ll end up with similar curls as the woman in the picture above.
Another way you can curl dreadlocks is to braid them into small sections also while the strands are still damp and leave them in to dry. This method will give you bigger and wavier curls similar to the ones you get from a wide barrel curling wand. Add in some vintage Victory rolls and you’ve got yourself a sexy and put-together look.
Keep Long Dreadlocks Looking Neat with These Beautiful Braided Hairstyles
Speaking of braids, you can also use them to style your dreadlocks even if you have no plans of curling it. Braids would definitely come in handy if you have long hair and want to look neat or just strands away from your face. The great thing about dreads is that they can hold onto braids better than regular hair, so you might not even need to tie the ends after you’re done.
Small braids also look pretty. They’re an easy way to add an interesting element to plain old dreadlocks. However, you’ll need to have relatively thinner dread strands to make small braids.
African Americans have really perfected the art of dreadlocks and braids. This hairstyle is an excellent proof of it. Save time getting ready in the mornings by styling your dreadlocks into tightly braided cornrows. Here’s a tutorial for a similar look by Youtuber Trini_Rastadoll.
Stay cool in the summer by going for this ponytail fishtail braid on dreaded hair. This’ll definitely work for you if you have long dreads and a thick mane.
Of course, you can also opt for good old three-stand braid and style whichever way you want. Pro tip: Use a strand of your own hair to tie the end of a big braid.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and mix different types of braids together. This beautiful braided half-up hairstyle would also work if you have a relatively formal event to go to. Just remember to tame the frizz and loose strands of your hair to achieve a cleaner, neater look.
Cute hairstyle alert:
Look cute in class with these absolutely adorable Dutch braids on dreadlocked hair. This is the perfect style to wear when your hair has grown out quite a bit. Better keep your hair in order until you have the time to touch up your roots.
Dress up Your Dreads in These Fantastic Updos for Fancy Occasions
Who says you can’t wear dreadlocks to formal occasions? There are plenty of updo styles that can be done on dreaded hair especially ones with thinner strands or have a significant length of overgrown roots. This elegant braided updo bun is one of them. You can even decorate it with some trinkets or flowers if it’s an outdoor wedding you’re going to.
But what if you have short dreadlocks? No problem. You can still style into a sort of updo like the semi-fishtail updo above. Just make sure that you secure your updo properly so you can enjoy your day without having to fix up your hair every once in a while.
If you don’t know what to do with short dreadlocks, you can separate them into sections and then twist each up your head. Pin each section down into a nice shape to get a simple yet elegant updo. This could even work as a wedding updo.
Make a bold statement by styling your dreadlocks into fauxhawk updo. Not sure how to do this updo on your own? Follow this excellent tutorial by Desiree Marie on Youtube and save a trip to the salon. Just be prepared to use tons of Bobby pins to achieve this look.
You can never go wrong with a sleek top bun even with dreaded hair. What more, this is pretty straightforward hairstyle so you can definitely do it in under five minutes or so. Another great thing is that the volume of your dreads will automatically add height and volume to your bun so you won’t need to spend time teasing our hair.
Of course, ponytails are also a fantastic go-to hairstyle if you don’t have much time to get ready. A single high ponytail always looks good and put-together despite being so simple. Pro tip: Use your own hair strands to tie your ponytail.
Here’s another beautiful dreadlocks hairstyle for brides. It’s a classic twisted style that’s reminiscent of a chignon except placed higher on the head.
Dealing with Grown Out Dreadlocks
Whether we like it or not, hair grows and you’ll have an inch or two of undreaded new growth in a couple of months. Since not all of us has the time and resources to touch up our roots, you may need to style your hair differently to hide or make the roots look presentable.
You can go the obvious route and hide your overgrown roots with a thick headscarf or bandana. But this isn’t the only way to camouflage roots.
You can also wear bonnets and other types of hats. This will come in handy if you’re living in a place that sees relatively colder winters as the hats will also keep you extra warm. You can also take this chance as an opportunity to experiment with various types of hats and hair accessories.
Creating a ‘headband’ by wrapping some strands of dreads around your head will also do the trick. Not to mention, it’s also a pretty cute hairstyle. Remember to place a few pins at the nape of your head to prevent you headband from unraveling in the middle of the day.
Of course, you can choose to flaunt and style your roots instead of hiding them. Go for a trendy half-up top bun if you want to look cute while keeping your hair off your face.
This is a great transition style when you finally get tired of dreads and want to try out other hairstyles. If you let it happen naturally, your dreads will start loosening up after a few months or so.
Of course, you can also just let your hair down and not mind the overgrown roots too much. Hey, life’s too short to fuss over small matters, right? You’ll eventually find the time to dread your roots.
Besides, overgrown roots aren’t inherently unattractive to look at. See what we mean? Just spend extra time making sure that your roots look neat and you’re fine.
Rocking Dreadlocks on Relatively Short Hair
You may be asking, how long does your hair need to be to rock dreadlocks? Well, there’s really no length requirement. As long as you have more than 10 inches of hair (even a bit less) you can start dreading it already.
Some people are under the impression that women need to have exceptionally long hair to wear dreads. But you can definitely do dreadlocks on short hair and medium-length hair.
Besides having shorter dreadlocks have plenty of perks. For one, they require way less maintenance than long dreads. You can save up on both time and hair products but still look cool and awesome. And if you’re patient enough, you can grow out your hair longer anyway.
Here’s a sample of dreadlocks on medium-length hair. If you want to preserve the length of your hair (dreading tends to shorten the hair a bit), you can opt for partial dreads at first. Leave a few inches at your roots or ends untouched like the one above.
Give a literal twist to a classic bob hairstyle and dread your hair. You’ll definitely look extra cool and classy with the style. You can also do it the other way around and trim your long dreads into a short bob.
Did you find your next ‘do on this list? Which of these amazing dreadlock hairstyles are you looking forward to trying?
Want to see more looks? Continue scrolling down our gallery to see the rest of our favorite dreads.