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How to Dye Dreadlocks — A Step-by-Step Guide

Having a permanent, or a long-term hairstyle, doesn’t mean you can’t make any new changes. There are lots of ways that you can alternate your dreads. Have you ever thought about getting a new color for your dreadlocks? Yes or no, if you want to know how you can dye dreadlocks to get new hairstyles, then this article is for you.

In the following, I will detail the process of dying dreadlocks, and the effect this process has on your precious hair.

Furthermore, I’ll give you some non-invasive alternatives which you can safely try on by yourself without taking any risks.

How to Dye Your Dreads

Dyeing dreads

Dyeing your dreadlocks can be a fun and exciting way to express your unique style and personality. But it’s not just a simple dunk-and-dye process. There’s a bit more to it if you want to achieve a vibrant, lasting color without damaging your locks.

  1. First of all, if your dreadlocks are darker than the new color that you want to achieve, then you’ll also need to bleach them. If not, you’re lucky, and you can skip that. I’m going to integrate this step in any case.
  1. Decide what you want to color. It may be the whole hair, your ends, several dreads, or any other part of your dreadlocks (including the roots).
  1. Get your products (bleach if you need, colors you want).
  1. Make sure your hair is clean and well-dried. In case you have a dry or a high porosity hair type, take your time to prepare it for this acid treatment, by deep conditioning your hair the day before dying it. However, rinse all the products off.
  1. If you have long, thick, or many dreadlocks, and you want to bleach all of them, consider doing this task in several sessions, as the bleach needs to be applied quickly and be left there for a certain amount of time. Leaving the bleach on for too long, or laying it in a superficial way, would lead to disappointing results, or it could even damage the hair.
  1. Prepare your gloves, towel, or anything that you’re going to use to protect the surfaces you won’t like to destroy with your bleach or dye. Next, read the usage instructions for the products that you’re about to use, and do the mixture.
  1. Section the dreads that you want to start with, and tie up the ones you’ll do later. In case you don’t dye all of your dreads, make sure the ones that you want to keep untouched will not be touched with bleach or dye. It would be better to do around three at a time.
  1. Take a brush and start applying the bleach or dye on your dreadlocks. Try to penetrate as much as possible on the inside, so you’ll not get stains. Move quickly and efficiently.
  1. Release another group of dreads, one by one, doing the same.
  1. After you finish everything you want to bleach (or dye), take the remaining part of your mixture and rub it on your locks with your gloves, ensuring you catch all the spots.
  1. Cover your dreads with a dedicated cap, or an improvised plastic bag, and let it stay for 20-35 minutes (check the prescription on the pack, and don’t leave it more than recommended).
  1. After time has passed, take off your cap and rinse your dreads with plenty of water. Wash your hair insistently with shampoo and conditioner. Do this step very carefully, as you need to ensure that you cleared away all the products.
  1. Squiz your dreads into a towel, and let them air dry in the sun, if possible.
  1. If you successfully finished the bleaching part and wish to add another color, wait, at least, until your dreads are completely dried, before starting the dying process. It would be even better if you give them a little break, and moisturize them well in between the two chemical treatments. Once you’re ready, follow the same steps previously mentioned.
  1. Enjoy your final look, and be proud of your masterwork.

So, now you know the process of bleaching or dying your dreadlocks, let’s analyze the advantages and disadvantages, or risks, in making this operation.

This part will help you to avoid damaging your hair and take the right decisions for the health of your dreadlocks.

What Are the Dark and The Light Sides of Bleaching or Dying Dreadlocks?

Everybody knows that bleaching or dying the hair is a highly acidic chemical process that can cause dryness, thinning, or even breakage of your hair. The chances of affecting the hair in a negative way increase when the hair is already dry and has high porosity.

Moreover, if you leave the bleach on for too long, it will attack your hair, even if it is in a proper condition.

However, if the hair is a low porosity one, and has enough oils, the process of bleaching or dying it, can even have a good effect on your dreads. Assuming it is correctly decolored or colored, your fresh-looking dreads will be able to get dried faster, and accumulate less grease.

How to Avoid Damaging Your Dreads when Bleaching or Dying Them?

Avoid Damaging Dreads when Dying
  • Analyze your hair condition, and improve your haircare routine precedently the dying process.
  • If possible, do it with the help of a professional loctician.
  • Do a test on a small portion of hair, to see how it reacts with the chemicals you’re about to use, in case you choose to do it yourself.
  • Follow the precise instructions for applying, waiting, and rinsing it.
  • Try to use mostly organic, plant-based, and free-of-ammonia and other chemical products, like the old, well-known henna, if that works for you.
  • Stick to a good maintenance and haircare routine.

After all, if you still doubt bleaching or dying your dreadlocks, the best thing you can do is to opt for a temporal non-invasive coloring method.

For that situation, you can use colored hair wax, hair chalk, colored sprays, or other temporary tints without bleaching the dreads. You’ll be surprised that some products work on dark hair as well.

However, there are some downsides here as well, as some can stain the stuff that touches your hair (like your pillow), or they might not last for too long.

Fortunately, coloring your dreadlocks can be fun and safe for any situation. I hope I managed to give you the best advice and that you’ll have great results in coloring your dreads.


Does bleach damage my dreadlocks?

Yes, bleach can harm your hair if it is a high-porosity or dry type, but if you prepare it well, and do the process like a pro, or you ask for professional help, it can be safe for your hair.

Depending on your hair type, in some particular cases (low-porosity hair, for example), bleaching your dreadlocks can be an advantage.

Can I dye my dreads immediately after bleaching them?

Yes, you can dye your dreads immediately after bleaching them, but it is better not to do so. For best results, reestablish the nutrients your hair lost during the bleaching process, and do another chemical treatment after ensuring the hair is in good condition again.