man with dreadlocks image by nutech21 from Fotolia.com

Rasta, or Rastafarian, hair is more commonly referred to as dreadlocks. While Rasta hair is worn as a symbol of devotion, the wearing of dreadlocks is not limited to the Rastafarian culture. Examples of dreadlocks can be found in African, Asian and European cultures and more recently have been adopted as an acceptable fashion statement. Because dreadlocks are essentially intentional mats of hair, many people believe dreadlocks simply require not brushing your hair. However, neat and clean dreadlocks require a careful hair-care routine.

Make an appointment with a loctician — someone who specializes in the making and care of dreadlocks. Whether you are just starting to grow dreadlocks or if you have had dreadlocks for years, a loctician can help refine your style and recommend the best care routine for your hair.

Use only products created for dreadlocks. Because dreadlocks are dense mats of hair, shampoo residue does not rinse away. Use a low-lather shampoo that rinses cleanly. In addition, use natural oils like olive, jojoba, or rosemary to condition the dreadlocks and prevent breakage.

Wash your dreads, but do so infrequently. It is a misconception that you should not wash dreadlocks. Unwashed dreadlocks smell, frizz, and break due to internal rotting. When first creating dreadlocks, you should only wash once a week. After the first three or four weeks, wash the dreadlocks as often as every other day or maintain a once-a-week regimen.

Establish a waxing routine. Dreadlocks maintain their shape through the careful application of beeswax. The wax holding dreadlocks together washes away over time. Dreadlocks should be re-waxed frequently to maintain a smooth look and reduce frizz. Mature dreadlocks only need to be waxed every-other week.

Palm roll the dreadlocks. Continue to palm roll each dreadlock in a clockwise direction after every washing. This will keep the dread tight and incorporate new hair as it grows out.

Give yourself a good scalp massage. Brushing hair regularly distributes oils along the hair shaft and removes dead skin. Since dreads cannot be brushed, rubbing the scalp encourages the production of natural oils that condition the scalp and help prevent dandruff.

Sleep in a silk scarf or head wrap to protect the dreadlocks. The slippery nature of silk allows hair to slide unlike the cotton of a pillow case. The silk protects the dreadlocks from unraveling and becoming frizzy as you toss and turn in your sleep. If you are a back sleeper, try an African head rest that supports the back of the head while leaving the hair unpinned.