Dread Journey ᛫ May 19, 2017 – today

I’ve always thought dreadlocks look kind of cool and just suit everybody. Actively thinking about getting my own didn’t start until sometime in 2013 though. My flatmate’s mom told her of a nightmare she had about her daughter and me having dreadlocks. We all thought it was pretty funny, but at the same time, I started thinking that it was actually not a bad idea. I had been trying to grow long hair for many years without any success because the ends of my hair always broke when it reached a certain length. With rastas, it would be possible to grow my hair as long as I wanted.

Travel girl at beach in Morocco

This was my last time at the beach without rastas in Morocco, April 2017.

Besides that, most people with dreads that I met have exceptionally positive and open-minded spirits. So I’ve always associated this hairstyle with peace, love, and happiness. My love for reggae and rasta culture did the rest to evolve the desire to dread my own hair. While I do like the idea of resembling a lion’s mane, religious beliefs are not part of my decision though. The nightmare in 2013 might have been the initial trigger for my choice, but I’m pretty sure I would have had the idea myself earlier or later. 😉

My Decision Is Final

After finishing my bachelor’s degree in spring 2014, I traveled for six months and would have loved to get my rastas back then. I didn’t end up doing it because I had to (or thought I needed to do that) find an office job after my travels and was afraid dreadlocks would make the search more difficult. During my trip, there were many moments when I wished I had gotten them. So afterward, no doubts remained about dreading my hair, the question was just when.

In 2017, the time finally came to get my hair locked. I decided to do it in May, four months before leaving Germany. I figured that would be plenty of time to get used to the dreads and to learn how to take care of them. Since I have some friends with dreadlocks I knew it would not be easy, especially in the beginning. It turned out to be a struggle even many months after having them. 😀

The Preparation

I found a girl online to do the dreading. We talked on the phone a couple of times and I sent her pictures of my hair before making the appointment. She told me that it would be possible to get longer dreads with extensions she could prepare beforehand. But it seemed too expensive at the time. A couple of days before my appointment I decided to buy extensions after all. I thought they could be added to my own hair to make the dreadlocks a little thicker. The best option would have been to buy real European hair, but that wasn’t affordable so I got dyed Chinese hair instead.

To prepare my hair for dreading, I stopped using shampoo with silicone and conditioner a couple of weeks before my appointment. On the day before, I did a hair treatment with a mixture of silica and water to roughen my own hair as well as the extensions. I let it dry for about half an hour and then washed it very well. Afterward, the hair already felt like it wanted to stick together.

Blonde girl getting new dreadlocks

It took eight hours to dread all of my hair and was pretty painful. But I was happy that the dream I’ve had for several years finally became true.

Finally Locking My Hair

The next day, I went to the girl’s home to finally get my rastas. She advised me against adding the extensions to my hair though because it would be too much work, in the long run, to always work in the new hair on the scalp when the hair grows out. So instead, she showed me how to make dreads from it to add to my own later. While she worked on my head, I tried my best to crochet the extensions. It was not that easy and I pierced my fingers with the crochet hook a couple of times.

The whole process took about eight hours and hurt much more than expected. When she started one dread on the scalp it felt like a constant pull. After a couple of hours, the skin on my head was already so irritated that starting new ones forced tears out of my eyes. I think it hurt even more than getting tattoos because it was painful over a longer period of time. In the end, I was very happy except for the length. I had hoped that they would turn out to be a little longer. She had added a few crocheted dreads, but there were still extensions leftover and I was determined to dread and add all of them eventually.

The Reactions

Of course, I had told many friends and colleagues about this change and their reactions were very positive. The comment I got the most was that it looked much better than expected. 😀 The people who were surprised by my new look also said it suited me (there were probably also some who didn’t like it but didn’t say that to me). 😉 Most members of my family weren’t thrilled when they found out. A little later they admitted that it doesn’t look too bad if the dreads are tied together.

The biggest change the dreads brought to my life was saving time in the morning. I used to wash my hair every day and now only had to do it once a week. Washing them took almost an hour, but compared to the time I saved during the week I spent about the same amount than before. It takes so long because I have to wash and rinse every dread separately. If I just put the shampoo on top, it wouldn’t reach the lower ones. And if I just rinsed the top ones, some shampoo might still be inside the others. After a while, I got used to it and a little faster.

Red dreadhead adding extensions to blonde rasta girl's hair near Cologne, Germany

Mandy from LoveandPeace Dreadlocks made me really happy by adding length through extensions to my dreads. She left the ends open so the hair looks even longer. Back then I thought I might cut the ends a little shorter, but still, like them long today.

Getting Professional Help

After five weeks I had a second appointment with someone else. I met her through a friend and her business is called LoveandPeace Dreadlocks (I think we were met to meet ;). She was more experienced and had many good tips for me. I wanted her to put the remaining extensions in and make the hairlines neat where my hair had grown out. We met up in a park next to a playground where her daughter played while she took care of my hair.

Before she could add any extensions, the ends of my rastas had to be opened. I really regretted having them closed in the first place and now it was a struggle to open them again. That was possible by combing them a lot on their ends, and because it took so long, I later even cut some parts of the ends. Two friends came to hang out at some point and they also helped with opening the ends.

By the end of the day, we weren’t even close to being finished yet. Luckily, I could come to her place the following day to continue. She put in most of the extension dreads and I was very happy with the result. Both days together, she spent seven hours working on my hair. Opening the closed dreadlock ends took my friends and me another five hours.

More Rastas → More Happiness 😉

A couple of weeks later, one of my colleagues was so nice to give me another set of extensions that she didn’t need anymore and perfectly fit my hair color. On top, some friends and colleagues with blond hair gave me hair that they collected from their hair brushes. I treated all of that hair with silica and cleaned it. Then I started making more dreadlocks and worked on them whenever I could. It took a very long time and I only finished putting in the last one mid-August. Overall, I assume that I worked on the second set of extensions and on adding them for about 20 hours.

In the end, all of that work paid off though. I liked the look much better and growing my rastas to that length would have taken at least two to three years. And many people including complete strangers made positive comments about my hair. I have never received so many compliments in my life. 😀

Blonde rasta girl at Acropolis in Athens, Greece, with few and one week later with many extensions

Same outfit, same location, different hair: The left picture was taken in front of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, on July 30, 2017. We returned to actually go on top of it on August 7, 2017. In between these two days, I spent a lot of time creating and working the extensions in.

What a Mess!

It went downhill from there in the following months though. Because of working on the extensions, I didn’t take care of the grown out hairs on my scalp before starting my travels in September. And during my travels, I didn’t find any time to do it. By November it was such a mess that I didn’t feel able to do it myself.

When I was in Richmond, VA, I looked for hair salons who could help me. But I only found some for African hair. One lady promised me she could handle my hair. To my disappointment, she couldn’t. She put wax in, turned the dreads around themselves and added heat. Afterward, it looked even worse than before and I was very frustrated. A couple of days later I went to complain and got my money back.

The Struggle Continues in Jamaica

After the US, I went to Jamaica and thought in this country where so many people have rastas there would be someone who could help me. But of course, they also have a very different hair structure, so it was a struggle too. I explained my situation and how my dreads need to be fixed to my first Couchsurfing host, also a rasta, and he told me he had a friend who could help me. A couple of days later I got a call from his friend and met up with her. I was pretty excited because she said she could do it with the crochet hook. When she started I felt it was the wrong way though. Instead of locking the hair with the crochet hook, she parted my rastas with it and pulled the whole dread through a couple of times until they were tight on the scalp.

Of course, it was really stupid of me not to stop her when I realized that she didn’t do it the correct way, but I was so desperate that I kind of hoped that it would look better afterward. It didn’t and my head really hurt. I tried to pull the dreadlocks back through the holes she had created but only succeeded partially. To this day, you can tell the damage she did to my rastas. 🙁

Blonde dreadlock girl getting hairlines locked with crochet hook

Finally getting my rastas locked after it was more than six months overdue! I was lucky to meet a German dreadlock girl who had a lot of experience and fixed my hairlines with a crochet hook in mid-January.

Thankfully, dreads can be fixed. The parts I couldn’t turn back are much thinner than the rest of the dreadlock. Once they have grown out more (because it will be easier then), I will add new hairs. From that point on, I always carried my crochet hook with me and asked people who offered to fix my rastas (quite many approached me on the street or beach) to do one test dreadlock. Unfortunately, none of them could do it the proper way for my hair.

Getting My Rastas Locked After It Was More Than Six Months Overdue!

In January, I wanted to make a post with a link to a YouTube tutorial in some local Facebook groups. But then I got lucky and met a German girl with very nice and long dreads who locked my loose hairs in about two hours. And I didn’t even have to pay anything! I was very happy and determined to keep them neat from that point on. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped though.

For one part, they got loose again much quicker than expected because I was scuba diving quite a lot. Every time they get wet, some hairs come out again. Since I was also working, I didn’t have a lot of time and just managed to crochet the lengths of the rastas. On the other hand, when I did try to crochet on the scalp now and then I often put some hairs in the wrong dread because I couldn’t tell where they belonged.

I figured it would be better to wait until I get some help again instead of doing it wrong. But I still haven’t found anyone yet. So I’m back at sometimes working on them and will maybe get the hang of it one day. 😀 Even though my rastas don’t look the way I would like them to because taking care is much more difficult than expected, I’m still very happy with my decision.

To be continued…

I’ve always thought dreadlocks look kind of cool and just suit everybody. Actively thinking about getting my own didn’t start until sometime in 2013 though. My flatmate’s mom told her of a nightmare she had about her daughter and me having dreadlocks. We all thought it was pretty funny, but at the same time, I started thinking that it was actually not a bad idea. I had been trying to grow long hair for many years without any success because the ends of my hair always broke when it reached a certain length. With rastas, it would be possible to grow my hair as long as I wanted.

Travel girl at beach in Morocco

This was my last time at the beach without rastas in Morocco, April 2017.

Besides that, most people with dreads that I met have exceptionally positive and open-minded spirits. So I’ve always associated this hairstyle with peace, love, and happiness. My love for reggae and rasta culture did the rest to evolve the desire to dread my own hair. While I do like the idea of resembling a lion’s mane, religious beliefs are not part of my decision though. The nightmare in 2013 might have been the initial trigger for my choice, but I’m pretty sure I would have had the idea myself earlier or later. 😉

My Decision Is Final

After finishing my bachelor’s degree in spring 2014, I traveled for six months and would have loved to get my rastas back then. I didn’t end up doing it because I had to (or thought I needed to do that) find an office job after my travels and was afraid dreadlocks would make the search more difficult. During my trip, there were many moments when I wished I had gotten them. So afterward, no doubts remained about dreading my hair, the question was just when.

In 2017, the time finally came to get my hair locked. I decided to do it in May, four months before leaving Germany. I figured that would be plenty of time to get used to the dreads and to learn how to take care of them. Since I have some friends with dreadlocks I knew it would not be easy, especially in the beginning. It turned out to be a struggle even many months after having them. 😀

The Preparation

Preparing blonde hair for dreading with silica treatment

On the day before my dreadlock appointment, I did a hair treatment with a mixture of silica and water to roughen my hair and make it easier to lock.

I found a girl online to do the dreading. We talked on the phone a couple of times and I sent her pictures of my hair before making the appointment. She told me that it would be possible to get longer dreads with extensions she could prepare beforehand. But it seemed too expensive at the time. A couple of days before my appointment I decided to buy extensions after all. I thought they could be added to my own hair to make the dreadlocks a little thicker. The best option would have been to buy real European hair, but that wasn’t affordable so I got dyed Chinese hair instead.

To prepare my hair for dreading, I stopped using shampoo with silicone and conditioner a couple of weeks before my appointment. On the day before, I did a hair treatment with a mixture of silica and water to roughen my own hair as well as the extensions. I let it dry for about half an hour and then washed it very well. Afterward, the hair already felt like it wanted to stick together.

Finally Locking My Hair

Blonde girl getting new dreadlocks

It took eight hours to dread all of my hair and was pretty painful. But I was happy that the dream I’ve had for several years finally became true.

The next day, I went to the girl’s home to finally get my rastas. She advised me against adding the extensions to my hair though because it would be too much work, in the long run, to always work in the new hair on the scalp when the hair grows out. So instead, she showed me how to make dreads from it to add to my own later. While she worked on my head, I tried my best to crochet the extensions. It was not that easy and I pierced my fingers with the crochet hook a couple of times.

The whole process took about eight hours and hurt much more than expected. When she started one dread on the scalp it felt like a constant pull. After a couple of hours, the skin on my head was already so irritated that starting new ones forced tears out of my eyes. I think it hurt even more than getting tattoos because it was painful over a longer period of time. In the end, I was very happy except for the length. I had hoped that they would turn out to be a little longer. She had added a few crocheted dreads, but there were still extensions leftover and I was determined to dread and add all of them eventually.

Blonde girl with short dreadlocks shortly after being locked

This is one of the first pictures of my fresh rastas. Notice how short they were and how different the closed ends looked to the long open ones I have now. They used to stick out in the beginning because it was so tight on the scalp. Nevertheless, I was very happy at the time!

The Reactions

Of course, I had told many friends and colleagues about this change and their reactions were very positive. The comment I got the most was that it looked much better than expected. 😀 The people who were surprised by my new look also said it suited me (there were probably also some who didn’t like it but didn’t say that to me). 😉 Most members of my family weren’t thrilled when they found out. A little later they admitted that it doesn’t look too bad if the dreads are tied together.

The biggest change the dreads brought to my life was saving time in the morning. I used to wash my hair every day and now only had to do it once a week. Washing them took almost an hour, but compared to the time I saved during the week I spent about the same amount than before. It takes so long because I have to wash and rinse every dread separately. If I just put the shampoo on top, it wouldn’t reach the lower ones. And if I just rinsed the top ones, some shampoo might still be inside the others. After a while, I got used to it and a little faster.

Dreadlock girl with tied up hair at Otto-Maigler-Lake close to Cologne

During the first few weeks, this was my hairstyle every day. I always tied my dreads up because I didn’t like the look of leaving them open when they were short. Here I was with my friend Heike at Otto-Maigler-Lake not far from Cologne.

Getting Professional Help

After five weeks I had a second appointment with someone else. I met her through a friend and her business is called LoveandPeace Dreadlocks (I think we were met to meet ;). She was more experienced and had many good tips for me. I wanted her to put the remaining extensions in and make the hairlines neat where my hair had grown out. We met up in a park next to a playground where her daughter played while she took care of my hair.

Before she could add any extensions, the ends of my rastas had to be opened. I really regretted having them closed in the first place and now it was a struggle to open them again. That was possible by combing them a lot on their ends, and because it took so long, I later even cut some parts of the ends. Two friends came to hang out at some point and they also helped with opening the ends.

By the end of the day, we weren’t even close to being finished yet. Luckily, I could come to her place the following day to continue. She put in most of the extension dreads and I was very happy with the result. Both days together, she spent seven hours working on my hair. Opening the closed dreadlock ends took my friends and me another five hours.

Red dreadhead adding extensions to blonde rasta girl's hair near Cologne, Germany

Mandy from LoveandPeace Dreadlocks made me really happy by adding length through extensions to my dreads. She left the ends open so the hair looks even longer. Back then I thought I might cut the ends a little shorter, but still, like them long today.

More Rastas → More Happiness 😉

A couple of weeks later, one of my colleagues was so nice to give me another set of extensions that she didn’t need anymore and perfectly fit my hair color. On top, some friends and colleagues with blond hair gave me hair that they collected from their hair brushes. I treated all of that hair with silica and cleaned it. Then I started making more dreadlocks and worked on them whenever I could. It took a very long time and I only finished putting in the last one mid-August. Overall, I assume that I worked on the second set of extensions and on adding them for about 20 hours.

In the end, all of that work paid off though. I liked the look much better and growing my rastas to that length would have taken at least two to three years. And many people including complete strangers made positive comments about my hair. I have never received so many compliments in my life. 😀

Blonde rasta girl at Acropolis in Athens, Greece, with few and one week later with many extensions

Same outfit, same location, different hair: The left picture was taken in front of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, on July 30, 2017. We returned to actually go on top of it on August 7, 2017. In between these two days, I spent a lot of time creating and working the extensions in.

What a Mess!

It went downhill from there in the following months though. Because of working on the extensions, I didn’t take care of the grown out hairs on my scalp before starting my travels in September. And during my travels, I didn’t find any time to do it. By November it was such a mess that I didn’t feel able to do it myself.

When I was in Richmond, VA, I looked for hair salons who could help me. But I only found some for African hair. One lady promised me she could handle my hair. To my disappointment, she couldn’t. She put wax in, turned the dreads around themselves and added heat. Afterward, it looked even worse than before and I was very frustrated. A couple of days later I went to complain and got my money back.

The Struggle Continues in Jamaica

After the US, I went to Jamaica and thought in this country where so many people have rastas there would be someone who could help me. But of course, they also have a very different hair structure, so it was a struggle too. I explained my situation and how my dreads need to be fixed to my first Couchsurfing host, also a rasta, and he told me he had a friend who could help me. A couple of days later I got a call from his friend and met up with her. I was pretty excited because she said she could do it with the crochet hook. When she started I felt it was the wrong way though. Instead of locking the hair with the crochet hook, she parted my rastas with it and pulled the whole dread through a couple of times until they were tight on the scalp.

Second attempt to get grown out hairs locked by Jamaican woman

In this picture, I was a little hopeful that my dreads would look better afterward. But sadly, the Jamaican lady didn’t know how to handle my hair and to this day you can tell the damage she has done. It was completely my mistake to let her do all of my rastas of course.

Of course, it was really stupid of me not to stop her when I realized that she didn’t do it the correct way, but I was so desperate that I kind of hoped that it would look better afterward. It didn’t and my head really hurt. I tried to pull the dreadlocks back through the holes she had created but only succeeded partially. To this day, you can tell the damage she did to my rastas. 🙁

Thankfully, dreads can be fixed. The parts I couldn’t turn back are much thinner than the rest of the dreadlock. Once they have grown out more (because it will be easier then), I will add new hairs. From that point on, I always carried my crochet hook with me and asked people who offered to fix my rastas (quite many approached me on the street or beach) to do one test dreadlock. Unfortunately, none of them could do it the proper way for my hair.

Getting My Rastas Locked After It Was More Than Six Months Overdue!

In January, I wanted to make a post with a link to a YouTube tutorial in some local Facebook groups. But then I got lucky and met a German girl with very nice and long dreads who locked my loose hairs in about two hours. And I didn’t even have to pay anything! I was very happy and determined to keep them neat from that point on. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped though.

Blonde dreadlock girl getting hairlines locked with crochet hook

Finally getting my rastas locked after it was more than six months overdue! I was lucky to meet a German dreadlock girl who had a lot of experience and fixed my hairlines with a crochet hook in mid-January.

For one part, they got loose again much quicker than expected because I was scuba diving quite a lot. Every time they get wet, some hairs come out again. Since I was also working, I didn’t have a lot of time and just managed to crochet the lengths of the rastas. On the other hand, when I did try to crochet on the scalp now and then I often put some hairs in the wrong dread because I couldn’t tell where they belonged.

I figured it would be better to wait until I get some help again instead of doing it wrong. But I still haven’t found anyone yet. So I’m back at sometimes working on them and will maybe get the hang of it one day. 😀 Even though my rastas don’t look the way I would like them to because taking care is much more difficult than expected, I’m still very happy with my decision.

 

To be continued…

See More Pictures of My Dread Journey

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