How to remove dreadlocks
The following technique is salon-proven to remove dreadlocks, trauma tangles, mats and knots of any age, from all hair types. How long removal will take depends on many things, like how tight the knots are, how many helpers you have, etc. To avoid reaching for the scissors in a fit of frustration, tackle only a small portion of your hair at a time, then come back to it later to pick free another small section. Like starting dreadlocks, patience will be your best friend in removing them, and your reward will be the head of lovely, loose hair you’ve spent so much time growing.
NOTE: If you have permed, coloured, relaxed or otherwise chemically treated dreads or hair, you may be prone to more breakage in this process. Use caution, go slow, be realistic in your expectations, and you’ll be on your way to loose, free-flowing locks!
Knotty Boy Emergency Dreadlock Removal Kit
Knotty Boy Removal Shampoo breaks down Wax and environmental build-up, loosening and preparing locks for removal. Knotty Boy Removal Deep Conditioner coats the strands, allowing the tightest of knots to be freed while protecting and restoring the hair during, and after, removal.
- metal-tipped tail comb or other strong comb like Knotty Boy Professional Dreading Combs
- spray bottle
- rubber gloves
Before washing and starting on all the little knots, tackle any big ones. If you have joined dreads or matted sections at the roots, gently pull them apart, as close to the scalp as possible.
The first step in removal is washing out any wax or build-up you may have; it’ll work against you in this process, holding your strands together. Wash the length of each dread with the Removal Shampoo in the hottest water you can stand, and really scrub it in. If you can soak your locks for a while in a tub or bucket of hot water before or while washing, even better.
Rinse out the suds, and massage the Removal Conditioner into each lock, saving some to use later. Don’t rinse, just wrap it all up in a towel to keep it out of your face until you’re ready to work.
Grab your first dread. If you have a tail comb, use the metal tip to pierce the very bottom of your lock, and pull. If using a regular comb, do virtually the same thing with the teeth of the comb, starting at the very, very bottom of the lock. If the metal tip, or your comb, is stuck and goes nowhere, apply a little more pressure. If you still get nowhere, move further down toward the end again until you can free some hair. Gently pull the knots apart for an inch or so.
If you need more slip, try spraying a mixture of Removal Conditioner and warm water on the area you’re working. Keeping the area wet will increase the elasticity of the hair and help prevent breakage while you pick.
When you’ve got a portion loosened up, start combing through to the bottom to free the tangles and any shed hair. Continue until you meet up with the still-dreaded portion of your lock.
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you’ve finished the whole dread, then move on to the next one, then the next and the next, until your whole head is freeee!
Note: You’re going to lose a lot of hair in this process, especially if you’ve had your dreads for some time. Don’t panic! Most of it has been naturally shed and caught up in your lock until now. Don’t stress about it, that’s hair you lost a long time ago!
Now that your strands are loose and flowing, give your scalp and hair another round with the Kit. A good sudsing will really get it deep-down clean, and an extra conditioning will help repair some of the stress of all that pulling.
Your hair will be a bit crazy at first, but that’s totally normal. It’s been tightly bound up for a long time! Trimming a little off the ends is ok to get rid of any extra long bits, but wait a few days before you commit to a big style change; don’t judge your hair’s condition on Day 1 of removal! Use a leave-in conditioner (if you’ve got thicker hair, your Removal Conditioner/water spray bottle combo will work great) and the rest of your Removal Kit for continued repair, and within a few days you’ll notice your hair acting like it did before dreads.
In the meantime, low-temp blow drying or flat ironing straight or wavy hair smooth, or oiling/deep conditioning kinky, coily and curly natural hair will tame frizz, add shine and showcase your beautiful, new lengths!
For ongoing aftercare, especially for hair types prone to regular tangles and matting, check out our popular, all natural Knotty Boy Ultimate Detangler. This jumbo pump-bottle of conditioner works wonders for the easy, daily removal of the MOST dreadful tangles and knots. It also offers light curl definition, all day wash-out or leave-in shine, softening, moisturizing and a delicious tropical scent.