Thursday, 18 October 2012

Dreadlock Wax Information

Why is wax bad? most dreadlock product websites recommend waxes or gels?


If you start searching for dreadlock information it won't take long until you come across websites encouraging the use of wax. The definition of what actually constitutes a dreadlock wax has become a little loose - there are creams, gels, pastes and straight up waxes. Sites that sell them often attach fantastical claims to their products, claiming that they're essential, they'll help dreadlock growth, or that they'll reduce the time it takes for the locks to form. Unfortunately, as is most often the case with stories that are 'too good to be true'.... the promises fall short and once you understand how dreadlocks form, it's easy to see why.

The wax sellers will argue that waxes only produce negative effects if used incorrectly or if used to excess. There's a slight problem there - who is the wax intended for? people who have dreadlocks that have reached maturity should have little need for such products as their dreads will be already locked up. Wax is aimed at the people with young dreads, the people who are new to the process and don't necessarily know how young dreads are supposed to feel, look or progress. Young, new dreads are not going to just be loose in a few spots, they're going to be loose throughout. Mature dreads are strong and tight, young dreads are loose and messy. For young dreads to become strong and tight, they need to be become mature dreads. So the problem with saying wax problems only arise due to overuse is that trying to use such a product on young dreadlocks is immediately going to lead to "overuse" due to the nature of young dreads. If the negative effects of wax are proportional to the amount used... such problems can be avoided altogether if the wax is not used.

Dreadlocks form and mature when hairs knot and become matted together forming the locks. In order for this to happen, the hairs have to move. Hairs that don't move are not going to magically knot together. It's through day to day interaction that the hairs form an increasingly complex structure of knots that will tighten over time, eventually producing the tight, strong dreadlocks that people envision when starting out. There is a misconception that starting methods such as backcomb or twist & rip produce 'instant dreadlocks'. What these methods are actually for is holding hairs together in sections - they knot the hairs into lumps and over time these hairs that are held close together from the initial starting method will be able to interact with one another, slowly knotting up and getting tighter. It's perfectly normal for dreadlocks started using such methods to loosen up before they get tighter. As long as they remain in their sections, they will be able to knot up over time. Waxes cash in on people's insecurities by promoting a mind set that the dreadlocks should be tight and together from day one and since when dreadlocks are young the knots are not yet numerous or strong enough to produce tight dreadlocks the use of waxes will be encouraged to hold everything together. The problem is that these products inhibit the movement of the hairs, they hold the hairs together - which will indeed stop the initial backcomb or twist & rip from loosening, but also inhibit the movement that allows natural mature knots to form. This means that instead of the dreads initially loosening up and then tightening and tightening to maturation, you can end up with dreads that remain stunted in their starting positions, held up and patched together with products - the progress actually slowed by the products. This then encourages repeat purchases to buy more and more products to keep the hairs stuck together, meanwhile your hair will be getting no closer to becoming mature, self-locking dreadlocks.

People who make and sell waxes are running a business, they have a product to sell and creating a product that plays off of people's insecurities about their new dreads that actually over the long term slows progress and creates repeat buyers.... well it seems to be good business! But you don't have to take my word for it, I only offer my insight and opinions based off of personal experience, but it is still only one opinion, however I do invite you to investigate for yourself - the places that will recommend dread-wax products are most often the very places that sell them and have money to gain. Whereas I have nothing to gain from steering people away from waxes, I have nothing to sell. If there was a product out there that truly did deliver on the promises made by waxes then I would surely recommend it to help people out...

Now if slowing down the progress of the dreadlocks and paying for the privilege was not enough -  waxes are non-water-soluble, this means that they will not wash out of your hair. The wax will remain trapped in the core of the dreadlock, slowing down the rinsing and drying of the dreads, which can then lead to soap residue being trapped, lint and dirt getting collected. The trapped moisture and increased drying times can lead to the dreadlocks starting to smell like a damp towels that haven't been hanged to dry and can go on to cause mold, mildew or 'dreadrot'.

Now while it's not something I enjoy telling people, in my experience, there is no way to effectively, completely remove wax from already formed dreadlocks. When I started my dreadlock journey, I myself bought into (literally) the notion that waxes were a normal and important part of dreadlock maintenance. It's all to easy to find websites that promote and encourage it's use (coincidentally while having such products for sale). While not all products are the same, my experience with dreadlock wax concluded with my original length of dreadlock being completely trimmed off - I started my dreadlocks using hair that was down to my chest and all that length had to be cut off and discarded. There are methods and products available that are designed to help remove wax (ironically some are actually sold by the same places that sell the wax in the first place!), but all my attempts at effective wax removal were unsuccessful - I soaked the dreadlocks, used straighteners and hair driers to soften the wax - I even boiled the dreadlocks.... and still, once I trimmed the length off, the wax still remained in the core of each lock. Fortunately new growth is unaffected by the wax, so I was able to continue to grow my dreadlocks to the point where I could cut off all the waxed length, leaving behind only the new, unwaxed dread. I can't say that this is really a recommended path to follow if it can at all be avoided though as it did mean losing all my original length formed from chest length hair - years of hair growth wasted. If it all possible it's better to brush the dreadlocks out and start fresh, wax-free.

Wax is only a 'good' idea if you know you aren't keeping your dreadlocks for the long haul. If you don't plan on keeping your dreadlocks long enough for them to mature and you only want hair that looks roughly dread shaped, then go ahead, throw whatever you want at it. If you want dreadlock-like hair for a week or a halloween party, then wax might be the solution. But if you plan on keeping the dreadlocks long term, trust me - you want them to be formed from knots, not products.

Click here: to read why some people recommend wax despite it's negative effects.

62 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. They look like dreads because they are dreads? But the fact that you have to keep going to a loctitian instead of the roots knotting up and maturing shows the difference. If dreads are left alone and not wax'd they will mature and lock up the roots and tips by themselves. Waxing slows this down and so you end up feeling like you need to keep reapplying and touching them up to keep them progressing instead of them doing the work themselves =]

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    2. worse thing u can ever do is go to a loctician the wax is pure evil and the number 1 killer of dreads
      why do u go to a loctitian when dreads dread themselves? but a loctician benifits from preventing dreads so they can force dreads the more they make it harder to dred the more they profit from making dread like imitations of dreads.. stay awayy from locticians

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    3. Have you used any of the locking accelerators. Does anyone know if they work? Christian Hopewell

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    4. Companies that label their products with claims that sound too good to be true... well, they're too good to be true. You can make a spray yourself with sea salt and water and save the upcharge from the company while at the same time knowing everything that's gone into it.

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  2. The girl who started my twists was mixing the locking gel I had with a locking wax cream. She twisted me twice with the gel, wax mixture and for a month I twisted myself with only the locking gel. the next time I had her twist me I asked her to only use my gel and that is when I realized that she was using a wax. She didn't have to melt the wax before she put it in my hair. Do I really have to systematically grow and cut my dreads until it grows out?

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    1. It really depends on the product she used and how much she used. The wax that requires melting is the hardest to remove, nothing but heat will shift that and the heat required is more than enough to cause burns. If it's just a cream you might get some results with a deep cleanse / bicarb soak. That will help break down oil based products and can work wonders at washing products and residues out of your hair.

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    2. u shouldnt be twisting period twisting has 1 purpose..to cause scalpy gaps between dreads and thin the roots that scalpy gap is traction alopecia ..it eventiualy makes u bald your paying someone to make u go bald..

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    3. No twisting! Lol really. ..Some people like neat dreads like me not the neglected method. All locticians are not bad. Some go cause it feels really nice to have someone give a good shampoo.

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  3. appreciate the info you provide but suggest an edit
    wax used to mean cut your dreads and hundreds of thousands lost dreads to wax and scumbag companies like dreadheadhq and knottyboy (and locticians galore)
    but
    3 years ago no wait..4 i started http://www.dreadlockssite.com
    we worked on many wax cures (and dread rot cures since wax causes that alot)
    2 of dreadheadhq's "sponsored" dreads left dhhq to join us and make the 1st wax remover
    but since then 1 of our members started http://www.dreadlockshampoo.com (makes the best dread shampoos and only safe gel out there)
    she made a wax b gone thats very effective and any day now rot knot will be out too
    so we are saving wax disasters without cutting all the time!

    however..if your under a month in we still recomend combing it out and starting over
    but even with beeswax u put wax b gone on and it just starts the wax flowing out

    so b4 u suggest cutting suggest the wax b gone ..cause i hate hate hate how many dreads were cut do to wax disasters
    lazy..come by dreadlockssite sometime

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  4. Apple cider vinegar rinse will get the wax out, cleanse your scalp and help knots form. Wax isn't totally evil

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    1. Apple cider vinegar won't touch most of the products marketed towards young (especially Caucasian) dreadlocks. Some 'waxes' that are just glorified hair gels may be broken down by ACV, but real beeswax derived waxes will remain in the middle of the dreadlocks, ACV or not. The ACV can help make the wax less sticky and less noticeable, but cut the dreadlock open and it'll still be there collecting dirt and stopping the dreadlocks from rinsing properly and therefore causing soap build up.

      I've seen and known countless people who have completely given up and cut off their dreadlocks because they've been unable to shift the wax that was so greatly recommend to them by companies and salons. I've personally had to remove dreadlocks that have been ruined by wax and had to cut off inches of my own hair that were wrecked by salon applied waxes.

      So while everyone is free to do as they wish with their own hair, I would never recommend completely unnecessary and counter productive wax products that serve no purpose other than to temporarily stick hairs into a dreadlock shape, while in the long run filling the dreadlocks with sticky residue all the while filling the pockets of companies that take advantage of unknowing people.

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    2. I just got "waxed" by a "professional". Didn't know what she was doing until done. I've washed and deep cleaned and still have gooey heavy yukky hair that is no tidier than before!!! Do I have to shave my head? It feels like a pound and a half of wax in there (she wouldn't tell me what kind it was).
      Signed, Devastated.

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    3. Provided they're not rock hard, they'll be removable without shaving your head... it's rare that someone would HAVE to shave their head.

      http://www.lazydreads.com/2012/10/dreadlock-removal.html

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    4. I don't want to remove the dreads just the wax. Its on everything I touch. And looks really bad. How to lose the wax not the dreads, that is the question.

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    6. I'm afraid as far as I'm aware, it cannot be done. There are 'wax removal' products available which will remove some of the obvious 'symptoms' of wax... but you'll still be able to find it inside if/when you cut into them.

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    7. Oh boy. Okay, at this point my primary concern is getting the wax out of my hair (which I've been growing for 4 years) if I can. If I take the dreads out will I be able to get the wax out? And how? I just ordered Wax B Gone because even my bangs which are straight and not dreadlocked have wax that won't shampoo out. Do I have to cut the hair off that has wax on it in order to remove it? Is that what you mean? I just want to stop feeling sticky. Will conditioner take it out? Some people say oil works - mineral or olive... I have to look good for an event (thats why I went to said professional) What are your thoughts, dread guru?

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  6. I recently just had my hair dreaded I was told gels and waxes are horrible by the person that did them then of course I got impatient because they weren't locked up a week after (I know i'm ridiculous) so I put the new got2b glued gel in them...its the new one so its not water resistant but now i'm worried about the build up in the future since I didn't do my research before acting but this new got2b glued is nothing like the original its more like any old hair gel but i'm wondering should I be okay to leave my dreads in if I rinse the gel out & shampoo?

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    1. If you don't keep using it you'll be fine.

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  7. Hi, my dreadlocks are 6 weeks old, I used the crotchet and back coming methods. I hae African hair. I have been using knotty boy's tightening gel as I have loose roots and loose hair flying all over. Should I stop using the tightening gel? What can I do to the loose roots and the loose hair. Should I just leave it alone? Jakin

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    1. That gel is supposedly not wax based, but aloe vera based which is not quite such an issue. 6 week old dreads are going to be loose and messy, anyone who's had 6 week old dreads will have had loose and messy dreads, the only time that those roots are going to be truly mature and strong is once they've been left alone to mature and no gel or cream is going replace patient time waited.

      Personally I would not want to put anything unneeded into my hair, aloe vera based or not. The fewer things going through the dreads, the few things there are that can go wrong and the easier it is to figure out what's going wrong, but if you desperately need something I would use real pure aloe vera gel and not whatever Knotty Boy claims to be pure gel and then marks up the price on.

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  8. Thanks. So I should just wash them and leave alone? How can I make the dreadlocks shiny? And what can I use for dandruff/itchy hair?

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    1. Yes.
      Shiny? uhm.. I'm not sure what you mean by shiny.

      Itchy dreadlocks help: http://www.lazydreads.com/2013/02/itchy-dreadlocks.html

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  9. The hair looks dry. I use knotty boy liquid shampoon to wash

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    1. It probably is dry, well, drier than it would be normally, because the hair is not conditioned... which is kind of the point. "Shiny", soft hairs are likely to just slip past each other whereas drier hairs are more likely to knot. Dreadlocks can be softened and conditioned, but it's not something I'd do to 6 week old dreadlocks because any extra conditioning is going to slow down and possibly undo progress.

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  10. Hi I have new dreads (about 4 weeks old). I used the crochet method. They look ok, not super tight or super loose. But I wash them almost everyday. I'm using a shampoo that has chile, rosemary and espinosilla, and it's ok. But I want to know how often should I wash it, I live in the beach and I have gone in the sea 3 times, would this affect? What shampoo would you guys recommend?

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    1. Hey Dan! I can't really comment on the shampoo you're using as I've never used it myself. Different shampoos work for different people, it can depend on their washing "style", what's available where they live and generally what shampoo they get along with best. There's nothing to stop you from experimenting and finding out which shampoo suits you the best. As long as the shampoo doesn't condition the hair (which might undo knots) the worst thing that can happen is that the shampoo would leave reside. In which case you just deep clean it out and try a different shampoo. Obviously there are some tried and tested shampoos out there that are already known to be better than others: residue free shampoos, dreadlock shampoos etc.

      Washing almost every day might be a little overkill - some people might find it difficult to fit in all the required washing and (importantly) drying time if they're washing every single day. What's important though is that you keep the washing regular. Decide how often you can wash them and then stick to it. You only really start to get problems if you keep switching up the length of time between washes.

      Swimming in the ocean is fine - salt water is great for dreadlocks.

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  11. Hi! I am preparing for dreadlocks :) your blog has been super helpful! I was wondering if you had an opinion on DreadHead Lock Peppa? I only have one recruit for my dread party, and If at all possible I would like to make the process easier for her!

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    1. Hi Katelyn, I have no experience personally with DHHQ's Lock Peppa. The reviews from people I know who've used it tend to range from 'it kind of helps temporarily' to 'it felt like putting dirt in your hair'. It's a powder that increases the friction between the hairs, hopefully increasing the friction of the backcomb strokes etc. I would personally say that at $9 for a product that is certainly not necessary and that has such so-so reviews, I wouldn't be inclined to purchase it myself for starting someone else's dreads.

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  12. Hi i've had my dreads for a week. What are the dos and donts for the next couple od weeks?

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    1. Do keep them clean.Do rinse them thoroughly. Do dry them thoroughly.
      Don't worry.

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  13. Hi my name is Mike. I have African American hair. I have my supposed to be dreads since December of 2013. I went to the salon and I guess she my hair with the twisting method. I went to a couple times and I figured I could have my girlfriend do the same thing she did but for free. I've been using the jamaican mango and lime resistant formula locking gel. I been researching a lot about dreads and everyone has their own opinion and wat product to use. If I shouldn't use that stuff or waxes then wat do I use and how would I do the maintenence and upkeep of my dreads being that I work in a professional environment and can't have them looking too crazy. I've commented on a lot of sites but no one would respond back. Could you please give me some kind of info

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    1. Hello Michael. Different people are going to have differing opinions on different products. My stance is very much against. This isn't because I believe they should be formed one way rather than another or that they need to be strictly formed naturally.... but simply because I do not believe that the products are helpful and in a large number of cases they can instead be harmful. Dreadlocks are comprised of hairs that are knotted together, not hairs that are stuck together. While technically you can hold hairs in place with products rather than letting them knot properly, this does not promote a sustainable future for the dreads. The hairs get stuck, they then don't knot and lock by themselves and so more products are required just to keep everything held together - the whole thing cycles.

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  14. i just got dreads a few days ago from a salon....the loctition used backcombing, twist and rip and crochet method....the dreads came out really cool and she added knotty boy wax and knotty boy tightening gel to my dreads and told me to apply both the wax and gel every other day and not wash my dreads for atleast 2 weeks.....i dont want to apply anything but im worried that they will all come completley undone.....i naturally have wavy hair.....im okay with them looking messy and frizzy cuz im goin for the natural look anyways but i dont want them to become completley undone!....what should i do?...and also do i have to wait two weeks to wash them?

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  15. So what do I do to get them started if I don't use wax? How do I explain to the lady what I want done?

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    1. You would do exactly the same... just without the wax - if the person is unable to fulfill that request, I'd recommend finding another person.

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  16. I already have long dreads I want to make them lazy dreads how do I do so?

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    1. I'm not sure there's such a thing as making them into "lazy dreads" ^^ just keep them clean, keep them separated... let them do their thing.

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  17. My wife is going to start my dreads soon. Thank you for this. I always thought wax sounded fishy as hell.

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  19. Hi im looking to dread my 18 month son. Im just wondering what I should use to keep the locs together, if you don't recommend the wax or gel. Im going for the thin locs look, so I can style them in the future. Ill be using the palm roll method or the comb twist method. Please help me, Thank You

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    1. The methods and recommendations I make on here are for as product-free as possible dreads. Barring soaps/shampoos and the occasional spray I don't personally recommend applying anything else unnecessary to the hair. Aloe vera can be used in times where loose hair needs to be held to a dread, but otherwise the hair should be allowed to lock into the dread, rather than have them held together with products.

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  20. What about twisting with coconut oil?

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    1. The hair needs to be correctly balanced - not too dry (to avoid damage/breakage) and also not too conditioned (to avoid locks from loosening).

      Coconut oil is a great conditioner and so if the hair is dry and damaged it can help soften and restore the hair. However it is not something you'd want to overuse if you are letting the hair lock naturally as if you make the hair too soft/conditioned then it will not lock as well and existing knots will loosen.

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  21. Hey lazy dreads! I seen you recomended dolly locks dread shampoo, whish is also what ive been using on my one month old dreads. Dolly locks has a all orgganic beeswax alternative pomade with is water soluable meaning it washes out- non sticky, ect. What are your thoughts on this?
    Thanks!

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    1. There are options available that are 'superior' to beeswax in that they are easier to remove, however holding products are still going to hold the hair in place, which in the short term may be an attractive prospect as it can keep loose hair from looking loose... but over the long term will inhibit the hair's ability to knot and actually stop being loose.

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  22. My dreadlocks are about six weeks old and seems like they are completely straight except for at the tips which are knotted. Is this normal? What can I do to tighten the rest of the dread?

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    1. When you start dreadlocks you are only starting them, methods such as backcomb or twist & rip only serve to hold the hair in sections. Over time these initial dreadlocks will loosen and it will take months for the sections of hair to lock and form into mature dreadlocks.

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  23. So I am gunna get dreads soon. . . So NO WAX is better correct?! Even when you're gunna start off?

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    1. I would not recommend putting wax in or on dreadlocks at any time.

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  24. I am getting ready to do my hair. I am starting with about 5" on top, a little shorter on the sides (i Know you recomend 6). My question is at this length should I use a wax or something to help hold? I have straight thick caucasian hair. Or should I put extentions in to help since the length will be so short.
    The reason I mention using wax is because even if I had to cut them in a few years I would only be losing what 3 inches of locked hair max. I know it would be better to wait until hair was longer, but right now due to surgery I will be out of work for a while (10-16 months) and work says I can have them as long as they are neet and clean. So im hoping I an get through the loose phase before going back.

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    1. I will not recommend using wax on any dreadlocks that are planned to be kept until maturity... for the reasons written on this page above.

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  25. Hi, nice blog, enjoyed reading that.

    I have to admit being attracted by your approach, mostly because your method seems to involve less effort and money spent. I echo comments above that something about wax and gels has never sat right with me.

    What do you recommend for loose hairs then? Latch them back in? And presumably you would still advocate relentless palm rolling?

    My dreads are a couple of months old, and starting to lock up. I use Knotty Boy's dread shampoo twice a week. Seems Dolly Locks is a better shampoo though.

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    1. Never mind, explored your blog site and got the answers I was after. Consider yourself bookmarked.

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  26. awesome info as i have long hair and about to start, greatly appreciate the info on wax and gels, i am so glad i saw this first.

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  27. So you're suggesting not to do anything at all to your hair? Just 2 strand twist them & all the rest will work out itself?
    How about new growth? Don't retwist the roots? Just let it loc together eventually?

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  28. Love your advice, been working on the backcomb method, I did a few temporarily to see how it works in my hair and was able to reverse them easily, any advice on what I can do naturally to help my dreads stay tight while they mature for the 3-4 months? :) thanks to your articles I do NOT want to use wax or any other so called dread products.

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  29. I just want to say that this thread has been such a helpful discussion. I did research and wasn't going to use wax or gel. But as I was searching amazon for a metal comb I ran across such great sounding reviews on them and thought for a split second that just maybe I should, just to start them out. After reading this, I have gone back to my original thoughts and ideas. The cleaner the better. I might use a sea salt spray, but even that is iffy. I have a thick head of very fine, very long (about 22 inches from my neckline) slightly wavy Caucasian hair. It actually tangles by itself very easily when I wear it down, just across my shoulders. Even if I put it in a pony tail, the part that rubs on my shoulders always gets matted up within about an hour, so I'm thinking I may not need anything except fully cleaned unconditioned hair. Thanks again for this info!

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  30. I just want to say that this thread has been such a helpful discussion. I did research and wasn't going to use wax or gel. But as I was searching amazon for a metal comb I ran across such great sounding reviews on them and thought for a split second that just maybe I should, just to start them out. After reading this, I have gone back to my original thoughts and ideas. The cleaner the better. I might use a sea salt spray, but even that is iffy. I have a thick head of very fine, very long (about 22 inches from my neckline) slightly wavy Caucasian hair. It actually tangles by itself very easily when I wear it down, just across my shoulders. Even if I put it in a pony tail, the part that rubs on my shoulders always gets matted up within about an hour, so I'm thinking I may not need anything except fully cleaned unconditioned hair. Thanks again for this info!

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  31. I have tons of white stuff in my hair dread rot is horrible I fix the smell but not the besswax

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