happy dread-iversary!

yep, exactly six months ago today, i got my dreads done in portland.  so i thought i'd use this anniversary of sorts for a dread update. it's weird because i had talked about getting dreads for years but then when i arrived in portland, i kept thinking...

i hope dreads look good on me. what happens if they don't? am i crazy for wanting dreads? what happens if i hate them?

i sat in the chair, pretending like i wasn't nervous, and watched as my hair was knotted, section by section.  and in an hour, i was done.  a full head of dreads.

i love them, i said.

although at that moment, looking in the mirror, i was actually thinking,

this is interesting.  i like them.  i think.  but i'm not so sure i love them.  i hope i end up loving them as much as others share that they love theirs.

but i can honestly say that i do now love them!!  well everything except the fact that they're currently at the length that they itch the shit out of my neck all the time.  they kind of twist and curl and the ends are always right there...scratching, scratching, scratching.

for a lot of people, getting and having dreads become a journey of sorts -- spiritual or otherwise.  but i can't really say that my dreads are anything more than a hairstyle journey.  they're just something i felt the need to do. and so one day i did (similar to cutting my long hair crazy short at 22). turning 40 gave me the perfect excuse, or perfect time, to get dreads.  mid-life crisis?  you can think so, but i don't!

one thing that does surprise me about my dreads is how much they've shrunk over these past six months. they were knotted pretty tight right from the start so i didn't think there was much room for further tightening | shrinkage, but obviously there was. and so at the moment...i really long for growth.

some dread questions answered --

how did you get your dreads? there's a few different ways to form dreadlocks -- not using conditioner and not combing your hair for a long period of time. they will eventually and naturally dread themselves. backcombing, with or without wax or other accelerator products. or using a crochet hook, which is how my dreads were formed.

using the crochet method, the hair is sectioned and then a hook is used to knot (for lack of a better word) the sections of hair. i had a feeling my hair would dread easily and i was right; it took stephanie about one hour to completely dread my hair.  i have a lot of naturally curly hair but it's baby fine and so my dreads ended up being thin-ish and i don't have a ton (37 to be exact).

how do you wash them and how often? i wash my dreads once a week using the no poo shampoo method -- a method consisting of baking soda, apple cider vinegar and water.  and no, they don't stink!!  however, i do wash the front (loose) hair every one-to-two days with regular shampoo.  also, i should note that i've never used wax or any other facilitator product on my dreads.

how long will you have your dreads? right now, i can't imagine not having dreads. i will surely have them for years.

do you have to do a lot (of maintenance) to your dreads? i went back to stephanie, in february, for a maintenance appointment. i had just had my hair colored (which was interesting to say the least) and i felt things were a bit crazy and out of control with my dreads (lots of lumps and bumps). in the end, i realized that i loved those out of control lumps and bumps and i don't intend on going in for any further maintenance.

what about as your hair grows? how does that hair dread? as i shared above, my hair is naturally curly and baby fine and seems to be dreading (matting, knotting, tangling) very well on it's own, at the roots. i do have a few dreads that might need some encouragement but i don't think it's anything that i can't handle on my own, with my crochet hook.

you used to highlight your hair?  what do you do now? a while back, i ended up having almost all my hair | dreads colored (except for the bottom layer in back, which remains my natural dirty-dishwater-yuck-blondish-brownish).  and that was a catastrophe; my hair looked orange. i went back the next day to have it fixed with toner and all was well. i've had the roots touched up once since then, which also went well. i can go about 3-4 months before i long to have the roots colored.

what happens when you're done with your dreads?  do you have to shave your head? well...i don't have to shave my head, but i might.  my dreads are very tight and knotted and i have a crazy sensitive scalp.  so there is no way in hell i'm combing these bad boys out.  i will either:

- have to start combing the roots daily, to discourage knotting (i would have to start this a year or longer before cut date).  then once i have some non-dreaded growth, i would cut off my dreads and have a short haircut. or... - try to raise a certain amount of money for charity and if that money was raised, i would shave off my dreads.  but who knows really.  we'll see when that time comes.

have any other dread questions?  ask away!

ETA:  dear commenter izzy, thank you for your honesty but i can assure you that i don't need a bath; i shower every day!  also, we as a society, way over-wash our hair and i don't think anything is growing inside my dreads.

here's some photos of my dread journey :-)

the day i left for portland

six days with dreads

six months with dreads (freshly washed and still pretty wet)

most of the time, when i go out, my dreads go back in a ponytail or pigtails, like this.

terri fischer on the left (with dread pigtails) and my dread head on the right.

last three photos are courtesy of terri fischer and jefra starr linn.