How to Make Fake or Synthetic Dreads (Dreadlocks)

Things You'll Need

  • Fine-tooth comb
  • Hair elastics
  • Source of heat, such as a hair dryer
  • Synthetic hair, such as Kanekalon, Toyokalon or Yaky

Want to dress up your head for a special event? Colorful tie-in dreadlocks are an easy way to spice up any costume or party outfit. They're easy to make and much cheaper than having dreads put in at a salon. They're also easy to remove and won't damage your real hair in any way.

Gather several strands of synthetic hair into a clump roughly the width of a pencil. This hair will become your first single dreadlock. Make sure you don't use too much hair — it will fluff up when you backcomb it. If you use too much hair, the dread may unwind.

Thread the hair through a hair elastic so that the two ends match up in length, with the elastic in the middle. Attach the elastic to a stationary object like a doorknob or even around your toe. Make sure the elastic is anchored securely or it will fly off when you try to backcomb the hair. When the hair is looped evenly through, you will be holding two bunches of hair of even length.

Start backcombing. Serious backcombing is the key to great fake dreads. Comb the hair in the "opposite" direction, that is, away from the ends, toward the elastic. Comb both bunches of hair together to make one dread.

Get the hair as ratty as possible by pulling it apart widthwise after each inch or so has been backcombed. Backcomb, pull it apart, then backcomb over that part again. The hair should be one big knotty fluffball by the time you've finished backcombing it.

Now twist the hair around and around, changing its shape into a smoother dreadlock style. Keep twisting and smoothing the hair as you work down the dreadlock towards the end.

Once the dread has been smoothed, apply heat to seal it. If you are using a hair dryer, it should be at least 1500W with a vent attachment to concentrate the heat on the hair. Slowly move the hair dryer down the length of the dread, taking about 30 seconds to do one full pass. Repeat three or four times. You can use a steamer to get the same results.

If you don't have a good hair dryer or steamer, use boiling water. First, add hair clips or more elastics to the dread to secure the twists you made. Then place the dread in a sink or bathtub and pour boiling water over it and allow it to soak for about 15 seconds. Be sure to let the dread cool off and dry entirely before you wear it.

Attach your new dreadlocks to your head by wrapping the elastics around your hair. For example, make a high ponytail or two high pigtails and wrap the elastics around those, so the dreads fall from the very top of your head.


  • Kanekalon synthetic hair works best for first-timers. It's easy to use and cheap. Try different lengths and widths of dreads. Make a bunch of different ones and mix and match them. To cover up the elastic attachments on your head, wrap a wide headband or scarf around your scalp. No one will have to know they're just tie-in dreads.

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