What Are the Different Men's Dreadlocks Styles?

Amanda Livingstone

Men’s dreadlocks styles come in all sizes and shapes, but the free form, braided and twist are some of the more recognizable dreadlock types. The free form style of matted coils of hair is one of the more popular dread or dreadlock hair styles for men. Braided and twist dreadlocks are controlled and tame compared to free form dreadlocks.

Free form, braided and twist are the most common men's dreadlocks styles.
Free form, braided and twist are the most common men's dreadlocks styles.

Well known male entertainers such as Brandon Boyd, Bob Marley and Zach De La Rocha have all sported the free form or organic style of dreadlocks. Organic or free form style is traditionally associated with the religious Jamaican movement known as the Rastafarian life style. The signature look is characterized by non-manipulated dreadlocks of hair. Typically once the hair is placed in twists of varying degree, the hair is left to loosen, mat and dreadlock on its own.

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

Some of the disadvantages of the free form dreads are the hair length requirement and the length of time needed to achieve the desired look. Usually hair that is 10 inches (about 25 cm) or more in length is recommended to get started. The dreadlock creation process can take up to three years to form the characteristic look of dreads.

Men’s dreadlocks styles such as the twist feature well defined, tightly coiled twists of hair. Many men opt to apply the twist dreadlocks style to shorter hair. The twist dreadlock is best done on highly textured hair, but those without textured or coarse hair can apply a type of product that adds texture.

Unlike the twist, braided dreadlocks can be done on any hair texture. The braided dreads can vary from extremely thick to pencil thin. Almost any hair length can sport braided dreadlocks.

Whether it’s neatly braided or wildly organic, some people carry negative preconceived notions about the various men’s dreadlocks styles. The first dreadlock misconception people tend to have is that dreads cannot be washed. Dreadlocks should and can be washed with residue free shampoo at least twice a week to maintain proper hygiene. Extra care should be taken to not buy non-residue free shampoo due to the possibility of mildew build-up that may lead to dread-rot.

Another misconception about the various men’s dreadlocks styles is that only those with African descent can wear dreadlocks. Any race or ethnicity can wear dreadlocks; however, certain styles such as the twist require highly textured hair similar to those with African ancestry. Having to shave or cut hair off at the root as part of the removal process is yet another popular misconception, even among the dreadlock faithful. While shaving and cutting is one option, with much patience and planning, dreadlocks can be removed by several non-shaving or cutting methods.

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