Beyond the Myths, Debunking misconceptions about dreadlocks & locs

Hairstyle isn’t used for fashion but it’s an integral part of your identity and background.

The difference between dreadlocks and locs is not only based on the difference between the hairstyles or how they look. but also, they indicate the culture. Some people associate dreadlocks with the hairstyle only, but it’s far more than just a hairstyle it holds a value of spirituality and pride.

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Explain dreadlocks

The dreadlock refers to the hairstyle, where hair is allowed to be naturally matted and formed rope-like strands of thickness. The dreadlock forms with time and it represents the symbols of different background details and contributed to the vast history. The dreadlocks require some time to get into the mature dreadlock and require proper maintenance. People have different stereotypes related to dreadlocks. In this article, we will cover its history, cultural significance, and stereotype related to dreadlocks.

Explain locs

The locs are made by braiding, twisting, coiling, or palm-rolling the hair. It then undergoes a series of stages to gain the desired results. The second stage of the lock-forming process is called the buttoning stage. The curl pattern is made tighter to get a quicker hair lock. Loc hair can be styled with accessories, jewelry, or heads.

Difference between the locs and dreadlocks

Dreadlock Locs
Develop naturally
Created by backcombing or twisting the hair
Formed by a process called mating
Tend to be thick as well as uniform in shape
Vary in size and shape, depending on the method used for forming.
Thicker and tighter in texture
Looser, and more textured


Have you ever thing who first came up with the idea of dreadlocks?

Let’s discuss dreadlocks, it’s still not obvious where the word “dreadlocks”, originated. But there are several hypotheses present related to this;

  • Some people believe that dreadlocks are invented due to the Rastafari movement, which contains aspects of Christianity. In the religion of Christianity, the dreads are used to show faith and respect in the divine, so the person with deadlocks is the indication of their belief and faith in God. The indication of locks is also acknowledged n the Bible as well as Rasta’s, keeping their hair uncombed that they ended up creating a hairstyle that we see today, as dreadlocks.
  • Some believe that dreadlocks came during the 1stencounter between the African warriors and European colonizers, the African warriors were able to build up fear against the colonizers by their physical appearance and practicing cultural beliefs. The dreadlocks were part of their look.

So, these above are some hypotheses, which are created on beliefs. But let’s move toward the pieces of evidence of dreadlocks present in history.

Evidence of dreadlocks in the book of Hindu's Veda

Evidence of dreadlocks in the book of Hindu's Veda

The evidence of deadlocks is found in the Hindu’s holy book, ‘Vedas”. It is written in the book that Lord Shiva has a hairstyle called “jata”. Jata is a Sanskrit word, meaning hair that is twisted in the form of locks. In almost all visual portrayals Lord Shiva has hair with locks, to shoulder length or tied at his head, named “Jatamukuta”, meaning a crown of coiled or twisted hair.  In India, the holy men are called, “Sadhu”. Sadhus assume that wearing a “Jata”, helps to generate a positive flow of energy and improves their consciousness.

Evidence from an Ancient Egyptian

The vast archaeological evidence of dreadlocks is found in ancient Egypt

Evidence from an Ancient Egyptian
Image source from theculturetrip.com

Archaeological Evidence

Archaeologists found artifacts from Ancient Egypt that indicate locked hair. There are painting, Sculptures, and cravings from temples and tombs that reveals individuals having long ropes-like hair, giving the appearance of dreadlocks. The depictions signify that dreadlocks were worn by some associates of an ancient Egyptian civilization.

Mummified Remains

Some remains of humans have been found in Ancient Egypt and showed proof of locked hair.

Evidence from the text of an Ancient Egyptian

The evidence of deadlock has been found in the Medical Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, of around 1550 BCE. It has written text of herbal therapy on papyrus. Eber papyrus contained some hairstyles in addition to “tutu”, which is believed to signify dreadlocks. The text referred to the use of resin and beeswax to create as well as maintain the “tutu”, which is consistent with the process of creating and maintaining the dreadlocks.

Egyptian Medical Eber papyrus, is the written text of an ancient Egyptian on papyrus, that provided the detail of diseases, their symptoms, and remedies for the treatment, as well as knowledge of surgery of that time.

 Papyrus was a thick sheet of paper made from papyrus plants and was used for writing. The thick sheets were joined to form a scroll, an old version of a book.

African Dreadlocks

African Dreadlock styling process

Dreadlocks contain a long historical background in Africa. An author of Encyclopedia of Hair A Cultural History 1, called Victoria Sherrow, mentioned the priest who was the 1st person sported to have dreadlocks in Africa, around 500 BCE.

However, many historians think that dreads might have originated from this region because of the hair texture of Africans.

Africa is a huge continent, populated with many tribes. Many of these tribes wear dreadlocks from the start to now. Dreads were also worn by Shamans as well as warriors of Africa, they embellished their hair with beads and colored it. It represents their status as a warrior. Similarly, Himba people, populated in Namibia as well as Mende people, located in Sierra Leone, are known to have dreadlocks, as a structural norm.

The Rastafari Movement

The dreadlock gained huge popularity during the Rastafarian movement and it becomes a topic of debate. The Rastafarian movement, initiated in Jamaica, in the 20th century, has taken the African culture of wearing dreadlocks as a sign of pride, resistance against intimidation, and faith, as an inspiration.

During the Rastafari movement, the dreadlocks were adopted to show that they rejected the Standard of European beauty that was forcefully imposed on them. The Rastafari movement was the response to the injustice faced by Black Jamaicans, which include poverty, discrimination, and inequality.

The Rastafarians regard the Haile Selassie I (former Emperor of Ethiopia), as a Divine figure or the Messiah, and consider him the symbol of African pride, hope, and aspiration for a bright future. The Rastafarians adopted the dreadlocks on the belief that it serves as the expression of African heritage and their connection with their Lord Haile Selassie I.

The cultural value of dreadlocks and locs in various societies

The history is an indication that no culture can claim ownership of dreadlocks. It is worn by different societies to represent their culture.

In India, the Sadhus have dreadlocks to represent their spirituality.

African warriors wore dreadlocks and now it to show their strength and faith.

It was worn by ancient Egyptian to show their social status.

In Nigeria, if a child is born with matted hair, viewed as the driver of prosperity and referred them as, “Dada”. No one except their mothers is allowed to touch the hair of the child.

Different Types of Dreadlocks and Locs

The dreadlocks or locs are of several types depending on the shape, size, length, and methods by which it created. Here are some most popular types of dreadlocks.

Traditional or "natural" dreadlocks

Traditional dreadlocks are also known as classic or natural dreadlocks. It is the most common type and is created without any use of styling methods or products. The hair is allowed to mat naturally and locked with time, resulting in thick dreadlocks. The length and shape of dreadlocks depend on the hair texture of the individual and their maintenance routine.


sisterlocks explained

Sister locks are made by using a specific tool and technique because these are small thinner locs that require maintenance on daily basis.

Interlocked or Palm-rolled dreadlocks

Interlock is the type of dreadlock hairstyle that use the end tip of dreadlock to the base of the root.
This helps each dreadlock to get more tighten at the base of the hair. It’s also sometimes called root flipping.

Interlock dread type

Palm rolling is the technique of rolling the hair section by the movement of hand in back and forth direction so that the new hair entangle tightly.
Palm-rolling technique works best if the dreadlocks are made from the method of backcombing.
Palm rolling technique is used when new knots are made.

Palm rolling dread type

Crochet locs

Crochet locs dreads type

Crochet dreadlocks are made with the help of a tool called Crochet, which pulled the hair into locks. The dreadlocks made by these methods are uniform and neat.

Synthetic Dreadlocks

synthetic dreadlock explained

These dreadlocks are created by using synthetic hair or extensions attached to the biological hair with the help of various methods like braiding, backcombing, or twisting. These kinds of dreadlocks are made very quickly. These synthetic dreadlocks achieve the desired length and thickness without waiting long for hair to grow.

These dreadlocks are created by using synthetic hair or extensions attached to the biological hair with the help of various methods like braiding, backcombing, or twisting. These kinds of dreadlocks are made very quickly. These synthetic dreadlocks achieve the desired length and thickness without waiting long for hair to grow.

How to Start Dreadlocks and Locs

Traditional methods of making the dreadlocks were organic and no tool was involved to create the dreadlocks. The hair was left uncombed for a longer time and it gradually locked and appeared like ropes. It was believed that beeswax was used to keep the dreads.

But now, due to the presence of modern methods of creating dreadlocks doesn’t involve the use of beeswax, because it damages the hair, and because of its high melting point, it doesn’t remove easily.

If you want dreadlocks, then here are some steps that you need to know;

Clean your hair

Your hair must be neat and clean before you start making the locs, but avoid using Shampoo or conditioner because it makes the hair slippery, which makes it harder for the hair to lock up.

Create a section of hair

Creating a section of hair before making the locs are very important because the size of the section will determine the size of the loc, a smaller section will result in smaller locs and a larger section will make the thicker locs.

Choose Any method for making the locs

There are several methods are making the locs, such as the natural method, sister-lock method, Crochet method, and synthetic method. Choose Any method of your choice and start making the locs. This is a process that requires patience. So, be patient until the process gets completed. Sometimes it takes hours or years.

Maintenance routines for new dreadlocks and locs

Dreadlocks or locs require Maintenance, after the process of making the locs is completed. For keeping the locs healthy as well as clean, wash the locs on daily basis with residue-free shampoo and dreadlocks-friendly conditioner. Palm role the locs to improve its maturity look.

Tips for Maintaining Dreadlocks and Locs

Dreadlocks or locs require Maintenance, after the process of making the locs is completed. For keeping the locs healthy as well as clean, wash the locs on daily basis with residue-free shampoo and dreadlocks-friendly conditioner. Palm role the locs to improve its maturity look.

  • Tips for Maintaining Dreadlocks and Locs

    Dreadlocks are a unique hairstyle but it also requires proper maintenance, given below.

  • Washing and conditioning dreadlocks and locs

    Dreadlocks need to get washed thoroughly to avoid damage and for maintaining the health of hair.

  • Re-twisting, palm-rolling, or interlocking for maintenance

    Re-twist, or palm-roll the locs on daily basis to make them more uniform and neater.

  • Protect the dreadlocks from chemical treatments

    Different types of chemicals like bleaching and dyeing make the hair rough and prone to breakage, that's why it is important to avoid using any chemical on the dreadlocks, otherwise, the chemical will cause damage to the structure of the dreads and weaken the hair.

  • Do regular trimming

    Trimming is very important because it removes the damaged ends of the hair and promotes growth and makes the hair stronger. So, trim your hair once a month, to protect the dreadlock from damage.

  • Using natural products for dreadlocks and locs

    Use natural products such as oil, at the roots of the hair to promote strong hair.

  • Protecting dreadlocks and locs during sleep

    Hair breaks easily during sleep and also the use of harsh fabric as a pillow cover. So, it's recommended to use satin or silk fabric as the pillow cover. Silk fabric protects the hair from breaking because of its soft surface.

Misconceptions about dreadlocks and locs

Some people have Misconceptions about dreadlocks and loc because of a lack of education, prejudices, or false representation of media. People have different stereotypes of people who wear dreadlocks, some are given below

  • People think, dreadlocks are ugly and unclean

    Some people think dreadlocks are ugly and unclean, which is false. Dreadlocks need to wash on daily basis to get a stronger strand of locs.

  • People think, dreadlocks are associated with specific culture or race

    People assume the stereotype that dreadlocks are only associated with specific cultures or races like Black or Rastafarianism. But it is also not true, dreadlocks are not linked to any specific culture or background but it has vast background history that represents the power of status, pride, and spirituality. However, people with different backgrounds wear dreadlocks and are not limited to Africans

  • People think, dreadlocks are linked to drug use and criminality

    Another false Misconception about dreadlocks is that the person who wears the dreadlocks will be involved in drugs or criminality. This is not a false assumption of people but it can be harmful to society. Hairstyle choices are linked to a person's preferences and are not determine the character or negative behavior of the individual.

Why is longest dreadlock in Guinness World Records?

In 2010,  the Guinness Book of World Records review their guidelines for the  “longest dreadlock”, and concluded to rest this category because it’s difficult in some cases and in many cases it’s almost impossible to accurately measure the genuineness of locks. Because of the introduction of expert methods that are used to attach the broken-off lock or hair extension to the hair so efficiently that the extensions and original dreadlocks blend in such a way that it’s become impossible to judge accurately. So, the Guinness Book of World Records has agreed to no longer monitor this category.

 Asha Mandela, is the first female for winning the title of longest dreadlocks in the Guinness Book of Word Records.

Inspirational examples of celebrities and influencers with dreadlocks and locs

Bob Marley

Late, Jamaican singer Bob Marley, considered the most celebrity not only wore the dreadlocks but also helped to spread the message of Rastafari.

Bob Marley in dreadlocks

Lauryn Hill

The famous actress, rapper, and Grammy-winning singer, is seen wearing dreadlocks to show her cultural pride.

Lauryn Hill in dreadlocks


The most popular actress, Zendaya, is a fashion icon and has been seen in different hairstyles also including, the dreadlocks. She’s rocking on the red carpet in a beautiful white dress carried out with dreadlocks

Zendaya in dreadlocks
Image source usatoday.com

Lenny Kravitz

The American actor and musician, Lenny Kravitz, has been seen many times wearing dreadlocks of different lengths as well as styles and is a well-known celebrity for wearing dreadlocks as his signature look.

Lenny Kravitz dreads
Image source usatoday.com

Jason Momoa

The American actor and musician, Lenny Kravitz, has been seen mJason Momoa the most famous actor in Games of Thrones and Aquaman, sported wearing dreadlocksany times wearing dreadlocks of different lengths as well as styles and is a well-known celebrity for wearing dreadlocks as his signature look.

Jason Momoa in dreadlocks

Lisa Bonet

Lisa Bonet, a famous American actress and fashion icon, has been seen wearing dreadlocks.

lisa bonet in dreadlocks


What are dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks are a hairstyle characterized by matted or twisted strands of hair that are allowed to naturally lock and form into clumps or clusters.

What are locs?

Locs, also known as dreadlocks or simply “locs,” are a hairstyle where strands of hair are intentionally cultivated and allowed to naturally form into cylindrical or rope-like structures through a process of matting and twisting.

What is the difference between dreadlocks and locs?

The terms “dreadlocks” and “locs” are often used interchangeably to refer to the same hairstyle. However, some people prefer to use the term “locs” as it carries a more positive connotation and avoids the negative historical associations with the term “dreadlocks.” Some may also argue that “locs” refers to more intentional and purposeful cultivation of the hairstyle, while “dreadlocks” may imply neglect or lack of grooming

How are dreadlocks or locs created?

Dreadlocks or locs can be created through various methods, including neglect (where the hair is left to naturally mat and lock over time), palm rolling (where the hair is rolled between the palms to encourage the formation of cylindrical locks), twisting (where the hair is twisted into sections to create rope-like locks), and using a locking product or tool.

How long does it take to form dreadlocks or locs?

The time it takes to form dreadlocks or locs can vary greatly depending on factors such as hair type, length, and texture, as well as the method used to create them. It can take anywhere from several months to several years for the hair to fully lock and mature into well-defined dreadlocks or locs.

How do I maintain dreadlocks or locs?

Maintenance of dreadlocks or locs typically involves regular washing and conditioning of the hair, as well as separating or “ripping” apart any sections that may be merging or congealing. Some people also choose to retwist or palm roll their locs periodically to help maintain their shape and encourage locking.

Can I undo dreadlocks or locs?

While dreadlocks and locs are meant to be a permanent hairstyle, they can be undone through a process called “unlocking” or “unraveling.” This usually involves carefully combing out the matted hair, which can be time-consuming and may cause some damage to the hair depending on how long the locks have been in place

Can anyone have dreadlocks or locs?

Yes, anyone with hair of sufficient length and texture can have dreadlocks or locs. However, it’s important to note that different hair types may require different methods of locking and maintenance, and it’s best to consult with a professional stylist who is experienced in working with your specific hair type.

Yes, for some individuals, dreadlocks or locs may hold cultural, spiritual, or personal significance. They may be associated with certain religious or spiritual practices, such as Rastafarianism, or may be seen as a form of self-expression or cultural identity. It’s important to respect the beliefs and cultural significance that others may attach to their dreadlocks or locs.

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