Dreadlock Techniques for White People

Anyone can wear dreadlocks nowadays. However, it was pretty unusual to see a white person rocking dreadlocks back in the day. It is not just because wearing dreadlocks is a cultural thing that connects to …

Anyone can wear dreadlocks nowadays. However, it was pretty unusual to see a white person rocking dreadlocks back in the day. It is not just because wearing dreadlocks is a cultural thing that connects to African-Americans—it is because white Caucasian hair has a different texture that doesn’t naturally lock together. And even if they did naturally form into locs, it would take a while—like years in the making.

Unlike curly hair that seems to lock pretty quickly, straight hair that you often see on white people doesn’t work the same. With that being said, it isn’t impossible for a white person to wear dreads. Many white people wear dreads nowadays, thanks to the different techniques and processes that you will learn in this article.

So whether you are white or just have straight hair that seems impossible to turn into locs—you came to the right place.

Is it different to dread white hair vs. black?

White and black people usually have different hair textures and characteristics, making starting dreadlocks quite different if you are black or white. Some white people can be born with curls, but a majority of them have straight hair. If that is the case, starting dreadlocks for white people may take more time than black people with a sponge-like hair texture and thicker curls.

However, as we mentioned above, it isn’t impossible for white people to wear dreadlocks, no matter your hair type. The only difference is it will take longer to mature, and you might need to apply more hair products to dry your hair a little.

Aside from the long wait for your dreadlocks to mature, starting dreadlocks on people with white hair might have to try different techniques. People with curly and thicker hair don’t have to go through a long process—since they are born with naturally locking curls that lock together just by neglecting them.

Black people can still try doing dreadlock techniques, especially if they want clean and uniform locks, but the process is a lot easier for people with thicker curls.

How long should your hair be to start dreads?

The length of your hair before starting dreads depends on the technique you use. If you want your locs to form naturally, length does not matter. All you need to do is let your hair be. You can still wash it, but make sure you do not comb or brush it so it can start to loc as it grows out.

However, with methods like backcombing, twist and rip, and the crochet method—your hair should at least be 5 inches long. However, the length of your hair to start dreads also depend on the type of hair you are born with.

Different hair types

Here is a list of the most common types of hair and how long should they be before you start dreadlocks:

  • Loose curly

Loose curly hair should be at least 3 to 6 inches long so that it can easily take form in a shape of a dreadlock strand.

  • Straight hair

Having straight and thin hair is common amongst white people. If your hair is straight and oily, you should wait until your hair is at least 6 to 8 inches before starting your locs using the different methods. Some people say that 4 inches are enough. However, it is best to wait for a little while to make sure your locs are locked up tight.

  • Coarse hair

If you have coarse or kinky hair, you can start dreads when it reaches at least 1 to 4 inches. This hair type is the easiest option for getting dreadlocks because they are thick enough to form dreads when they are shorter. Unfortunately, only a few white people are blessed with kinky hair.

Can you dread your own, or should you go to a salon?

You can dread your own hair if you learn the techniques. However, it would be a lot easier if you went to a salon. They know the different methods and have the right products for starting dreadlocks. Plus, they can work their magic and turn even the straightest and thinnest of hair into stylish dreadlocks. The only downside of going to the salon is the price.

You can save a lot more if you do it yourself with the help of a couple of friends. However, you need to make sure you have the patience and practice the different techniques and follow the tips that we will show you in this article.

How much does it cost to go to a salon?

The cost of getting dreadlocks depends on which salon you go to. Some salons charge by the hour, and some have a fixed rate. It also depends on your hair type, whether you want extensions or not, and how long your hair is. With that in mind, getting dreadlocks at a salon can cost anywhere between $200 to $1000.

What’s the process for starting dreads on white hair?

White people with straight hair have several technique choices to start dreadlocks. Depending on the outcome you want, some options work best, how long you are willing to wait for it to mature, and the uniformity. Here are the 5 different stages to dreadlock maturity:

  • The starter stage

The first stage is the starter stage. During this time, the partitions will be a little obvious, and they can be a little fragile. So ensure that you wash your hair delicately during the starter stage. It usually lasts 3 months for people with curly or kinky hair. However, the starter stage can last up to 1 year if you have straight, thin hair.

  • The budding phase

After a couple of months, you will notice some changes. The hair will start to knot into parts, and some parts will get thicker. However, if you notice some loose parts, that is completely normal since you are still a long way from getting dreadlock maturity. In this stage, the hair from the roots will look a little messy and have frizz all over. Some people hate this stage, but you have to get through it to enjoy mature and good-looking locs.

  • The messy stage

If the budding stage was too hot to handle, the messy rebellious phase would only get more chaotic. Your dreadlocks will go all over the place before they settle in, but don’t worry. This stage will only last a few months.

  • Maturity stage

At this point in your dread journey during the 12th to 18th month— your dread locs will start to tame, look good, and feel more robust than in the first stages. You can wash your hair and wave it around without getting tangled. At this stage, they will look like the dreadlocks you always wanted.

  • The last stage

The last phase may be as delicate as the first stage. At this point, the side effects of poor maintenance will show up, and too much stress on the roots can result in breakage, thinning, and more. To avoid annoying side effects that can affect the look and your dreadlock health, make sure you maintain moderate tightness, use dreadlock-friendly products, and avoid too much stress.

How long will it take?

If you decide to get dreadlocks at a salon, the process will be quicker than doing it yourself. The process of starting dreadlocks should take at least 4 to 8 hours—depending on hair length and type. However, the maturity of dreadlocks will take at least 4 to 12 months.

Products needed

Using too much product on your dreads is not a good idea. However, some products can help you maintain your dreads for the better. The best products for starting dreadlocks are:

  • Dreadlock-friendly shampoo

What we mean by dreadlock-friendly shampoo are products that do not leave too much residue. They can be accumulated in the locs, which can cause bad smell and dryness. Tea Tree Shampoo from Trader Joe’s is an excellent choice. And adding essential oils to the mix would also make a great way to deep clean the dreads from the inside out.

  • Moisturizing spray

To prevent your dreadlocks from getting dry due to extreme weather conditions and other outdoor elements, using moisturizing hair spray is your best bet. Lack of moisture can cause stress, breakage, and thinning in locs—so make sure you use moisturizing spray daily.

  • Silk or satin nightcap

Using a nightcap made out of silk or satin is an excellent way to maintain dreads when sleeping or when it is too hot outside.

  • Essential Oils and Natural Oils

Using natural essential oils, such as coconut, olive, and castor oil, is an excellent way to maintain moisture without using harsh products. However, some essential oils like tea tree needs to be diluted with carrier oils like grapeseed oil or avocado oil to protect your scalp.


There are different processes to start locs if you have straight hair. And you can choose one type of process depending on your preference. Some options can be done professionally, but there are options that you can do by yourself. No matter what deadlocking process you use, the primary goal is to part your hair and separate them to form locs.

Dreadlock techniques for white people and people with straight hair

Here are different approaches to start locs for white people and people with straight hair:


This method is also known as the neglect method. All you need to do is wash your hair and leave it alone for a while. It is also called forming natural dreadlocks, which is the most authentic way to get dreads.

The advantage of using the freeform technique is that it is free and doesn’t take that much effort to maintain. However, it does take a while to lock together, and you cannot choose the sizes of the locs.

Twist and rip

This method is perhaps the best option for people with long and straight hair. Just take a section of the hair you want to lock together, twist it a couple of times, and separate the tips by pulling them apart and forming a knot. You should start from the roots and repeat the process until you reach the ends.

It is an excellent method to do yourself, and you don’t need any tools other than your hands. It doesn’t cause too much damage to your hair, and you have complete control over the thickness and number of locs. However, it only works best if you have long hair.

Crochet Method

The crochet method is an excellent choice for all hair types. Plus, it is the fastest way to get mature-looking dreadlocks, even if you have straight hair. You will need to part your hair with rubber bands and use a crochet needle to pass through and pull to create knots.

This option is very time-consuming and might take up to 8 hours, depending on hair type and length. Plus, this method at a salon can cost a lot.

Backcombing method

This method is another time-consuming method. You are basically combing your hair in reverse to make it easier to lock, especially if you have shorter hair. However, some disadvantages include pain on the scalp, itchiness, and too much frizz.


Are dreadlocks hard to maintain?

Dreadlocks are pretty challenging to maintain. However, some people neglect their hair using the freeform technique, meaning they don’t need to maintain them at all. But if you want clean-looking dreads, you will have to commit to maintenance if you want to keep them looking good.

How do you make your dreads lock faster?

Some of the ways to make dreads lock faster are twisting and rolling them using your palm, using the crochet method, and using products. However, products like bee’s wax and sea salt spray can leave a residue that causes mold buildup and may cause dryness. If you are going to use products, make sure you wash, rinse, and dry—or use moisturizer.