has it really been that long?

hard to believe, but it's true -- i've now had my dreads for almost 2-1/2 years now. this was me the day before dreads and a few days after having them done, in portland.  more photos from over the years can be seen here and here and  here.

and these are my dreads now (all very recent photographs courtesy of jen and alpana)...

my hair pre-dreads was super high maintenance and i always struggled with it. i'm super lazy about my dreads and do absolutely nothing most of the time. ninety percent of the time, my dreads are pulled back in a ponytail. i don't dread the roots; they dread on their own, as they will. i wash the front part (the non-dreaded hair) every time i shower. i wash my dreads about every 4-6 weeks or so (either with apple cider vinegar & baking soda or with castile soap). i do have to keep them from mingling.  they would grow together if i let them and so i have to rip them apart every couple days. sometimes if they've mingled too much, i can't rip them so i have to cut them apart. i have my roots colored about every 3-4 months. they're still itchy on my neck, but less itchy, now that they're a bit longer. i dream of the day my dreads are really long and i can wear them in a variety of style. i absolutely love my dreads and have never been happier with my hair(style). i don't regret getting dreads for a single second.

how long will i have dreads?  five, 10, 20 years? who knows. only time will tell.

have a question about dreads?  please ask.  i'm more than happy to answer.

a dreaded thought

yesterday evening, while driving home from gymnastics... SKY: mom, there's something in your hair. I'M NOT KIDDING, there's REALLY something in your hair. ME: where, sky? what is it? SKY: it's brown and has eight legs. ME: [now frantically banging on my dreads] sky, where? get it? SKY: i don't know. i think it's crawling.

so i pulled over on the side of the highway. shook my hair all over the place and rubbed my dreads as much as possible.  i can only imagine how things looked to those driving by.

back in the car...

ME: sky, is it gone? do you see it? SKY: you know, there's lots of poisonous brown spiders. like brown recluses. ME: sky, do you see it? SKY: no, maybe it crawled in deeper. ME: that's so not funny.

true story.

i HATE bugs. and the thought of some bug deciding to make it's home in my dreads is one of the worst things i could possibly dream up. i basically messed with my dreads the entire way home. yuck, yuck, yuck!!  once home, i asked kiele to look for a bug in my dreads and she just laughed.  the thought still makes my heart race.

it's been two years, two months that i've had my dreads. i love them more and more as time goes on. can't imagine not having dreads.  i'm pretty lazy about doing anything to them. i don't do any maintenance, except occasionally ripping them apart, when they begin mingling with one another. and i wash them about every 4-6 weeks. the span between washings seems to keep lengthening.

they've come a long way since HERE!

p.s. i just really dislike self portraits. makes me cringe. i'll try and get some better shots of my dreads to share, when my friend, jen, gets here next week.

one year. two days.

yes, it's been over a year now that i've had my dreads.  i can't believe it.  and i still absolutely love them.  although i really wish they'd grow in length a bit. when down, they itch my neck like crazy.  i'm actually beginning to think they may never grow.  also, one thing i noticed, when looking at these photos is how much my ends have broken off (contributing to my length [or lack thereof] issue).  i'm thinking that next year, i may not have any loose ends left. so in celebrating one year of dreadlocks, i share some photos of this dreaded journey of mine.  :-))  you can also read my previous dread posts here and here and here.

have any questions, feel free to ask and i'll edit to add my answers at the bottom.

the day before i left for portland and six days later

december | © leigh miller photography


april | © untamed heart photography


july | © ryan muirhead photography i know it looks a tad bit like a mug shot, but it gives you the 8 month dread idea. be sure to check out ryan's work. he's a brilliant film photographer.

october | © jen wright photography

and how i typically wear my dreads

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.