Monday, February 21, 2011

Head full of Dreads! (My Dread-Forming: An Overview)

They're in! Thanks to my dearest fiance, Jim; my amazing sister, Cara; and my awesome friend, Rena, my hair is now knotted into 42 dreads! 40 of them were formed using the backcombing method, and 2 of them were formed using the twist and rip method.

I chose the backcombing method over the twist and rip method for the majority of my dreads because I had heard that the backcombing method works better for thicker dreads, and after looking at many different heads of dreads on the web, I felt positive that the look I was hoping for would best be achieved with thicker dreads: those formed from a section of hair about an inch or more across. In addition, I was hoping that dreads would add a sense of volume to my hair, and although I was never able to find a photo comparison between dreads using the twist and rip method and those formed by backcombing, I heard a few times that backcombed dreads had more volume. With all of this information, I decided that backcombing was the best way for me to form the dreads that I wanted.

So why the two twist and rips? Mostly just curiosity: I want to know if there's a difference between the two start-styles. Which dreads more quickly? How different do they look when first made? Once matured? How long does it take them to mature, and is the time-to-mature very different between the two styles? The opportunity to make them came after the dread party. When I was going through my hair and picking out the dreads that were loose, I discovered a section of hair that was very long and rectangular. I'd heard that dreads coming from square, round, or triangle sections of hair are more likely to grow out round (rather than some strange, flat or otherwise awkward shape), so I decided to comb out the skinny, rectangle dread and replace it with two smaller, but more square dreads. Since those two dread were very small (maybe half an inch by three quarters of an inch or so) compared to my other dreads, and I had heard that twist and rip was great for smaller dreads, about that size, I seized the opportunity to experiment. The two twist and rips look like little braids floating amidst my fuzzy, backcombed dreads. They're cute and fun.

Before we began backcombing, I sectioned my hair: using tiny elastics, I made pigtails all over my head where I wanted my dreads to be later (I forgot to take a picture, but it looked pretty hilarious). I chose to section it beforehand, rather than having my friends just grab and section as those chose so that one side of my head wouldn't end up with thicker dreads than the other. So basically, I chose to section my hair beforehand to increase uniformity. I wanted uniformity between the two sides of my head, but not from dread to dread. We sectioned my hair so that it would have a mix of dread-sizes, mostly larger, but with a few smaller ones thrown in.

Also, I sectioned my hair beforehand because I had a specific pattern in mind for my dreads: brick. That means that we first sectioned the bottom inch or so of my hair, then when we formed the sections for the next inch or so above that, we formed the dreads between two of the dreads below (rather than directly over one of them), hiding the parts between the dreads so there wouldn't be a clean part all the way up the side of my head. Despite what sounds like a rigorously uniform sectioning of my hair, my dreads are actually all different sizes, and my sections are all different shapes (though we tried to make them mostly square, round, or triangle, as much as possible). Although the randomness did happen naturally (and I think would be very hard to prevent - I can't imagine how much work it would take to get all of one's dreads the same size and in nice, even rows!), it was what I was hoping for, so I am glad that everything worked out so well.

I only used one elastic in my hair. A day after we backcombed my dreads, some of them were pretty loose, and the middle one, in the back of my head, by my neck had pretty much completely fallen out. I believe this happened for two reasons: the hair on my neck is the shortest of my hair, only 3-4 inches long, and this particular dread is a relatively small dread compared to my others (the section is at most an inch or so across), and backcombing works best with thick sections. Anyway, because even doing the backcombing over again completely, the poor dread seemed ready to fall out, I put an elastic at the bottom of it. It's the only dread I have any kind of elastic or rubber band around, and it's only at the bottom.

I've read that thicker backcombed dreads knot up faster than thinner backcombed dreads, so I'm hoping that my dreads will set "quickly" (maybe 2-4 months instead of 4-6 before they stop looking like a really bad version of bedhead and start resembling mature dreads). Time will tell!

The coolest part about all of this is that I have the exact dreads I was picturing! How did that happen? I did a little research, but there wasn't an exact guidebook for the dreads that I wanted (I found a lot of sites that said, stop brushing your hair and they'll form naturally, and others that said, "make 1/2-1 inch sections and use wax"), so for the most part, I was winging it, with the sectioning, the choice on how to form the dreads, everything. I'm SO excited that they not only turned out, they're awesome! When creating my dreads, I was aiming for fun and funky, big and bold, yet random - and somehow they turned out even better than I imagined! I wasn't really sure what to expect, or if it'd work for me, and sure, right now they're more frizz than dreads, but it's a beautiful, frizzy beginning. I see the future in those tangles, and it's even more exciting than I'd hoped!

Extra kudos and thanks to Rena, who helped section my hair and backcombed half of my head all by herself!

Extra kudos and thanks to Cara, who backcombed between contractions (I'm not kidding! They were intense, but they ended up being false alarms - my nephew is still hangin' out in his mama). She's a tough cookie!

Extra kudos and thanks to Jim, who in addition to helping backcomb on Friday, also did most of the sectioning beforehand and helped me on Saturday and Sunday by re-backcombing the ones that were loose!! He also did one of the rip and twist dreads (I did the other).

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