Should I perm my hair before starting my dreadlocks? What if I have a perm now? - Dreadlocks FAQ's
I've bone straight hair. Should I perm my hair before starting dreadlocks?
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I have African hair with a perm. Can I start my dreadlocks now or do I need to grow the perm out first?
This question is answered in two parts. The first has to do with Caucasian hair where the term "perming" means to make it curly. The second part is about African or highly texture hair where the term "perming" refers to a treatment to straighten the hair.
Perming will help newly backcombed dreads lock up a bit easier but it's not necessary in any hair type and I'd only recommend it in certain hair types.
If your hair is uber coarse, each strand being very thick like Asian hair, then it is advisable. It will certainly lock up without it but the perming will make it easier.
If you have hair of regular coarseness or fine hair, perming is likely to do more harm than good. Taking care of your new dreads consistently will have a lot more positive impact than a perm. Perming is a chemical process that often has some negative consequences as well. Your hair may shed more and it will certainly be weaker after the perm.
Having straight hair is really not a bad thing...you actually have to have really really almost beyond curly hair....more like kinky hair for it to make the initial locking easier. It's usually later, after the dreads are started that people with curly hair have a bit of an advantage. Their hair tends to lock easier as it grows. People w/ straight hair have to do a bit more clockwise rubbing. On the other hand people with curly hair have to watch their dreads closely so they don't combine on their own as they grow out. This is less of a problem with straight hair...so everything is a trade off and it's all good. You just have to know what you got and be attentive to it =]
If you have straightened your hair and you'll like to dread it you can use the backcombing method to lock the hair before the perm grows out. Just follow the instructions taking care to not break the hair as it may be slightly weakened. If it is very weak and or brittle it's unlikely you'll be able to backcomb it and you'll need to weight for it to grow out. You can then trim the permed hair and start the dreads as twists when you have enough new growth.
As far as I know twists will be unsuccessful in permed/straightened hair. You'll need the full texture of the hair for the twists to hold and lock.