How Much Do Dreads Cost?

How Much Do Dreads Cost
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This question is so complex — it’s impossible to come up with a definite price because there are many influencing factors. The cost of getting dreadlocks can be as little as nothing and as expensive as a thousand dollars or more. How is that for a clear answer?

Let’s break this question down a bit.

As with any hairstyle, it really comes down to you. Do you want freeform locs or professionally-made? If you choose the latter, what price are you willing to pay?

Freeform locs

Freeform locs may take the longest to form but are certainly the cheapest option. This kind of style requires the most patience (perhaps) when compared to all the other methods. With the natural (aka neglect) method, you just let your hair be… you do nothing more to it than allow it to knot on its own. People have been doing this for thousands of years with much success. I will clarify that if this is the method you choose, you still have to wash and maintain your hair! Don’t neglect them 100%- that’s unhygienic and nasty, to say the least. Plus, your hair won’t dread properly if it’s dirty.

With freeform locs, you can expect your parts to be unevenly sized and the dreads to begin taking shape after the first year or two. Your hair can look like a huge rat’s nest, so make sure you’re diligent about separating your hair often.

You can also form the dreads yourself (for example by backcombing or the twist and rip method) and/ or have a friend help you. This will give you the shape of dreads much quicker but like all dreads, it will take several months for them to lock up.

The approximate cost of freeform locs is, as the name suggests, FREE!! There’s nothing better than free, am I right? The real price you pay here is the investment of time.

Wax and kits

I don’t understand the fascination with these products but clearly there’s a market for them.

Dreadlock kits and wax are promoted to be essential items to start your dreads at home but they’re completely unnecessary. Please do yourself a favor and never buy either of these things. Not only will you save a bunch of money and wasted effort but more importantly you’ll save your hair from damage.

The approximate cost of wax ranges from $6 to $25. Dreadlock kits cost somewhere between $40 and $120. Money is really not the issue here. Wax and kits harm your hair more than they do good. You need healthy hair for healthy locs so go the natural route, if at all possible. 🙂

Dread perm

The dread perm is a chemical method that makes the hair frizzy in order to help it loc better and faster. This is more commonly used in Caucasian or Asian hair since the texture is generally very silky and therefore more difficult to dread.

I don’t recommend this technique for the same reasons that I don’t recommend dying or bleaching dreads— you’re exposing your hair to chemicals which in turn heavily damages it. On the other hand, many people have had success with it so if this is something that interests you, make sure you’re getting it done by a professional who knows exactly what they’re doing.

If you go to the Hair Police in Minneapolis (the salon that made this technique popular) it will cost you $400+ to get your permed dreads.

Professional locticians

There is no set nor average price for dreadlock installation if you have a professional do them. I recommend that you do thorough research before you pick the right person to touch your hair. Not all salons provide authentic dread installation services even though they may advertise it.

Going to a professional for dread installation can cost as little as $200 and upwards of $800. Some locticians charge a base fee however more often than not I’ve seen that they charge by the hour, the dreading method, your hair length, and/or your hair type. Before committing to anyone, request a consultation to get an accurate price range that is specific to you.

I don’t disapprove of going to a professional by any means (the reason being that this is how I got mine done and I don’t regret it) but my best advice is to choose your loctician wisely! 🙂

A few tips:

TIP 1: Check out a Loctician’s portfolio before choosing them to work on you. Someone who is not experienced enough can cause major damage to your hair which can cost you more to repair in the long run. A lot of locticians have an Instagram account where they showcase their work, as well as Yelp accounts where you can read customer reviews.

TIP 2: Make sure you are comfortable with the technique your loctician is planning to use to dread your hair. Some methods can be more damaging than others but it’s your hair so ultimately your call on how you want it done.

TIP 3: Make sure your loctician agrees not to put wax (or any product for that matter) in your hair. Regardless of what you’ve heard, wax is the enemy of dreads. You can read more about that here.

Keep in mind that going to a professional does not mean that your hair will loc up instantly. Dreads are not a hairstyle you achieve overnight (unless you get temporary extensions, faux locs or goddess locs but those only last a couple of months). Locs can take months or years to fully mature.

The process that your hair has to go through to become mature dreadlocks will be pretty much the same as starting them the natural freeform way— the only difference is that a professional will pre-form and evenly separate them. Don’t pay someone a load of money if you have any other expectations.

Loc extensions

If your hair is too short to start dreads naturally you may be looking into the option of extensions. There are a few options if this is what you want.

  • Human hair extensions: Real hair extensions that have been dreaded. These are the most expensive in terms of quality. 
  • Synthetic hair extensions: Fake hair that somewhat resembles real hair. Synthetic hair seems to weigh a bit more than human hair, and also has a shine that can give off the appearance that it’s fake.
  • Dreadlock reattachment: These are dreads that you previously cut off with the intention of attaching them back on some time later.
  • Faux locs: This is a hair wrapping technique used as a protective style method. These are not extensions, per se, but will give you the dreadlock “look” right away. Faux locs last up to 3 months so they’re perfect if you want to see what you will look like with dreads without having to commit to the year-long process. Faux locs can be made from synthetic hair (Kanekalon or Marley), wool (yarn), or human hair. Wool locs are fun because you can get them in all sorts of colors or even learn make your own for a reduced price.
  • Goddess locs: Goddess locs are similar to faux locs except many people say they’re more lightweight and natural-looking because of the type of hair that is used (typically human) and the way the tips/ ends are finished.

The price of each of these will greatly vary on the quality of the extension and the length. Usually, you will pay for a set of extensions and pay an additional fee to get them installed— I have seen that a lot of locticians charge a base price for each dread extension but everyone is different.

Faux locs - the cost of dreadlocks
These are faux locs. Super fun and colorful but just a short-term style!

Additional costs of having dreadlocks

Hair products

An important cost to keep in mind when getting dreads is the products you’re putting in your hair. Residue is the enemy of dreads so make sure you upgrade to a residue-free shampoo and keep up with a regular maintenance routine. If you want nice hair, you have to take care of it. Also, remember your scalp is learning to adjust to your new hairstyle, so you may need to give it extra love and attention. Read my dread maintenance guide here if you need some tips and ideas.

I should note that you don’t need to buy the most expensive products on the market to have the best results. Essential oils, scalp oil, and good shampoo are the basic products you need to maintain healthy hair. Although the up-front cost of these things could be a little pricey, they all last a long time so they really are cost-effective.

To give you an idea, I use about 30 drops of essential oils (mixed with water) in my daily moisturizer that lasts me at least a week. I use about 3 tablespoons of shampoo every time I wash my hair (which is once a week), and some nights I massage a couple of drops of jojoba oil or apricot kernel oil on my scalp (you can use coconut oil for an even cheaper option). All the products I use last me a minimum of 4 months, if not more.

Beware! Not all “dreadlock” products out there are dreadlock-friendly. Always read the labels and be wise about what you’re putting in your hair.

The cost of basic hair products is approximately $10 per essential oil, $7 to $15 for scalp oil, and $4 to $15 for residue-free / clarifying shampoo. If this is what you have to pay once every 4 months, I say it’s a pretty good deal!

Loc maintenance

Just like dread installation, you have the choice to get professional maintenance done on your locs or simply to just let them be. I recommend the latter if you have consistently given your hair the care that it needs- by this, I mean that your roots are still separated and you wash your hair once a week.

Your hair WILL dread regardless, given that you have waited the process out. A lot of people don’t have the patience for that and rush to get their locs “fixed” at the first sign of a loop.

If you have a knotty catastrophe due to complete negligence, I recommend you make an appointment as soon as possible with a reputable loctician. You should carefully consider who is doing maintenance on your locs because even a so-called professional can make mistakes and cause you more problems.

During the first year, you can re-twist your hair once every six to eight weeks, but definitely no sooner. You need to allow your scalp time to heal and recover from the hair loss and tension that is often experienced during installation and sometimes after.

Maintenance can cost as little as nothing if you’re just washing and separating the roots. It can be expensive if a professional has to maintain or fix them, but that price is up to the loctician to determine.

Loc styling

Just like with loose hair, many people go to the salon to style their hair for special events or work purposes. Locticians can do amazing work but some styles might be very tight for the roots to handle. Be sure to choose a style that doesn’t cause any harm to the hair itself nor alters the dreadlock process that you nurtured for so long.

For the sake of healthy dreadlocks, it’s best not to style them at all (not even in ponytails), but pulling them back with a headband should be okay.

Professional loc styling prices will vary.

I hope this post was enough to give you a general idea of how much money you should expect to pay when you’re deciding on the best way to start your dreadlocks. I’m sure that the choice you make will be the right choice for you, no matter what other people say.

What other questions do you have? Don’t be shy. Be sure to leave me your feedback below! 🙂

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  1. Hi I’m looking for a stylist to remove dreads and matting in Los Angeles, do you have any recommendations?

  2. Thanks for the info! Btw, Im looking for a good place in New Jersey where i can get natural dreadlock extensions. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. I don’t understand what you mean there is no instant dreadlocks , the one done on natural hair with crochet is what? Am not talking about the interlock crochet type here, the other crochet

      1. Hi! What I meant by “instant locs” is that natural dreadlocks are a process and a journey- they’re not a hairstyle that you can get overnight. Yes, you can get your hair crocheted and make it look like dreads OR you can get extensions installed, but regardless, natural locs take months or years to fully mature (therefore, they’re not ‘instant’).
        I hope that clears up any confusion. 🙂

      2. Very informative…i learned alot. And I think I’ve decided not to get them. See I thought it’d be easier for me to deal with my long hair. But I have burns on my hands and can’t brush it enough so I thought of dreads but the self care process would put my hands in pain. So im gonna have to pass now. Bummer…

    2. I don’t know locticians in New Jersey, unfortunately, but I would search on Instagram or Facebook. Ask to see before and after photos before committing (that way you get an idea of their work) and make sure they don’t use waxes or unnatural products to start locs. Ideally, you don’t want them using anything on your hair. 🙂 Check out this article for more details on the list of products and ingredients that should never go on locs: 33 Things You Should Never Put in Your Dreads.
      I hope that helps 🙂

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