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To Dread or not to Dread?

In my personal experience as both dreadmaker and dread enthusiast, there are two main questions people ask themselves before deciding to get synthetic dreads: 

  • Will they look pretty on me? 
  • Is it safe for my natural hair

Now while the first one is completely a matter of personal tastes and opinions on what’s pretty or not, the second one is actually very important to consider. I have been making dreads and braids for a pretty long period of time (I’m celebrating 13 years of braiding this Summer). I’ve also been wearing all kinds of dreads and braids for as long as I’ve been a braider and dreadmaker. Over the years I’ve had long hair, short hair, dyed hair and naturally dyed hair, I even went bald couple times because I got tired of hair and wanted to know how it feels to not have it at all. However none of those changes were a result of having braids or dreads in. Not once over the years have I experienced any issues related to wearing synthetic dreads or braids. So, to answer the second question – yes, it is completely safe to wear synthetic dreads or braids!  There are, however, certain rules and guidelines that must be followed to keep it safe for your natural hair. 

  • First of all, do not install too much synthetic hair! Whether you’ve purchased your dreads online or contacted a local dreadmaker to make and install them, you need to make sure you’re only installing one full set (or less, if you only need an accent). Pretty much any quality dreadmaker knows how much synthetic hair is needed for a full set of dreads or braids. If your hair is extremely thin, simply go for shorter dreads, since the shorter they are, the lighter their weight is.  
  • Don’t go styling your dreads tight after you’ve just installed them! Styling dreads and braids is one of the most fun things to do with them – and you will be able to do it anytime you want; however it’s best to let your dreads loose at least first couple days after you’ve installed them. Normally, when they’ve just been put in, your hair is already braided tight into the dreads, which is fine – that’s how they stay in your hair for a long period of time. But it’s best to not add to it, so styling the dreads or braids too tight in the first few days of wearing them is not recommended. After a few days, you’re free to style them the way you like!
  • Don’t wear the dreads for more than 3 months at a time! Normally, every case is individual – people with thick healthy hair can afford wearing synthetic dreads for the whole 3 months without having to worry about it; those with thinner hair (and I’m one of them) should cut this time to about 1,5 – 2 months tops. Generally my advice is to consider your individual traits and see for yourself, especially if your local dreadmaker isn’t there to provide you with recommendations. After you’ve had your dreads in for a safe period of time, you can take them off, give your hair some rest (a week is recommended), and then you can just install them back in! The great thing about synthetic dreads is that you can wear them for as many times as you like, it’s not a one-time purchase – it’s a nice investment in your personal style allowing you to change things whenever you like!

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