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All About Installs

All About Installs

There are so many questions about installing dreads and dread like items into natural hair that I wanted to dedicate an entire page to it. From before you get to installing, to after care, I sincerely hope this page helps people with questions, questions, questions, and concerns. I've set it up as an FAQ type page. If you have a question that has not been answered, please email VixenSingsBlack[at]yahoo.com

Before Installing

How many dreads should I buy/make for my first install? If it's your very first time, I suggest aiming for 40 medium thickness DE dreads (80SEs), 50 thin DEs (100SEs), or 30 thick DEs (60 SEs) on an average size head with all its hair (no shaved bits). If you have an undercut, count on ten fewer for every 3 inches of hair you don't have. Once you've tried one number, the next time you'll know for sure just how many you need of a given size dread--there's a lot of personal preference in how many dreads to install and there's a steep learning curve too.

Should my hair be dirty or clean before starting? You can go either way. Some people don't wash their hair for a few days before so the extra oil can help keep fly aways to a minimum. Some people with heavy oil hair wash with shampoo the day before. Some people (like me) wash and condition the day before, then use a styling gel/spray during install to help with the fly aways.

How long does my hair need to be? A minimum of three inches is necessary for an inexperienced installer, in my opinion. There is no max length; and yes, you can install 7 inch dreads into 12 inch hair! Your natural hair can be longer than the dreads because as you braid, your natural hair becomes shorter. My hair is 16 inches long and I manage to braid it around 6 inch dreads. Natural hair, will, of course mean you have more of the dread hidden by your natural braid.

Do I need/not need a fringe? There is no requirement here! With or without a fringe, you can choose to braid at the hair line, or back it up and let the front of your hair hang out. For a first timer, I suggest not braiding all the way up to the hair line. The extra hair left out can be styled independently from the rest. I suggest hair quiffs or braids when leaving hair out at the front. You can use sprays, dyes, makeup, and fake fringes to match your natural hair with the dreadlocks.

While Installing

List of videos and tutorials about how to install:
1 "Install dreadlocks" search on YouTube--too many hits to list ALL of them
2 I kick shins multiple installation methods
3 Basic Installation of thinnish dreads
4 A few different installation methods
5 From Cut Out and Keep.com
6 How to install A-Line style

Where should I put more/less dreadlocks? There's no need to cram as many dreads onto your head as possible. You simply need more in some places than others to make the install look full. This helpful guide will teach you how.

Should I use product to stop flyaways? Some people will say absolutely not because the product can dry your hair. However, I say yes, use all natural Aloe Vera Gel in moderation. It doesn't harm the hair, keeps down fly aways, and moisturizes. You may want to try a spot on yourself before using, just in case you have an allergy.

Can I install on wet hair? NO! When your hair is wet it stretches more easily, so you could overstretch and harm your hair. Best if it's totally dry.

My rubberbands keep snapping. Which type are best? Lots of alt hair ladies use Orthodontic Rubberbands designed for braces. They are super stretchy and heavy duty; IKickShins.net sells them in packs. Other people use Horse Hair rubber bands because they are sturdier than regular ones. You can also tie thread or yarn at the bottom if rubberbands are just no luck for you .I've been using Rainbow Loom bands in the clear color for awhile now, and they are working out great for me. Plus they come in ALL colors.

How do you do this all by yourself?!?! Adk948376q58q!!!??? Mirrors are the most common help with this problem, and super skills in braiding without looking. Myself, I do all sectioning with double mirrors. Hold one in your non-dominant hand in front of a large mirror, then use your dominant hand and a rattail comb to section. Once the section is separate, put down the mirror. Hold the section tight, and check in the double mirrors again to make sure it's even. Then split that large section into smaller sections for braiding, rolling the bits to keep them separated. Now sit down, without mirrors, and braid in each dread. Get back up, go back to the mirrors for another section. I have heard of some people putting a webcam behind their heads and using the computer screen, but I don't have such a luxury. I hope one day to make a video or pic tut of my own method. When you're alone, your mouth is another set of hands for holding hair and banana clips can help too. Patience, patience, patience. I usually start at the top/front and work my way back. You may want to do one half at night, and the next half in the morning to give your arms a break.

During Installation

Can I wash my hair with the dread locks in? Yes you can, if you want to, but it's not necessary. Here's a GREAT tutorial about how to do just that.

How do I wear my hair up, besides a ponytail? Here's a wonderful pic tut about putting them up, minus the ponytail. Here are 6 styles without any strings/holders. Here's a vid tut explaining an updo for very very long dreads. The Lobster Tail coif. A scarf embedded up do. A style suggestion for shorter dreads. A simple but great tut on getting those dreads up, up, up! Victory rolls with dreads, best with skinny, skinny dreads.

My head is so itchy. What do I do? A diluted mixture of tea tree oil is recommended for minor itchiness. Some also use pre-packaged braid spray for itchy scalp; check the beauty department for ethnic women.

My scalp is sore. Is that okay? For the first few days, your scalp will probably feel funny and sensitive. This is okay and normal, especially with longer/thicker synthetic dreads. If the pain doesn't go away in a week, take out the dreads and try again. Neat sectioning and appropriate tightness are important to a comfortable install.

There are red bumps and they hurt. What do I do? I suggest not installing any dreads at any place on the hair line for first time installers. Just braid the hairline hair into braids and hide them under the dreads. When I frist started I did not install dreads at my nape because it always pulled too much, so I would just braid that hair and hide it. If you think you're allergic to the hair, whether it be synth or wool, immediately remove the dreads and take medication to stop the allergic reaction; if it's bad get to a doctor.

My head hurts very badly. Please help! Best idea is to remove them!

Is it too hot outside for dreads? In my opinion, no, as long as you have some ice water--read here for more.

Can I swim in salt/chlorine water with dreads? Yes, but it does come with a lot of weight, and you need to get your dreads totally dry in 24 hours or mold could grow. A hair dryer on low heat can help dry them more quickly; if you're wearing synths DO NOT put the hair dryer too hot or it will melt the dreads.

Can I exercise with my dreads in? Of course! Just wrap them up well so they do not get caught in machinery and give your scalp at least a rinse afterwards to clear away the sweat.

My rubberbands keep snapping. Which type are best? Lots of alt hair ladies use Orthodontic Rubberbands designed for braces. They are super stretchy and heavy duty. Other people use Horse Hair rubber bands because they are sturdier than regular ones. You can also tie thread or yarn at the bottom if rubberbands are just no luck for you. Always keep a few extra bands in your pocket when you go out, that way if one snaps on the run, you can put another right in.

How long can I leave them in? There's no rule of thumb here, but you should remove them when you can start to see your natural hair dreading/knotting at the scalp. Generally, this is about 3 months in.

How do I get my tshirts on? You may find your hair and head are so lovingly full now that getting tshirts on involves a lot of stretching. Instead, put your hair through the hole first, then your head separately. It's awkward, but it saves your favorite T from stretch-death.

Is a halo/fuzz of my natural hair normal? Yes. That halo is caused by the shorter hairs or longer hairs that escaped from the braid during installation. If you find it ugly, you'll have to un-install and re-install more frequently.

My synth dreads are unraveling, what do I do? Unfortunately, you'll need to remove them and seal again, or contact the seller and ask them why it's happening and what to do about it.

My wool/synth dreads smell funky? If they got wet for too long (longer than 24 hours) then they are probably musty with mold. Take them out and pour lots of boiling water over them. Set them in front of a fan to dry; the must should be killed and gone. Now you can reinstall. If they smell of smoke/kitchen then they're probably not moldy, just absorbent of air flavors. You can try some perfume, but if that's not good enough you can soak them in Woolite and warm water while swishing gently once you un-install.

After Installation

How do I take them out? Take it slow, remove each rubber band, and undo each braid separately. Start at the top and move towards the bottom, keeping your upper hair out of the way with clips. When they're all done, take about 1/4 of your hair at a time when it's dry, and, using a wide tooth comb, comb out the tangles. If the tangles are too much, try using some olive oil to help make them slippery or some detangle spray. When everything is combed out, pop in the shower for that first wonderful washing!

All my hair is falling out! Help?! Depending on how long you had the dreads installed, it may feel like all your hair is coming out after you take dreads out during that first wash. Don't worry too much! Your hair sheds about 60-100 hairs a day, and none of those have been able to fall out since they've been braided up. To check if you're really losing good hair, take a look at the end of the hairs closely. Do they have a little white ball? If yes, then your hair has been pulled out by the root inappropriately. If no, then it's just natural shedding.

My ends are so dry and brittle. What can I do? Whenever I'm done with an install, I coat my hair ends in olive oil and leave it on all night. I wash it the next mornining and my hair is back to soft and supple.

Can I wash my extensions after an install? Yes! To wash synthetic or wool dreads fill a bucket with luke warm water and add a touch of woolite or biz. Put the dreads in the bucket and swish gently. Let them soak for a while. Then rinse thoroughly under cold water. Set the dreads in a breeze to dry. It's important they dry within 24 hours or mold could grow.