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How Do I Get Thin Dreadlocks?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 21, 2024
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Getting thin dreadlocks can be time consuming, but it is well worth it for many people. Before you start, make sure that you have several hours available, preferably a friend to help, and clean hair. Then, section off one inch (2.5 centimeter) square pieces of hair and secure each one with a small rubber band at the bottom. Begin backcombing each individual piece starting at the roots and gently rolling the strand between your fingers as you go. Once you have all of the sections done, use a petroleum-free wax to coat each lock.

The most effective means of getting thin dreadlocks is backcombing, because it is the easiest way to control the size of your dreads. This is, however, also one of the most time consuming ways of obtaining this hair style. Depending on how much hair you have, you may need to invest six to eight hours to fully lock your hair. Help from a friend or family member will make this go much more quickly, and can be especially useful for locking the hair in the back of your head.

Contrary to popular belief, dirty hair is not necessary or desirable when creating locks. Any buildup of product, dirt, or oil in the hair will actually prevent it from knotting, making your thin dreadlocks slip out. Before starting, your hair should be completely clean and dry, as trying to lock wet or very dirty hair is nearly impossible.

Start by sectioning off your hair into one-inch square pieces. When locking, the square will turn into a round shape. Doing sections any less than an inch will typically result in too-thin dreads that are prone to breaking or splitting. Secure each section at the bottom with a small rubber band to hold it in place and keep strands separate. Most people find sectioning everything off first works best, as this will give you an idea of how the dreads will lay once you’re done.

In general, it is best to start from the bottom and work your way up. Taking a section near the nape of your neck, remove the rubber band, and use a teasing comb or brush to backcomb the section towards the scalp. In order for your hair to lock tightly, begin as close to the roots as possible and work your way down, gently rolling the hair between your fingers to help to tighten it. Depending on your hair texture, each section could take upwards of 10 minutes for tight, thin dreadlocks. Once the section is done, tightly secure it at the top and bottom with a rubber band and continue with the rest of your hair.

After you have backcombed all of the sections, rub a dreadlock wax lightly over each lock to help to seal it. Avoid products containing petroleum, as it can make your hair slippery and cause the thin dreadlocks to fall out. It is generally best to leave the rubber bands in your hair for several weeks until the dreads seem to have tightened. Your thin dreadlocks will likely reach maturity within four months.

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