How I removed my dreadlocks without shaving them

This is a post that is very dear to me, and part of a new beginning that I’d like to share with you.

I had been growing my locs for 10 years, and over the past year had toyed with the idea of removing them. I was beyond thrilled when on one of my many youtube binges (you guys know those), I watched the video of a girl who had picked out her locs because she wanted to start over but keep some length. Say what? You mean I didn’t have to shave my head and start ALL over? I could keep some length to work with? SUH-WEET! So, I did some research and found Knotty Boy who specializes in various products for locs – one of them being an Emergency Dreadlock Removal Kit. From there I did more research and bookmarked the page for when I was ready.

Fast forward a year, and I was ready. Like never more ready. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally…. and basically every other adverb that would describe how ready I was. My mind was made up. It was a tough decision because after all it had been ten years. In the ten years my hair had grown to my butt, and then recently I started trimming it. Hmmm…That was a sure sign that I was ready. I had never before been interested in putting scissors to my hair and here I was trimming away.

chris.locs

I went ahead and ordered the kit, and when it arrived the reality set in. DUDE – I was going to remove my locs!

knotty boy emergency dreadlock removal kit  knottyboy_

I chose the long weekend to start this process, because I knew it would be just that… a process….

The Process:

  • Soak the hair for ten minutes or more. The instructions said to sit in a bath and soak the hair, but really I didn’t want to. So I leaned over and soaked my hair in a bowl filled with a hot water, baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixture to remove some of the buildup. From clear water to….

dreadlocks baking soda soak

  • Wash with the Knotty Boy Dreadlock Removal shampoo with white grapefruit & hemp seed oil. I did notice that the shampoo left my hair feeling verrrry stripped of any gunk, so that was impressive. And boy did it smell heavenly.
  • Lather up each loc with Dreadlock Damage control Deep conditioner with prickly pear & aloe and pick with a sharp “tool”. I tried a thumb tack  which took a long time then moved up to a giant safety-pin. A crotchet needle would have been great! “Picking” basically is unravelling/undoing each loc from the tip and working up.

Dreadlock removal sharp tool

  • I had a spray bottle handy with water to keep hair damp while completing the ordeal… I mean process. Keeping the hair damp keeps it manageable.
  • As I progressed, the hair broke off and I ended up with half of what I started. This was expected.

dreadlocks removal

  • By the end of Day 2, I had done the lower half of my head. Sigh. Shoutouts to Ash who survived picking half of one then threw in the towel as she almost had a mental breakdown because of how daunting the process was. BUT it’s a Good thing I started at the back, because I had to go to Easter Sunday mass with my hair pulled back in a… ahem… low ponytail. Thankfully God doesn’t judge!
  • On Day 3 when my niece took over, we started cutting them in half to speed up the process. We were still able to save some length this way. She blazed right through the top part like a superstar! Bless her heart.

dreadlock removal process

  • There was a lot of buildup due to products that had been used over the years and not washed out completely so it gets messy. Once all locs were removed, I looked like a crazy lady!

hair after dreadlocks removal

  • I once again conditioned and combed through to remove all the buildup then I started looking like a normal person again.

hair after picking out dreadlocks - washed   hair after picking out dreadlocks - washed.

OMG YOU GUYS…. It was the most tedious process EVER. Because I had mature locs, it took *f-o-r-e-v-e-r* to even get through one. All in all, I really didn’t need to order the kit from Knotty Boy, though it smells GREAT! Any regular shampoo/conditioner would have done. But it doesn’t matter because I’m just glad I was able to keep some length to play around with.

hair length after picking out dreadlocks

Next up, I can start experimenting with different products until I find the right process or what I’ll call my Hair Niche. I’m looking forward to it! There is so much more offered on the market than the last time my hair was this length. This of course, means reviews will follow on the products I try. However, you can’t go wrong with virgin coconut oil. It seals is moisture and gives your hair a great shine.

hair styled with coconut oil after picking out dreadlocks

Here’s to new beginnings!

Thanks for reading! I know many would question why someone would cut all that hair etc, but you have to do what works for you… ya feel me?

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19 thoughts on “How I removed my dreadlocks without shaving them

  1. Chris: you are gorgeous with or without your locks but how freeing this must feel!!!! Love the skin you are in and love your hair!!!! Xoxo

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your process and congrats on making a decision that feels and looks great! Going from long hair to short hair is already a big decision, so getting rid of your locs is a whole other thing. You look wonderful 🙂

    1. Oh Em Gee It was definitely a process, but once I’d started I realized I just had to keep going. Congrats on your new journey – I hope you’re enjoying it 🙂

  3. I’ve been also toying with the idea of taking down my locs. I kinda miss my natural hair without locs however I dont miss doing the braid outs and twist outs! Glad you didn’t have any regrets. Maybe one day for me..

    1. Hi Nellia – I can’t remember the price of the product, but if you click the Knotty Boy link above and it takes you to their site! Since your locs are only a year old, though, it shouldn’t be as tedious to remove them and you could just use regular conditioner. 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! I unlocked my hair and the info you provided was so helpful!!!! It was a TEDIOUS process but I was elated to have some hair left. I had mature locks for the past 20 years so my hair was extremely long. A friend helped, which really made the difference. We did to sample locks (a short one and a long one) to gauge the amount of hair that was still “Living” and retainable. Then, we cut my hair to a bob cut (more the half of the lock). Prior to taking them out I did: a steam treatment, hot oil treatment, washed and left a deep conditioner on for an hour. Since my locks were thin – a safety pin worked faster than the rat tail comb. Each lock took approximately 30 minutes to take out – but it was worth it because I have a lot of hair left! Also I bought a Treasured locks Not no more which works great on tangles – that really made the difference on getting the knots out or when the lock got stuck. For taking out the basic lock though any conditioner will do. I saw a woman put conditioner and water in a water bottle – that worked like a charm and was really helpful as well. Rewetting the lock as you work up the shaft worked the best while using the safety pin. If your locks are larger, the rat tail comb will likely work. My friend and I took out the majority of the locks in 2 full days. I finished the crown area with apx. 20 locks or so in 3 days by myself. Thanks again for sharing and helping me to see that is was truly possible! Now I’m hoping to find more ways to wear my natural hair. If you have any suggestions, please share!!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! I unlocked my hair and the info you provided was so helpful!!!! It was a TEDIOUS process but I was elated to have some hair left. I had mature locks for the past 20 years so my hair was extremely long. A friend helped, which really made the difference. We did to sample locks (a short one and a long one) to gauge the amount of hair that was still “Living” and retainable. Then, we cut my hair to a bob cut (more the half of the lock). Prior to taking them out I did: a steam treatment, hot oil treatment, washed and left a deep conditioner on for an hour. Since my locks were thin – U WERE RIGHT -a safety pin worked faster than the rat tail comb. Each lock took approximately 30 minutes to take out – but it was worth it because I have a lot of hair left! Also I bought a Treasured locks Not no more which works great on tangles – that really made the difference on getting the knots out or when the lock got stuck. For taking out the basic lock though any conditioner will do. I saw a woman put conditioner and water in a water bottle – that worked like a charm and was really helpful as well. Rewetting the lock as you work up the shaft worked the best while using the safety pin. If your locks are larger, the rat tail comb will likely work. My friend and I took out the majority of the locks in 2 full days. I finished the crown area with apx. 20 locks or so in 3 days by myself. Thanks again for sharing and helping me to see that is was truly possible! Now I’m hoping to find more ways to wear my natural hair. If you have any suggestions, please share!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story with me, Ebony! What an experience but worth it in the end. I’ve tried quite a few products since this (you can check out our “Hairapy” section), but my best advice is to listen to your hair! You don’t have to try what others are trying because it worked for them; it will take some trial and error but you’ll find a groove. Once you find something that works for your hair, use it for a bit before you move on…. Otherwise you end up in product-junkie area ha-ha!

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