Dreads are a hairstyle commonly identified with the practices of Jamaicans affiliated with the Rastafarian religion. Rastafarians are a Christian sect with an Afrocentric social and spiritual slant. Dreadlocks came out of the belief expressed in the biblical doctrine of Numbers Chapter 6 verse 5, which explains that men should let their locks grow until their god returns. In the book “Dreads,” Francesco Mastalia writes that the style dates back to early civilization. “The Old Testament recounts the tale of Samson and Delilah, in which a man’s potency is directly linked to the ‘seven-locks’ upon his head. Jesus of Nazareth would have returned from his forty days in the desert with matted hair.”

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Play with your hair, and ignore your mother’s rants against it. Twist and twirl your hair whenever you think about doing it. In the book “The Hair Bible,” Susan Craig writes, “The more you twist and tangle the roots and the ends the faster they will grow into tight, healthy, and knotty dreads.”

Brush your hair regularly with a soft-bristle brush. Re-apply wax to your dreads after brushing. Don’t tug on your hair. Ignore the myth that dreads don’t require care.

Shampoo your hair weekly, but not too often to dry it out of its natural nutrients. Avoid shampoos that are heavily perfumed and have moisturizers and conditioners mixed in.

Wet your hair with warm water and gently massage the shampoo into your hair. Don’t pull and tug the dreads while they are soapy or they will potentially unravel. Work the soap in. Rinse and repeat several times.

Keep your hair free of oils and residue. Don’t saturate your hair and scalp with drugstore products that leave residue, especially those with perfume fragrances. Residues are creams, moisturizers and perfumes left behind after washing, and they can cause mold to grow in dreads.

Squeeze all the water out of your hair before you finish shampooing it. Damp hair becomes loose and is more easily separated, leading to individual hairs being pulled out of the dreads and eventually leading to bald patches. Dry with a blow dryer or air dry afterward.

Re-apply hair wax after washing. Make sure your hair is dry beforehand. Apply small amounts of the wax and the part of the hair closest to the scalp to reach your newest-growing hair strands.

Tie up your hair at night before you go to bet. If you’ve washed your hair that night, dry your hair thoroughly before you go to bed.

Avoid using rubber bands to hold your hair in place. Rubber bands that are too tight can cause thinning by pulling out individual hair fibers. If you use rubber bands, make sure they are loose, yet secure.

Apply wax less frequently as your locks mature. Apply it every few months to the newly grown hairs to keep your dreads neat and to protect loose hairs from being pulled and loosened.