Dread Soap and New Services Update

Okay.... so this might seem totally lame, but I have a bunch of things I wanted to post about on my Dread Queen facebook page, but don't want to post them all as big, long status messages! So, I am going to post about it here and post the link to the facebook page.

For those of you who regularly follow The Dread Queen on facebook, you already know that I had made preliminary plans to start making and selling dreadlock shampoo bars. I was hoping to acquire most of what I needed on my vacation this past week and start cooking it up in the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a lot of vendors that usually went to the festival have gone bankrupt or couldn't afford to attend the festival we were attending. So, that means I couldn't acquire everything I needed. There was ONE vendor who had SOME of what I needed, but it was insanely expensive, so I am going to wait until my friend, Dawna, places a wholesale order that I can piggyback onto. Frugality for the win.

In other news, I am vaguely considering offering dread wraps and/or synthetic dreadlocks, but these are very much in the planning stage and I am still learning about them. A big part of whether or not I will go ahead with doing so will depend on if there is enough interest in it. SO, if you would be interested in dread/hair wraps OR synthetic dreads PLEASE let me know either here or on The Dread Queen Facebook Page.

A few quick questions and answers about synthetic dreads for those interested: (If you have any not listed here PLEASE ask, as your questions will enable me to learn more about them as well!)

Q: What are synthetic dreads made out of?

A: Synthetic dreads, or most synthetic dreads, are made out of kankelon fiber (plastic, basically) that is backcombed and then 'sealed' to enable them to hold their shape.

Q: Why would someone want synthetic dreads rather than regular dreadlocks?

A: Synthetic dreads, unlike regular dreadlocks, are designed to be temporary. Whether you want to wear them for a weekend or a couple of months, after you are done with them you simply take them out. The cool part is that you can save the dreads and have them put it again (or do it yourself) later.

Q: How long do synthetic dreads last?

A: They can last as long as 3 months or so, but how long they last often depends on how fast your hair grows, as the dread will tend to slip down the length of the dread and give them an odd appearance at the root.

Q: Are synthetic dreads easy to remove?

A: They are pretty much just braided in. It might be a little difficult, especially if you've had them in for a couple months, as the hair may have started to knot with the kankelon fibers, but with a little patience they should come out quite easily.

Q: Can you wash synthetic dreads?

A: Absolutely, but the dreads themselves don't really need washing. What you need to focus on is your scalp and the hair that is braided at the top of the synthetic dread(s). Just like regular dreadlocks, you should NEVER use conditioner as this can make the hair braided into the synthetic dread slippery and make the dread slip out giving the appearance of grown-out roots prematurely.

If I receive enough interest in the synthetic dreads, the first step will be to acquire a guinea pig on whom to test the placement of synthetic dreads. It looks easy enough, but I will have to make and place them for the first time to give it a shot. The person who has it done will only be expect to cover the cost of the materials (kankelon fiber... which is quite cheap) and pay an inexpensive rate of only $10/hr (I would expect it to take 4-6 hours...) So if you're interested in synthetic dreads and want to be my guinea pig let me know! LOL

Also, a more definite, new service offering is that of TATTOO DESIGN. I have been designing tattoos for friends for some time and have decided to make more of an effort to do it on a more professional level. I LOVE designing tattoos. It makes me so humble and excited to see someone with artwork created originally by me inked permanently on their skin. So, if you love tattoos and have a design floating around in your head that you can't quite convey properly on paper, please let me help you acquire the tattoo you've been dreaming of!

Black and white designs are $2/sq inch and colored designs $3/sq inch. For some examples of my work you can check out The Dread Queen Tattoo Designs Album on facebook, or my deviantArt page.


~ Amy (A.K.A. The Dread Queen/Knotty Mama)

Rockin' the Rubber (Bands)

As someone who used rubber bands to successfully help my roots lock up, I was surprised the first time I read anything indicating they might actually be damaging. The claims range from them damaging the hair to preventing it from locking altogether, which is the entire supposed purpose of them to begin with!

DreadHeadHQ recommends rubber bands at the roots and tips of new dreadlocks to help things lock up at the root and to help knots migrate out the end of your baby dreads at the tips, and suggests they be worn for at least four weeks. However, there is a right (see image above at left) and wrong way to go about using rubber bands. Bands at the roots should never be tight or restrict the dreadlock as this can cause weak spots. However, bands at the tips can be fairly tight with little risk.

Several different resources I found in my research suggested that rubber bands can damage the hair. It’s true that they CAN damage the hair, but, in my opinion, only if worn too tightly. If worn too tightly (see photo below at right for an example of bands that are too tight around the roots) one risks creating weak spots in the dreads, but also risks breaking hair which weakens the dreadlock over time as well. I propose here that this is only true if they are used incorrectly. Rubber bands at the roots should only gently hold the roots in place, but not squeeze or restrict them.

Another claim is that rubber bands can melt into the dreadlocks creating a gooey messy that’s impossible to remove. My research showed that the melting point of rubber if 262 degrees Farenheit and the only chemicals that are capable of melting rubber (acetone and methyl ethyl ketone) are ones that are not exactly found in common dreadlock products. I would have to conclude that the possibility of rubber bands melting into a dreadlock are slim to none. What IS more likely and better documented is the rubber bands getting ‘sucked into’ the dread during the locking process. That is normal and expected, which is probably at least part of the reason it’s only recommended to wear them for 4 weeks. Another possibility (liklihood) is that the rubber is heat damaged over time by the repeated use of hair blow dryers. If that happens to you the best thing you can do is to (1) air-dry, or (2) replace the bands every 2-4 weeks.

The third and final claim I’ve heard a lot is that rubber bands restrict movement of the hair inbiting the locking process. This, like the first claim involving bands damaging the hair, is due no doubt in fact to individuals who used rubber bands incorrectly. Sure, if you place the bands so tightly around the roots that they are constricted, no there will be no movement. This is a big part of WHY they should be placed relatively loosely. It’s very true that friction and movement is what causes dreadlocks to knot and lock up. (Which is why pinch rolling is so effective!) So, keep ‘em loose and you’ll still get plenty of knots!

If after reading all of that you still have your reservations about using elastics or you are concerned about rubber bands ‘melting’ or getting ‘sucked in’ to your dreadlocks you have a couple of different options.:

  1. This is the most simple one: don’t use them! Rubber bands on new dreads are entirely optional, although I use them on all my new clients and recommend them even.
  2. Use silicone bands instead. Silicone sometimes breaks a little more easily having less elasticity as most rubbers, but it has a much higher melting point of 932 degrees Farenheit. Also, if you have an allergy to rubber/latex you would want to use something else anyway.
  3. Replace your bands every 2-4 weeks to prevent them from being ‘sucked in’. (Thanks to David Collision for this suggestion!) This could be a good preventative step regardless of whether you use rubber, silicone, or anything else.
  4. Finally, some sites suggest to instead use something that is less damaging and gross in the event they get sucked in such as string or hemp. This can be a good suggestion if you’re wanting to try it, but I would think they would be less likely to stay put than rubber or silicone since they lack the tacky/rubbery surface that helps them stay in place on the roots.

Do I think rubber bands are good! Darn tootin’ I do! I recommend them and I use them on my clients (unless someone requests otherwise). However, just because I am a fan and think they are worth it doesn’t mean you have to use them yourselves. Just like everything else in the world of dreadlocks: only you can decide what’s right for you, philosophically and physically.

Dangerous Dreadlock Product Ingredients

A lot of people have indicated a couple times now they wanted me to do a blog entry on questionable and/or dangerous dreadlock product ingredients. My research has shown there are relatively few really BAD things to use in dreadlock ingredients, but it all depends on your outlook and stance on things when it comes not only to dreadlocks but on the environment as well.

Many dreadheads in the general online community have expressed a general dislike of any product containing anything ‘chemical’ and prefer to keep their dreadlocks and dreadlock products as natural as possible. No matter what you choose, if it contains chemical ingredients, it will ultimately end up in our water supply. Think about that for a few minutes.

As a user of DreadHeadHQ Dread Soap and Lock Peppa, many of the ingredients I list below ARE in those products. I have to admit that I LOVE my Lock Peppa and no matter what’s in it, as long as it’s not poisoning or killing me, I plan to keep using it, but definitely its important to be aware of what’s out there. If you’re curious about the ingredients of the products you are using, just head to the website you purchased it from (either DHHQ or KnottyBoy…. I can’t speak for other sites) and they will have a list of the products available.

I know a lot of information out there is focus on the ingredients of Lock Peppa so I do want to focus on that product in particular. Here is a list of the ingredients in Lock Peppa:

Zinc oxide, silicone dioxide, methyl salicylate, rosin, bentonite, wintergreen mint

  • Zinc oxide is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Most information I’ve found suggests it is a very benign substance used in many applications for cosmetics, medically, and industrially. Its only real pitfall, as far as I can tell, is that it is a chemical. But, as far as chemicals go, it’s pretty harmless.
  • Silicon dioxide is really a fancy, chemical name for sand. Like zinc oxide it is only dangerous if inhaled. Depending on the particle size, it can build up in the lungs causing lesions know as silicosis. Usually this disease is found among miners and quarry workers, so I doubt we have much to worry about, but these are good things to know! In all other aspects, it is harmless. Silicon dioxide helps to absorb moisture, drying the hair and making it knot easier. I have read that it is insoluble in water, but my experience has been that lock peppa washes out easily in one wash.
  • Methyl salicylate is most frequently found in medical preparation for the relief of aches and pains related to the musculo-skeletal system. It is basically oil of wintergreen. However, in topical applications on the skin can be irritating and cause contact dermatitis. In children less than 6 years of age, a teaspoon (5 mL) or less of oil of wintergreen has been implicated in several well-documented deaths so definitely keep your lock peppa out of reach of your little ones! Interestingly, it’s also used to flavor foods…. Go figure. Methyl salicylate is, as far as I can tell, simply used for its pleasant scent.
  • Rosin is pretty much tree sap. It’s sticky and it makes the hair stick together. There is no information available to suggest that rosin is dangerous in any way.
  • Bentonite is a clay product used for it absorptive properties. It, like the silicon dioxide, helps to dry the hair making it easier to knot. There are no known side effects related to bentonite. However, there has not been a longitudinal study on the effects from humans.
  • Wintergreen mint is an odd addition the list given the already included methyl salicylate is oil of wintergreen. As far as I can tell it has the same purpose as the methyl salicylate.

So, ultimately, it Lock Peppa safe? I think so…. But the general rule of thumb is don’t get it on your scalp, and don’t let small children or animals eat it… which I would think would be a given, LOL. If NOT using any chemical on your body at all is not your thing, steer clear.

Here is a short list of some other dread product ingredients to be aware of. They are not all necessarily ‘dangerous’, but they do have certain effects that are important to know about that I want you all to be aware of.

(1) Oils and butters - Anything that says it is an ‘oil’ or ‘butter’ (mineral oil, cocoa butter) isn’t necessary “dangerous” persay, but using them on dreadlocks that are not mature yet can deter the locking process and cause knots to slip out and dreads to loosen up. One very popular product containing one of these ingredients is DreadHeadHQ Dread Butta, and it says right on the product page to only use on mature dreads, so please stick with the directions and only use if your dreadies are good and mature!!! Some people get really antsy about wanting to make their dreads smell pretty (since DreadHeadHQ dread soap has no scent). Essential oils (despite being an ‘oil’) in small amounts can help add a pleasant scent to your locks. Try adding a few drops (10-ish) to your Lock Accelerator, bath salt soak (a la SaltedEarth Bath Salts on Etsy), or to your aloe and lemon juice spray (lavendar mixes well with lemon!).

(2) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulphate - This is another product that isn’t inherently dangerous, but some people have an allergy to it without even knowing. SLS/SLES is found in toothpastes to hand soap, to shampoo (a la DreadHeadHQ Dread Soap, which contains SLES, a slightly less questionable alternative) and is basically used to create the foaming lather we all like to see and feel represents cleanliness. If you have an allergy to SLS or to other commercial products containing it, be careful! Apparently, too, there is a lot of controversy out on the web as far as the detrimental effects SLS/SLES can have on our health. I am copying and pasting the below text from http://www.health-report.co.uk/sodium_lauryl_sulphate.html for your viewing pleasure:

Studies on SLS have shown that: (Judi Vance, Beauty To Die For, Promotion Publishing, 1998)
  • "Shampoos with SLS could retard healing and keep children's eyes from developing properly. Children under six years old are especially vulnerable to improper eye development. (Summary of Report of Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. conference."
  • "SLS can cause cataracts in adults and delays the healing of wounds in the surface of the cornea."
  • "SLS has a low molecular weight and so is easily absorbed by the body. It builds up in the heart, liver and brain and can cause major problems in these areas."
  • "SLS causes skin to flake and to separate and causes roughness on the skin."
  • "SLS causes dysfunction of the biological systems of the skin."
  • "SLS is such a caustic cleanser that it actually corrodes the hair follicle and impairs the ability to grow hair."
  • "SLS is routinely used in clinical studies deliberately to irritate the skin so that the effects of other substances can be tested." (Study cited by the Wall St Journal, 1st November 1998)

These facts should cause you to not only re-examine what you use on your dreadlocks but on the rest of your body. SLS is an ingredient found in SO many products. Thankfully, there are many companies out there dedicated to making SLS-free products. SLES is a very similar compound and many sources say it's known to have similar effects as SLS, however, there seems to be very little to no official studies out to compare the risks and effects of SLES vs. SLS. If it’s a concern of yours check it out.

(4) Sea Salt - AGAIN not an inherently dangerous ingredient, but many people are unaware that any salt-based dreadlock product, while having the desired effect of roughening and drying the hair, can have the same detrimental effect on the scalp. In people who are already prone to dandruff getting sea salt-based products on the scalp are a BAD idea. I, personally, prefer the use of an aloe spray mixed with lemon juice to get the same effect while moisturizing at the same time. J

So ultimately none of these products are dangerous. Many of them are in other products we use daily with no notable mal-effects. As someone wrote on one of the message boards I sifted through during this research said, "Just because it's residue-free, doesn't mean it's chemical-free!". Now that you know what they are and the risks they pose only you can decide which of them you are still comfortable using. I sincerely hope that this entry has causes you to truly think and analyze what you use on your body and on your hair, because there’s more to them than just ’soap’. I look forward to your comments and questions.


Wrap 'Em Up

Okay.... so this past week I discovered the overwhelming amazingness of dread wraps. I used to use a ponytail holder to pull my dreads back if I didn't want them down which eventually would pull and start to give me a headache, but dread wraps, my knotty friends, are amazing.... hold your dreads out of the way, look super cute (if you find some great wraps/scarfs) and DON'T HURT!!! The last part is my favorite, LOL. Anywho, I am including here a video I created on how to put on a dread wrap. :-)

In other news, I finally found the information I've been trying to find for WEEKS about the legal and licensing statutes in the state of Connecticut regarding dreadlocks and what generally falls under the bracket of 'african braiding'. Connecticut actually has official laws exempting braiders from needing licensing. WOOT! That means that my dread business is 100% legal! I had worried it wasn't so I was trying to keep it on the DL... but now that I don't have to worry about that, I am free to start promoting myself a bit more -- post on craigslist, put up flyers on community bulletin boards, etc. So SPREAD the word, people! Tell them to check out The Dread Queen!!!

The Dread Queen

Gods, people.... I know I'm SOOO behind! For those of you keeping track you know its because I've been working my @$$ off working on a facebook page and website dedicated towards the dread services I offer, the least of which is the services.... I'm much more focused on information and making sure people are getting a sound, relatively un-biased answer to their dreadlock-related questions. I'd like to tell you about things in more detail, but it's much easier to post up a couple of links to SHOW you! To head on over to my 'The Dread Queen' facebook page click on the image below:

AND check out my new website, too!

Please note that I am STILL working on the website so please don't be mad when you noticed that about half of the pages are still blank! It's a work in progress, but I wanted to share it with y'all anyway! I want to especially direct people the Links page on my website which has a nice long list of Etsy sellers that make and sell some AWESOME dreadlock-related items (especially beads!!).

Now, speaking of beads, I have moved on recently to the next element for my dread bead series. The next element is FIRE! Also made by the awesome and amazing Beatlebaby Glassworks (who is also linked on my website). She made my 'WATER' bead, too, which I wrote about in a previous blog entry. :-) Here is a photo of the awesomeness!!!

Finally I want to point out to people that I have a NEW POLL up on my blog page and am asking people to PLEASE vote on what you would like me to write my next blog about! I want to know what YOU want to read about!

Alright, well that's about it for now, folks. Stay tuned for more updates! Spread the dread and let people know about my website!!! Happy Dreading!

The Weeping Willow

by Amy Schile

I stood among the weeping branches of the willow tree
Her leaves caressed my bare back
And Embraced me as if she were Mother Earth herself
Mother to mother, no words needed to be exchanged
Here I wept

I sat at the foot of the weeping willow tree
My dreadlocks my roots and my branches
She showed me beauty
Rustling in the gentle, early summer breeze
Here I wept

Dreadlock Decorating

Okay, so I know I already did a blog on dread adornment, but I was so excited by my newest purchase (so new, in fact, that I haven’t even received it in the mail yet) that I felt compelled to make another post about them! Unfortunately, the bead that had purchased that inspired the original post about dread adornment had to be returned. The hole was just too big… as much as I didn’t want it to be, LOL.

I have come up with a ‘theme’ for the next several dread adornments I purchase. With the knowledge that dreadlocks are a sponge for energy and in the interest of balance I decided I want to acquire four beads (maybe five?) to represent the four/five elements; water, air, fire, and earth. For whatever reason I had been really drawn to beads incorporating a theme of the ocean or water so I figured that was a prime place to start.

I was THRILLED when I happened across the awesomely awesome Etsy shop, Beatle Baby Glass Works. whose work, in my humble opinion just completely personifies the element of water. She has mastered the ability to capture the depth of water, using dichroic glass to mimick the effect of sunlight glittering on its surface. The organic, free-flowing shape of her work seemed to communicate the amazing power and force of water. It was just so breath-takingly beautiful and perfect that I had to send her a message asking if she would custom-make me a dread bead. She didn’t have anything with a hole that size so I didn’t know if it would be possible, but she immediately jumped at the opportunity and ideas that I had.

Within 24 hours she had created a bead for me that was just gorgeous, but I stupidly said that it wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind and asked her if she would be willing to try again. Her second try was a no-go… not up to her standards. The third and fourth tries were also beautiful, but by the time she had come around to those I had fallen further in love with the first bead she had made. Although I loved the others, I was ready to take the first bead. In the end it was just too perfect not to!

In the process I inspired her to create a section in her shop for large hole/dread beads, so if you have dreadies yourself you should give her shop a look-see as her stuff is just AMAZING. She told me she is thinking of trying to make fire beads, too, which I’m SUPER excited about in lieu of my idea of a decorating ‘theme’ for my dreads.

On top of that I have also commissioned KnottySleeves on Etsy to create a peyote stitch dread tube for me. Her peyote stitching is the highest quality, most creative ones I’ve been able to locate online. I will post photos of that when I get them, too!

So, to round things out here I am going to wrap up with a video I created on how to use your Loose Hair Tool to help you put on dread adornments. (I wrote a whole other blog entry about the LHT and how to use it to tidy up your dreads.... check it out, too!)^_^ Enjoy!!!