Braiding Your Dreads: What You Need to Know

Braiding your dreads

You will agree with me when I say braids are one of the best and stylish protective hairstyles. Read on to learn how to use them as a protective hairstyle for your dreads.

The length of your dreads needs to be at least 2 inches long with 3-5 inches being the preferred size for braiding your dreadlocks. Being a protective hairstyle braiding your dreads will help them with growth but it will not help your dreads to lock any faster. Remember to keep your braided locs clean and moisturized. You should also not braid your starter locs if they are less than 2 inches.

Benefits of Braiding Your Dreads

Promotes Growth

Protective hairstyles help keep your natural hair tucked underneath protecting it from the harsh environment. As a result, your hair is protected from manipulation and tagging.

As a result, your hair will suffer less from breakage and environmental damage such as sun and wind.

Braiding your dreads will promote the growth of your dreads simply because there will be less breakage and at the same time if you take good care of your protective hairstyle you will provide it with a good environment to thrive.

Another way braiding your dreads will promote growth is by making sure your hair is protected when you sleep. Beddings can really mess up your dreads causing breakage and frizz.

However, when you braid your dreads they will be protected from the damage of the beddings.

How to Promote Growth in Braided Dreads

One of the best ways to promote growth in braided dreads is by keeping it moisturized, keeping hydrated, and making sure your scalp has enough blood circulation plus using the right products.

Oils such as castor oil, peppermint oil and rosemary oil have been proven through research to help with hair growth.

Peppermint oil can really improve the growth of your dreads since it will improve blood circulation in the scalp.

Moisture Retention

You must have heard or already know how important it is to keep your natural hair moisturized if you want to promote growth and maintain its health.

Using the right products to moisturize your dreads will also promote growth.

Unprotected dreads will normally lose moisture quickly when compared to protected dreads. The reason being unprotected hair is exposed to the sun and wind which dries off your hair.

With a protected hairstyle such as braids or weaves or wigs, you will be able to keep your dreads moisturized all day long.

Offer Styling Alternatives

While you can still wear different styles with your dreads, if your dreads are new you will be highly limited to the styles you can wear.

Braids are a great alternative to wear on your starter locs in the initial stages of your locs journey after your dreads have locked.

How to Take Care of Braided Dreads

There is a misconception that once a person wears a protective hairstyle over their natural hair or dreads, they will be in a maintenance-free mode.

Taking care of the hair and skin underneath your protective hairstyle should be your priority every day. Below are ways to take care of your dreads when braided.

Keep it Moisturized

One of the best ways to keep your dreads healthy and promote growth beneath the braids is by keeping them moisturized using the right products.

Make sure the products you use do not leave residue or cause build up in your scalp and dreads.

Natural oils and water are your best bet for keeping your hair and scalp moisturized.

For natural oils, consider an oil that can penetrate your hair strands and scalp and another oil that can seal in the moisture.

For penetrating oils use either coconut oil, ucuuba butter, sunflower oils, palm kennel oil, and babbasu oil.

However, some people have reported that they experienced build-up when they used coconut oil. So you might want to experiment with coconut oil and find out whether it is right for you.

Heating these oils increases their power of penetration, for sealing oils you should also consider oils that do not cause build-ups such as avocado oil, olive oil, argan oil, mustard seed oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, rosehip oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, safflower oil, and jojoba oil among others. Butters such as cocoa butter and shea butter are also good at sealing moisture.

Moisturize your hair at least twice a day in the morning and in the evening. One of the best ways to moisturize your dreads under braids is by using a spritz bottle. Mix your favorite oils with water and spritz your hair making sure your work it out well under the braids.

Keep it Clean

Many people have been made to believe that they should not wash their hair or dreads when they are in a protective hairstyle.

Well, that is just a misconception, like unprotected dreads protected dreads also get dirty.

Wash your head thoroughly once in two weeks, make sure you use residue-free shampoo to avoid causing gunk or build-up in your scalp.

Warm or lukewarm water is the best water to wash your dreads since it will open up hair cuticles and hair follicles for better absorption of the oils.

Warm and lukewarm water will also make it easy to get rid of build up if any or excess oils in the scalp.

After washing your braided dreads always ensure that you dry them thoroughly to avoid dread rot from developing.

It is recommended you use a hairdryer or bonnet rather than using a blow dryer since the excess heat will cause damage to your hair.

However, if you have no alternative apart from a blow dryer, apply coconut oil which has been proven to help protect hair against heat damage.

Does Braiding Dreads Help Them Lock

There is a lot of debate concerning whether braiding your locs helps with the dreads locking process. Some people believe that braiding will help your hair to lock much faster while others believe the opposite.

According to my saloonist, braiding your dreads will not help them with the locking process. He advises me to avoid using too many natural oils as these will end up conditioning my hair and derail the locking process. Rosewater is one of the best ways to keep your dreads and scalp healthy and moisturized without over conditioning.

You can start dreads with braids but they will generally look unkempt (lots of loose hair and fuzz) and it takes a really long time for them to start looking like locs at all. You can always see the pattern of the braid inside the dread since it’s only the hair on the surface that’s actually able to lock. As the hair slips out of the braids over time they get very fuzzy. Eventually, enough hair comes out that some of it may start to dread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do dreads grow faster than braids? Dreads do not grow faster than braids or braided hair. Hair grows at a rate of 1/2 an inch per month with some people experiencing more growth than others and vice versa. The reason that dreads appears to grow faster than braids is due to fact that hair length is retained in dreads while in braids it may be lost when undoing your braids.


Hi, I'm Ben! When I embarked on my beard-growing journey, I had lots of questions. Now having successfully grown a beard, I launched this blog to share the answers I discovered through extensive research. Alongside beard tips, I also offer insights on maintaining and growing dreadlocks, as well as general advice on looking your best. I'm all about helping others look and feel great!

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