Difference Between Dreads and Dreadlocks

Difference Between Dreads and Dreadlocks

While most people think that dreads and locks are the same thing, there is actually quite a difference between the two, but the major bit of it is a cultural difference. You see, in the yesteryears of African Slavery, it was a common thought that they were the same thing (and they essentially were) because the hairstyle was automatically made this way due to them being unkempt and as told by the slave traders, their hair was “dreadful” which is where they term “dreadlocks were derived from.

The Real Difference

In this section we’re going to get this confusion out of the way though, as today, even dreadlocks are confused often with dreads as well (which aren’t locked). Therefore, we’re going to explain a little more on this topic.


Dreads are simple “twists” or braids in the hair that is commonly known as just dreads. This is not only the beginning time that dreadlocks are started, but if you’re not “locking” your hair, dreads are also a cultural stamp too. From Jamaican roots a “dread” has respectable meanings and is actually used when saying good things, even greeting someone respectfully. At the same time, there are different maturity levels between dreads and locks. When you have locked hair, once they’re matured, they’ll actually be a lot smoother, and the twists won’t break or shed nearly half as much as they do when they’re just dreads. Another term for dreads is just simple braids.

Locks(or Locked hair)

When your hair is finally “locked”, the hair won’t shed and won’t have any sections of undreaded hair. These take a while to achieve and more commonly, locked hair is untangleable, or they have to be undone by someone who can professionally do it. If they’re maintained correctly, having mature locks will actually be a perfect “matt” of hair that is completely rounded and smooth, such as the type that Whoopie Goldberg used to have. These are a lot harder to get rid of without cutting, but it’s still very possible.

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Another big thing to consider is that there are many people who have “dreads” and it’s not uncommon, however having locks is actually more of a cultural thing because it is mainly common with those of African, Jamaican and even Indo-Egyptian decent.

How Long Does It Take to Make Dreads Lock?

In order to make your hair long enough for dreadlocks, it needs to be at least 6 inches or so. Sure, you can make them dread more, but it will be long enough that your hair won’t actually have problems, such as with delicacy and more. The longer your hair is actually though, the better. This way it should only take a few months to have locked hair successfully after the initial twists or braids.


Hopefully, we’ve been able to give you some of the better differences than most other sites display on what the difference between dreads and locks are, as well as given you some insight on how to get your hair to achieve them yourself. Contrary to common belief though, you don’t have to be of African descent (even though it’s more prominent) in order to wear your hair in dreads. However, the hair is a lot easier to manage for people who are of African, Egyptian, Jamaican, or even Indian decent due to the different structure of the protein balance in the hair itself. This way everyone can experience the dreadful power of the holy (which has a positive definition in other cultures).