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Fake Dreadlocks: The Quick, Easy Way

fake dreadlocks

Dreadlocks – the real kind, at least – can be a major commitment, and so here’s the next best thing: fake dreadlocks!

There have been a lot of articles written since I wrote this post a couple of years ago, and while I am sure they are great, I’ve noticed that they are making things a little bit too complicated. Faking dreadlocks is actually super easy, and I’m willing to bet you’ll have everything you need right not. Here are my tips on how to fake dreadlocks:

1. Get the right products.

The first thing with faking dreadlocks is to get a good hair gel. And if you’re looking for hair gel recommendations, I reckon the men in your life should be able to help you out with that. As far as I know, some of my buddies use this hair gel and say that it is the best at holding and staying power.

After that, you’ll need a fine tooth comb, a hair clip, and some hairspray. Because this hairstyle can be potentially damaging to your hair, I’d encourage you to keep it to just those few things. (Actually, the hairspray is optional.) Anything else – wax, special FX gum, hairstyling tools – that others are suggesting is too much for this simple style. You will damage and maybe even pull out a lot of your hair.

fake dreadlocks celebrities

2. Preparation.

Starting with dry hair, divide your hair in “half”, from one ear to the other and hold up the hair at the top. Clip this top section to work with the bottom half of your hair first. You will be working bottom to top, so make sure the top part of your hair is tightly and securely tied up, and won’t fall down – if it falls down, it might “stick” to the hair gel and create a mess!

3. Load up on hair gel.

With the loose, bottom hair section ready to be ‘done’ up, take 1 inch sections of the hair (or if you want smaller dreads, try half an inch) and apply a quarter coin size of strong hair gel on it, about an inch gap away from your hair root, all the way down to the tips of your hair.

It is important to leave at least an inch gap away from your hair roots as this will make sure that it is safer, cleaner and better for your scalp and hair health.

4. Teasing it up!

Once that small little section of hair is full of hair gel, roll it between your palms, as if you’re making a play doh snake (you may remember how to do that as a kid). Roll them until they are fairly stuck together, creating the “dreads”.

Allow to dry for a split second (maybe 15 seconds) and with a fine-toothed comb, gently tease the rolled up pieces of hair going upwards, from the end tip of your hair, up to the root. Do the same with every section of hair until your whole head is full of your lovely fake dreadlocks, and let it dry naturally.

5. Finishing it off.

Once your hair gel has dried, finish off your fake dreadlocks with a very light mist of hairspray – you will need a gentle hairspray that holds, yet doesn’t interfere with the hair gel. This cult-classic hairspray is a hairstylist’s favorite and a “cult” product for a reason – in my opinion, it’s the best hairspray ever made! Remember that it is a light mist only – don’t over do it.

What next?

You might want to know how to go about removing them. Fake dreadlocks will last the whole day; until you wash it off. Removing them can get very tricky, and you gotta do it carefully so that you don’t damage your hair further.

For that, I would recommend using the method I wrote about in How to… Remove Hair Tangles, Knots & Stiff Hairstyles.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Nayla Khatib

    So glad I’m not the only one who is obsessing over dreadlocks. I want to, but…the commitment is scary. I would like to get some fake hair to add on as volume though so im still thinking about it hahaha

    • Renee

      I love dreadlocks too, they look super cool – but same, there’s no way I will get it done “for real”, it’s just too much commitment. That’s I love doing “fake” ones 🙂

      • Nayla Khatib

        Weird. I thought I’d get an email notifying me you replied but I didn’t….hmm I just came back to re read this though lol.
        Ive been saving dreadlock photos and I wanna do a few art pieces on it soon! I’ll try doing fake dreads this weekend and if they’re successful I’ll send you a photo!

        • Renee

          Oh that’s strange, sorry! Did you click “subscribe” underneath this comment box? I think you can subscribe to comments when clicking that.

          Oh gosh, PLEASE send me photos if you do get them done, I’d love to see (and I am sure you will look awesome). Good luck! If you need any more help let me know x

  • Julia

    A lot of other tutorials recommend using a straightening iron over the dreads. Do you recommend doing this?

    • Renee

      Hey Julia! I suppose a flat iron could help in making the dreads look more “rounded” (since my instructions are for backcombing, and a more messy-dreads style), but I would choose either one – either backcomb (like my method) or use a flat iron… both is way too damaging for the hair, I’d think!

  • Julia

    Also do you reccomend doing this on clean hair or hair that hasn’t neen washed for a few days

    • Renee

      Great question! I never thought of that. If you do it on clean hair, you might need to use more hair product and do more backcombing, which is damaging.

      If you do it on hair that hasn’t been washed a few days, that might work better as there is more texture and grit, so you can probably use less hair gel and backcomb less, so overall that could be less damaging. However, if you do do it on “dirty hair” – I’d recommend to get the fake dreads out within 1-2 days, don’t leave it on too long – it’ll be very dirty!

  • RastaGal

    I tried this faux dreadlocks style and I looked great! I am going to get real dreadlocks even though it takes a LOT of commitment ! 🙂

    • Renee

      Hey RastaGal, that’s so awesome! I’m glad this worked for you and good luck with real ones – I am sure you’ll look amazing 🙂

  • Hayleigh

    I cannot wait to try this! However my hair is pretty short and i would love the long dread look. Would it still work with clip in hair exstentions?

    • Renee

      Hey Hayleigh! I don’t see why clip in extensions won’t work, although I would caution to be very careful and do each dreadlock slowly. Hair extensions are very prone to knots and tangles, could end up making a mess!

  • Katherine Graef

    I’m a caucasian girl with waist length hair, I heard we were supposed to use hair “wax”…..what do you think?

    • Katherine Graef

      oh, and my hair is super thick

    • Renee

      I think hair wax could work really well too, Katherine, if you really want a stronger hold. It may be harder and more tedious to remove afterward though, and that’s why I just recommend a simple hair gel instead. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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