Wick Dreads: How To Start, Maintain, And Remove Them

But first, what are wick dreads? Wick dreads, also known as wick locs, are one of the latest trends in dreadlock styles. They are thicker than regular dreadlocks; some people only have 6-8 wick dreads on their entire head.

Though it’s often hard to track down the exact origin of a new trend, this one most likely started in the Afro-Caribbean communities in Florida. From there, it spread to mainstream popularity as rappers and other celebrities started to wear wick dreads.

The name “wick dreads” makes the comparison to a candle wick – because the dreads are so thick, they stand up out of the scalp like a candle wick sticking up out of the wax.

How Do You Start Wick Dreads?

There are a few different methods you can use to start wick dreads. You can have them done by a professional hairdresser, or even start them yourself at home. In general, your hair needs to be at least 6 inches long in order to start wick dreads, but you can definitely start them on longer hair as well.

Wick Dreads With Crochet Needles

This method uses crochet needles, which are special tools used for forming dreadlocks. You can use a single prong needle or a double or triple prong needle for this method.

  1. Divide Your hair into Sections. This is an important step because this is when you decide exactly how thick you want your wick locks to be, and how many you want on your head. Section your hair out using rubber bands to keep each section separate.
  2. Crochet the Hair. Starting near the root, push the crochet needle repeatedly into the section of hair, while holding the hair steady with your other hand. Move all around the hair to create the desired cylindrical shape. Once the hair starts to form together into a lock, move down the section until you’ve fused the full length of your hair. Repeat on each section.
  3. Add Extensions. If your hair is short, but you’d like to have a longer lock style, you can buy wick dread extensions that you can crochet into your hair. If you need to, comb out an inch or two of hair at the top end of the extension (although some extensions come with free ends for installation). Sandwich your hair into the free end of the extension and start crocheting, just like in step two. This will combine the extension into your natural hair.

Just be sure you sectioned out your hair to match the width of your extensions, so your wick dreads look consistent as they grow out.

Wick Dreads With Rubber Bands

This method takes a bit of time, but it’s also a method of starting wick dreads that takes less work upfront. Follow the steps below:

  1. Section out your hair into your desired lock size. Then place multiple rubber bands down the length of each section of hair, forming them into a wick dread shape.
  2. Wait. Leave the rubber bands in for three or four weeks, giving your hair time to form into dreads on its own.
  3. Check on your dreads. After a few weeks, you can take the rubber bands out and see how well your dreads are forming. If your hair is still loose and not staying in the lock shape, put the rubber bands back on for another three or four weeks. 

Wick Dreads With Freeform Dreads

This method also takes some time and patience, but it’s a great way to start your dreads. If you know your hair will naturally grow into dreadlocks, take advantage of that to create your wick dread style.

  1. Let your hair naturally form into locks. This part doesn’t take much manipulation, just let your hair do its thing.
  2. Form the wick dreads. Dreadlocks have a tendency to combine together into “Congos”, where multiple dreads will come together at the root to form one larger dread. This is a good thing when trying to form the thicker wick dread style. When they start to combine, simply separate your dreads into the thickness you want, and that’s it!

How To Care For Wick Dreads

man with wick dreads

Of course, now that you have your wick dreads, you’ll need to maintain them properly. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your wick dreads happy and healthy at any length or thickness.

Wash Regularly 

This is crucial to maintaining the health and hygiene of your wick dreads. Be sure to wash your hair thoroughly at least one to two times a month, depending on how dirty your locks get, and your hair’s specific needs.

Dry Thoroughly 

Just as important as washing your hair is drying it completely. Especially with thicker dreads like wick dreads, this prevents the growth of mold and mildew on the inside of the locks. Start with a microfiber towel, then air dry or use a blow dryer as needed to remove all moisture.


This is important to maintain the health of both your hair and your scalp. Use a daily moisturizer like rose water, lightweight hair oil or serum, or a spray leave-in conditioner at least twice a day. 

Avoid Tight Hairstyles

If you’re constantly pulling your wick dreads into tight ponytails or other severe hairstyles, you run the risk of damaging and breaking the strands of hair. This will weaken your dreads over time and will increase the chance that they will need to be cut off. Instead, wear your hair down whenever possible, and if you do need to put your hair up for any reason, stick to looser styles.

Protect Your Wick Dreads at Night

Always wrap your locks up at night to protect them while you sleep. You can use a silk or satin bonnet, cap, or scarf depending on your preferences. 

How To Remove Wick Dreads

As trendy as wick dreads are right now, you may reach a point where you want to change up your hairstyle, and we love that for you! Of course, the quickest and easiest way to remove any dreadlock style is to cut or shave them off. A completely shaved head can be a bold fashion statement, but if that’s not the look you want to go for, don’t worry. It is possible to remove wick dreads without cutting. It takes time and patience, but it’s worth it to keep your long hair.

Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1. Remove any extensions, and trim damaged ends

This is the only time we’ll suggest cutting off part of your hair, we promise! Because no matter how well you cared for your wick dreads, the ends of your hair will naturally become dry, brittle, and damaged over time. It’s best to cut off the last inch or so of your hair, especially if it’s been a while since your last trim. This is also a good opportunity to get rid of any extensions you may have in your hair.

Step 2. Saturate your hair thoroughly with hair oil

Concentrate on the bottom inch or two of the dread you’re planning to start working on and be sure the oil penetrates through the entire width of the dread. Sometimes less is more, but this is definitely not one of those times! Don’t be surprised if you go through multiple bottles of oil by the time you’re done.

Step 3. Start combing

It’s best to use a rat tail comb (a fine-toothed comb with a handle that comes to a long point at the end). Use the tail to poke and pick through the hair, gently untangling it from the wick dread shape. Work an inch or two at a time, starting from the end and moving up toward the root. Once you have a section unlocked, comb through it with a wide-toothed comb to remove any last tangles.

Step 4. Be patient

It’s not unusual for this process to take several hours or even days to complete, depending on the length of your wick dreads. Don’t try to rush through it, as you’ll be more likely to damage your hair. It may be helpful to braid the unlocked sections of hair to protect them until the unlocking process is completed.



Wick dreads are a bold and stylish new hair trend, that everyone from celebs and influencers to ordinary people are embracing. They can be worn long or short and in different widths, and the best part is, you can start them by yourself at home. Just be sure to care for them properly, and your gorgeous wick dreads will be turning heads for all the right reasons.

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