Can I save dreads started by a salon? - Dreadlocks FAQ's

The details vary but when a salon tries to do Caucasian dreads when they are used to working with ethnic hair the email I get usually goes something like this:

I got my dreads started about a week and a half ago and I'm not quite satisfied with them. I was afraid to try to do them myself, so I went to a salon in my area that claimed to specialize in making dreads in all hair textures. My hair is curly, but very soft and fine.

The woman who did my hair backcombed it, but then I think the waxing is where things went wrong. I've noticed in your descriptions and videos you say to palm roll as if rolling out clay and going back and forth. When she applied the wax she rolled only in one direction, which essentially has given me giant twists. The middle/ends of the "dreads" have begun to tighten up but I have about an inch and a half to two inches of straight hair at the root. Also, if I try to palm roll them back and forth it seems to "undo" the roots and I can stick my fingers through them. Also the tips are mostly straight hair as well and I would bet I could unravel them from the bottom also. Is this normal? I did see that you said that they would likely start locking up in the middle/end (which is also what she said) but I'm not sure if the roots will ever lock at this rate because it's so straight so far down.

I ordered your kit the other night and I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival. At this point, would it just be better to comb what I have out and start over on my own? Or is there a way I could salvage what I have? I thought maybe washing them really well with residue-free shampoo to get all the remaining wax out might help with the roots being stuck as twists, but wouldn't I still end up re-backcombing.

Any suggestions would be very helpful! I'm super new at this and don't want to get stuck with bad/hard to maintain dreads.

It sounds like the backcombing the salon did was "lousy" - but by twisting and waxing they were able to make things look tight and solid. (and usually the amount of wax that is needed to "fake it" is WAY more than the recommended amount). The problem is, no matter how it looks, it it's not going to stay.

Unless there are good tight knots throughout the dreads, the dreads are going to have a hard time locking. Re-backcombing isn't fun and it takes a while but hours now will save you weeks later, not to mention heaps of needless frustration. Removing the current wax before rebackcombing it not optional. It's nearly impossible to backcomb well with wax in the hair. It should be clean, dry, and free of residues for best results.

Here's the good news though...the hair already sectioned, so after washing really, really well to remove the wax (you might even see if you can melt some out with a hair dryer before you wash - this will make washing the small amount that remains much easier) - you can comb out each one, and then backcomb it - that way you won't have to re-section.

Dreads that have knots from tip to just above the scalp (maybe 1/2") are fine and shouldn't need rebackcombing. The knots should be tight enough that you can't spread the dread apart with your fingers, and it should take little effort to push a #2 pencil through them. If you think your dreads need re-backcombing see this rebackcombing dreadlocks question.


Please keep in mind that many salons make phenomenal dreads - but let me stress that it's important that the locticion you choose has experience with your hair type!