The history of dreadlocks and how to take care of this trending hairstyle

Dreadlocks are one of the coolest hairstyles. Picture: Pexels.

Dreadlocks are one of the coolest hairstyles. Picture: Pexels.

Published Feb 29, 2024


As you know, hair is a touchy subject because everyone prefers to wear it their own way, hence it’s rude to speak about someone’s hair.

One of the most misunderstood trending hairstyles is dreadlocks. People all over the world are rocking it but many do not know how to take care of their dreadlocks.

Linda Gieskes-Mwamba, the founder of Suki Suki Naturals, describes dreadlocks as a hairstyle where the hair is intentionally matted and knotted to form long, rope-like strands.

“Locs, short for dreadlocks, is a hairstyle that can be achieved through various methods, including naturally allowing the hair to mat over time or through techniques like palm rolling, twisting or braiding using pomades and waxes,” she says.

Although dreadlocks are referenced in the “Old Testament” as Samson was said to have had seven dreadlocks, which were the source of his strength, the hairstyle gained popularity in the 1930s when Ras Tafari became the emperor of Ethiopia.

And when Tafari was forced into exile, his people vowed not to cut their hair until he was reinstated and, since they had coarse, coiled hair, their hair automatically turned into dreadlocks.

Rastafarians believed so much in nationalism and black power that the religion became a threat to Christianity.

Christians tried to suppress them by saying their hair (which grew naturally like that without being tampered with) was “disgusting” and “scary”, hence the term “dread”.

However, Rastafarians reclaimed that name and that’s how the dreadlocks hairstyle came about.

Dreadlocks. Picture: Pexels.

As time went on, more people became drawn to the hairstyle and started modifying it by twisting, moisturising it and making sure it looked and smelt good and that’s why it is now one of the most popular natural hairstyles in the world.

However, there is a misconception that the hairstyle is reserved for black people only. Anyone can wear dreadlocks, the only thing is that it locks grow better on textured hair rather than straight hair.

“Although there are cultural backgrounds of African descent associated with locs. Due to certain cultural appropriation concerns, some people could say that locs are reserved for textured/African hair types.

“However, this is not a set rule; many people of different backgrounds can wear their hair in locs,” Mwamba says.

Dreadlocks grow better on textured hair. Picture: Pexels.

Beautiful as it is, this hairstyle is high-maintenance. It requires lots of patience, nurturing and proper care.

To take care of it, Mwanda suggests regular cleansing and oiling of the scalp and hair.

“Whether your hair is in locs or not, scalp care remains the most important way to ensure your hair is healthy. From a hairstyle perspective, you should avoid creating too much tension on the scalp as this can cause receding hairlines and traction alopecia, especially because it can grow long quite fast. The weight of the hair adds additional tension on the scalp,” says Mwamba.

Many people with dreadlocks have build-up on their hair and getting rid of it can be a challenge.

Instead of using several products like apple cider vinegar and baking soda, which may dry the hair, Mwanda suggests avoid using any product that traps moisture in the hair, such as conditioners or leave-conditioners and masks, as these will create mould.

Beautiful, clean dreadlocks. Picture: Pexels.

She shares the top following five hair care tips, even if your hair is not locs:

Shampoo at least once a week: The best way to maintain locs is through regular cleansing and oiling of the scalp and length of the hair. We recommend Suki Suki Naturals Mongongo Maracujá moisturising shampoo once a week.

Avoid conditioners and leave-ins: The products are usually thick and can trap moisture in the hair, which may result in build-up overtime.

Oil your scalp at least twice a week: You can try the Suki Suki Naturals miraculous oil on the scalp at least twice a week and the hydro protective hair mist on the length of the hair to ensure it isn't dry.

Avoid hairstyles that create tension on your scalp: Your scalp needs to breathe and if you don’t want to lose your hairline, then stay away from styles that cause tension on the scalp.

Treat your hair with love: Anything that receives love shines brightly, and your hair is no exception.