Dreads and Twists: The Basics
Dreadlocks (Locs, Dreads, Locks)
Dreadlocking is one of the oldest types of hairstyles, simply because it’s…not technically a hairstyle! Dreadlocks form when you don’t wash, shampoo, touch, brush, or style your hair at all, and over time, the natural oils from your hair will start to form locks, matting, and new textures. Dreadlocks are just the state most people’s hair will naturally form into without any type of disturbance, especially if their hair is curly, thick, or kinky. For this reason, Dreadlocks can be a type of spiritual purity: among some Sadhus and Sadhvis, Hindu holy men and women, dreadlocks are seen as a sign of dedication to the idea that vanity is evil. By not touching their hair, they outwardly show their inward purity and lack of vanity.
However, making dreadlocks is, of course, a hairstyle in its own right. Because the slow process of just never touching your hair for years is an unideal way to form locs that aren’t uncomfortable and matted (this way is called “natural” or “freeform”), it’s usually done in a more methodological way.
The way a stylist will loc your hair completely depends on what texture hair you have, the length of your hair, and the type of dread you want. For thinner, straighter hair that doesn’t have kink in it (usually Caucasian hair), the process of dreadlocking involves separating your hair into where you want the locs, backcombing your hair into a semblance of a loc, then applying wax to help keep its shape. Dreadlocks, no matter what hair texture, take the time to develop and grow: when getting the initial locking done, you won’t walk out of the salon with an immediately full head of dreads. Instead, dreadlocking is a constant process of waxing, waiting for more hair to mat and grow in, and not washing it until after your desired lock has formed.
For other hair textures, like those with kinky, curly, or coarsely textured hair, the process of salon dreadlocking may include extensions to start the locking process. The hair is divided into parts, then “waxed” similar to the other procedure, then allowed to grow out and mat itself into a longer, thicker dreadlock throughout time.
Similar to dreadlocks in appearance but definitely not in creation, twists are a popular style among African-American communities because of their ease and attractiveness. Twists are a type of braiding that is achieved by dividing hair into different sections, twisting various strands of hair, and then twisting two twisted strands around each another. They can also be created with one strand of hair at a time, with a comb.
The process of making twists can vary depending on hair length and texture, but it usually involves taking naturally curly, wet hair, relaxing it in hot water, and twisting while still wet. Because of the naturally curly texture, when the hair dries, it shrinks, locking the braid in place and creating a texture similar to dreadlocks. Twists are also sometimes done with dry hair, which creates a heavier, more dread-like texture. Twists are not always worn by themselves: they look great combined with other types of hairstyles as well.
In order to maintain twist hairstyles, it’s important to cover your head with silk night caps or turbans to keep the twists intact.
Have any tips on maintaining or creating one of these hairstyles? Let us know in the comments below!