You don't have to cut off all your hair when you decide you no longer want to wear dreadlocks. Because dreads are masses of tangled hair, the key to removing them is to use a deep conditioner and gently comb them out. While this can sometimes take days, depending on the length and thickness of your dreads, you can save some or all of your hair by detangling them. A citrus-based shampoo helps to remove buildup.
Fill a bathtub with the hottest water you can stand. Lie back and soak your dreads for 10 minutes.
Lather your locks with a citrus-based shampoo to help cut through dread wax, environmental contaminants and sebum buildup. After shampooing, rinse your hair thoroughly with hot water and towel dry.
Massage a silicone-based deep conditioner through your hair, working it into each dreadlock. The more conditioner you use, the better. Leave the conditioner on your hair.
Fill a spray bottle one-quarter of the way with the conditioner. Add hot water to the top and shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.
Comb out each dreadlock with a fine-tooth metal comb, starting at the ends and working your way up. A flea comb works well for this purpose, as does a comb with a pick on the end. Work up the dreadlocks one-half inch at a time, spraying your hair with the conditioner water if it starts to dry.
Wash your hair again when your dreadlocks are untangled. Follow with a deep-conditioning treatment and a trim to remove the inevitable split ends.
Detangling your dreadlocks can take several days. Every time you wash your hair and condition it, the process will get easier, so start every session with another shampoo and conditioning treatment. Buy several combs and enlist the help of friends to make the process faster.
Ann Jones has been writing since 1998. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. Her journalistic work can be found in major magazines and newspapers. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.