Dreadlocks, knotted sections of hair that form matted, felted cylinders (locks), have been used for spiritual, fashion or personal reasons for thousands of years. Contrary to popular belief, dreadlocks in the West are usually not dirty or created by neglecting the hair, but are cultivated because of their look, feel and ease in care. Having dreadlocks also gives you the opportunity to try all types of new hairstyles.
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Dreadlocks can be adorned with beads, wraps or pendants. Dreads can be threaded through any decorative bead with a large diameter hole—most popularly made of wood, glass, polymer clay or semi-precious metals. Wraps, which may be contracted of coiled wire or woven seed beads, can also be slipped onto individual dreadlocks to add colour or sparkle. Small charms or pendants may also be used to decorate dreadlocks. They can be attached to a dread by using a small amount of wire or thread made of natural fibres. Individual dreads can also be wrapped with lengths of wool or other thin fibres to create temporary or permanent wraps of colour and texture. If you plan on wearing these wraps for a long period of time, it is a good idea to choose natural fibres that can be cleaned when you wash your dreadlocks.
Dreadlock wraps are usually made of scarves or headbands that are wider in diameter and longer in length than bands traditionally used for hairstyling. They can be made of cotton, silk or wool and sometimes contain a small amount of Lycra to ensure that they hold their shape and fit a variety of head sizes. Wraps can be wound around the head to cover the entire head or to either hold back or pull up a bundle of dreadlocks.
Dreads can be done in any updo that traditional hair of the same length can; if the dreads are long enough, they can be worn in a ponytail or pigtails, twisted and pinned into a chignon or buns, or any combination of these. Securing dreadlocks into updos may take thicker elastic bands, wider pins or larger jaw clips to accommodate the thickness of the dreadlocks. You can also use hair sticks (or short chopsticks) to style dreadlocks into creative updos. It’s often easier to use hair sticks with dreadlocks than with traditional hair, as you can secure the sticks more firmly by “spearing” them gently through a few individual dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks that have enough length can also be braided much like traditional hair, into “milkmaid” braids, French braids or twists. It often helps to have a friend or family member assist with braided styles. Braided styles can then be adorned, wrapped or twisted into an additional updo style.
You can also have fun with your dreadlocks and try some unusual styles. Threading small lengths of wire into the centre of several dreads allow you to “shape” them and stand them at many different angles. Wire also works well when woven into braided dreadlocks. Dreads can also be pulled into the centre of the head and twisted to create a temporary mohawk, or “faux-hawk.” Faux-hawks can be pinned or gently knotted into place. Other ideas include tying in dread falls (fake dreads constructed of synthetic hair), ribbons, PVC lacing or yarn to add body and colour, as well as pinning flowers (real or artificial), feathers, small toys or costume jewellery into sections of dreads.
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