Dreadlocks are made of matted hair that starts as a long strand of tangles and solidifies over time. Maintaining your locks, especially during the first year, takes plenty of time and patience. Once your locks are solid, especially if you have naturally straight hair, you will still have an inch or two of unlocked hair at the roots. This can leave your locks looking unkempt. Regular twisting and palm-rolling are essential for keeping your roots neat.
Wash your hair with residue-free shampoo, scrubbing your scalp well. Work up a lather, leave it on your scalp for a few minutes, then rinse, squeezing the suds through your locks. Wrap your hair in a towel to absorb excess water, then dry it under a hood dryer or allow it to air dry.
Gather your locks into a ponytail on top of your head.
Pull three locks at a time out of the ponytail. Hold them together right where they start to dread, just below the unlocked roots.
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Push down slightly and rub the locks in a circular motion on your scalp. After about 30 seconds, you will start to feel the roots becoming tangled. Continue rubbing in circles for another 30 seconds.
Drop the locks and pick up one of the three at a time. Press your palms together, with your thumbs against your scalp, and roll the lock vigorously back and forth for 30 seconds to help solidify the tangles and lock the roots.
Products exist to make root maintenance faster and easier. Several companies make lock-tightening gel, usually aloe vera-based. You can also use zinc oxide powder, plain aloe or dread wax.
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.