What can I do before I dread to help my hair lock up better?
About two weeks before you dread your hair you can start making some changes that will help things go a bit smoother. These things are totally optional but they will help.
You want your scalp to begin getting used to the routine you'll follow after to dread your hair. This will make the transition easier and you'll reduce the chances of getting an itchy scalp.
The two changes your scalp will notice will be a change in washing frequency (every day to every 3 days) and a change in stimulation (because you won't be brushing your dreads).
You can ease the transition by getting your scalp used to these changes a head of time. Go ahead and adjust your washing routine so you're washing every 3 days. Of course you can wash the rest of you every day but give your hair three days. Rinsing is also fine if you are active and you need to. If there are any issues try every 2 days instead. This will make it easier for your scalp to adjust to the new washing schedule when you get your dreads. Your scalp will already be producing less oil and your scalp won't itch from a sudden change.
Washing frequency is important. Try to be as consistent as possible. If you decide on washing every 3 days don't wait 2 days sometimes and 4 days other times. The most important rule however is not to allow your scalp to be itchy. Itching leads to scratching and irritation. That's complication you don't need. So if your scalp is itchy go ahead and wash. Even if it means breaking a consistent routine. This goes for before and after you have dreads.
You need to continue combing/brushing your hair because if random knots form they will make it more difficult to backcomb the hair properly later. Continue brushing and combing but instead of sliding the comb or brush against your scalp like normal, reduce this contact by brushing the hair without touching the scalp as much and let your scalp begin adjusting to less stimulation. We have a specialized hair pick called a head honcho. It allows you to rub and stimulate your scalp after you have dreads without damaging the dreads. By combing less before you dread and using the head honcho after you dread, you can pretty much eliminate transition issues and have a much more enjoyable experience.
For the last week or so before you dread it up, stop using conditioners and, if possible, shampoos that contain residues like moisturizers, scents, herbs and oils. If you already have dread soap you can start using it a week or two before you dread. Of course this is optional but it will make backcombing easier and make the transition smoother.
The day you dread you should wash your hair really well with the dread soap. Because it's residue free it will remove oils and leave your hair truly clean. Before your hair dries, wet it down with the Locking Accelerator and let it dry. When it's totally dry you are ready to get dready. :)
You might also be interested in this post about ways to help your hair grow faster.
If you have really straight hair you can give it more texture by braiding it for a couple days before you dread. Since you can section it the way you want your dreads to be sectioned you won't have to worry about sectioning on the day you backcomb - just unbraid and backcomb each section as you go. This also allows you to have professional help with the braiding before your dread party day.
Get a few friends to help. The more the better.... seriously! This will make it a lot easier. Trying to do it yourself or with just one helper is making things harder than they need to be.
Always dread dry hair. You can spray Locking Accelerator on the hair before it dries. It will cut the time it takes to dread it and make the knots stay in better.
If you are planning to bleach or color your dreads do it at least a week or so before you dread it. Don't use the conditioner that comes with the color. This will actually make it a bit easier to dread. Make sure you follow the bleaching instructions carefully, you don't want to weaken the hair. Keep in mind that bleaching usually requires re-bleaching as the hair grows. You have to be extremely careful not to re-bleach the same areas. You will fry and kill your hair/dreads.
Note: You can color and bleach it after it's dreaded, it's just a lot easier to do it before, especially the rinsing out part!