Some hair types may be better suited for or easier to manipulate into dreadlocks, but the use of appropriate products is often key to creating attractive, long-lasting locks regardless of hair type. Dreadlock products may be available through retail stores, hair salons, or specialty shops. These items usually fall into one of two categories: products used to create dreadlocks, and those that help to maintain them.
Dreadlock products come in a variety of forms that include waxes, creams, combs, and other materials. When dreads are created in a professional salon, they may also integrate chemical perm solutions or synthetic hair. The particular dreadlock products used will likely depend on hair type, as well as the method used to create them.
Some methods of dreadlocking, such as freeform dreadlocks, do not require any special products at all. Freeform dreads are created over time as hair naturally mats together into sections. Thick, wiry, and curly hair types are best suited to the freeform method. Rolling, twisting, braiding, or knotting sections of hair together may also successfully create dreadlocks without using additional products.
Basic tools may help to dread or "lock" hair into sections. Backcombing, or teasing, hair into dreadlocks can be performed effectively using a fine-tooth comb. This method may be beneficial when hair is straight or fine. A latch hook, which is a tool commonly used in crafting and crocheting, may also be helpful both in locking hair sections together or in pulling new hair growth into existing dreads.
Shampoos specifically marketed for use with dreadlocks may soothe a dry or itchy scalp or smooth out fuzzy locks. Some may include ingredients intended to help hair sections lock together. Standard shampoos, especially types that do not leave residue, may also be effective. While conditioner is sometimes recommended as a necessary product to moisturize dreads, some dreadlock enthusiasts recommend against it. Many conditioners leave residue that may make hair too slick, thus disrupting the dreading process.
A wide variety of dreadlock products are marketed for maintenance, or application after dreads are initially created. It takes time for dreads to fully form, so grooming and upkeep are usually required to continue shaping and molding hair into dreaded sections. Many products are formulated to continue or enhance this process, and may claim to aid in "locking" dreads together.
Dreadlock products used to maintain the style may come in cream, wax, or pomade form. Maintenance products may also include clays, balms, and styling "glue." Household products such as olive oil are also commonly used, but petroleum-based products should be avoided.