One of the first obstacles to locking successfully is determining which cream or wax should be used on your dreadlocks...if any. There is a great deal of misunderstanding and a fair amount of poor information on the subject. Obviously I feel my cream is the best choice for certain hair types, specifically highly textured hair types common to those of African decent. but please give me a chance to explain why. In doing so I'll explain why it's not the best choice for other hair types. particularly straight, or lightly textured hair common to Caucasians.
Honesty is terribly important to me and I want everyone to understand that creams and waxes are not mandatory in the locking process. Used correctly they can be of huge benefit but dreadlocks can be formed in most African hair types without them. In my experience, tighter, more groomed looking locs can be created in less time using these tools so I do recommend them. After all the locking process is not a simple journey, and we can not devote all of our time to it, so in practice making good use of the right tools is a wise choice.
One of the challenges of dreadlocking African hair textures is keeping the hair properly moisturized thus preventing dryness and breakage. A good dreadlocks cream or wax should provide the hair with this essential moisture without reducing the friction between the hairs themselves. This keeps the locks tight. Regular conditioners do help with dryness but they leave residue behind and loosen the dreads but reducing friction.
Dread Creams are not superior to Dread Waxes or vice-versa. Waxes and Creams each have a place.
Dread Wax or Dread Cream
You may have heard that waxes are bad for dreadlocks, or that creams don't work. While there are plenty of creams and waxes that simply do not work or are not nearly as helpful as they could be, there are also plenty of otherwise decent products that have been misused or used in the wrong hair types with less than stellar results. Many dreadlocks products are based on petroleum jelly which is a lubricant. Lubricants reduce friction and help things slide against each other. Not your best friend when you are try to make knots stay tight.
You can think of dreadlocks products on a scale. At one end you have very light loc creams which have almost no hold at all. Then moving up the scale you find loc creams with more substance and hold. Moving up still further you find light dread waxes with fairly strong hold. At the far end of the spectrum you find dreadlocks waxes with the strongest hold. In general the more texture your hair has, the less hold you require. Dreadlocks waxes with strong hold, Dread Head Dread Wax for example, is ideal for Caucasian hair which has little to no texture. Highly textured hair, on the other hand, does not require as much hold and does far better with a lighter product such as my Knatty Dread Cream. While some people with textured hair enjoy great results with dread waxes most find them to be to heavy and prefer working with a cream.
There are many people who don't neatly fall into the "highly textured" category or the "little to no texture" category. Those who are mixed, for example, or even Caucasians who have extremely curly hair. There are no hard rules here but the following guidelines will help.
If you answer no to any of the following questions you will likely have better results with a heavier dread wax rather than a dread cream:
- Does your hair naturally grow a tight afro that holds pencils, pens and similar objects?
- If you grab a section of hair (maybe 1" by 1") and twist it around and around will some of it stay twisted when you release it and shake your head?
- Have you ever experienced dryness or breakage in your hair that was not due to chemical treatments or processes?
- Does your hair have the properties often associated with African decent: Strands of smaller diameter and Oval to flat, ribbon-like cross section?
If you've tied locking before with the twisting method and could not get your twists to hold at all, but instead found that they came out easily each time you washed you will have better success using the backcombing method with a dread wax rather than a cream. Remember, one is not better than the other, it's just a matter of figuring out what is more appropriate for your hair. I want you have the best locking experience, even if it means referring you to another product line.
How do Dread Waxes and Dread Creams Work?
As we've mentioned, creams and waxes are humectants, meaning they provide the hair with moisture. Each of the three main hair types: Asian, Caucasian and African absorb water. When the hair has enough water it is less fragile. African hair has the most difficulty retaining it's water and is therefore the most susceptible to drying out and being damaged. Facing this fact and embracing our hair for what it is allows us to account for this and make the correct choices. Knatty Dread cream is the most powerful humectant/moisturizer available for dreadlocks. Period.
Before you write me off as a nut job let me explain how thickets relate to dreadlocks.
If you doubt this, simply rub some between your fingers, allow them to sit for a few minutes and then blow across them. They will feel cool and moist as if water were condensing out of the air to moisturize them. Try this yourself, you will be floored to feel how your thirsty dreads will be provided with the water they need to flourish.
Proper moisture is only part of the equation though. A good wax or cream provides sufficient hold to help dreadlocks tighten much faster than they can on their own. To visualize how this works imagine a thicket of thorns growing on the other side of your fence. Instead of cutting it down you're plan is to just squish them down a little at a time until they are only a couple feet off the ground and well below your fence. You grab some nice thick gloves and start pressing them down as hard as you can. Some of them seem to be staying down and others pop right back up. You resolve to try again the next day. To your dismay you find that overnight almost all of them have returned to their original height. Some progress was made though so you decide to press them down again and this repeats day after day. Each day a little progress is made. In several years the thicket is tamed.
Before you write me off as a nut job let me explain how thickets relate to dreadlocks. The process of compressing a thicket is analogous to compressing dreadlocks. You are "pressing the thicket" when you twist (textured hair) or palmroll (straight hair). The twisting and palmrolling compresses the dreads, helping them tighten over time, but much of the progress is un-done in between twisting. Hair strands that are larger in diameter are often refereed to as coarse hair, as opposed to fine hair. Coarse hair is better at maintaining it's shape, it's more difficult to compress it. It's forms a thicket of really thick vines instead of thin wispy ones. The other factor in locking is the texture of the hair. Tightly curled or kinky hair is said to have more texture than straight hair. The more texture hair has, the easier it is to compress it and get it to stay. To clearly understand why this is, imagine our thicket again. If the vines in the thicket were tight spirals, almost like telephone cords, and you pressed them down the spirals would get caught on each other and it would hold itself together much better than straight vines could.
Now that we have a good model for understanding the how knots tighten lets introduce the concept of dread creams and dread waxes. Remember how, after pressing down the vines in our thicket much of our work was lost. Rather than starting were we left off we were mostly just redoing what we had done the day before. Waxes and creams, used properly, are a tool that helps us keep much more of our progress. Let take a big sheet of plywood out to our thicket. We lay it over the top and press it down as far as we can. When we stop pressing it rises but only a small amount. The vines don't have the power to lift the plywood very far. When we return the next day the vines have started to get used to being bent and compressed and we can push them down even farther than we could before.
You've probably noticed that hair tends to remember the shape that it is held in, especially if it is wet and then allowed to dry in the shape. Dread Creams and Dread Waxes allow us to take advantage of the hair's memory by helping us keep it compressed in between palmrolling and twisting sessions. This allows dreads to get tighter than they could without the help of products.
Some people misunderstand the way these dreadlocks products work. Some have experienced their dreads feeling tighter after a product has been used and their explanation is that the products remain in the dreads, gluing it together. Fortunately this is not the case. If the hair is glued in place it can not continue to move and tighten further. Image our thicket frozen solid after an ice storm. It becomes a solid mass that can not be compressed any further. When the ice melts you find it exactly where it was before the storm. This is why hair glue is not used to make dreadlocks. To aid in locking the dread wax or dread cream must hold the hair when it's not being compressed but still be flexible enough to allow the hair to tighten during palm rolling and twisting.
It's pretty easy to see how the amount of hold that's necessary is determined by the texture and coarseness of the hair. Knatty Dread Lock Cream provides the perfect amount hold for highly textured hair of fine to medium coarseness. It would have been possible to make the hold stronger so that it would work for straight hair as well but this would have required a much heavier product, more like a dread wax, which tends to feel heavy or cakey when it's not needed. You may immediately notice how Knatty Dread cream feels "right". I certainly enjoy using it. I think Cherise put it best:
"I love your loc cream ta death because of how it leaves my locks feeling healthy, strong and full of life. They're fresh and tight for days after a good twist"
Cherise Lavener - Warner Robins Robins, GA