How To Start Dreads With Short Hair [2 Foolproof Ways]

August 11, 2022
by Dan Skewes

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When people look at dreadlocks, it is a common misconception that you have to start with your hair on the longer side. In fact, the opposite is the case.

If you start your dread journey with shorter hair, it will be easier to maintain as it gets longer. In fact, if maintained correctly, then the hair will naturally start to grow twisted.

Below are a few ways to start dreads with short hair and keep them looking fresh. We will also cover how to care for your dreads to get the hairstyle of your dreams.

What Are Dreads?

Dreadlocks, also known as dreads or locks, are matted and knotted sections of hair. While they can be made naturally just by not brushing your hair, they are typically done on purpose.

Dreadlocks as a style are dated back as far as 1600 BCE and have great significance across many cultures and religions.

They have been praised for promoting hair growth without shedding, and also it's low maintenance since dreadlocks don't require frequent washing.

It is important to remember that dreadlocks aren't meant to be temporary.

You can't just take them in and out as you please, and while they are low maintenance, it doesn't mean they are no maintenance.


You will need to get a soft-bristled brush.

  1. Create a small circular motion on one part of the hair, and go in a clockwise direction.
  2. When a ball of hair forms, it should be about the size of a marble, then move onto another section of hair.
  3. A dread sponge brush may work better if your hair is short and coarser. It is designed with holes in the sponge to help create the balls.
  4. Apply dread cream or dread wax to each of the balls.
  5. If you are worried that your hair will unravel, then you can secure each ball with a clip or elastic band. Try not to tie them too tight, or else they will be uncomfortable on the scalp.
  6. Leave them alone until they are completely dry before taking off the clips and bands.


  1. This technique works better on hair that isn't coarse.
  2. Separate the hair into inch squares, and then comb the knots out. This allows for different textures all over the head. Wetting the hair beforehand may help. You can tie each section off with a band, but it usually isn't needed.
  3. Apply loc cream to each 1x1 inch square of hair, making sure that it is completely rubbed in.
  4. Using a rat tail comb, insert it in the root of a section. Twist the comb and pull till you get to the end. Ensure that the hairs stay in the teeth of the comb. You should have a tiny dread.
  5. If you use enough cream, you won't need bands to secure the locks.
  6. Start from the back of the head and work your way to the front in neat horizontal rows.
  7. Leave them alone to completely dry before touching them.

Dread Care

You will see at the end of each technique that you need to leave your hair to completely dry.

This is in reference to all the gel and moisturizer in the locks and can take a minimum of about 3 hours to completely dry. After that, you can let it naturally dry or use a hair dryer.

If you have a hooded dryer, we recommend using it as it is more effective. Allowing the hair to completely dry will hopefully stop the hairs from completely unraveling.

Make sure you keep a good gel or moisturizer on hand; you never know when you may need it. Some popular brands are Jamaican Mango & Lime, Taliah Waajid, and Knotty Boy.

As you twist your locks, make sure you are doing so in the same direction, we recommend clockwise.

This is, so they don't untangle as you twist them in the future. As they get longer, make sure you palm twist them, so they keep their shape.

When you sleep, make sure your dreads are kept in a dread sock to protect them. Dread socks are available in a bunch of colors and patterns so you never get bored.

If you want to speed up the hair growth process, you can try switching up your diet. Stylists recommend upping your protein intake through fish and nuts.

You could also start your day with a healthy hair supplement that includes biotin, vitamin B, and C.

Avoid bleaching or dying your locks until they are settled.

Styling Ideas

Below are a few easy styling ideas for your new dreads.

man with dreads smelling flowers


From a high fade to a skin fade, by pairing short dreads with faded sides can create a modern and stylish look.


Similar to a fade but it goes up into a high fade that has a clear distinction between the fade and the locks.


A youthful look that's great for those who are just starting to grow their dreads out. It involves spiking each dread up to give a unique effect.

Faux Hawk

Usually paired with a tapered fade, this look encompasses the punk scene with the culture of dreads. The faux hawk is a bit more maintenance but we feel like it is worth it.

How To Start Dreads With Short Hair - Conclusion

Hopefully, now you know how to start your dreadlock lifestyle with confidence. Don't panic if you can't see results immediately, dreadlocks take patience and can take years to fully mature.

Our best advice is to get a regular routine to take care of your dreads. Having a hair care regime will promote growth and help your hair stay healthy.

Dreads require different care to un-locked hair so make sure you invest in a good shampoo and conditioner that are specifically for dreadlocks.

The story of dreadlocks dates back thousands of years so get out there and rock natural hair.

Related: The 5 Best Hair Gels For Men For Swoon-worthy Hair

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