Braid is a popular hairdo that involves weaving three strands together into beautiful styles. It is also one of the best ways to start dreads with any hair texture. If you prefer this dreading style, there are a few steps to starting dread with braids.
First, you need to grow your hair to about 3-5 inches long. When the length becomes adequate, wash and moisturize your hair and scalp. Afterward, section hair evenly and keep them flat to ensure braids are square when they grow. Use the three strands technique to braid your hair accordingly. After braiding, leave braids for about 2-6 months to allow your hair to loc.
Aside from the process mentioned above, there are other important things you need to know if you want to start dread with braids. So, read on to find out.
Can I Start My Dreadlocks with Braids?
Yes, you can. The ease with which you do this depends on your hair texture, and to get the best result, start with natural hair free from chemicals or residue.
Braid is a protective hairstyle and one of the ideal ways for individuals with a loose hair texture to start dreadlocks. Braiding helps prevent dreadlocks from unraveling when hair gets wet, especially during the early stage.
When starting dreadlocks with braids, the important factor to consider is your hair texture. Although the hair texture does not determine if your hair will lock or not, it just influences how long you would have to wait.
There are 4 different types of hair texture, which include Type 1 (Straight), Type 2 (Wavy), Type 3 (Curly), and Type 4 (Kinky). These hair textures have different attributes, and while you can braid all of them, their ease of forming dreads differ.
Type 4 is best for starting dreads with braids as they tend to lock faster than other types due to their coarse texture.
How Difficult Is This Method?
This method is fairly simple but requires the expertise of an experienced hairdresser. The texture of your hair also plays an important role in the ease with which dread formation occurs.
The only tool required to start braid dreadlocks is the section comb, which divides the hair mass into sections.
How Long Does It Take For Braids to Lock?
How fast hair locks is dependent on hair type, maintenance, and lifestyle. Generally, braided dreads take about 2 to 6 months to lock.
The quality of the hair product used and your activity level determines how long the locs will stay tight. High levels of activity cause sweating, which introduces moisture that loosens dreads.
Other factors that influence braid locking duration include;
- Hair Moisture content: Moisture is an important aspect of the locking process. Inadequate or excessive moisture on hair delays locking substantially. To improve hair moisture content, you need a combination of oil and water in the right proportion. Applying just oil or applying it in excess would weigh the dreads down, cause buildup and attract lint.
- Hair Products: While hair products are good for the hair, using too much would cause buildup. This downside is especially true if your hair is not absorbing the products well. It is important that you avoid products that are not water-soluble, especially those containing petroleum and beeswax. These products are difficult to remove completely in hair, hindering the locking process. Excess oiling to your scalp also hinders hair growth, as the oil clogs pores with residue buildup.
- Conditioning: Applying hair conditioners on braided locks defeats the whole process of locking. Conditioning softens and detangles hair. The process also leaves residues on hair which prevents locking.
- Washing Hair: The frequency of hair wash determines how long it would take hair to lock. Water unravels locked hair, especially in the early stages. When washing in the early stages of dread formation, rebraiding and retwisting braid bases help keep locs tight.
Products needed for locking hair include;
- A Shampoo: The first rule in locking hair is that clean hair locks well, while dirty hair does not. The shampoo for washing your braided dreadlocks has to be residue-free. This shampoo-type helps remove accumulated dirt without leaving a soapy film behind. Hair wash products that contain sulfates leave residues that build up in the hair. You can only remove these residues with a clarifying shampoo which helps deep clean the hair.
- Daily Moisturizing Spray: To aid the locking process, spray your hair daily with a mixture of water and essential oils. This routine will help boost hair health, making hair softer and flexible. It also enables you to take care of breakages and other unpleasant hair conditions, making locs thin out in the long run.
- Silk or Satin cap: Sleeping with a silk or satin cap improves the hair locking process. It helps maintain the shape of the dreads. It also helps prevent breakages and thinning. Another advantage of this cap is that it helps prevent lint or other unwanted materials from attaching to your hair while you sleep.
Pros and Cons of Starting Dreads with Braids
- Neater: Dreads made from braids are often neat. The reason is due to the division of the braids into sections. Sectioning the hair helps to ensure there is no mass of hair in the root. The braids are also tight, keeping the hair in place to ensure minimal hair loss.
- Easier to maintain: This dreading type is easier to manage as each dread strand stands alone. The root is also free from matted hair, ensuring ease of washing and applying hair products.
- Dreads mature faster: The journey to mature dreads is often shorter with braids. You do not experience the messy and frizzy stages which occur at the beginning of the process.
- Less time spent before Locking: After braiding hair, it takes about 2 to 6 months for dreads to lock. This time is considerably shorter than when you use other methods.
- Total control over dread appearance: With braids, you get to decide how exactly you want your dreads to appear as you consider factors like the size of the dread strands and width. The braids’ appearance determines the dreads’ appearance.
- Appearance: It would take longer for your hair to stop looking like braids and start looking like dreads. One way to solve this problem is to start the dreadlocks with small hair (3 to 5 inches) and cut off the braided part when the dreadlocks mature.
- Unraveling: This occurs when you expose the hair to water. It starts at the tips of the braided hair, and you would have to braid the unraveled hair part to maintain appearance.
- Selective hair type: While you can braid all hair, not all hair types are ideal for using braids as a starter. Braid-dreading is ideal for type 4 hair texture because the dreading process takes a long time for other hair types.
How To Start Dreadlocks With Braiding Method
- Wash hair with shampoo: This is the first step in braiding. It involves using a residue-free shampoo to wash hair to get rid of debris and dirt.
- Do not use hair conditioner: Hair conditioners soften hair. Hair that is too soft would not hold upbraids, thereby negatively impacting the whole process.
- Section hair: Sectioning is important to ensure the evenness of dreads and spacing. You should section all the hair before you start braiding. The section size determines the dreads size. The bigger the size, the thicker the dreads. For round dreads, keep sections square and separate them using a clip or rubber band.
- After sectioning: remove the clip for each section you want to braid. Do not remove all the clips at the same time, as this might defeat the whole sectioning process. During braiding, ensure hair is not extra tight as it might put unnecessary stress on hair roots. After braiding, secure the braided tips with a band as tightly as possible, so they do not come off.
- Apply a dread cream on the braids: After braiding, apply dread cream on the braids from root to tips. This cream helps keep the braids moisturized while hastening the knotting process.
- Locking New Growth: As braids age, new growths will emerge from them. Rubbing hair clockwise would help lock the new growth, ensuring dreads appear uniform.
- Cut the braided hair portion: Cutting the braided hair portion depends on how long hair was before the dreading. For short hair (3 to 5 inches), cutting the braided hair portion gives the whole hair the uniform dread appearance you want.
There are several ways of starting dreadlocks, and braiding is one of them. Dreads started with braids have one advantage over other methods, and that is control. With braiding, you have control over your dreads’ size through sectioning. Forming dreads using braids is an easy process that requires just a sectioning comb and the expertise of a good stylist.