Starting dreads, but just not sure what you'll need?

We've done the hard work for you by putting together the bare essentials for starting locks from scratch (and in larger Kits, a few fun extras), at a discount!

Incredible locks
in weeks, not years.

Create and maintain beautiful locks in any hair type easier, faster, and cleaner with Knotty Boy Natural Dreadlock Care products.

Pure ingredients, simple instructions and limitless customer support. Think Dreadlocks, Think Knotty Boy - the Original Since 1998!


How to Make Dreadlocks

The Knotty Boy Method of making dreadlocks


Enjoy this video for free with our compliments and thanks to YouTube.  If you want the convenience of watching it on a DVD player, with all the bloopers, we've got you.

NOTE: Thousands around the world in our Before & After Dreadlock Gallery can attest to how quickly and easily they were able to form gorgeous dreadlocks using Knotty Boy products together with our Loctician-Approved-Since-1998-For-All-Hair-Types Dreadlocking Method.

But you do not have to use the Knotty Boy products recommended below for this dreadlocking method to work. It may take more patience to achieve the look, style, or statement desired, and there will be less control over how your hair will appear while forming and maturing.  This is why we created Knotty Boy products in the first place - to help ourselves and others get better-looking, healthier locks easier and faster.

So if you opt out of using Dreadlock Wax, no problem, simply skip that part of the following instructions and start on your own, blessed, personal dreadlock journey.  We hope it's a good one!


Detailed Instructions

knotty boy basic dreadlock starter kit showing two stickers a dreadlock comb a bar of dreadlock shampoo and a 4 ounce tub of dreadlock wax

step 1 - get your gear

  • a good friend or two
  • Knotty Boy Dread Wax
  • Pre-Dreading & De-Waxing Soap or a conditioner-free shampoo
  • a strong, fine-tooth comb
  • hair elastics, barrettes or clips
  • a blowdryer
  • an old spoon
  • an old towel for waxy-hand cleanup
  • your favourite (or an ad-hoc new) playlist

Most of the above items (except for friends, blowdryers, and old spoons and towels, that is) can be found in one of our discounted Knotty Boy Dreadlock Starter Kits, or you can order whatever you need a la carte.

set of three knotty boy bee washed pre dreading and de waxing soap in cello bag with twist tie and orange insert

step 2 - wash your hair

To get your hair in the best possible form to start, shampoo with your Knotty Boy Pre-Dreading and De-Waxing Soap, which is specially designed to cleanse your hair and scalp of any natural scalp sebum buildup or hair product residue which might hinder the locking process.  Wash until your hair squeaks under your fingers and rinse thoroughly.

stylist blow drying freshly washed long red hair on model a big fluffy mess

step 3 - get your hair perfectly dry

Now that you're all squeaky clean, blow dry your hair back and forth, upside down, and sideways until you've got it as big, fluffy, and ridiculous looking as it can possibly be.  Apart from amusing your friends, this will make your job a lot easier in the following steps. (By the way, this is a great time to take your 'before' picture, and you're invited to submit it along with the finished product to our Dreadlock Gallery!)  Switch your blowdryer to cool for the last minute or so, and when it's 100% dry all the way through, you're ready to start sectioning.

tied-up and partially dreadlocked hair sectioned to show bricklaying square sectioning pattern

step 4 - sectioning

The key to easy-to-maintain locks is neat sectioning. It's tempting to cut corners because it can get tedious, but the results will be worth it. We've found the best way to get started is to work horizontally, from the nape of your neck upward. (aren't you glad you brought along a friend?)

Lay Your Foundation

>Using your comb, section across, parallel to your hairline. Pin or tie up all the hair above this line.

Starting at one side (left or right, whatever works best for you) section out enough hair to grab an index-finger-sized lock. Pin the rest of the section out of your way.

If you want to pre-section a whole row at once to help visualize the finished effect, this can be done with elastics or clips. While it's pretty convenient to do this before backcombing and waxing, it isn't necessary. We recommend pre-sectioning only the row you'll be working on.

Building A Bricklaying Pattern

When you've finished dreading the first row, repeat the process upward, spreading out toward your ears as you rise, and toward the front of your hairline. Stagger your sections to lie between those below them in a brick-lay pattern. This will help your maturing dreads lay naturally and appear fuller, because the ones above will hide that gap between the ones below. Take special care with the sections at the top of your head, if you want a part in the middle, now's the time to create it if you want one. If you don't, then make a lock dead-centre - this way you can change your part when the mood strikes. Whatever you decide you'll be stuck with.. forever! Muahahaha! (well, as long as you keep your dreadlocks, anyway)

long section of hair extended from the nape of dreadlock model's neck about to be backcombed

step 5 - backcombing & twisting

Backcombing is exactly what it sounds like. Take your first section of hair, place the comb about one inch from the roots and comb backwards toward your scalp again. You've created a tangle and pushed it up to your scalp in one motion. Start at the root and work down to the tip until you've created a tight and consistent texture, without any weaker thin spots. It's really important that you get a good tight tangle going on up at your roots - this is what's going to help your new hair-growth dread.

When you've got your section nice and knotty, twist it gently into a cylinder. You may be surprised to find this lock is shorter than the rest of your unlocked hair, especially if you have quite fine hair. Don't worry, you're doing everything right. It's normal for dreads to end up about 1/3 shorter than the length you started with.

waxing a newly created dreadlock in long red hair

step 6 - waxing

When you open your jar of Knotty Wax, you'll notice that the surface is really hard and smooth. The harder formula is great for keeping the Wax where you want it: on your dreads, not your face!

Take your spoon and dig into the surface of the Wax a little, so that you can easily take a pea-sized amount. Work that Wax in your fingers to soften it. Next, massage it in to your backcombed and twisted section, starting close to the root (don't rub it into your scalp) and working down to the ends. Use more as necessary in small amounts, waxing and twisting as you go down the lock. Caution: You only need to use enough Wax to bind the loose hair together. Less is more! It's much easier to add more later than to live with a waxy mess.

Note: If you're using the new Knotty Boy Wax Stick, you'll start at the root and just run the stick lightly down the length of the lock once or twice. No muss, no fuss!

stylist in salon wearing a black and white shirt palm rolling a freshly made dreadlock

step 7 - palm rolling

Once you've got your new lock sufficiently backcombed and waxed, you want to give it what's called a 'palm roll'. Starting at the root, briskly roll your new dread between your palms toward the end.

Dreads need friction to form, and this helps provide it. Palm rolling will also be your #1 method for keeping locks going strong and looking great for the long-haul.

We can't stress enough how important palm rolling is to maintaining neat and healthy locks!

Final Word

Now repeat the Backcomb-Wax-Twist-&-Roll process until you've finished your whole head. It may be time consuming, but it'll be worth every minute.

Dreadlocks are a process and a journey - and you've just taken the first few steps by learning how to make them. Congratulations, and welcome to the Knotty Family!

We recommend you wait 1-2 weeks before your first washing to give those locks time to get really knotted up, and palm roll as often as you can. After this initial waiting period, washing once a week is a good guideline for most folks. Those of you who started your locks with our Knotty Boy Starter Kit will find our Dreadlock Shampoo Bar in the bag, along with a shower cap to keep your new locks dry during those other six days of the week!


OW OW OW! This Really Hurts!

It's normal to experience some discomfort with the backcombing/twisting process, but it shouldn't be agonizing. Take care not to pull too hard when sectioning, backcombing, twisting, and palm-rolling. As long as you're building consistent texture, your dreads will be great.

What the?! My Comb Broke!

Maybe too much tension. Those small teeth on the plastic combs are designed to help you backcomb the hair with minimal pulling. Let the comb do its work!

My Fine Hair Doesn't Seem To Want To Backcomb.

Look at the section size. Do you have too much hair? You need to be able to comb the whole piece in one motion. If you've tried reducing the section size and are still having trouble, here's a tip: Add a little Locksteady Tightening Gel to your dampened hair and blow dry before backcombing again. This product gives fine, especially slippery hair a little extra tack to help hold the knots.

These Dreads Are Waaay Puffier Than I Wanted!

Newly formed dreadlocks will tighten up considerably once you begin washing them. When you start your maintenance routine of washing and palm rolling consistently, you'll see them tightening up. And later, a little Locksteady Tightening Gel will go a long way in helping tighten loose locks, too.

I Don't Want Square Sections.

Square sections easiest to achieve but they aren't the only way. Diamond shapes (and more freeform shapes) work great, too, and are especially useful when trying to work around corners or in smaller sections. Just keep your sections clean and equilateral to ensure you get a nice cylindrical lock.

How The Heck Do I Get This Wax Off My Hands?

The Pre-Dreading Soap you used to wash your hair in Step 2 is also a De-Waxing soap and it's great for the last step - cleanup. Presto Clean-O!


more answers

Join Us!

Join the Knotty family on Facebook, or sign up for our newsletter to have give-aways and the latest dreadful tips 'n' tricks flown straight to your inbox!