Synthetic Dreadlock Care Guide
To keep your new synthetic dreads looking magical, it’s advised that you follow the aftercare information given below.
- Various clips
- Pin tail comb (metal tip preferred)
- Two mirrors
- Sturdy rubber bands (either 100% rubber, orthodontic brace bands or horse braiding bands are generally recommended as the strongest). If you only have supermarket plastic bands, please make sure you double or triple up on bands to ensure you don’t lose dreadlocks since these have a habit of snapping!)
- Braid accelerator (such as Giovanni Wicked Texture) [optional]
Please install your dreadlocks on clean hair that has not been conditioned. This will help keep the braids more secure. To make your installation easier, I recommend that you use two mirrors – one in front, and one positioned behind so that you can see the back of your head. I recommend a gooseneck holder (normally for tablet or phone use) in order to mount a mirror behind your head easily. This has the benefit of being adjustable!
It’s always a sensible idea to lay out the rows of dreadlocks before you begin installing so that you can ensure that colour placement is as you desire and to ensure you know how many sections to make.
For installing your dreadlocks I recommend you use a brick lay pattern and begin at the back of your neck. This is the ideal place to put any Single-Ended (SE) dreadlocks in order to reduce the weight on the back of your head. Make a horizontal section from ear to ear on the back of your head and clip all the additional hair away on the top of your head whilst you work.
You should be able to fit 2 rows of dreadlocks on this initial section. It can be a good idea to make these sections a little bigger because it helps reduce the weight on the back of your head and additionally the hair towards your neck can be a little thin and fine, so it’s beneficial to have larger sections here to help make the braids more secure and comfortable.
Once you've done the back of your head below your ears, you can move up to the next section. Make 2 horizontal section lines above the ear to create 2 rows. For these, It's best to use Double-Ended (DE) dreadlocks for the first section closest to your face on each side before placing SEs and any braids from your dreadlock kit on the rest of these rows. You can choose to mix the braids up with the DE dreadlocks at this point if you wish, although keeping most of the DE dreadlocks for the top of your head will provide maximum volume and coverage.
Once these two rows are completed, make a small row on the back of your head, which will be shaped somewhat like an eye. This normally holds 3 DE dreadlocks and serves to straighten up the area on the top of your head ready for installing the top section.
Finally, the top section can be done in horizontal rows from the back moving towards the front. Make sure each dreadlock falls between the one in the previous row. This is where it is a good idea to count out how many dreadlocks you have left and to budget the dreadlocks accordingly. By making the sections at the back of the head slightly larger, you should have around 16-20 dreadlocks remaining to place on the top of the head in these final rows, often in rows of 5.
How to Braid in Synthetic Dreadlocks
For braiding, I recommend using a blanket braid, since it provides a more secure attachment for your synthetic dreadlocks and helps to reduce the amount of your own hair visible. You can then secure with 1-2 rubber bands to ensure that your dreadlocks are well-attached. If you’re not familiar with blanket braiding, there are many videos on YouTube to show the process (Sacred Knots video coming soon!)
Discomfort After Installation
Please be aware that it can be a little uncomfortable after you have installed synthetic dreadlocks, especially if it is your first time wearing them, or you have a particularly long or heavy set. This will ease over the next 24 - 48 hours and the level of discomfort and duration varies considerably depending on the individual.
Some individuals with sensitive scalps can find they develop tension bumps as a result of the hair being sectioned. If this occurs, please don’t worry – simply try not to scratch and apply a soothing spray such as Dollylocks Refreshening Spray to the scalp to ease discomfort. These bumps will normally go down of their own accord after a few days, but if irritation continues to occur or worsen, please remove the synthetic dreadlocks. Sometimes people need to build up to wearing a full set over time, installing them for longer periods of time each time. In very rare cases, some people can experience an allergic reaction to the kanekalon fibre that the dreadlocks are made of.
Sleeping with Synthetic Dreadlocks
To preserve your dreadlocks and keep them looking neat, a satin dreadlock haircap is advised. This will prevent the hairs from loosening from your attachment braids for as long as possible to preserve a clean and tidy look.
You may want to sleep with your dreadlocks placed above your pillow to avoid tangling yourself in them whilst asleep!
Washing your Synthetic Dreadlocks
I advise washing your hair once a week with synthetic dreadlocks in. You can wear your dreadlocks in a dreadlock-specific swimming cap for showers for the rest of the week to avoid getting them wet. Please wash with a non-residue shampoo. The Dollylocks liquid shampoos are ideal for this use, and they smell lovely too! You will want to focus the shampoo on your scalp, moving each dreadlock to one side as you wash that area of the scalp. Rinse well after shampooing your hair.
Always try and wash your synthetic dreadlocks in the morning to ensure there is the maximum amount of time for them to dry before you go to sleep. Please do not use conditioner on your hair whilst your dreadlocks are braided in!
Drying Your Synthetic Dreadlocks
Your synthetic dreadlocks are made from a material called kanekalon. This is heat reactive, so it is best to not use any heat source on them such as a hairdryer, straighteners or curling irons. Ideally, wring your dreadlocks out working down from the top to bottom, wrap them in a towel for a while and then allow them to drip dry.
Caring for your Loose Tips
If you have loose tips on your dreadlocks, you may want to apply a conditioning oil and comb them out once or twice a week to keep the soft, loose look. I recommend the Dollylocks Conditioning Oils, which come in a variety of scents and are safe to use on Sacred Knots synthetic dreadlocks.
Removing Your Synthetic Dreadlocks
After you have worn your synthetic dreadlocks for approximately 6 weeks, it is time to take them out to prevent your loose hair from beginning to matt up. Simply take a stich unpicker and cut the bands open, then use the tip of a pintail comb to unwind the braid from around the dreadlock. Once you have removed the dreadlocks you’ll have extremely curly hair. You’ll also notice a lot of hair falling out when you wash your hair. This is normal and is simply where the hair you would normally shed during the time you have worn your dreadlocks has been caught inside the attachment braids.
Aftercare for Your Synthetic Dreadlocks
Once your synthetic dreadlocks are uninstalled, you can wash them. Fill a bath up with warm water, add some wool-care washing liquid and then give your dreadlocks a soak after swishing them around and squeezing them gently in the water. Hang up to dry and always ensure they are completely dry before storing. If you can, hang them on a coat hanger to keep them straight. It’s a good idea to give the tips another comb and condition before you store them as well so they’re looking lovely for the next time you wear them!