First of all, don't do it! whatever problems you may be experiencing with them can surely be resolved! If you are truly finished with them and there is nothing I can do to change your mind then read on and I'll help you as best I can. So yes, it is possible, I've done it... well not to my own hair, but I have assisted in the removal of some 2 year old dreadlocks that had reached their usefulness-expatriation-date.
I heard you have to shave your head to remove dreadlocks?This is a huge pile of misinformation. You do not have to shave your head to get rid of them. Obviously the fastest way to remove them is to shave your head, but it's not the only way.
You just want to save some of my hair, maybe an inch or two?
If you want to go from dreadlocks to short hair (an inch or two of growth) then this is a relatively simple thing to do, and probably the most common step after removing dreads. The roots of dreadlocks do not lock up right at the scalp. The more mature your dreadlocks are, the closer to the root they will lock, but even the maturest, oldest dreadlocks will not be solid dreadlock tight up against your head. So, how to get rid of the dreads?
- Cut the dreadlocks anywhere between an inch or two inches from your scalp, the more mature the dreadlocks, the nearer the scalp you will want to cut.
- You will find that the hair you are left with isn't solid dreadlock and you can simply brush that out and be left with the hair. Washing and conditioning the hair will make it easier to brush.
- Because you've cut each individual dread you will find that the hair is uneven, so you'll probably need to get it balanced out, but you won't need it shaving off!
You want to go from dreadlocks straight back to long hair?
Ok, now this is a very time consuming task. Exactly how time consuming will depend on; how long the dreadlocks are, how many dreadlocks you have and how long you've had them. But, for some people it's the only option, especially if you're a girl - I've found most girls don't really want their heads shaved. So I'm going to walk you through how you can go from dreadlocks, back to long hair. It's something I've helped my girlfriend do and now you'd never know she had dreads.
You will need:
- Lots of time. This is a very time consuming process, it took us a couple of hours for a few nights. The dreadlocked one sits on the floor, while the dreadlock-remover sits on a chair or the couch behind them. You can do it while watching TV so it's not an entirely boring task.
- More time. Ok, it's best to do this while you have a vacation or long weekend because chances are you won't get it done in one night, so you'll have an inbetween point where you're half dreadlocked and you might not want to go to work/school like that. Also once your dreadlocks are completely removed you'll probably want to go to the hair salon to get it all evened out before you start flaunting your new straight hair-do.
- Warm water
- Lots of hair conditioner (VO5 conditioner works great) and/or De-tangler
- Knitting needles.
- Sewing needles.
- Hair brushes.
- Trash bag/can.
- Atleast one helper.
How it's done:
- The first task is to soak the dreadlocks in warm water. You can do this in the shower, or with a bucket. You should use as warm water as you can handle - but don't burn yourself!
- Then you need to start rubbing in the conditioner. Don't rub it all over your head! just massage it into the dreadlocks you're going to start de-dreading first.
- Once you've got the dreadlocks wet and conditioned you can start pulling them apart with the knitting or sewing needles. Some people find the knitting needle easier to use, others like the sewing needle. I find that each needle is best suited to a different role. I'll use the sewing needle to get it started and and knitting needle for part way down the dread.
- Your just going to slip the needle into the edge of a dread near the tip, push it into a loop and then slowly pull the loop out. You're going to only pull a small amount at a time, somewhere between 1mm and 1cm up the dread. Slip the needle in, and pull it down. It's like you're brushing the hair, but with just one tooth at a time.
- It's going to take a long time to make it all the way up the dread and you're going to have to keep reapplying water and conditioner to keep it soft.
- The dreadlocked person might want to take some painkillers because they might get a headache from all the pulling.
- It's possible to do this by yourself, but it's recommended to have atleast one helper, because the dreadlocks at the back will be very tricky by yourself. Also the more helpers you have, the faster it will go.
- The roots can be painful because it's so near the scalp, so be careful once you get there. I found that the dreadlocked person usually wants to do that part themselves.
- Once you're all the way down the dread you can brush it and move onto the next one
- There will be a lot of loose hair that pulls out when you're brushing with the needle. Do not fear! with dreadlocks, the hair that naturally falls out during the day, well it doesn't because it's stuck in the dreadlock, so when you remove the locks, you're going to be removing the loose hair also. It's going to look like a scary amount of hair is falling out, but it's all the hair that would have normally come out had you had it non-dreaded and brushed it regularly anyway.
- Also obviously be careful with the knitting needles and sewing needles. Don't poke yourself in the eyes or stab yourself.