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February, as we all know, is Black History Month, and with all of the special programming on television, it is very easy to become fascinated with a different culture. My research for this article has led me on a journey through some amazing websites and articles dealing with African and Caribbean cultures, and I was so fascinated by this cultural journey that I even went out and purchased several books.

 This month, I will briefly discuss the history of dreadlocking and offer some advice on how to care for dreadlocked hair. I will also direct you to some links that I have found to be valuable and informative. Hopefully they will interest you as they have interested me.

Dreadlocks can be traced back to Biblical times, but almost certainly date back much earlier than that. Egyptian tombs depict the hairstyle, and it is believed that King Tutankhamen himself had his hair dreadlocked. Other cultures to embrace this hairstyle include the Aborigines of Australia, and various tribes of Africa and New Guinea.

Dreadlocks were popularized in the early twentieth century by the Rastafarians. Rastafarianism is a religious movement embraced by the peoples of the Caribbean, and it still has many followers today. Dreadlocks, and the Rastafarian movement, were brought into the mainstream by Reggae artists. The most notable, of course, being Bob Marley. It wasn’t long before dreadlocks were discovered by the fashion savvy, and have now become adopted by people of all races and religious affiliations.

Dreadlocking can be done in a number of ways. Any method that causes knotting of the hair can be considered an effective dreadlocking method. The popular methods include the backcombing method, the natural method, dread perming, and the twisting method. Each of these methods is distinctively different. For that reason, I have omitted countless other popular methods, since they are more or less derivatives of the aforementioned methods.

The backcombing method involves sectioning hair into 1-2 inch squares. A teasing comb is used to backcomb the hair until it begins to mat. To backcomb, repeatedly comb the hair in the direction of the scalp while maintaining moderate tension on the hairstrand. Backcombing is best accomplished on clean, unconditioned hair. The matting should be as tight as possible. Once the section has been backcombed, the ends are secured with a rubber band. The dreadlock needs to be waxed with a pomade or non-petroleum based wax. Beeswax is the best wax to use, but it is difficult to find. Dreads will mature in about 12 weeks, which means it will take about 12 weeks before they achieve the desired look. Salons that use this method will usually charge around 25.00 an hour for this service. Choose your stylist carefully, because dreadlocking is a technique seldom taught in beauty schools.