Gettin' Dready for Summer
Here in SC summer-like weather (and pollen) are in full force! Pretty soon it will be time to hit the beach and the pools. I'm a big fan of warm weather & sunshine - for me there is no better place to sport dreads than at the beach! I thought this would be a good time for a post -since there are some common dreadlocks questions that come up every summer and some stuff that you should know about dreads and water.
First off, while I'm thinking about it, you can expect that people will flip out over your dreads at the beach. I'm not sure exactly what it is about the beach but you'll probably feel like a rockstar with everyone whooping, whistling, and waving at you and your dreadies - it's great fun, especially if you're from some sleepy little town where the people tend to cower and force themselves to ignore your dreads - like they're a physical deformity of some sort =]
Swimming n' Showering n' Stuff
The biggest difference for dreadlocks during the summer is swimming and more frequent showers. Often you'll be swimming and showering back to back every day. With newer dreads you're going to notice a lot more loose hair when you swim and increase washing. You've probably heard that swimming in the ocean is great for new dreads. In some ways it is...the salt water will help knots form and you'll get some tightening. Swimming though in any water allows any hair that's almost loose to slip out. It won't pull hair out of a mature dread but hair that would probably have slipped out later will pop out sooner and this leads people to think that swimming is making their dreads fall apart.
You can get the benefits of salt water - and then some - by spraying your dreads down with locking accelerator. In addition to the salt, the Accelerator makes a few other changes that help the cuticle of each hair grab and knot better. Since you don't have to swim in it you won't be loosening a bunch of hair from the dreads. BTW, if you're happy with the benefits of the salt alone check out the DreadHeadHQ FAQ for instructions on mixing your own salt spray that you can apply without swimming in it -although dunking is an option. =]
You can swim with new dreads but you will have some loose hair to fix afterward. If you don't have rubberbands on the roots and tips you really should avoid swimming (and you should put some on - this page has three links that will help you get the most out of rubber bands for dreadlocks: http://www.DreadHeadHQ.com/make_dreadlocks_maintain_rubber_bands.php
As your dreadlocks mature swimming won't bring about as much loose hair but any loose hair that is hiding between your dreads will probably pop out and be discovered. As you might imagine loose hair tools get even more use in the summer. =]
A really popular question is about Chlorine and Dreadlocks. Fortunately chlorine won't hurt your dreads. If it's at a safe swimming level you shouldn't have any issues. Some people with light blonde hair will get a greenish tint to their hair if it's exposed to Chlorine but this happens regardless of the hair being in dreadlocks.
One thing that most people don't think about when it comes to dreadlocks and swimming pools is sun tan oil. At hotel pools, especially by the beach people tend to grease up, lay in the sun and then jump in the pool. Rather than mixing in with the rest of the water the oil sits on the top. If you spend a lot of time in an oily pool it will definitely loosen your dreads more than regular swimming alone. So if you're going to swim at the beach and you have a choice of an oily pool or the ocean your dreads will prefer the ocean.
Dirty lakes and rivers are a good place not to swim - in general - but with dreads you should take special care to avoid them. If you're swimming in a lake, even a clean, safe lake, it's not a bad idea to rinse your dreads out afterward. After spending time in the ocean I usually let the salt water dry in my dreads, I might even palmroll them a bit but then I'll take a shower and at least give them a rinse. Leaving salt water on your dreads is fine but leaving the salt on your scalp is likely to make it itch. If it's not a problem then it's fine to leave it, it just depends on how sensitive your scalp is and how recently it was washed last.
One of the biggest concerns with dreadlocks and summer is drying time. While drying time is less of a concern for new dreads that are not fully locked, mature dreads love to hold water so you'll need to take care to make sure they dry in a reasonable amount of time. It's hard to say exactly what is "reasonable" but if you can get them fully dry in 8 hours or less you should never have any worries. Most dreadlocks will air dry all by themselves in less than eight hours provided that air can circulate around them and they aren't full of soap residues. If they are in a hat, tied up in a pony tail or if air flow is blocked in some way, chances are good that they won't dry. The larger the sections are the larger the dreads will be and the longer they will take to dry.
Humid climates will slow drying as well - usually the humid times of the year and the warm times of the year, when you swim a lot, coincide. As long as you're aware of this and keep an eye on drying time you'll be ok.
Problems occur when people get a feel for how long they take when they are still new and not very tight - then the dreads mature and tighten - then summer comes and it gets more humid - then you go swimming 3 times in a day and leave them tied up by accident while they are wet. Before you know it they've been wet for two days and they smell funny. Easy to avoid - but you have to be aware of what can go wrong so you know to avoid it =]
For some great tips on getting your dreads dry check out this FAQ on the DreadHeadHQ site: http://www.dreadheadhq.com/lore/idx/0/206/article/How_to_get_your_dreads_dry.html
Sand and summer just go together. Sand and Dreadlocks...not so much. You'll probably never have an issue with sand in your dread unless you sleep on the beach and use your dreads as a pillow or you manage to annoy someone to the point that they dump a bunch of sand on your head. I've done a decent job of avoiding these situations so far but I thought I'd mention it just of good measure. The more the sand gets worked into the dreads, the harder it is to remove. Just laying dry dreads on the sand for a second wouldn't be a problem but once it gets pressed in and trapped by the outside hair it will have a bit more staying power.
Normally a few showers and some swimming will wash it out but if you've managed to really get it in there ( maybe your friends buried your dreads on the beach when you passed out ), you may have to spend some time soaking them in a bath tub and working them around to dislodge the sand. Leaving it in there is not good for the dreads. It can do damage to the hair over time although it's unlikely that it will do much damage before you're able to get it out.
Traveling with Dreads
Fortunately people with dreadlocks don't seem to be on the TSA's radar - I hardly every get called to the side when I'm going though airport security. You will need to put some Dread Soap in a 4oz TSA approved bottle to get it on the plane. You can usually get little travel bottles at Walmart near the shampoo isle that work really well for this. Be sure to take a loose hair tool along - it's great on the flight and handy once you get there, it does look kinda dangerous but as long as you don't threaten any passengers they'll probably let you keep it. =] If you have room and you know you'll be swimming a lot try to take a hair dryer, you'll make good use of it =]
Thanks for checkin' out my post! -Enjoy your dreadies this summer! Don't forget to take lots of pics as you rock out with your locks out - if you haven't already, go ahead and friend us on facebook (http://www.Facebook.com/DreadHeadHQ ) so you can tag your dread pics with "DreadHead HQ" and add them to our wall.