Dreads, otherwise known as dreadlocks, are matted hair. Dreads are versatile and were made popular by Rastafarians, a religious group originating on the island of Jamaica. You can create dreads as long as your hair is at least 3 inches long. Dreads can be created from all types of hair, though tightly curled hair is easier to dread. Dreadlocks can be worn in many different ways; they can be curled on rollers or held back in a ponytail. You can also cornrow your dreads for a neat and convenient look.
Determine which direction you want the cornrows on your head. You can cornrow your dreads from front to back, from ear to ear, in a concentric circle or even diagonally. The simplest design though, is to cornrow from the forehead in a straight line over the crown of your head until you reach the nape of your neck.
Decide how many cornrows you want, and then part your dreadlocks accordingly. For instance, if you want four cornrows down your head, then you will need to part your hair into four sections. Begin by parting your dreads down the center of your head from the forehead to the nape. Fasten one side of your dreads with a hair elastic. Then part the remaining dreads down the center and secure one half in another hair elastic.
Gather three dreads from the front of the loose section of dreads and braid twice. To do this, cross the dread on the left over the center dread. Then cross the right dread over the center dread. Repeat.
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Pick up another dread from the loose dreads and hold it next to the center dread, treating them both as one dread for braiding purposes. Repeat the crossing action.
Pick up a loose dread each time until all the dreads have been corn rowed. The secure the end of the cornrow with a hair elastic.
Take the second set of dreads you had previously secured with a hair elastic. These are the dreads that are directly next to the cornrow you just completed.
Part the remaining hair into two equal sections and repeat the process for each section.
You should wash your dreads at least once a week; many people wash them every three days. It is better if you undo the cornrows and then use a no-residue shampoo. You need to use a no-residue shampoo because you can’t comb or brush the residue out of dreads as you can with loose, unlocked hair.
Don’t use a leave-in conditioner. Conditioners tend to have detangling agents in them that will encourage your dreads to "unlock."
Lesley McArthur has been covering arts and music since 2003. Her health-related articles have appeared on the U.K. Department of Health website. McArthur holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Leeds.