How to Care for New Backcombed Dreads

Help protect your new dreads with a head wrap.
Help protect your new dreads with a head wrap. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

One method of starting new dreadlocks is backcombing and palm rolling. A stylist parts your hair into small sections, rats each section by coming the hair upward with a fine-toothed comb, and rolls the ratted hair between her palms. Some stylists apply dread wax to new locs, some apply aloe-vera gel and some use nothing. Whatever method your stylist recommends, you'll have to maintain your new dreadlocks at home by backcombing and rolling the sections again after every wash.

Things You'll Need

  • Dreadlock shampoo or castile soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Sea salt
  • Microfiber towel
  • Fine-toothed comb
  • Dread wax or gel (optional)
  • Head scarf or bandana (optional)

Wash your locks with dreadlock shampoo or castile soap once or twice a week. Use an unscented or herbal variety to clarify your hair and remove any buildup. Keeping new dreads very clean helps keep oil from building up in your hair, which dries the hair somewhat and prepares it for backcombing.

Spritz your dreadlocks from the midpoint down with salt-water spray made of 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 8 ounces of water. Keep the spray off your scalp, as the salt can cause dryness and itching, and its purpose is to tighten and harden your hair. Wrap your dreads in a microfiber towel to absorb the excess water, and sit under a hood dryer or allow them to air dry. They should be completely dry before you start backcombing.

Backcomb each dread with a fine-toothed comb after your hair is dry. Hold the ends of the dread and run the comb toward your roots, making lots of short strokes to push the hair up. Each dreads should have a puffy ball of teased hair at the end.

Apply just enough gel or wax to your hands to palm roll one dreadlock, if you want to use products. Rub your palms together to warm them. Roll each dread back and forth vigorously between your palms, working from the roots to the ends. The puffs of hair at the end of each dread will flatten with rolling.

Cover your hair with a head scarf or bandana to keep them flat and out of your face. The scarf helps compress and protect baby dreadlocks.

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