How to Touch Up Your Dreads

Dreads look and feel better when they are clean and tight.
Dreads look and feel better when they are clean and tight. (Image: Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Dreadlocks are known as a carefree, free-spirited hairstyle. However, as with all styles, the hair continues to grow, making periodic touch-ups necessary. Without this maintenance, dreads can become fuzzy and separated. Touch-ups are intended to tighten loose dreads and deal with long roots. For the initial weeks and months after having your hair "locked," you will likely want to visit with your stylist to ensure that the process is on track. Once you understand the process, you can do touch-ups at home.

Wash your hair 24 hours before touching it up. Use a natural, residue-free shampoo to clean and remove product buildup from your hair. Clean hair will allow you to create necessary friction when rubbing and locking. Washing this far in advance allows your hair to be mostly dry before the touch-up.

Tighten loose roots. Because your hair is continually growing, you will need to treat your roots as they grow out and begin to show. This constant hair growth means that your hair will never be completely locked, and you can expect to have at least an inch of straight roots even after tightening. Finger rubbing is an effective method to deal with this problem. To rub-treat your roots, pinch the hair at the roots and apply small rubber bands to hold the hairs close together. Take the loose hair between your fingers and rub it in a clockwise direction. It may take up to 10 minutes to achieve desired results, but puffy knots will eventually start to form. Apply a small amount of hair wax to secure this beginning of a dread.

Apply hair wax. With time and washing, your dreads will begin to feel and appear fuzzy and loose; hair wax combats this natural occurrence. Rub a small amount of hair wax into your palms and rub them together. Place a single dread and roll it clockwise in your palms, starting at the root and rolling down to the tip. Use this procedure to coat the dread with wax. Repeat this procedure with all your dreads. If your dreads feel greasy, you are using too much wax.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never go to bed while your dreads are still wet. Because of the thickness that dread-locking adds to hair, it can take several hours for your hair to dry. If at all possible, get outside and allow fresh air and sun to circulate through your hair to dry it.

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