Dreadlocks refer to a particular hairstyle that is achieved naturally by allowing the hair to mat together as it grows. If combs, brushes, and scissors aren’t used on the hair, the hair will tangle together as it grows, eventually resulting in the twisted, matted ropes of hair. It’s also possible to get artificial dreadlocks, primarily through ethnic hair salons, by having them attached to the natural hair near the scalp.
The origin of dreadlocks is ancient. They can be traced back farther than the Rastafarians of Jamaica and are believed to have been worn in Biblical times. Ancient beliefs were developed in some areas that cutting the hair was unholy. The actual name is thought to have come from either the belief that the individual sporting these locks looked dreadful or possibly that the ancient holy men who prominently wore dreadlocks were to be feared or dreaded. Regardless of the history, this style has made its way into popular mainstream culture largely due to legendary reggae singer Bob Marley.
Though many people consider dreadlocks a natural style, defining an individual rather than conforming to a fashion statement, others consider the style to be a rebellious statement. Some people do, in fact, grow them for political, cultural, or religious belief, but mostly it’s a matter of individual expression. While some individuals who happen to have dreadlocks may have poor personal hygiene, dirtiness is a negative and false connotation associated with this style because people mistakenly think they’re grown from unwashed hair.
In reality, dreadlocks can be washed and many people who sport them, sometimes just called “dreads” or “locks,” take great care to achieve the style. It is particularly important to pay attention to the dreads, especially to dry them thoroughly when washed. There are numerous hair care products sold for maintaining and caring for hair in this style. Many of those who choose to grow them painstakingly care for their “dreading” hair and their hair can be just as clean as anyone else’s, even if it’s not combed. People with this style do not necessarily avoid shampoo, just detangling conditioners.
Growing dreadlocks takes time and begins with sectioning off the desired sections of hair and backcombing the roots. A hairstylist who specializes in the care of this style might recommend different approaches such as twisting and waxing, but everyone has their own individual approach to growing them. The removal of dreadlocks, especially long-established ones, is achieved by cutting them completely away from the head. Some people elect to have their head shaved and others simply have the dreads cut out an inch or so away from the scalp. Other famous people besides Bob Marley who wear or have worn them include Lenny Kravitz, George Smith, the Australian rugby player who cut his and auctioned them for charity, and Chris Kilmore of the alternative rock band Incubus.