Life After Dreads: The First 24 Hours

Author’s Note: This entry was written and posted on June 5, 2014. Three years onward, I realized there is a different implication to this blog title, which I will address in another blog post. However, for the purposes of this entry, it should be noted that this is about my experience with cutting off my dreadlocks as a white woman. 

I don’t think people realize how altering it is to be without dreads, especially for more than a couple years. When attempting to make the decision, I googled blogs and articles of those who had made the switch from dreaded to non. I came across an article of a guy who had “moved towards the Dread Life,” keeping his dreads for a year before he decided to go back to normal hair.

First of all – a year is like saying that a five year old understands the stress of making ends meet because they have a lemonade stand. It can take up to a year just for the reads to form, never mind experience the full on joys of a dreaded existence.

My experience was as follows:

  1. I made the decision.
  2. I dreaded my hair using wax. Failed.
  3. I tried again a few months later, with wax. Failed.
  4. Two years went by before I gave it another go, minus the wad, and with a lot of help from
  5. It took six months for my dreads to form. At that point, it had been three years since I’d cut my hair, and it was a couple inches shy of elbow-length. When my dreads had finished tightening up, my hair had shrank to thength of my chin.
  6. I waited patiently for them to grow to a length where I could tie my own hair back using just my dreads. Because the dreads were tangling and forming at the roots as they grew, it took quite a bit longer for my hair to grow out, hovering above my shoulders for another year and a half.
  7. All of a sudden, once they hit shoulder length they grew like crazy, putting on a few inches per year, until at five an a half years, they were getting caught in my belt.

The dread life means having the formed dreads, dancing with them, getting to know each of them (and you truly do get to know each of them), knowing which one will hold a bead the best, using your dreads as a prop for costumes, people tipping you in weed because, you know.

However, there gets to a point where one has enough (and kudos to those that don’t reach that point!). My reasons for the change were many. Some silly, some legit:

  • It would take 8-36 hours to dry my hair after washing, depending on the season and the weather, and I would have to plan accordingly.
  • It took upwards of three boxes of hair dye to color my hair, which for me is a must.
  • My friends were sitting on my dreads.
  • My boyfriend would sleep on my dreads
  • My cat would sleep on my dreads
  • My neck would hurt when I had my hair tied back for more than an hour or so.
  • The tendonitis in my shoulder prevented me from being able to put my hair up and in a bun, or wash it on my own for that matter.
  • If I pulled leaned my head back in the shower I couldn’t lift it back up.
  • I was tired of looking messy all the time (I didn’t tidy my dreads, that’s not true for all Dreadies out there)

The process to get them out was tedious. My friend (who when we met also had dreads, and is a master in all areas of life) cut them to a point where she felt she could brush the rest out. With at least two of us working on them most of the time, it took ten hours to brush the remainder of the dreads out. Let me repeat that: After cutting a foot off my dreads, leaving only a few inches of hair, it took over ten hours for two of us to brush the rest of my dreads out.

I wanted to cry at points, and I’m sure that my friend did too. She’s such a rockstar. Everyone should have a friend, or be a friend willing to go through such grueling trials. That’s the sign of an amazing person.

Around midnight, she finished cutting the damaged ends and giving me a few small layers. I put the finishing touches of color in my hair after she left.

My hair is soft, I can’t leave it alone. I can’t believe how salvageable it was. It only took half a container of hair dye to dye my whole head, and I felt guilty having to throw the rest away. There so far have been a few things to get used to.

  1. I had to buy a brush.
  2. I had to brush my hair in the morning
  3. I forgot about hair ties
  4. I keep trying to tie my hair back with my hair and having to remind myself that’s no longer an option, nor a good idea
  5. When at school and opening the door, I get startled and think there’s some one on the other side trying to open the door too, then I realize it’s me that I’m looking at.
  6. I had to buy different shampoo…and conditioner.
  7. I keep over exaggerating a hair flip, since there’s not much there and I’m used to a lot of weight working against me. I look pretty ridiculous when I do it.
  8. My sunglasses don’t stay on my head like they used to
  9. I can’t leave my hair alone. I keep running my hands through my hair, and I think that it’s going to get greasy way faster than it should at this rate.

It’s an interesting experience, going from dreaded to none for the first time. I have no doubt that eventually I’ll delve into the adventure of dreads again, however, I’m enjoying not having to schedule a shower time around the length of time it takes my hair to dry.



4 thoughts on “Life After Dreads: The First 24 Hours

  1. You should probably indicate at the top your hair texture and or your picture. Your experience is not the same as a white female as it is for those of us of color. I got a little suspicious when you indicated you used “wax.”

    Congrats to getting back to where you wanted. Wish me luck.


    • That is a very valid point. It never even occurred to me, but you are completely right. It’s been three years since I wrote this post, I had to go back and re-read it, and it’s insanely different how I would interpret the title of this post without knowing who the writer is.


  2. Pingback: Re: Life After Dreads | Scribing English All Over The Place

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