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What Are Wool Dreadlocks?

S. McNesby
S. McNesby

Wool dreadlocks are faux hairpieces made from felted wool. While real dreadlocks require a long-term commitment, wool dreads can be braided or attached in minutes and removed just as quickly. Generally oversized and brightly colored, wool dreadlocks can add a burst of color and volume to any hair style. Faux dreadlocks can be handmade or purchased from a fiber artist, and come in a variety of colors, lengths, and styles.

While real hair can be used to make dreadlocks, wool is often considered a more popular and economical choice. Wool is readily available at yarn stores, felts into dreads quickly, and comes in a large assortment of colors and thicknesses. Wool dreadlocks are lighter weight than dreads made from real hair and can be braided into hair or mounted on a detachable elastic band.

Wool that is clumped and then twisted to hold the fibers together is referred to as a wool roving.
Wool that is clumped and then twisted to hold the fibers together is referred to as a wool roving.

Wearing wool dreadlocks has many benefits, but a few drawbacks as well. While wool is light and fluffy when dry, it becomes heavily saturated with water when wet, and wet wool dreadlocks may be uncomfortable to wear. Some types of wool can felt when worn, so care should be taken not to wash wood dreadlocks that are braided directly into the hair. Wearers can avoid tangling by removing the wool dreads before washing to avoid accidental felting.

There are several different types of wool dreadlocks; they differ in the way the dreads are applied to the natural hair and the ease of removal. Individual dreadlock strands of wool are designed to be braided into the hair like traditional hair extensions. This type takes the longest amount of time to install and remove, but allows for the most styling flexibility. Individual locks are made from thick wool yarn or roving and may be purchased singly or in groups of coordinated colors.

Mounted wool dreadlocks are attached to a hair elastic, clip, or barrette and are worn just like a regular hair accessory. They are fast and easy to install and remove, and require the least amount of preparation and care. While these wool dreads are the easiest to use, they don't offer as much styling flexibility as individual braided stands of wool.

Hair can be wool wrapped to simulate the look of wool dreadlocks. Wool of any thickness or color can be used to wrap individual clusters of hair from the roots to the ends. This process can simulate the look of dreadlocks without the risk of felting; it also allows thinner wools to be used if roving is not available.

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Discussion Comments


@croydon - They are only really temporary if people are sensible about them. I know I had a friend who put some in and washed her hair several times without removing them.

Her hair started to dread onto the wool dreadlocks and she had quite a job getting them off again. I think she damaged her hair a bit and ended up trimming it back.

One alternative you might consider if you are just looking for a temporary look is "cyberlocks".

These are also known as synthetic dreads and are made from what basically amounts to plastic hair.

I think they look pretty interesting, although it is definitely not a look for someone who wants to blend in with the crowd.

I think they are less likely to damage your hair than wool dreads. Although I think if you follow the instructions properly, wool dreads won't damage your hair either.


@browncoat - I agree that dreadlocks look good sometimes, but you've got to be aware of the cultural prejudices around them as well. Sometimes it really looks like the person wearing them is trying too hard to alternative to me.

That said, if they have real, well made and maintained dreadlocks I will have respect for them because I know how to make good dreadlocks and it's not easy.

Wool dreadlocks might be a good way to see whether or not you suit dreadlocks if you are thinking about going all the way, since it is time consuming and also almost impossible to do anything except cut them off if you want to change your style.

Wool dreadlocks are at least temporary.


Wool dreadlocks look good sometimes, but they have to be done well. I think all too often people just kind of throw them in there and they look fake and almost like a costume rather than a part of the look of the person.

I think it's especially cute when people use different colors to a good effect, but that's something that should be done in moderation as well.

I guess the best bet is probably to get them done at a professional salon unless you really know what you're doing. I'm sure the type of wool used matters as well and if they don't take all that much time to put in, then it probably doesn't cost all that much either.

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    • Wool that is clumped and then twisted to hold the fibers together is referred to as a wool roving.
      Wool that is clumped and then twisted to hold the fibers together is referred to as a wool roving.