Reviewed by Nicole Dworak. Hairstylist/Colorist. Instagram: @ncldwrk
The process of making dreads is tiring and time-consuming. It can take 6 months to 2 years to get fully matured and locked dreadlocks. If your hair is short, it would take forever to grow it long enough to start the dreads. On the contrary, dreadlock extensions can give you the style of your dreams without the heavy commitment to real locks. When you get tired of them, all you have to do is simply have them removed, and you’re done.
Synthetic dreads come in a wide range of colors and hair lengths to match your personality. You can put them on your real dreads to get the added length you are looking for.
Another great thing about synthetic loc extensions is that they are reusable and pretty affordable. They will last you for up to 6 months if you take good care of them.
How to Put Fake Dreadlocks in your Hair?
Self-installation is time-consuming and can take 4-8 hours depending on the number of dreadlocks and your experience. You can also find a hairstylist specialized in dreads in your area. If you book an appointment, be prepared to sit for several hours.
I suggest watching some YouTube videos before starting self-installation to become more familiar with the process. Here are two useful instructional videos for installing artificial dreads.
How to install Double Ended dreadlock extensions by The Dread Shop
Single-Ended (SE) DIY How to Install Synthetic Dreads by DoctoredLocks.com
Do Synthetic Dreadlock Extensions Damage your Hair?
Fake dreadlocks can be somewhat heavy and uncomfortable, and it may take some time to get used to them.
Another problem is that your skin may react to plastic material the dreads are made of. Your scalp and other skin areas that your extensions touch can become irritated. The itchiness usually disappears after few days. In some cases, the problem may persist, making it difficult or impossible to wear synthetic hair.
Can you Wash Synthetic Dreads?
It is relatively easy to wash synthetic dreads. You can shower and shampoo your hair whilst wearing locs. Just make sure to use a shampoo that is meant for dreads and skip conditioner. Use a normal amount of shampoo and work with your fingertips to create rich leather. Gently rub the scalp with your fingertips. Rinse well to ensure there is no residue left in the dreads. Let the hair air dry.
Since dreads take several hours to air dry, it would be a good idea to wash the hair in the morning to ensure that it is completely dry before bedtime.
Don’t wash your dreads more often than necessary. The 7-10 day span would be optimal. Washing dreads more frequently makes them look messy and results in a shorter lifespan. Synthetic hair doesn’t absorb sebum oils from the scalp and won’t look greasy when is not freshly washed. However, synthetic fibers tend to absorb the smells from smoking and other pollutants.
Wear a shower cap when you’re in the shower on non-washing days.
How to Dry your Synthetic Loc Extensions?
After rinsing shampoo thoroughly, wrap your head with a microfiber towel. If the instruction suggests not to use a blow-dryer, let your dreads air dry. To speed up the drying process you can change the towel a few times. Also remember, to make it a habit to wash your hair in the morning to allow it sufficient time to dry completely before bedtime.
How to Soften Synthetic Dreads?
Brand new synthetic dreads can be stiff at first and may have an unnatural shine. To make new dreads more flexible, soak them in boiling water for 30 seconds. This will also take some of the shine out, making them look more realistic. Be careful not to boil your locs for longer as hot water can lighten the color and cause damage to synthetic fibers.
Make sure to read instructions to find out what temperature level your dreads can withstand. Also, some types of dreads are softer than others and there is no need to put them in boiling water. Instead, rolling the ends is all you should do to make them pleasantly soft. They will also look more natural with wear.
Resealing Synthetic Locs
Over time your synthetic dreads can get a “puffy” look and may unravel a bit. When they start to show signs of wear, you need to seal them to make them look new again. Let this video to say more than a million words:
HOW TO: reseal SYNTHETIC DREADS – YouTube video by Sophie inspired
How to Style Synthetic Dreads?
Synthetic dreads are a bit heavy, and it will take some time to get used to them. Once you are comfortable, you can experiment with different styles.
Avoid using conditioners and styling products to keep the amount of residue at a minimum and reduce the need for more frequent washing.
Avoid cutting synthetic dreadlocks unless necessary. The ends of synthetic fibers would look unnatural and choppy after trimming.
Another thing you should avoid is the use of heat styling tools. Synthetic fibers are made of plastic and can easily melt if you apply heat.
Check the provided instructions to make sure you can use a blow dryer for drying your dreads.
When individual dread slides down, you can take it off and braid into your hair again.
Use braid rings, dreadlocks beads, and other eye-catching jewelry to create a unique hairstyle.
Sleeping with Synthetic Dreadlocks
When you go to bed, it is advisable to take off potentially damaging hair accessories and use some kind of protection for your synthetic locks. Involuntary movement during sleeping can loosen the base of your locks making them messy and frizzy or even unravel them. Wearing a night cap made from satin will comfortably hold your hair and minimize friction-causing movements. A hair bonnet will also reduce the contact between your skin and plastic fibers, decreasing the chance of allergic reactions.
Sleeping on a silk pillowcase will extend the longevity of your fake locs.
How Long Can You Keep Synthetic Dreads in?
Be aware that you shouldn’t wear synthetic dreads continuously for a long period of time. After a month or two, take them out and give your head some rest. The extensions put stress on your hair, so make sure to give your hair some deep conditioning treatments during the resting period.
Install them back after a week if they are still in good shape. You can buy a set of new ones without spending a fortune.
Enjoy your new style without any long-term commitment!