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Synthetic Dreads – Terms and Their Meanings

The Wonderful World Of Misunderstandings

I’ve made a ton of synthetic dreads over the years, and that means I’ve done a lot of communicating as well. One of the most common occurrences among communication between my customers and me is the misuse of terms. It’s lead to many an issue, especially when some of the details get muddled. Many people and even other dreadmakers tend to misunderstand some of the terms used when describing synthetic dreads, and I think it’s important that everyone is on the same page so the set you receive is the set you wanted.

What Does it Mean?

Synthetic Dread Extensions – This is one of the most misused terms I hear here at LaetiLocs. Many people tend to use this phrase when they are describing sets of synthetic dreads. The problem is that the word ‘extensions’ implies that you need something to extend onto! If you ask your dreadmaker for “synthetic dread extensions”, you may end up receiving a set that is meant to be installed into existing dreads, and that’s no good if you don’t already have dreads in your hair.

Loose Ends / Whispy Ends – Loose ends on synthetic dreads are undreaded ends and appear more whispy than if they were dreaded all the way down. I’ve actually had requests for whispy ends or non-whispy ends when the opposite was wanted.

Crochet Dreads – Crochet dreads simply refer to a style of making synthetic dreads. Dreads made with a crochet are typically much more held together than those made from other styles, such as handrolling. I make my dreads with a crochet, which is why many of our customers compliment our quality. It is a much longer process, but the result is always worth it as crochet sets can last a lifetime. To summarize, crochet dreads is a misnomer and only refers to how the dreadmaker makes the dreads.

Smooth Dreads – Smooth dreads are another style of synthetic dreads that I frequently use here. Smooth dreads typically do not have as much frizzled hair as crocheted dreads do, and the styles ultimately boil down to which one you prefer the look of.

Single-Ended Dreads vs. Double-Ended Dreads – This one is a doozy because both of these choices differ but don’t really have much impact on the final look of your synthetic dreads. Single-ended synthetic dreads have a loop on the end that hair is pulled into to install. Double-ended dreads have two ends and a fold in the middle that is folded into hair to install. Single-ended sets typically come with 70 – 90 single-ended pieces while double-ended sets typically come with 30 – 45 double-ended pieces. I always recommended double-ended sets for synthetic dread newcomers as they’re easier to install and uninstall.

Knowing Terms Saves Sets

Knowing the terms and their proper meanings can save you a ton of time and help you make informed choices about your new sets of synthetic dreads. If there’s ever a word that your dreadmaker uses and that you don’t know the meaning of, it never hurts to ask. I love answering questions and helping you design the set you’ve always wanted.

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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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Dreadstyles

There are tons of ways to style your dreads, and in this week’s blog article, we’ve got a treat for you! We’ve produced a video instead of a blog post to show you some popular dreadstyles. If you like this one, we’ll continue this series periodically for you guys so you can see all of the awesome ways you can style your dreadlocks.

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Dreads Are For Everyone

Your Style is As Unique As You

One of my favorite things about making synthetic dreads for my clients is how beautifully unique every set turns out. I make one set at a time, and the same amount of love and care is put into each one to ensure they look and feel their best.

There’s something else equally unique and beautiful in this world, and that’s you. Your clothes, your hair, and your style are the parts of you that you can customize to your heart’s content to make you you. In online games, people spend a plentiful amount of hours and money customizing their characters to their heart’s content.

A Brief History Lesson…

Hair styles have been used as a sign of leadership, to make social statements, and even as art since the dawn of humanity. Dreadlocks are no exception to this. From the Ancient Greeks, to the Viking Age, to the Plains of Africa, to even the hippie movement in the US during the 1960’s, dreads have been one of many amazing hairstyles with deep cultural roots.

Spartan Hoplite in Locs

More than half of the Greek statues found from 615 – 485 B.C. wore their hair in dreadlocks according to “Athens and the Peloponnese” by Rick Steves. In Ancient Africa, different styles of dreadlocks were worn by different tribes to distinguish from each other. The Hindu Veda, their scripture, provides the earliest known evidence of the existence of dreadlocks. In the 1960’s – 1970’s, dreadlocks were worn as a social statement by thousands in the US.

The point I want to get across with this post is that dreadlocks, like every other hairstyle in existence, isn’t specific to one culture or sub-culture. Their existence is comparable to that of the pyramid design. Pyramids were built by The Mayans, the Aztecs, in Egypt, in Eastern Europe, and more due to the strong and large foundation the pyramid shape provides.

But… My Vodka!

Russian Vodka

My culture is famous for vodka, a strong alcoholic drink from the 14th century. The name, “Vodka”, is derived from the Russian word for “Water”: “Voda” or “Вода”. Everyone who’s adopted vodka into their culture of alcoholism is adopting something from Russian culture whether they want to admit it or not. Sorry, Westerners, but vodka is ours!

This mentality clearly isn’t sound and doesn’t hold up very well, but this is essentially the same type of argument we’re hearing about synthetic dreads, with some of our clients being harassed in PM’s about getting them. Claiming a monopoly on something such as a hairstyle doesn’t just cause rifts where they don’t need to exist, it also sends a message that using anything from anyone’s culture is off-limits, and that doesn’t make a ton of sense in today’s world as long as it’s not meant to be offensive.

In Closing

One of our clients in their new hair

Globalization is a beautiful thing and suppressing the cultural blending it creates could be more of a hindrance than we realize. Many parts of American culture that we’ve grown to love in Europe wouldn’t exist here if we were barred from enjoying them. The same can be said for the hundreds of European cultures that the US adopted from its immigrants during the 20th century. Dreads are for everyone around the world, just like they were for their ancestors.

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Why the Wait: What’s Up With Our Processing Times?

What the Heck is a ‘Processing Time’?

If you’ve been shopping for custom items online for more than a few minutes, you’ve probably noticed that they all have a processing time. These times can range anywhere from 5 days to 10 weeks or more depending on the complexity of the item. What entails ‘Processing Time’ differs from store to store. Some retailers such as Wal-Mart have a small processing time of a few days. During this time, they are preparing your order for shipment by finding it in a warehouse and packaging it up for you. Some sellers on sites like Etsy and Amazon have processing times of seven to fourteen days, or one to two weeks. During this time, your order is being received, planned to be made, and then brought to life by the maker. Processing time encompasses the time from when an order is placed to the date that it is shipped, regardless of what is happening during this time.

It’s no secret that our processing time isn’t the shortest on our custom items during the peak times of year, typically early Summer or late Winter. While we do try our best to meet estimated shipping dates, sets can sometimes still ship a few days past them (Hence why we always try to stress that the processing time is approximate). Instead of giving some vague answers as to why this is the case or trying to ignore it, we feel it is better that we walk you through what exactly is happening here at LaetiLocs while your order is ‘processing’.

An Order: From Placement to Delivery

We always reach out to each one of our clients once a custom order is placed unless we’ve discussed a set beforehand. Every set is handmade uniquely, and we want to be sure your set is everything you want it to be and more. Once payment is received, the processing time begins right away. At the time of this article, our processing times are approximately 4-6 weeks for custom items, but this fluctuates depending on my workload at the time.

What Happens Next?

  1. An order is placed on our online store and entered into the queue.
  2. Details are worked out with the client.
  3. I work 10 – 12 hours each day making sets in the queue in order.
  4. The order placed is next in queue. Materials are purchased.
  5. Work begins on the set in the queue. This can take anywhere from 1-4 days.
  6. Once the set is ready, it is packaged and shipped the very next morning.
  7. Pictures are posted on Instagram of the set and a tracking number is sent to the client.
  8. The order arrives to a happy client!

Ye Ole’ Assembly Line

You’ve seen several mentions of a ‘Queue’ in this post, so I want to clarify what this is referring to. We keep records of all orders here, offline and online included. These records are kept in a Google CSV file and ordered by date. Orders are copied from the CSV to a handwritten notebook so they can be taken to the kanekalon store and post office. They are then made in the order they’re written in the book. Don’t worry, we only record your address and set description to make sure we get everything right.

Sets are not made over the course of 4-6 weeks but rather 1-4 days. This is why the LaetiLocs’ Instagram gets new sets almost daily. The lengthy processing time here at LaetiLocs is to account for the queue of orders that need to be made. This allows our processing times to change whenever the workload is less. For example, when our shop was first opened, our processing time was as 1 week on full sets as we had no other sets in line to be made. Over the past couple of years, we’ve adjusted our processing time several times, most recently last Autumn. Now that we have newer, smaller custom items like mini sets, we can reduce our processing times more regularly!

What’s This ‘We’ Business?

The ‘We’ in this post refers to the people of LaetiLocs, Caleb and Vera. This is the other main factor for the lengthier processing time. We only have one person who is a dreadmaker. Other shops that have shorter processing times may have upwards of 5-15 dreadmakers at any given time. Caleb is in charge of online support and online business jargon, while Vera makes the dreads and runs the Instagram. We would love to get your dreads out to you sooner, but with only one worker and online/offline clients, we can only do so much with our 10-hour workday. Maybe one day we’ll have a full crew to work with.

Can I Have My Order By This Date?

Yes!! … Maybe. We understand that when you are looking for a custom set, you most likely want it by a certain date and not “Whenever within the next 7 weeks or so”. This is something we’re always trying to improve. We’re always happy to give you updates or let you know if things are going to be a little late. If you need a set by a certain date and are unsure if it will arrive in time, you are always welcome to ask us. We can give you a more definite answer as we are used to the shipping times in most countries now.

One thing we would like to add to our website (Etsy won’t let us add this functionality) is a delivery date estimator that would let you know approximately when your order is going to arrive. This isn’t ready yet and is probably a couple of months away, but it is definitely something we’re looking into.

Why Trust Us?

We know that a long processing time may hurt our credibility as it probably seems incredibly likely we’ve forgotten all about you after a few weeks. 100 reviews on Etsy with 5/5 stars still isn’t enough, especially when other stores are able to pump sets out faster than us with even more reviews. We believe that it’s not any of that that lends us much credibility; It’s our communication and personal touch. We’re always happy to hear from you, even if you aren’t planning on making a purchase anytime soon, if at all. One of the benefits of having an American and a Russian working together is that we are able to communicate in native English as well as simple English if need be. You don’t need to be nervous or shy to message us on our communication channels. We’re always ready to respond and help you any way we can in any way we need to. We love to reach out and talk about freshly ordered sets, and we sure love having new sets to show off!

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Substances Do’s and Don’ts on Synthetic Dreads

You’ve just purchased and received a beautiful new set of synthetic dreads in a pleasantly wrapped package. You open the package, take them to your local stylist, and have them installed. After about a week, you realize that you need to clean your set. You embark to Google, but you can’t seem to find a general consensus. Now what? Below is a small list I’ve compiled of substances I’m commonly asked about. If I’ve missed any, or you have a suggestion, you’re welcome to let me know, and I’ll be happy to update as soon as possible. Stay Lovely! <3

Safe / Recommended:
Water – Obviously, your dreads will need to be washed. While excessive washing can wear and loosen the hairs in each dread causing a frizzy look (Washing once a week or so is the best way to go about it), water itself will not damage the dreads or decrease their lifespan in any way.

Shampoo (ANY Brand, NO Conditioner) – Do not be fooled by anyone claiming that you must use a certain brand of shampoo on your dreads when you wash them. As long as there is no conditioner included, a simple store brand bottle will not have any adverse effects on your synthetic dreads.

Apple Cider Vinegar Solution – A very diluted solution is used as a method for cleaning natural dreads and can be used on synthetic dreads as well. This solution is a deep cleaning method and requires following directions online to a ‘T’. It cannot be used very often due to its nature and can decrease the lifespan of your set, making it stiff and brittle.

Neutral / Untested:
Essential Oils – While I understand the apprehension to using essential oils near your new dreads, I see no harm in doing so as long as very little is applied. It may be beneficial if you would like to cover up certain smells or simply want an interesting fragrance.

Not Safe / Not Recommended:
Conditioner (ANY Brand) – Conditioner is not safe to use on your new synthetic dreads due to its oily and slick nature. It can cause many problems for your new set and should be avoided.

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Choosing a Length for Synthetic Dreads

Length is one of the most important choices to make when you’re ordering your new set of custom synthetic dreads! Lots of places offer many different options, but here at LaetiLocs, you can order dreads anywhere from 10 to 25 inches. Those are some long dreads! All of the lengths are for each dread, so if you order double ended dreads, these lengths are from the middle of the dread (The fold) to the end! 🙂

Many people struggle with picturing different lengths on themselves, and that’s okay. It’s kind of like choosing a wallpaper. Sure, you can get an idea of how it will look with those little paper squares, but you won’t really know unless you’ve seen it on the wall itself. Luckily, there are several ways that you can improve your idea of how different lengths will look on you.

The first way is to simply measure your hair now. Is your hair already 15 inches? That’s about how long your dreads will look on you.

The second way to is to check out our Instagram to see previous customers’ photos. If you see a length you like, ask us how long they are. We will have an answer for you!

The third way is to follow these general rules, also listed in our comprehensive guide for synthetic dreads:

  • 10 Inches: ~Shoulder-Length
  • ​15 Inches: ~Shoulder blade-Length
  • ​20 Inches: ~Waist-Length
  • ​25 Inches: ~Belt-Length

Of course, this is very approximate considering everyone’s height differs so greatly, but these are at least some general rules for you to follow to help choose your length. 🙂

In Closing

Choosing a length for your synthetic dreads can be a real pain for some, but we strive to make it as easy as possible for everyone.

Need help choosing your length? We are happy to help. Please feel free to e-mail us anytime. 🙂

Would you like to pick the next blog topic? We’d love to hear your ideas! Send them over to laetilocsstore@gmail.com. If we choose to write about your idea, you will be credited as a co-author!

Image from @vikingnextdoor

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Order Synthetic Dreads Online

Hi there, everyone! 🙂 Today’s blog entry will be all about ordering synthetic dreads online, its pros, and how to make sure you receive exactly what you are looking for. This will be an important entry for those who are new to synthetic dreads, those who aren’t quite sure whether or not to order theirs online, and those who want to make the order process even faster than it already is.

Where to Buy Custom Synthetic Dreads Online and Why

This is an interesting and complex question. Most people flock to websites such as Amazon, AliExpress, or even Etsy to search for custom synthetic dreads. There’s nothing wrong with these options. Many of you know that LaetiLocs has a successful and well-known Etsy shop.

While these options don’t present any problem for you, they don’t give dreadmakers a way to make their shops more personalized. Let me explain what I mean here. laetilocs.com allows us to change every aspect of your experience, from visiting the website for the first time to completing the checkout for your 3rd set. It allows us to make the process more streamlined, monitor what you like and what you don’t like, and make changes accordingly. While marketplaces like Etsy are excellent for those who prefer the marketplace experience, smaller stores like laetilocs.com are better for those who are looking for the first time or want a more personalized experience when buying synthetic dreads online for the first or the fiftieth time.

Ordering Custom Synthetic Dreads: The Easy Way!

While I’m always looking for ways to make the order process even faster than it already is, I believe that LaetiLocs has one of the most streamlined processes for ordering custom sets online. With that said, most of the time contact will still be required to confirm a detail or two, and that’s okay! We’re always happy to hear from you. With all of that said, let’s go step-by-step through the ordering process so that your custom set will be exactly what you’re picturing!

Step 1: Choosing your Length and Colors

I have a blog entry coming soon that will cover length in greater detail, but for now, I will give a crash course version. The best way to know how long your dreads will be is to use a tape measure and measure down from the top of your head. Since dreads are handmade, the lengths are slightly approximate (i.e. 25 inches will most likely vary from 23-26 inches), but this is a good way to estimate how (long) they will appear on you.

Step 2: Read our First Time Guide

Our first time synthetic dreads guide is your next stop! Here you can find information regarding different transitions, styles, and colors. This page is your one-stop-shop, so you may want to bookmark it for reference. 🙂

Step 3: Order!

Once you can visualize what you want, place your order! Note the colors, length, style, transition, and maybe have a couple of reference pictures if it’s very specific. 🙂 After you order, we will most likely reach out to confirm any details we might need, so check that email! 🙂

Closing

I hope that this article helps clear things up regarding ordering custom synthetic dreads online! It’s an easy and fun process, and we guarantee you’ll be happy with the results. 🙂

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Choosing the Right Colors

When it comes to ordering dreads online, choosing the color is the first and the most important thing to do. Kanekalon can’t be dyed (with very few exceptions), so the color you pick cannot be changed after you receive the dreads.

My offline customers have a way to match their haircolor with the material directly in the store: it’s as easy as comparing a few strands of kanekalon to your natural color and choosing the one that works best for you. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for ordering online.

Ever since we started selling dreads and braids online, we’ve been thinking of the easiest way for our customers to choose the color(s) for their sets. With our new color palette this process is easier than ever!

All you need is a picture of your own hair, and a photo/picture editing app or program (even Paint will do!).

First, take a picture of your hair in daylight. It’s important to have no filters applied, no bright direct sunlight and no artificial lighting for this picture, as it may affect the way the color looks on a photo.

Upload the picture to your device and head straight to our color palette right here. There is a clickable link just below the page description if you’d like to download the entire color palette to your device:

Don’t worry, the archive is completely safe to download 🙂

After that, all you need to do is pick the colors you like (or would like to use in your set), and compare them to the picture of your haircolor using the app to see if they match. This method is also great for playing with color combinations and checking how well the colors you picked work together in an ombre or simply next to each other.

If you prefer not to download anything, or if you trust us with matching the colors – just attach the photo(s) of your haircolor to your conversation or the order note, and we’ll happily do it for you! Remember to use the recommendations for taking a photo of your hair that I mentioned earlier.

Have any questions? Did I miss something? Feel free to comment below! As always, thank you for checking in.

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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:)