Skip to Content
HomeHair TypeBlack Hair

How to Make Yarn Dreads: Pros & Cons

When it comes to hairstyles for Black women, yarn dreads are one of the prettiest and most fun to personalize. They’re also budget-friendly and low-maintenance. These are all qualities every lady wishes for her hairstyle, so why wouldn’t you try them?

Not familiar with yarn dreads? Plain and simple, they’re extensions made from different types of yarn that are easily braided into your natural hair to create faux dreadlocks. Women often choose a yarn dread hairstyle because it allows them to express their sense of creative and colorful style.

If you’re considering a new look or just want a stylish look for a special upcoming occasion, there are a few things to know before jumping into yarn dreads.

Pros of Yarn Dreads

  • Yarn dreads will last between three and eight weeks, depending on how well you maintain them. This means you won’t have to worry about your next hairstyle for at least a little while.
  • These come in a multitude of colors and can be as long or as short as you’d like. Since there’s so much room for personalization, you’ll never have to worry another lady has the same yarn dread hairstyle as you.

Cons of Yarn Dreads

  • Drying your yarn dreads is probably the most time-consuming piece of maintaining this hairstyle. While they may be easy to wash, they can take awhile to dry, depending on their length. You’ll want to aim to dry them completely within 12 hours. If they stay wet any longer, they run the risk of growing mildew.
  • Some women have reported their dreads collecting lint. You can prevent this by not rocking the hairstyle in the winter months when there’s more static in the air. Static is what will attract lint and trap it in your locs.
  • Normally, the fact that there is more than one type of yarn dread would be a good thing. However, women who have tried this hairstyle before recommend acrylic yarn dreads, not wool since it can be drying.

What’s Needed

To make yarn dread locs, you will need to gather a few materials.

  • Eight rolls of acrylic yarn (depending on desired length and thickness)
  • Moisturizing Leave-In Conditioner
  • Scissors
  • Hair oil
  • Time
  • Patience

How to Achieve Yarn Dreads?

yarn dread loc braid

Here are the basic steps to get a new look with yarn dread locs.

  1. Measure out five strands of yarn to match the length you are trying to achieve.
  2. Cut the yarn on the ends so they’re even and open.
  3. Apply moisturizing leave-in conditioner from roots to tips of your hair to ensure adequate moisture
  4. Separate yarn so you’re holding three strips in one hand and two strips in the other, then fold over so that they form a loop over the tops of your hand.
  5. Next, interlock those loops so that they are linked together (no need to tie one side. This image is for illustration purposes. Ideally, you would have multiple strands on both sides that are looped)
  6. Then, braid the yarn with the interlocked portion at the root nine times.
  7. Gather four strings of yarn that match the length you are looking to achieve and wrap them around the braided portion of hair taking care not to apply too much tension to the scalp.
  8. Tie a knot once the braided portion is wrapped.
  9. From there, add four more strings and begin wrapping where hair is knotted. Continue the process until you achieve the desired length.
  10. Upon reaching the end, tie a knot, make five to six knots, then cut, trimming with care to make those ends as neat as possible.

There you have it! These are the steps to installing yarn dreads. You can also watch the below yarn dread tutorial.

Tips for Yarn Locs

Here are some tips that can make your experience with yarn dreads an easy and healthy one:

Moisturize first: Use the LOC method to moisturize your hair as it will be completely wrapped in yarn and you need it to stay hydrated for the duration. Think of the yarn as one more layer that protects your hair, but remember that while it’s protecting it, it’s also drying it out to a degree. Doing the LOC method before you start will help combat dryness.

Don’t start at the roots or make the wraps too tight: Your yarn wraps will pull at the scalp too much if you start at the roots. Also, you don’t want to install them too tightly. This might make them too uncomfortable to sleep in and wear. If your scalp is beading up or otherwise irritated, remove the ones that are too tight and redo them.

Seal the loc: After you’ve knotted the ends several times, burn them carefully with a match or a lighter to seal them properly. This only works with acrylic yarn, which is a form of plastic. Tap the end lightly after it burns a bit so that you have a round knob there. You don’t want it to turn black unless the yarn already is black, so just use a low flame and tap the end.

Finish with hot water: To make your yarn locs more flexible and to give them a finished, more uniform look, dip them into hot water when you’re done wrapping.

How to Maintain Your Yarn Dreads

Yarn Dreads Maintenance

Now that you’ve installed your yarn locs, it’s time to maintain them. Basically, you’re going to use the same techniques you would use if you had braided extensions. Here’s how:

Use an applicator bottle for products

You’re going to cleanse and moisturize your hair on your normal schedule. But instead of applying shampoo and conditioner directly to your hair, you’re going to mix each in an applicator bottle. You want a liquid consistency that’s easy to move through the locs.

When cleansing, apply the watery shampoo to your scalp and use the pads of your fingers to scrub lightly. Then apply the shampoo to the locs and squeeze the product all the way down to the tips. Then rinse well with warm water. To condition, follow the same process with a watery conditioner in an applicator bottle.

You’re going to squeeze a leave-in conditioner into your hair and the locs in the same manner. If you use an oil to seal, water it down and do it the exact same way.

Dry your hair super-thoroughly

Because yarn holds a lot of water for a long time, you have to be very particular about getting them thoroughly dry. After using a microfiber towel or t-shirt to absorb all excess water, sit under a hooded dryer. Air drying is great, but not for yarn dreads! They will mildew if you try to air dry them. Yipes!

Use silk to wrap at night

You don’t want your locs to get frizzy and beady, so don’t sleep directly on a cotton pillowcase. Use a high bun with a silk scarf around the perimeter. Or you can sleep in a silk bonnet or on a silk pillowcase. However you do it, think silk. This material allows your hair and scalp to breathe while protecting them from frizz

Best Ways to Wear Yarn Dreads

1. Layered Rainbow Bob

short yarn dreads
Instagram / africanvibes

If you love a lot of color in your life, you’ll want to try rainbow yarn dreads. A short hairstyle is easy to maintain, stays off the shoulders, and can easily be given shape with different lengths of dreads.

2. Brown Dreads with Hair Cuffs

yarn dreads with beads
Instagram / style_medium

Even if you want a neutral-colored hairstyle, like brown or black, you can easily add a few shiny details with hair cuffs and beads. These long yarn dreads are bedazzled with a few well-placed cuffs and large beads.

3. Thick Black Yarn Dreadlocks

yarn dreads with triangle part
Instagram / locsbymomo

Have you always wanted thicker hair? Choose thick yarn dreads to get a fuller-looking hairstyle. Lots of long black locs seen here make hair look voluminous and lush!

4. Bright Blue Locs

blue yarn dreads
Instagram / mars.moreira

Against your medium to dark skin tone, these bright blue yarn dreads pop beautifully. We love the thicker size of the locs, which will also take less time to braid in than a bunch of thin locs.

5. Edgy Red Yarn Locs

red yarn dreads
Instagram / naturalz_bymona

For an edgier hairstyle, choose bright red yarn dreadlocks. Let your natural black hair color peek through by braiding in your extensions starting a couple inches out from the scalp. Then you can add gold or silver hair cuffs with charms for a little shine.

6. Fishtail Braided Dreads

This jumbo thick fishtail braid looks amazing thanks to lots of thick yarn dreads. Set your hairstyle apart by weaving in a few colorful dread extensions, like pink or purple.

7. Curly Dreadlocks

long yarn dreads
Instagram / fauxlocfeen

These gorgeous curly yarn locs look so natural, no one will ever guess they’re extensions! This look is ideal for Black women who want a little ‘texture’ to their hairstyle. We recommend trying them in an edgy silver color.

8. Genie Loc Updo

yarn dreads updo
Instagram / chastityvaughn

Genie locs (another name for yarn dreads) can be gorgeous piled high in a twisted bun. These thick beauties feature a light ashy blonde color that is gorgeous against dark skin.

9. Thick Yarn Dread Bun

half up yarn dreads
Instagram / mags_tresses

Here’s a great way to rock your two most favorite colors: wear one shade in locs at the bottom half of your hair, and the other color in thick dreads piled into a chic jumbo dreadlock bun.

10. Faux Hawk 

How stunning is this edgy faux hawk for women? The yarn dreads are thick, feature a dramatic dark color against bright electric red, and are gathered together with majestic purple ribbon. Choose a high or medium fade to define this look.

11. Dark Orange Yarn Dreads

yarn dreadlocks
Instagram / itela_coiffure

You don’t need to choose a bright color to make sure your dreadlocks are noticed. This muted orange is a unique color and pops nicely with gold hair cuffs and black burnt ends. The shade is also quite lovely on Black women with their dark skin tone.

12. Mystical Yarn Locks

yarn dreads for white girls
Instagram / jens.hobby.things

As a wig or braided extensions, you can create any look you want with yarn dreads. Create a mystical feel with darker colors and textured locs. This style features flattering face-framing pieces.

13. Long Red and White Locs

red and white yarn dreads
Instagram / o_h_ryan

For a goth or rocker hairstyle, make sure your locs make a statement by choosing harsh colors and pairing them with lighter tones. For example, these long bright red yarn dreads are balanced out nicely with white dreads.

14. Mini Dreads 

yarn dreads
Instagram / hildi.couleur

For Caucasian women who want to try out yarn dread extensions without fully committing, start with tiny thin ones at about halfway down your hair. They’re easily braided in, offering a cute pop of color.

15. Pastel Yarns

half up 2 buns with yarn dreads
Instagram / manbarrican4445

Soft pink and mint green are a stunning statement as yarn dreadlocks on Black women. The contrast of dark skin tone with the light shades is practically hypnotizing.

Make Your Own Yarn Dread Wig

If you’re a little intimidated by the process of tying yarn into your hair, you could make a loc wig. It’s actually simpler than wrapping the yarn onto sections of hair. For a loc wig, you’ll need loose wool instead of acrylic or wool yarn. Here’s how to make one:

A note on color

Hair dye can’t be used on wool to change the color without engaging in a long, drawn-out process. So if you want to color, it’s best to buy the loose wool pre-colored. Ask if they use natural dyes so that it doesn’t become irritating.

Making the dreads

Dip the wool in hot water and, when cool enough, roll the length of wool between your hands to make a dreadlock. The dreads will come together naturally. As you work, try to keep the size of the locs consistent in size and length. Lay them out on towels and allow them to dry thoroughly. You can use a blow dryer intermittently to help things along.

Tie them to a cap

Once dry, you’ll need to secure the dreads onto a close-fitting knitted cap of the same color as the dreads. Create a part first then work around it, tying the dreads onto the cap. As you go along, lightly burn each dread on the underside of the cap to help secure it.

Fit your dread cap

The fitting is to make sure that you have enough dreads per square inch on the cap so that your wig doesn’t have large gaps.

Style your dread wig

You can style your wig as you like, but you might find it useful to create updos to hide small gaps. Then you can have a few dreads hanging free in the back of your style.

Watch the Following DIY tutorial to learn how to make a Frozen yarn wig.

Can Yarn Locs Cause Hair Loss?

If yarn locs are worn for more than two months, or if they are worn regularly and not just as a style switch, they can cause hair loss. This is because they are installed tightly. When they are made too loose, the style loses some of its beauty. Because of this, a dread wig might be preferable as it doesn’t endanger the hair.

Even if they are not installed tightly, the extra weight of the locs on your scalp can cause your hair to fall out. A constant pull on the hair follicles can cause them to cease producing hair. Have you seen older African ladies that use hair extensions and have these big parts in between the braids? That’s because over time they developed alopecia because of the weight of the extensions.

Dreadlock Styles for Modern Women


Let’s go over the most commonly asked questions about yarn dreads.

What are yarn locs?

Yarn locs are dreadlock extensions made of yarn. They are also known as yarn dreads, knitted dreadlocks, yarn falls, and faux dreadlocks. You can use any color of yarn you like for many twists, braids, and other protective hairstyles.

They are a well-loved method of styling hair because they are gentle on your hair, easy to DIY at home, very inexpensive, and most importantly, a colorful and fun look!

What kind of yarn to use for dreads?

100% acrylic yarn is a popular material to use for dreads because it is thin, lending itself to light, precise braids, as well as durable and long-lasting. 

Wool and other all-natural yarn are also commonly used materials. Wool is thicker than acrylic yarns, so it comes the closest to mimicking the feel of natural hair. However, be aware that it may end up being too hot and drying out your hair, and some find it too heavy or itchy. 

How long do yarn dreads usually last?

You can keep dreads in your hair for anywhere from three to eight weeks. The length of time you can wear them depends on the material you used, the hairstyle, and your hair maintenance. Use your best judgment to decide when to take them out.

How much will yarn dreads cost?

Having yarn dreads installed by a professional hairstylist will cost you between $250 and $600, depending on the length and thickness of your dreads. 

If you DIY your dreads, the cost is relatively affordable. How much yarn you will need for your dreads also depends on the length and thickness you want. Typically, you will need 1-2 packages of yarn. A good rule of thumb is to buy twice as much as you think you need to be safe.

What’s the difference between yarn and synthetic dreads?

Synthetic dreads are made of artificial fibers such as henlon (also known as monofiber), kanekalon, and other plastics. They come in a great variety of textures and often look more realistic.

Yarn dreads are softer and more comfortable than most synthetic dreads because they are made of wool (natural fibers) and acrylic (synthetic fibers that more closely mimic wool). Wool yarns specifically have more variety in color because they can be dyed.

Will yarn dreads damage your hair?

If you installed your yarn dreads correctly and did not leave them in too long, then no, they will not damage your hair. Just be aware of buildup around the base of your dreads and cleanse your scalp with shampoo as needed.

Should you dip yarn dreads into hot water?

Yes, dipping the length of your yarn dreads into non-boiling hot water is an often-used trick to reduce frizziness. It loosens and softens the braids to prevent them from stiffening up and damaging your hair.

Can I shower with yarn dreads?

Yes, you can shower with yarn locs in. It will not damage your hair, but yarns hold water for much longer than synthetic or natural hair dreads, taking anywhere from four to twelve hours to dry completely.

The same applies to swimming with yarn dreads: it is safe to do so, but be aware that they may be heavy with water for a long time.

Is it better to do yarn dreads on dry or wet hair?

It is much better to install your dreads in completely dry hair. Damp hair is not only too heavy to effectively put your dreads in but can cause mold and mildew growth.

You can wear various styles with this chosen style, whether you decide to pin it up, wear it in a side ponytail, or rock a freestyle hairdo. Remember to preserve your dreads by sleeping in a bonnet each night.