Using rubber bands on your dreadlocks has become quite a controversial topic. Many feel that it is a useful tool to help your dreads gain shape and strength. Others insist they are unnecessary and can even become damaging to your hair.
Becoming informed on the pros and cons of using rubber bands on dreadlocks can help you make a confident decision on the best choice for your hair.
Why Use Rubber Bands On Dreads?
Many people choose to use rubber bands on their dreads for a few different reasons.
Rubber bands are most commonly used at the root of the dread to help it stay organized and tight. They can be used at the beginning of the installation process to help create clean and organized sections.
People commonly use rubber bands on the roots of their hair even after the dreadlocks are installed to keep the hair around the roots tidy. New hair growing out of the scalp will not be contained in the dread at first. Keeping loose bands around this section of the dread will gather the hair together and help it begin to lock.
Others like to use rubber bands on the tips of their dreadlocks. This helps prevent the tips from unraveling or unknotting. They also help the body of the dread to stay tight, as rubber bans will prevent knots from working their way out to the bottom of the dread.
Rubber bands can also help two dreadlocks combine into one. Gathering two dreadlocks together and banding them at the roots will help them grow into each other over time. This is called a ‘congo’.
Do Rubber Bands Help Dreadlocks Grow Faster?
While there are many benefits of using rubber bands on your hair, they may not help your dreads grow faster. Gathering the hair together with bands will help dreadlocks form, and will introduce new hair into an already existing dread quickly.
However, if the bands are put on too tightly, they could weaken or break your dreads over time. If you are trying to achieve length or thickness in your dreads this is something you will want to avoid!
Additionally, if you are looking for growth, banding the hair together will help dreadlocks form but will not necessarily help them grow faster than not using rubber bands.
The best way to help your dreadlocks grow quickly is to take care of them using other methods. Keep up on your maintenance program with weekly shampoos, and try to live a healthy lifestyle with vitamins, healthy foods, and plenty of rest!
How Do You Put Rubber Bands On Dreads?
If you would still like to use the rubber band method on your dreads, here is a guide to using them safely and effectively.
If you are using rubber bands to start your dreads journey, make sure to section out hair the way you would like the dreads to be formed. Begin putting the bands near the root of your hair in each section.
The tightness of the band is essential to having success or failure with rubber bands. If the rubber bands are too loose they will move around too much and will not be helpful.
However, you do want the bands to move around a little bit. Hair can not form knots or dread if it is unable to move. Bans that are too tight may also damage and weaken your hair, causing it to break off eventually.
A good way to test if your bands are still loose enough is to see if you can still roll them up or down a little bit. Bands will want to roll up during showers, which is good. This will allow you to get your scalp clean, while still being able to twist your dreadlocks after and readjust the bands down.
You will want to put the rubber bands ¼” to ½” below your scalp. If the bands are too close to your scalp they will begin to pull and will cause pain.
Rubber bands are very useful for retwisting your locs as well. After retwisting the dread clockwise, put the bands on in the same way as described above to keep them in place and help them not unravel.
As mentioned earlier, you can also use rubber bands on the tips of your dread. The end of your dreadlock is much less fragile, so bands can and should be worn tighter here. You can put the band ½” from the end of your dread, and leave it on until the end is tight.
If the end of your dread is a little frayed and sparse, you can even fold the edge in a band it together. The hair should begin to lock in about a month.
Here’s a short video that does a great job of explaining how to use rubber bands on dreadlocks.
How Long Should You Leave Rubber Bands In Your Hair?
Appropriate maintenance while using rubber bands in your hair is essential for success. After you’ve put bands in your dreadlocks, how long should you leave them on?
The good news is that your dreadlocks will likely tell you when they are ready. For most people, it only takes a few weeks for the hair to lock. If the dread feels compressed and tight at the root, the rubber band is ready to come off. This may happen as soon as one month.
Sometimes this process will take a little longer, but keep checking your dreadlocks and take off the bands as needed. Don’t wait until all the dreads are ready and take them all off at the same time, as hair can become weaker as more time goes on.
Rubber bands should not be worn for over two months. Four to six weeks is the sweet spot for leaving rubber bands on. If you feel your dread is not ready, still take the rubber bands off and replace them with new ones.
There are a few concerns that could come up if you leave your rubber bands on for too long.
Some people have reported that their dread “eats” the rubber band after being left on for too long. This just means that the dread has started to absorb the band.
If your dread is starting to lock and knot over the top of your rubber band, remove it immediately as it will become almost impossible to remove once it’s completely covered!
Others have said that the rubber bands can potentially turn into a gooey mess if left on for an extended period of time. Of course, it would take quite a bit of time for the bands to start to decompose like this, but no one wants to remove glue from the inside of their dread.
High heat can also lead to rubber bands becoming sticky, so keep replacing your bands monthly if you use a hairdryer on your dreads.
One last area of concern is the “hourglass” effect that may happen from too-tight bands. As the rubber band is left on for too long, the hair will lock and grow above and below the dread but will get weaker under the tight band. This could easily lead to breakage later. in addition this will not give you the desired look of well-maintained and even dreadlocks.
Difference Between Rubber Bands And Elastic Bands
If you are still wanting to use bands on your dreads, it is important to learn the difference between rubber bands and elastic bands.
Rubber bands are a popular choice because they grip the hair well, are very flexible and are easy to install. However, they can begin to stretch out over time. They also can melt and turn into goo if left on for too long and are easier to become absorbed and stuck in the hair.
Elastic bands won’t turn to goo over time and also won’t stretch out. However, they are harder to work with and aren’t as flexible as rubber. These are similar to the kind of bands used in braces.
There are pros and cons to each type of rubber band. It’s a personal preference to find the ones that work best for you!
Using Rubber Bands On Your Dreadlocks
Rubber (or elastic) bands can be a great tool in helping your dreads to form, as long as they are used in the right way. If not maintained and given the attention they need, they could potentially lead to breakage and weakening of your dreads, something that everyone will want to avoid.
Many people have strong opinions about using rubber bands. With this guide however, you can make the best choice for you and your dreadlocks.