There are a lot of methods in circulation on how best to maintain your dreadlocks. And with every loctician or self-taught loc stylist proclaiming the “best and only” way to do it, dreadlock maintenance can start to get really confusing.
Let’s take twisting for example. Twisting, which is sometimes interchanged with palm-rolling is the most common method of twisting, re-twisting and generally tidying up your dreadlocks. It has been the leading method for re-twistng afro-textured hair to date and most loc stylists use this method for its simplicity and speed.
Palm-rolling locs is a popular method used to help the matting process of dreads by training them to compress and tighten with time and guided manipulation.
It also works to bury loose hairs back into the center of the dreadlock. To palm-roll you would simply place the dreadlock between the base of your palms and rub it back and forth with applied pressure.
Remember when you used to roll Play-Doh between the palm of your hands to make those long, skinny snake ropes? It’s pretty much the same action that you’re doing here. Palm-rolling your locs on a regular basis will help them mature with a more uniform structure, in other words they’ll keep a nicer shape.
The palm-rolling method is effective for:
- tightening the middle of puffy locs
- coaxing frizzy hairs back into the center of the loc
- smoothing out lumps and bumps and making them more uniform
- making your locs have a more cylindrical appearance
But let’s get back to twisting…
So exactly how do you do dreads with twisting? Begin by isolating one dreadlock at a time to work on. Gather all of the new growth around the root of that dreadlock in between your fingers. Once all of the surrounding new growth is gathered you can use either a fine toothed comb or your fingers to twist the hair in one direction (clockwise for example) until the hair begins to coil at the root.
Oftentimes people will use waxes, gels or pomades to coax the hair into the same direction and make it stay put. Especially in the early stages of loc maintenance when the loc is prone to unraveling easily. Although tempting, this is not recommended because later down the line when the locs begin to mature, you will have to deal with product build-up, lint and a whole other host of issues due to the residues left in your hair.
If you’re experiencing dull, dry locs as a result of product build-up, we have a loc detox kit that can help your get your loc life all the way back.
People also like the sleek look that styling products temporarily provide. You know, that “fresh from the salon” look that turns all the heads. However contrary to popular belief, adding a ton of products actually hinders the locking process rather than helping your dreadlocks lock faster. Cultivating locs is a journey and patience is key.
You might also be wondering which way should dreads be twisted? It’s important to twist in the same direction every time that you do your dreadlock maintenance when you are first starting your locs so that you don’t unravel the work you did in the previous maintenance session. As your locs mature, you have a little more freedom and can progress to bi-directional palm-rolling to speed up your maintenance sessions.
It’s easier if you get into the habit of twisting every dreadlock the same way, every time. No exceptions. For example, choose clockwise as your preferred direction and always rotate and twist in the clockwise direction from here until the end of your loc journey. That way, your locks will become trained, smooth and uniform as they grow out.
So how often should you twist your dreads? A few factors can affect how often you should twist or re-twist your dreads. The first thing that impacts this is hair texture, the finer your hair texture is, the more often you will need to re-twist because they will unravel more easily.
Depending on your day to day activities and what it consists of also impacts how quickly you’ll need to re-twist. Lastly, the rate at which your hair grows also impacts how often you’ll need to twist. The faster your new growth appears, the more often you’ll need to twist your locs.
Generally speaking, once a month works for most people. So start there and adjust accordingly (i.e. more often or less often) depending on how fast your hair grows, how active you are and how curly your hair texture is.
Cultivated locs seem to have caught the mainstream by storm and so you see stylish dreadlocks out and about in record numbers nowadays. And although we all love to look so fresh and so clean, I want to take a moment to caution you against the addictive habit of over-twisting.
Sometimes we can over-twist out of nervous habit (i.e. playing in your hair unconsciously) or simply because you like a freshly twisted look. But twisting or re-twisting too often can be harmful to the loc because it places added stress on the roots. Over time, this can weaken the loc and cause it to thin and break. So be careful of twisting too tight at the root or twisting too often.
What About Finger Rolling Dreads?
An alternative technique to palm-rolling dreadlocks is finger rolling. With this technique you are twisting the root of your locs with your index finger and thumb instead of the entire palm of your hand. This is most effective on smaller locs as opposed to medium or thicker sized locs.
What About Palm Rolling Caucasian Dreads?
Palm rolling Caucasian dreadlocks will produce different results than performing the same technique on afro-textured hair. Due to the lack of waves, curls and kinks in straight hair, simply rubbing the hair together will not necessarily encourage it to tangle on itself and subsequently matte and lock which is what the palm rolling method is encouraging the hair to do. So in this case, extra measures like banding, crocheting or latch hooking the loc are also used.
Palm Rolling Freeform Dreads
At first glance, this might sound like an oxymoron. After all, isn’t the purpose of freeform dreads to just leave it alone and let the hair ‘do what it do?’ Freeform lockers allow their hair to form its dreadlocks naturally without any additional manipulation. So palm rolling freeform dreads sounds like a complete contradiction.
People have an affinity for freeform locs because of its simplicity and the freedom that it affords. It is often used as a way to connect with the spiritual journey of surrendering control to nature and embracing whatever comes as a result.
The patience and acceptance that must be learned with this technique, as well as, the casting off of societal norms, obligations and expectations is part of the appeal to freeformers.
If you’re looking for a natural way to lock your dreads, twisting is an effective way to make dreadlocks, especially without using wax. Interlocking is also a great way to lock your dreads without wax and Loccessories offers a no-damage tool to help you called the Instaloc. You can find it here…
Wax is very tempting to those getting started on their loc journey but it’s a big no no for the long term health of your locs.
As dreadlocks become more and more mainstream and the resources for dreadlocks grows, we are seeing new products develop that help the dread lock faster yet contain natural ingredients that cause don’t cause build-up. Flaxseed gel and aloe vera gel based products are some examples.
So with all of that being said it’s easy to see that the art of twisting dreads can get pretty technical and detailed. But honestly it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple or as complex and you want to make it. There’s levels to this my friend.
It all depends on what you want to get out of your loc journey. What are you looking for? What are you on this journey for? Is it a journey at all or merely a fashion statement for you? Answering those questions first will help guide you on the best method(s) for your loc maintenance.
Got a loc maintenance question? Leave it in the comments below…