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Installing Your Synthetic Dreads

In this article, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on how to install your synthetic dreads at home. 

Before you start, you’re going to need: 

  • Hair comb with a “tail”
  • Hair clips 
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Small rubber bands

You would also need to divide your dreads into two piles (one for the front and one for the back). Normally, it takes more pieces for the front section (to make them look thicker and have more volume), but it’s always easier to start with the back section of your hair, so just make sure you have a bit more dread pieces ready for the front section. Depending on how many pieces you have, the amount may vary, but the general rule is that the front part of your hair usually needs just a few pieces more than the back. When you’re more experienced with it, you’ll know exactly how many pieces you need for each part, and you can also experiment with braiding in circle rather than back&front part. For a beginner, two sections are optimal. 

Start by sectioning your hair in two parts – use the hair comb’s “tail” (see picture above) to separate the hair evenly from the top of your head down to each ear, ending the “line” just a bit behind the ears. This way, if you decide to wear the dreads loose, you won’t have ears “poking” through the dreads;) Use the water spray to help keep your hair in order and make sectioning easier. 

Sweep your front hair up in a bun or any way you feel comfortable using hair clips. Make sure the hair is clipped tightly, you don’t want it in your eyes or clinging to your fingers while you’re working on the back part of your hair. 

Again, at least for the back part of your hair it’s always better if someone else sections it for you and installs the dreads. Even with two mirrors, it’s still quite tricky to part the hair in straight even rows, let alone braid the dreads in without looking at them. However it’s absolutely possible, just with a bit more effort. 

There are two most popular ways of installing synthetic dreads: simple braid method and blanket stitch method. First one is best for short/medium hair and is very easy to do. Second is a bit trickier but perfect for long hair as it visually makes your hair shorter without having to cut it. 

Regardless of which method you choose, sectioning your hair is very important. After you’ve divided it into two parts (back and front), use the same hair comb to section a straight row of hair from the lower part of your hair (where it meets your neck). You don’t need to make the line perfectly straight, the goal is to not let the parts be too messy since it may cause your hair to tangle and we don’t want that. Spray some water on the hair to help the sectioning (generally, always use some water when sectioning or braiding – it helps a lot to keep the hair together and not let any hairs loose while working on the dreads). After you’ve made a row, start dividing it into parts by “drawing” vertical lines across the row with your comb. Don’t be shy to make the parts wide – you don’t want to overload the back of your hair with dreads and you only need those parts to be smaller closer to the top of your head. Clip the parts you don’t need with hair clips leaving one loose to start braiding. With double ended dreads, clip one half of the dread piece to your hair (doesn’t matter where exactly as long as the clip holds it:)), with single ended – drag the hair from the part you need through the hole. Divide your hair into two parts, with the dread acting as third part of the braid. Start braiding! Make sure to not make it too tight – your hair and scalp shouldn’t feel uncomfortable while braiding. 

Here’s a video showing simple braid method of installing double ended dreads: 

And here’s a video showing the blanket stitch method of installing synthetic dreads: 

The two videos above explain and show the difference between the two methods. However to better understand how to install synthetic dreads into your own hair, here’s another video of the process. It also shows how to use rubber bands to secure the ends of your hair after you’ve finished braiding. 

Alternatively, you can use a cotton thread to secure the ends of your hair after the braid is finished. It’s more “advanced” and takes more time, but it’s way more secure and you can pick a thread that matches the color of your hair (or the dreads, if you prefer). If you want to use a thread, simply add it to your hair before finishing the braid (you should be able to braid an inch or so with both your hair and the thread), then wrap the thread around the ends of your hair and the dread piece, and secure it with a couple tight knots. Note that this method is usually used by dreadmakers so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work for you – rubber bands work just fine and you can also find ones to match your hair color! 

Make sure to give your hands and arms enough rest in between braiding the rows: it’s not the most comfortable position and it’s natural that your arms might be tired. Your neck might also feel uncomfortable if you bend it for too long, so taking small breaks to move around a bit is highly recommended! I personally take a five minute break every hour to stretch, move my neck and give my arms some rest. 

After you’re done with the back of your hair, the front part looks (and feels) very easy to do. You can use a mirror to section your hair in perfect parts, and you can – obviously – see how the braid is coming along, so even though you’d have a few more dread pieces for the front part, it’ll still go faster and much easier than the back. Just make sure to go from your ears to the top, just like you started from your neck to the top while braiding the back part. 

And that’s pretty much it! There really is no secret to installing the dreads, it may be time consuming (especially for the first time), but it really isn’t difficult. Anyone can do it with a bit of patience and a good tv-show or some music in the background to make it more fun:) 

Please let me know if you have any questions, don’t be shy to ask them in the comments, or in any of my social media accounts if that works for you! Thank you for taking the time to read, I hope this helps you with installing your synthetic dreads:)