What are Synthetic Dreadlocks?

Marjorie McAtee

Synthetic dreadlocks are a type of hair extension used to give the wearer dreadlocks. Having synthetic dreadlocks installed can be expensive, but it may be an option for those who don't want make the commitment of dreading their own natural hair. Synthetic dreadlocks attach to the wearer's own natural hair, and they can be easily removed without damage to the natural hair. Synthetic dreadlocks are available in a wide range of colors, and there are several methods of forming and installing them.

Synthetic dreadlocks can attach to a person's own natural hair and can be easily removed without any damage.
Synthetic dreadlocks can attach to a person's own natural hair and can be easily removed without any damage.

These hair extensions are typically made from synthetic hair materials. Wearers may install synthetic dreadlocks at home, or have them installed in a salon. While many wearers opt to buy dreadlock extensions in custom-made colors and styles, others choose to make the extensions at home using hair extension material.

Tea tree or other essential oils are often added to synthetic dreadlocks to eliminate odors.
Tea tree or other essential oils are often added to synthetic dreadlocks to eliminate odors.

A common method of installing dreadlock extensions involves pinchbraiding, a technique in which synthetic hair material is braided into the wearer's natural hair. A piece of thread or string is often used to hold the hair extension in place. This method can be among the simplest for wearers, who may remove the synthetic dreadlocks at any time, simply by cutting the strings that hold the hair extensions in place. Because pinchbraiding doesn't usually involve backcombing the natural hair into the synthetic hair, this method doesn't typically damage the wearer's natural hair.

Another popular method of installing dreadlock hair extensions involves wrapping braids of the wearer's natural hair with lengths of synthetic hair. The ends of the dreadlocks are usually heat-sealed, and glue may be applied to affix the synthetic hair to the natural hair at the top of each dreadlock extension. Wrapped dreadlock extensions are usually easy to remove. Removal typically involves cutting the bottom of the dreadlock extension and then simply unwrapping it from the braided natural hair.

No matter what method wearers choose to attach synthetic dreadlock extensions, the dreadlock extensions must generally be backcombed. Backcombing can help keep the dreadlock extensions from unraveling.

In addition to their ease of removal and speed of installation, dreadlock extensions have another advantage over dreadlocks formed from natural hair — they are available in a wide range of colors. Synthetic dreadlocks are typically available in all shades of blue, red, pink, white, and green, among other colors. For the most part, the synthetic dreadlock colors are limited only by the wearer's imagination and tastes.

Unlike natural dreadlocks, synthetic dreadlocks shouldn't usually be washed. Tea tree, lavender, or rose oil can be applied to the hair to eliminate odors and keep it clean. The synthetic hair may be wrapped in a shower cap or plastic bag during bathing, so that the scalp can be washed. Wearers are generally advised to remove and reinstall synthetic dreadlocks every two to three months.

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Discussion Comments


The great part about synthetic dreadlocks is that they cost less than dreadlocks made from real hair. The downside is that they never last as long.


@bluedolphin-- Washing hair with synthetic dreadlocks can be difficult but most people find a way to get around the problem.

It's true that you can't wash your hair as usual when you have synthetic dreadlocks in. Because hot water makes the dreadlocks come undone. You might as well throw them away after that. Some people do wash their dreadlocks along with the rest of their hair with cool water and a gentle shampoo without really messing with the hair too much.

When I have synthetic dreadlocks, I either use dry shampoo which actually works quite well. Or if I have just a few dreadlocks, I'll wrap a small thin plastic bag around them and wash the rest of my hair. It's up to you what you want to do.


I want to get synthetic dreadlocks but I'm worried about how I'm going to wash my hair with them. There is no way that I can go without washing my hair and scalp. I don't know how I'm going to keep the synthetic dreadlocks from getting wet when I wash my hair. This is the only reservation I have about synthetic dreadlocks. If it weren't for this, I would get them right away. I think dreadlocks look great. I want light pink and blonde dreadlocks.

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