Having dreadlocks doesn’t mean you have to cut off your hair when you want a change. Dreadlocks can be unraveled, but you’ll need to work slowly and get messy. It’s important to first wash and condition your hair to make it as soft as possible. Using a metal comb, you can then separate the hair and flatten it back to its natural state. With a little patience, your hair will look as good as new.
EditWashing the Dreadlocks
- Separate big knots with your fingers. Do your best to pull apart any knotted dreadlocks or matted parts in your hair. Move gently and don’t try forcing any resistant areas unless you don’t mind pain and hair loss. You’ll be thankful you spent time now separating these parts, since they won’t turn into a tangled mess when you wash your hair.
- Wash your hair with shampoo. Wet dreadlocks are far easier to unravel than dry ones. Although many wearers keep their hair damp while unraveling, an initial wash makes it that much softer. Let your dreads soak in hot water until they feel saturated. Then, massage in your usual shampoo.
- Specialized dreadlock removal shampoo can be ordered online, but it isn’t necessary. Any store-bought brand is fine and won’t cost you an arm and a dread.
- Rinse out the soap and debris. Put your hair back in the hot water. Luxuriate in it until all the suds wash from your dreads. This removes the wax and other natural buildup that holds the dreads together. You’ll have a lot of it after keeping this hairstyle for so long!
- Rub conditioner into dreads for cheap and easy lubrication. Spread conditioner over your hair and use your fingers to massage the conditioner deep into each dreadlock. Don’t rinse off the conditioner yet. Make sure you’ve got each strand of hair nice and coated, since the conditioner makes unraveling so much easier. You can use more as needed later. Cheap store-bought conditioner is the best option because you may end up using lots of conditioner.
- Specialized dreadlock removal conditioner also exists and can be ordered online, but it isn’t necessary. You can wash your hair with whatever standard conditioner you have on hand.
- Cheap store-bought conditioner is recommended, since you’ll need to use a lot of it to keep your dreads moisturized.
- Use natural oils in place of conditioner for additional protection. Oils including coconut, jojoba, or even olive oil can also be used to moisturize dreads. Because they’re natural, some people prefer them. They’re easy for your skin to absorb and fortify your hair against combing damage. If you don’t care about those potential benefits, commercial product will be fine and probably save you money.
EditUnraveling the Dreadlocks
- Separate a dreadlock with a metal comb. Unraveling starts with one single dreadlock. Start near the end of the dreadlock with a metal tine on a sturdy comb. Try to push the tooth through the hair. You’ll likely feel some resistance, so push harder. If you can’t pierce it, you’re starting too high and need to move the comb closer to the free end of the dreadlock.
- Look for rat-tail combs online or at a beauty supply store. These have a metal tip to use for piercing, so you won’t have to wear out the tines on a good comb.
- A crochet hook can also be used instead of a comb. It can feel easier to control than most combs.
- Remoisten the hair with water. Remember, you need your hair to stay damp or else it’ll fight you more than usual. A simple way to do this is with a cup of water. Hold the cup and dunk the dread into it. Wait until the hair feels saturated. Remoisten your hair whenever it starts feeling too dry or difficult to unravel.
- A spray bottle can also be used instead of a cup, but you’ll probably have to refill it a few times. You may also mix a little conditioner into the spray bottle for extra moisturization.
- Comb the split parts of the dreadlock. Now you get to use a comb for its intended purpose. Smooth out the tangles below the point where you split the hair. Comb all the way down to the end, taking care not to rush or otherwise stress your hair. You’ll still notice a decent amount of hair falling out, but don’t worry, this is normal.
- Most of the hair that falls out is old hair. Hair that would have normally fallen into your shower drain got trapped in your dreads.
- Continue splitting and combing the dreadlock. Splitting the dreadlock gets tedious, but you’ll be happy when your hair stays healthy and whole. Take up the comb or other splitting object again. Pick up the same dreadlock you split earlier. Move up beyond the split point and split the hair again. Comb out the tangles below it, then continue splitting and combing until the dread is fully unraveled.
- Remember to keep your hair damp with water and conditioner as you do this.
- Repeat piercing and combing for other dreads. Now you’ll have to repeat the same process for every other dread you want to unravel. Remember to start the split near the bottom of the dread, since this is where it offers the least resistance. Keep on splitting and combing. It’s a labor of love when you need to remove lots of dreads, but it has to be done.
- Wash your hair again. Give your hair a reward for all the stress it has endured. Load it with your ordinary conditioner. Avoid shampoo, since you’ve already used it once today and shampooing too often dries out hair. After you’ve rinsed it off, comb it out again. Your hair is bound to look a little messy, but continue to wash with conditioning and comb for the next few days. It’ll soon be ready to be styled again.
- Use deep conditioner or natural oils instead of regular conditioner. Some people swear by deep conditioners. These products have less chemicals than cheap conditioners and prevent damage to your already stressed hair. Natural oils, including coconut oil, are another option for those who prefer conditioning with no commercial product at all.
- Both of these products are rubbed in and washed out like you would with any other conditioner.
- Most hair loss you notice after unraveling a dread is hair that already fell out. Even if your hair looks a little thin, it will grow back.
- Wait a few days before attempting to change your style. Your hair will need this time to change back to normal.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Lots of water
- Plenty of cheap conditioner
- Cup or spray bottle
- Rat-tail comb