What Are the Best Tips for Dyeing Dreadlocks?

Rhonda Rivera

Dreadlocks can be dyed just like other hairstyles, but it is usually recommended to dye the hair before locking it, because hair dye promotes locking. Dyeing dreadlocks that have already been dyed can lead to the locks breaking off due to the excessive amount of damage. If a person is dying his or her dreadlocks using a self-dying kit, following the instructions exactly can ruin the dreads. Using the strong conditioners that come with most dye kits can loosen tight dreadlocks or completely undo new ones. Additionally, it may be a time-saver to buy two boxes of hair dye instead of one, because it is easy to underestimate how much dye tightly-coiled dreadlocks need.

A self-dying kit may be used to dye dreadlocks.
A self-dying kit may be used to dye dreadlocks.

It is easier to dye hair before it is put into dreadlocks. In addition to the process being simpler, it also dries hair out to encourage faster locking. If a person wanting dyed dreadlocks decides to dye the hair after locking it, he or she must wait 10 to 12 weeks. This wait ensures the hair is locked tight enough to not significantly loosen or undo during the dying process.

Bob Marley influenced the popularity of dreadlocks.
Bob Marley influenced the popularity of dreadlocks.

When a person already has dreadlocks, he or she must first remove all wax from the hair to make the hair dye stick. Secondly, that person typically should not use the conditioner many hair dye companies strongly advise customers use to prevent potentially severe hair damage. Furthermore, leaving hair bleach or dye on dreads too long can cause them to break off because of the severity of the damage the dye can cause to hair. To minimize the risk, it is usually best to see a hair stylist that is experienced in dyeing dreadlocks.

While a person usually cannot use the conditioner that comes with hair dye kits, he or she should use a different conditioner after dyeing dreadlocks. Dyeing dreadlocks takes away a lot of important nutrients from the hair, sometimes leaving the hair feeling unpleasant to the touch. To make the hair smooth and soft again, the person should use a conditioner or wax made specifically for dreadlocks. Without moisture, the dreads will eventually break off.

Many people find that they need more hair dye than expected when dyeing dreadlocks. If self-dying, lock experts usually recommend purchasing two boxes of hair dye to ensure the entire head can be covered. Dying dreadlocks can be time-consuming, and no one wants to lengthen that time by stopping to buy more dye at a drug store. Should the dreadlocks only need one box, many drugstores allow customers to return beauty items as long as they have not been opened.

Visiting a loctician is recommended to those seeking to style their hair into dreadlocks.
Visiting a loctician is recommended to those seeking to style their hair into dreadlocks.

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Discussion Comments


@burcinc-- If you want to avoid damage to your hair, you could dye with henna. But I'm not sure if it will loosen them, so check with your hair stylist before dyeing your dreads.

I dye my hair with henna all the time, it makes my hair a nice red color. It fades over time, so I have to dye it again after a few months. I like henna because it's natural and doesn't contain chemicals.

Applying lemon juice to dreadlocks and exposing them to sunlight is also a good way to make your hair lighter naturally.


@burcinc-- I dyed my dreadlocks at home with regular hair dye and it turned out good. It's not damaged because I used a lot of hair conditioner afterward and it's been nine months since I got them.

I just got dreadlocks, so I won't be able to dye them for a while. But my hairstylist actually asked me if I want to have my hair dyed or bleached beforehand, since it helps the dreadlocks set. I didn't know that dyes were good for this.

I think I might be too scared to have mine bleached, even after a few months. I don't want my hair to be breaking off from damage.

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