How to use rubberbands at the tips of your dreads and when can you remove the bands?
There are several advantages to wearing rubber bands on the tips of new dreads:
- They prevent the tips from un-knotting and unraveling.
- They prevent the knots from the body of the dread from migrating out at the tip, which leaves the body of the dread looser are more difficult to dread.
- They help the dread near the band tighten which will be important when it's time to make nice blunt tips with the loose hair tool.
How use rubber bands at the tips.
Unlike rubber bands at the roots or on the body of a dread, rubber bands at the tips are worn tightly. They hold the hair until the dread has had a chance to tighten to the point that the band is no longer necessary. It's best to use bands that won't pop over time so that they can be left in until the job is finished. I've found the best bands for tips to be the high quality hair elastics. These are available in our shop and you can add them to your kit.
Bands can be worn tight at the tips without worries about damaging the hair. The hair at the tip of a dreadlock is generally pretty rough. It gets quite a lot of abuse and this is never an issue. In very mature dreadlocks the tip will actually be made up hair which is all broken off just beyond the tight, matted shape. Unless you are inspecting it very closely it looks completely smooth. This is a mark of dreads that have been mature for a while. It usually takes several years for this to happen but there is another way to enjoy rounded tips in the mean time; see below.
The rubber bands should be put on the tips of the dreadlocks about 1/2" from the tip. If the hair is very sparse right at the tip, which is often the case, you may need to have the band a bit further up the dread so that it stays on. The important thing really is that it stays put while the dread near the tip gets nice and tight during the first two months.
Taking Rubber Bands off the Tips
So you probably can't wait to take the bands off. I've been there and I've got good news for you. For a long time the best way to lock the tips was to fold the tip into itself and leave it rubber banded for a long time. Some would lock, others would need to be redone, and the whole time you had to endure the bands. Now there's a much easier and faster way and you can do it much sooner. Not only that, they generally lock on the first try and rarely give you problems in the future. This new method is based on the loose hair tool. I created a custom loose hair tool with a point at the tip which allows it to be slid through the center of a dreadlock. This is a big deal for dreadlock tips =] Now making a blunt rounded tip is as easy as sliding the tool though the dread, grabing the loose hair at the tip, and pulling it up, inside the dread. The loose hair locks inside the dread and you never have any unraveling.
Because of this better way to finish the tips, the rubber bands need only be used until the tips are ready to be pulled in with the loose hair tool. Dreads are "ready" when the dread below the rubber band is nice and tight for at lease 1". It should feel very knotted and almost mature. Not every dread will be ready at the same time. You'll sometimes have a few dreads that are ready at the end of the first month and more will get there as the dreadlocks continue to mature. It's best to not try an do them all at the same time. Instead work on the ones that are ready as they become ready. If you pull them in too soon it will be much easier to just fix those rather than having them all need attention at the same time. You'll know they were not ready if the hair doesn't stay. They need to be pretty tight and knotted to hold the hair. If you've done a few that seem delicate you can always wear a rubber band around them for a couple weeks until they have a chance to lock up a little more.