Saturday 5 September 2015


Today’s topic is a bit of an interesting one as root flipping isn’t so much a technique that you actually see described or promoted, but often something that people seem to sort of ‘discover’ on their own. When dreadlocks are young the roots will very often be quite loose. There will be a combination of the hair growing out, but mainly just the knots at the roots loosening revealing often a not so insignificant loose length between the scalp and the start of the knotted length. Generally this loose root length is not all that desirable and people will stress out about how the dreadlocks look like they may be growing out and work tirelessly to try and find a ‘solution’ to ‘fix’ the roots. One of the methods that people seem to come up with is something called Root Flipping.

Root Flipping involves taking the tip of the dreadlocks and passing it through it’s own loose root, when you do this it pulls the dreadlock down toward the loose root and pulls the loose root together, making it look - and feel tightened. There’s instant gratification - people may flip the dreadlock through the root over and over until the desired tightness is achieved. 

Ok so the problem with Root Flipping, and the reason that it’s not something I would recommend doing to your hair is, that, well, it doesn’t actually ‘work’. What actually happens when you Root Flip is that you pass the dreadlock back through it’s own root, this then splits the root in half and twists the two halves in opposite directions - each time you flip the root you further split the root in half and the tighter the two halves get twisted. The root does not get tightened as one solid root, but instead you have knotted hair down the length of the dread, then half sections still very much loose, but now twisted hair. Before the roots were Root Flipped they may have been loose, but while loose, if given time and space, they would have been able to slowly knot and slowly lock towards being mature, however once they’re Flipped, split and twisted they can no longer continue to progress on their own - the roots are unable to knot up while they’re split and tightly twisted in opposite directions. This means that while Root Flipping may temporarily give the impression of tight roots, and immediately following people feel like they’ve done something good and positive for their dreadlocks, as time passes and the hair grows out  it will become apparent that the roots are now made of two strands of twisted hair and that the dreadlocks is now growing out loose and split. This can start a negative cycle where the individual will have loose roots - Flip them tighter, they’ll continue to be loose because they’re too tightly twisted, so the person will Flip them tighter again, they’ll continue to grow loose… so they’ll Flip again… each subsequent Flip acting to make the root problem worse all the while if they’d be left alone they may have knotted closer to maturity by now.In order to get the roots to actually start to knot on their own again, you have to wait for the roots to grow out and untwist. As time goes by the roots will grow out and the twists will space out and loosen, eventually reaching the point where they’re able to knot naturally again and continue to progress - but how long you have to let the roots grow out depends on how much the roots were Flipped. Given long enough things will go back to normal, but Flipping dreadlocks may be left with a hard lump at the point at which they’ve previously been flipped, and this lump does not go away.

So while Root Flipping may have the appearance of tightness, the results will be temporary, and in the long term Root Flipping can lead to the roots actually remaining loose and immature for much longer than if they’d just been left alone.


  1. If I have a dread that's wider than I want it to be and I'd like to bisect it into two dreads, would root flipping help make that happen?

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