There are many different methods for maintaining dreadlocks and just as many arguments for or against a particular method.
Those in the backcombing camp will argue that interlocking is damaging. Those in the interlocking camp will argue against the twist & rip method.
And further still fans in the dreadlock crotchet community will swear that palm-rolling is the worst due to all of the hair products typically used with this method.
The truth is that several factors contribute to determining which method is “good” or “bad” for you and it is based on things like hair texture, reasons for your loc journey, end game goals and maintenance preferences.
Why do I say this?
Because people enter into their loc journey for various reasons. Some see it as a spiritual journey, others a political statement. While others view it as a fashion trend, no more, no less.
Also, depending on your hair texture, different means of locking the hair is necessary to achieve a fully mature set of dreadlocks. It’s not a one size fits all venture.
In this article we’ll explore the differences between using a crochet hook versus a dreadlock tool to maintain your dreads. And hopefully, you’ll come away with not only a better understanding but be armed with the “tools” (pun intended) to guide you in making the best choice for your hair.
Because hair texture plays a big part in the method you choose, first let’s take a look at the main differences.
The way that you get dreadlocks to form on afro-textured or curly hair is not the same as the way they form on straight hair. Let’s take a look…
How Dreadlocks Form on Textured Hair
In an attempt to foster better understanding. Here’s a brief look at the dreadlocking process on afro-textured hair:
Step 1) Allow your hair to grow out, preferably 1 inch or longer.
Step 2) Section your hair into diagonal or square parts creating a uniform pattern that covers the entire head. It is at this point that you decide on the thickness of the mature dreadlock, which is determined by the size of these parts in this initial pattern.
Step 3) Once you have sectioned the hair, the locs can be formed using several methods. The most common for textured hair include palm-rolling, interlocking, starter braids, double-strand twists, or single-strand coils.
You can also form dreadlocks using a method called freeform or semi-freeform. This is basically when you leave the hair alone to do what it will, the dreadlocks then naturally form in no specific pattern when left to coil and matte on their own. There is no (or minimal) manipulation of the dreadlock as it goes through the matting process.
Step 4) Allow time for the dreadlocks to matte and lock. This process happens over the lifetime of the dread and each dreadlock becomes more compact as they mature. Basically, you are allowing the hair to tangle upon itself until it forms tight, dense locks of matted hair.
Step 5) On a regular basis, which can range from monthly to quarterly (to not at all for freeform dreadlockers), you will repeat the maintenance process of choice mentioned in step three.
This is the process of capturing new growth and loose hairs and coaxing them into the existing loc to continue its formation.
How Dreadlocks Form On Straight Hair
The dreadlock process will not naturally occur on straight hair, even when left to its own devices, so other methods are used…
Step 1) Allow your hair to grow out, preferably 6 inches or longer.
Step 2) Section your hair into square parts creating a uniform pattern that covers the entire head.
Step 3) Once you have sectioned the hair, the locs can be formed using two primary methods. Backcombing and twist & rip. With the backcombing process, you gather a section of hair in one hand and comb upwards towards the root with a fine toothed comb in the other hand.
You repeat this step until the hair forms tangles and the hair starts to knot and compress. When you have backcombed to the point that there is no hair left in your hand to continue, you have completed that dread. You can secure it with a rubber band elastic to hold it in place and ensure it doesn’t unravel.
You can also form dreadlocks using a method called twist & rip. This is basically when you begin to twist a section of hair (that will form one dreadlock) and as you are twisting, you periodically stop to rip the strands of hair in an upward motion. You repeat the twist and rip all the way down the length of the lock.
So to summarize, here’s the quick hit list of the different dreadlocking methods:
- Twist & Rip
- Starter Single Strand Twists
- Starter Braid or Twists
So now that we are familiar with the methods used to lock the hair, let’s dive in to the pros and cons of these two popular interlocking hair tools…
Dreadlock Crochet Hook: Pros & Cons
Pros: Easy to find at any local craft store or online. It’s basically a crochet hook used for yarn crafts so picking one up is a breeze. Because the method is so popular with dreadlock maintenance and hair weave installation, you can now find a crochet hook at most local beauty supply stores too.
Cons: Crochet hooks can be confused with latch hooks. Both are metal and both are used for the interlocking method of locking the hair. Latch hooks have a small lever-like piece that opens and closes at the hook’s tip. This lever can, and often does, snag and tear the hair.
With using a true to form crochet hook (no lever, just a hook tip), since it is not intended for the hair, it is very cumbersome to manipulate and has a learning curve before you really get the hang of using it. Perhaps not the best option for longer dreads either.
Dreadlock Tool: Pros & Cons
Pros: Since a dreadlock tool is specifically design for dreadlocks, you will find these easier to work with. They have a small loop on the end meant to capture the tip of the lock and easily pull it through the root to tighten up new growth.
There is also a straight tip version of dread tools that looks like a spike or poker. It is used to form instant locs by jabbing at the hair until it tangles on itself and also to coax wayward hairs back into the center of the dread. Keep out of reach of children for sure.
Cons: Using the smaller tools may be tough if you’re not very dextrous. Also, if you have trouble with your hands (ex. arthritis, carpel tunnel, etc…) the repetitive movements and working with small sections that comes with using these tools will pose a challenge.
Our Preferred Dreadlock Interlocking Tool
The InstaLoc Hair Tool for Dreadlock Maintenance is our healthy hair alternative to the common latch-hook and crochet needle techniques of maintaining locs. No more painful retightening sessions and sleepless, tender headed nights.
You can have ‘instant’ locs with our flexible, easy-to-use threader. The whole process is quick and painless, with no snags, tears or damage which is so common with the latch-hook method of dreadlock maintenance.
Using the Instaloc cuts your dreadlock maintenance time in half, guaranteed.
The InstaLoc Hair Tool’s long, flexible handle is specially designed to help you to get at all of those hard to reach areas – so you can do maintenance yourself. The large ‘eye’ in the InstaLoc helps you to catch and lock dreads of all shapes and sizes.
It also works great for installing crotchet braids and faux locs too!
So now that you have the 411 on using a dreadlock crochet hook versus a dreadlock tool, which will you choose?