How to Dye Dreads Without Bleaching (Step by Step Guide)

Dyeing your hair can be difficult enough when it’s naturally dark, but when you’ve got dreads and allergic to bleach, “impossible” automatically comes to mind. However, with the right knowledge, anything is possible and if you’re looking to find out how to dye dreads without having to bleach, you’d find the following information particularly useful.

Bleaching and Why You Can Do Without It​

Dyeing your hair requires some knowledge on how color works. It’s impossible to color over dark hair into blonde without the end result being darker than you imagined. This is why people bleach their hair, to get the solid lighter color they want.

While bleaching has already become a common procedure in dyeing, it’s not healthy for your hair, even if a professional does it. Bleach is a chemical that removes your hair’s natural pigment by lifting off the outer cuticle of the strands.

How to dye dreads

It removes this protective layer, causing moisture loss and resulting in dry, rough hair. The correct way of bleaching involves heavy conditioning and moisturizing days before the process and days after. This is not possible for your dreads, and in fact, even normal hair bleaching causes permanent damage when done often.

There are other ways to lighten the color of your hair for dyeing without bleaching. Here are some ways on how to dye dreads without using bleach.​

Using Hydrogen Peroxide​

It’s still technically a chemical, and one that’s commonly used for treating infections, but hydrogen peroxide is a less harmful alternative to bleach.

Preparations

First, wash your dreads to remove any build up of oil or grease. Pat your hair dry with a towel and then prepare the following things:

Wash your spray bottle with warm water and soap. Rinse and dry thoroughly, make sure there are not traces or smell left of previous content. Once dry and clean, pour the hydrogen peroxide into the spray bottle.

Process

1. Spray your dreads with hydrogen peroxide in thick, even coats. For safety, wrap a towel around your shoulder to avoid skin contact with the solution. Take care not to get anything in your eyes.​

2. Let the peroxide sit on your dreads for 30 minutes or until it has completely dried. For quicker drying and better “lightening” effects do this outdoors. Expose your hair with peroxide under direct sunlight.

3. Once dry, wash your hair with lukewarm water, this will stop the “dyeing process”. You can also see which areas need to be sprayed again. Repeat the process until your dreads have been evenly lightened. You can now dye your dreads in any color you want.​

How to Dye Your Dreads Properly

Dyeing regular hair is easier compared to dyeing dreads. Dyeing dreadlocks is basically done the same way as when you dye your normal hair but you’d need to use more dye. It also uses a different approach so takes a more time to accomplish. Here’s how to dye dreads properly.​

Preparations

After you’ve lightened your hair and dried it out, prepare your usual dyeing items:

The Dyeing Process

1. Section your dreadlocks equally and tie them into small ponytails. Small hair bands will suffice, but rubber bands will hold smaller sections better if you prefer to color in smaller batches. Smaller ponytails also usually results in more even dyeing.

2. Wash your hair with a neutralizing shampoo. Yes, this means wetting your dreads again after spraying it with hydrogen peroxide. However, this is necessary to restore your hair’s normal pH level. It will help prevent hair dye from changing its natural pH balance which can result in dryness and coarseness.

3. Use a towel to pat your hair dry. Meanwhile, prepare and mix your hair color according to the instructions in the box. Make sure to use gloves and cover surfaces you don’t want to get dye on.​

4. Using a brush, apply a generous amount on the roots of the dreadlocks. For the hair to color thoroughly, you’ll need to massage the mixture into the locks. If you’re starting on the scalp area or base of your hair, you can use an old toothbrush to massage the color in.​

5. If you’re starting or heading on to the locks themselves, using your hands will suffice. Just swipe two fingers into the bowl of mixture and proceed rubbing the hair dye over your dreadlocks.

6. Rub the dye thoroughly around the lock to help the mixture get into the strands. You can do this by hand, by rolling it between your thumbs gently. You can also use a brush, preferably small, to dab and rub through the locks.​

7. Repeat this process for all sectioned locks. If you want to stylize your hair color, it’s easier to do a fading color by simply rubbing less hair dye as you reach the root of your locks.​

8. Once you’ve applied your first coat of dye, with your hands apply an additional coat. Rub in the dye all over your dreads and massage into it for 10 minutes or until you feel much of the dye has been absorbed. This extra coat and massage will help the color seep into the locks.​

9. Wait for the dye to set in, it’s indicated in the instructions found in your dye’s box. Usually, this takes an hour or more. For the dyeing process to set faster you can use a shower cap to gather your locks and cover your head. It’s also a good way of keeping dye getting on your clothes.​

10. When the waiting time is up, proceed to wash your hair with warm water. It’s normal for color to wash out from your locks, this is normal and excess dye. Use shampoo or conditioner on your dreads if you want but it’s not advisable for dreadlocks. If you are absolutely inclined to shampoo or condition your dreadlocks, make sure to use a scarce amount only. Too much can unravel parts of your locks or increase the amount of dye getting washed off.

11. Once done washing, pat your hair dry with a towel. To help the color set in and finalize the process, use a blow dryer. Dry your dreads, lock per lock.​

Reminders...

Temporary dye naturally washes off every time you shower. This will continue until the dye has gone completely. If you want to prolong your dreads’ color, avoid constant shampooing. Use warm water to wash your dreads and paper or dry towel to pat it dry.

how to dye dreads

Conclusion

Dreadlocks are already meant to be dry and greasy for them to retain their look. To dye your dreads using bleach means subjecting your hair to even more damage than necessary. Dye your dreads without such lightening agents to keep your hair healthy.

If you have questions or suggestions on this guide on how to dye dreads without using bleach, please feel free to share them in the comments section.​

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