Dreadlocks A-B Maintenance Routine

a b maintenance routine for dreadlocks

The A-B Dreadlocks Maintenance Routine.

With an understanding of how dreadlocks lock it should be possible to give them what they need and speed their progress. It is, and that's what were going to cover next. The A-B Dreadlocks Maintenance Routine is the result of over ten years of experimenting, testing and good ol' trial and error. The end result is that what took at least a year before now takes less than six months and those months are much easier to get through than they were before. I suppose the smart thing to do would be to sell this information to everyone who's interested - good thing for you I'm not smart  =] Instead I'd rather make it freely available and see everybody's dreads benefit. That way, when I'm walking down the street and I see someone with really nice dreads I can pretend that I contributed in some way. Maybe it will be you, and you'll give me daps, who knows. =]
Important: The idea of "A" Weeks and "B" Weeks and the activities that are done during each week is not limited to a specific number of days, like an actual week. The basic idea that knots should be created in an environment with lots of friction holds true for all dreads all the time. When you switch over to the A-B Maintenance Routine at the start of month two you'll become familiar with these terms so I've used them throughout the site so you'll already know what activities go together, when to do them and what products to use to make the most of your maintenance time.

"The "A" Week environment is "how you want the hair for making knots"  and the "B" Week environment is "how you want the hair for compressing knots". This holds true all the time."

The A-B routine starts at the beginning of your second month. By this time the knots you put in with your original backcombing should have had a chance to compress quite a bit. How compressed they are at the start of the second month will have a lot to do with how regularly you palm rolled during the first month. The palm rolling tends to be very effective during this first month because there is a small amount of wax in the hair the whole time. As you see, this is the only time you'll have wax in the dreads all the time, after the first month wax will be used every other week. With your knots compressed and more established at the end of month one you are in a great position for starting your A-B maintenance.
Until now you've been focusing on tightening and compressing the knots that you put in when you backcombed. Now it's time to make new knots. You've probably noticed at least 1/2" (1.5cm) of new growth (straight un-knotted hair) at the roots.

And in just case you haven't figured it out yet:

"Straight Hair is the Enemy - You must Defeat It" =]


To make new knots you first need the right environment. Knots are a product of movement and friction. First we'll set up an environment that will create a lot of friction between the strands of hair...then we can get to town makin' knots.

The magic of the A-B routine is that you are switching back and forth between the two phases of dreading - Making Knots and Compressing / Locking Knots. When you put in your dreads you are in the knot making phase as you backcomb the hair. Then you add wax and being a knot compressing / locking phase that lasts for a whole month. The A-B Dreadlocks Maintenance Routine steps up the pace. You'll spend a week making knots - Week "A", and then you'll spend a week compressing and locking knots Week "B". This gives the dreadlocks exactly what's needed and they'll make leaps in progress.
I always call the Knot Making week, the "A" Week. This is easy to remember:... "A" is for Locking Accelerator...Accelerator makes knots...and you use it during the "A" week. Easy peasy.


The B week makes use of Dread Wax and palmrolling. All the poofy, knotty wads that you create during the A week need to take the shape of the dreads that they will become. If you palmroll without a  good dread wax in the dreads the knots will spring back to where they were almost as soon as you're done palmrolling and your progress will be minimal. Having wax in the dreads during the B week keeps those knots compressed after you're done palmrolling.  This is important because they'll be getting used to being compressed in the dreadlock and the next time you palmroll them they'll be able to compress even more. This works because the wax holds the hair in a particular way. Our wax does not glue the hair in place and prevent movement. Instead it holds the hair when the hair isn't being moved or compressed but when you palmroll it or sleep on it, squeezing it and pressing it together, the wax allows the knots to move and tighten. When you're done moving them, everything stays more or less in place. If someone tells you differently (wax glues the hair and prevents dreadlocking) you might question some of their other conclusions/advice as well.
This is a great spot to mention how the products can work against you if they are used at the wrong time. It's very difficult to make knots in waxy hair. As a result there is a popular rumor that dread wax prevents dreadlocks. Such a statement ignores a great deal of objective reality (not to mention many thousands of people who have a head full of dreads they started with Dread Wax), however, it is true that dread wax is only a tool and there are right and wrong ways to use it. We'll talk about each of the knot making and knot compressing techniques and how dreadlocks products can be used for maximum benefit. Check out the first "Dread Wax Controversy" video below for more info on how wax works.




Here's a quick summary of the A-B routine:


  • Week A: Use accelerator and lock pepper to create lots of knots. Don't add any wax this week. This is the best time to use clockwise rubbing, finger rubbing and dread balling. Your dreads may look a lil' frizzy during this week but that's normal. As they mature their appearance will grow steadily better even during the A week.  Information on these knot making techniques can be found in the "A" Week section.

  • Week B: Add maintenance servings of Dread Wax and concentrate on palm rolling a little each day. This period will give your knots time to settle and you'll compress into dreads. Don't worry about twisting, rubbing and creating new knots during the B week. If you have loose hair that needs to be dread balled, do so right after you shower and dry the hair. You can add wax after you finish with the loose hair. Remember not to add wax to dreadlocks that already have detectable wax in them. You'll find info on how to palm roll and finger roll in the "B" Week section.

You'll continue this A-B Maintenance routine until your dreads have reached your desired tightness. Everything from your hair type to the size dreads you make will effect locking time. The only thing you have control over after you get started is how you maintain them. Fortunately that's one of the biggest factors so don't let anyone tell you that great dreadlocks have to take forever!

After your dreads are as tight as you'd like them to get you'll move on to normal "mature maintenance". You'll continue to wash them regularly and take care of loose hair as it pops up. Depending on your hair type you'll probably need to clockwise rub your new growth to help it knot, unless you don't mind straight hair at the roots. If your dreads feel dry you can apply some Dread Butta or Dread Licious. Any time you are making knots you can use the Locking Accelerator or Lock Peppa as before.  Maintenance generally gets easier and easier the longer you have them. I only think about maintenance a couple times a month and not for more than a few minutes.
Next we'll check out the "A" week section and learn how to setup a dread environment that will make creating knots stupid easy.