Real dreadlocks require total commitment and months of shaping and treating hair to get the desired texture. All that work also means a hairstyle that stays for the long haul. If you want to try out the look on your hair before committing completely, you can create temporary dreads with only some basic styling tools. These "dreads" work best on hair that is at least shoulder-length and come out with a little bit of combing and a quick wash.
Prep and Part
Start this hairstyle with one- or two-day-old hair to create more texture and produce a longer hold. Part your hair near the top of your head. You want a tidy part so that the hair lies naturally when it is styled. Spritz your hair with a heat-protectant spray to keep it healthy.
Part your hair horizontally from behind your right ear all the way around the back of your head to behind your left ear. Gently clip up the hair above the part so that the bottom half of your hair is free to style.
Section and Tease
Separate a tidy 1-inch section of hair from the loose strands below the horizontal part. Hold the section of hair with one hand and with the other gently tease or backcomb the strands with a fine-toothed comb.
To backcomb, start from the roots and work your way down. Place the teeth of the comb into the section of hair and push up toward the roots about 1/2 inch. Keep repeating this tiny movement as you work your way down the strand. Don't attempt to create a tight backcomb, which will result in the beginning of some real dreads, just build a little volume and texture into the hair.
Twist and Iron
Twist the backcombed section of hair into a tight rope and hold onto the tip of the rope with your fingers. Gently backcomb the twisted rope of hair every couple of inches to keep the twist in place.
Heat up a flat iron on medium-high heat. Clamp the flat iron around the twisted section gently. Turn the flat iron around the outside of the dread in the direction you twisted your hair as you work your way down the dread. Don't squeeze the flat iron tight, just use the heated plates to set the hair in place and smooth down large wisps of hair. The turning motion also encourages the strands to stay in the twisted shape.
A little holding power is in order to keep this backcombed dread in place. Apply a dime-sized drop of styling cream or pomade to the dread from top to bottom working it in with your fingers. These products add extra texture and hold the strands in place. Spritz the dread with a little hairspray to make sure the dread stays put.
Repeat this process on the rest of your hair working in 1-inch sections. Once you finish the bottom section of hair, release the clipped-up hair and continue the process on the remaining strands. Give your head one final overall spritz of hairspray to set the look.
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Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.