20 South African Dreadlock Styles for Men and Women

Unlike before, dreadlock styles have become much more acceptable around the world. The most important aspect of this cultural shift is that it is no longer a male-dominated hairdo because women have gotten in on the act. South African dreadlock styles are unique in the sense that they are not only expressive but are also inspirational. Dreadlocks are your go-to hairstyle when you want to make a bold style statement.

Despite having negative spiritual connotations in some parts of Africa, dreadlocks seem to be the current ultimate fashion trend. What makes it more amazing is the fact that irrespective of your facial structure and hair type, there is a perfect dreadlock style for you. If you fall into that category of people who think locking your hair is an opportunity to overlook proper hair grooming, you are wrong. Although locking your hair gives you the freedom of not having to always loosen and braid your hair, it is also important to care for your dreads.

Allowing your dreadlocks to look dirty and unkempt is bad for your hair and also doesn’t speak well of your personal hygiene. So, if you are seeking a variety of deadlock styles that will fit your face, bring out your individuality, and enable you to project your essence, you just clicked on the right article. You will also learn how to care for the locks.

History And Evolution Of Dreadlocks Over The Years

While it is possible to historically link the origin of dreadlocks to a particular culture or civilization, there is a fact to be noted. Every natural hair, if left unattended, would simply be matted together, forming dreadlocks on its own accord. As such, the fact that primitive man did not have access to a comb or hair tools, one could assume that there was more than one person with deadlocks in every culture or civilization.

However, trying to trace the history of dreadlocks would lead you to several fronts. Depending on your source, it can either lead you to India or Egypt as the origin of the hairstyle. We would lean towards an Egyptian origin with archaeological discoveries revealing that ancient pharaohs (mummies) wore dreadlocks.

South African Dreadlocks Styles

Every culture or civilization that has existed on earth has been associated with dreads in a certain way. The Celts in the Roman empire were known to wear dreadlocks so also were the Nоrdiс Vikings, who were knоwn brave and aggressive warriors. The biblical story of Samson and his seven locks which were the source of the extraordinary powers also connects the Jews to the history of the dreads.

The 1930 Rastafari Movement, popular among the Black Jamaican people, is one movement that popularized the deadlock hairstyle. It is noteworthy that before the Rastafari movement, the hairstyle was generally referred to as ‘dreads’. It is the Rastafarians who began to ‘lock’ their overgrown dreads in honor of Emperor Haile Selassie (born Ras Tafari Makonnen) when he went into exile. They vowed not to shave the hair until he returned and that was how the term ‘dreadlocks’ was coined.

Although Reggae legends, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh are seen as the proponents of the Rastafari culture, they were actually converted into the movement. However, they did a lot to export the Rastafari culture, especially the dreadlocks hairstyle, across the world. Today, the hairstyle has become a trend in many cultures globally. While some who wear it seek to identify with the Rastafari faith, others wear it because it is a cool hairstyle.

Negative Connotations Surrounding Dreadlocks

There has been negativity associated with dreadlock hairstyles and those who wear them. People who wear dreadlocks are often perceived to be a dirty bunch as the hairstyle is seen to be untidy. However, this is far from being the truth as the opposite is originally the case. dreadlocks are not associated with filth or tardiness, rather, it has always been a symbol of cleanliness, purity, and holiness.

Also, there is the case of associating dreadlocks with rebellion. This was when the Rastafari Movement used the deadlocks style to take a stand against British imposition of foreign hairstyles at the time. That created the perception that those with dreadlocks are a rebellious bunch. It is often easier for law enforcement and security agencies (or anyone in particular) to suspect a person on dreadlocks of being a criminal element in a group of persons with any other hairstyle.

The above narratives are things that have to change and with society beginning to warm up to dreadlock hairstyles, it seems the negative perception around the style will soon be a thing of the past.

Do Dreadlocks Have Spiritual Connotations

Although most of the South African dreadlock styles we see these days do not come with any kind of spiritual connotation and are done with the intent of just looking good, history has it that dreadlocks actually have a spiritual connotation. In fact, some of the world’s leading religions have been associated with dreads in one form or the other.

In Indian Hinduism, a set of holy men, called Sadhus, carried dreadlocks to suggest their sanctity. Also, among the Sufi saints, the Qalandris also wore dreads as a mark of spirituality. In Jewish Judaism, Nazarenes/Nazarites are not allowed to cut their hair which grows into dreadlocks. They are said to be set apart as concentrated people to be used for holy purposes. The oldest people traced to have carried dreadlocks in Africa are priests associated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Dreadlocks are said to signify natural and supernatural power, and are also seen as a statement of non-violent, non-conformity with the less fortunate and can be a way of holding spiritual energy. Rastafarians with dreadlocks are referred to as the Lion of Judah. They believe that according to the story of Samson in the Bible, the strength of a man is locked up in his hair. Sculptures of Pharaohs show that they kept dreads to symbolize confidence and great power.

South African dreadlocks styles

Nigerians believe that children born with dreads are bringers of wealth and in the Igbo culture, dreadlocks must never be cut or damaged. In Africa as a whole, dreadlocks are seen as a symbol of strength. While some people may want to key into the so-called spiritual energy that dreadlocks hold, others see dreadlocks as nothing else but a regular kind of hairstyle probably because they love the locks.

What To Consider When Styling Your Dreadlocks

Dreadlock styles are one of the most convenient hairstyles any free-spritted individual – both male and female – would want to wear. Depending on your hair type and how well you maintain your dreads, you can carry them for over three to six months. As a result of how long you intend to lock your hair, you should go to a hairstylist who is familiar with making deadlock styles to avoid unnecessary mistakes that you may have to stay with for long.

After making your preferred dreadlock style, it is important you care for the dreads. You can choose to visit your hairstylist at least once every month to care for the hair and probably change the packing style. This is usually done in order to give your face a lift and a whole new look. It is worthy of note, however, that some dreadlock styles are easy and can be done at home.

The fact that you saw a dreadlock style on someone does not outrightly mean it would fit you. The fitting oftentimes depends on face type. You can seek the advice of those close to you or a hairstylist to determine whether or not that particular style will go with your face. To make it easy for you, we have included the kind of face each dreadlock style can go with.

A Look At South African Dreadlock Styles For Men And Women

10 Beautiful Dreadlock Styles For Women

There are a good number of very beautiful and fashionable dreadlock styles that any South African woman can make using both short and long dreads. Here is a list of some amazing South African dreadlock styles you should consider:

1. Ponytail Dreadlocks

Ponytail is one of the easiest ways to style your dreads and it is suitable for practically any face type, it just depends on how you style it. You could try out different ponytail styles to see what suits your face the best, or alternatively, just trust your hairstylist.

Although ponytails are so easy to make, avoid styling your dreads this way for a long time to evade bald hair scalps. Sheabutter is usually good for lining your hair scalp and also try to oil and wash the hair as often as you can.

2. High Puff Dread Buns

This South African dreadlock style looks splendid for a formal look. It is also perfect whenever you know you would be having a long day since you don’t have to worry about your locks touching any part of your skin.

Just like ponytails, this style is also perfect for any kind of face type but best for those with a round, heart-shaped, oval, or diamond face. Also, avoid pulling the locks too tight to avoid a hair fallout, and try not to wear the style for a long stretch. Try to change the style after few days of rocking this dreadlock style.

3.Tuck And Roll

This is another gorgeous and formal way to style your dreadlock. To make this style, you may choose to part your hair from the middle or by the side and carefully roll the different parts, then tuck them. This South African dreadlock style is just perfect for days when you do not need any form of disturbance from your hair.

Tuck and roll hairstyle is literally perfect for just any face type but looks very elegant on those with a diamond-shaped face. To care for this style, wear a hair bonnet or net to sleep at night and also avoid making it too tight as well. Regularly brush and oil the front of your hair too to avoid looking unkempt.

4. Bold Dreads

For those who have short hair and a rectangular or diamond-shaped face, this particular South African dreadlock style will be just perfect for you because it adds more volume to your face. It may also be nice on others depending on how well it is made. The bold dreadlock style can easily look messy so you may want to always oil it. To avoid disturbances, you can choose to use a nice hairpin to hold the front of the hair.

5. Twisted Dreadlocks

What makes the South African twisted dreadlocks style really cool is the fact that you can style it into any other dreadlock style of your choosing. You can also just allow it to pour down and add volume to your face.

If you choose to style your twisted dreads into ponytails or high puff buns, do that for some days then allow it to pour down again. The perfect way to take care of this style is by wearing bonnets or hairnets to sleep. Always oil your hair regularly and whenever you are not sleeping, leave the hair poured down to avoid a bad hair smell.

6. Low Puff Bun Dreads

This hairstyle is very similar to the high puff bun dreadlock style. The difference here is that the hair is packed downwards and not upwards. This South African dreadlocks style is also perfect for a comfortable and formal look, although it would go well on almost every face type, it’s best for those with a love-shaped face.

Just like the high puff bun, avoid keeping your dreads in this style for a long time to avoid loss of hairline. Use hair fertilizer to boost your hair health and avoid twisting your hair in the same direction. The downside of this style is that it makes sleeping on your back a difficult task, so you may have to figure out other sleeping postures while wearing it.

7. Three-Strand Bun 

Another dreadlock style that makes you look youthful is the three-strand bun. It can be done from the comfort of your home and does not necessarily require the assistance of a hairstylist. It is done by packing all the locks up to look like a bun or doughnut, leaving three strands to fall on the face.

Similar to all other South African dreadlock styles that involve a bun, you should also avoid making it too tight and also oil your front hairline with shea butter to avoid hair loss.

8. Braided Dreadlock Styles

This style is made by braiding about three hair locks to form one and is perfect for those with a small rectangular or diamond-shaped face because it adds volume to the face.

Just like the twisted dreadlocks, it can also be styled differently or allowed to pour down, but to avoid a bald hair scalp, allowing it to pour down should be your preferred style, especially for the first few days after making it. Also, you should regularly moisturize your scalp and visit your stylist regularly to avoid a foul odor.

9. Twist And Rip

South African dreadlock lovers who also love comfort will absolutely appreciate this style, as it does not leave any lock unpacked. The fact that it is packed up also allows you to take any lying posture of your choice without worrying about your hair. It suits those with a diamond-shaped face.

Normally styling your hair upwards usually results in hair loss at the front of the scalp. To avoid this, instruct your stylist not to make it too tight, and also massage and oil your hair scalp daily.

10. 2-Line Dreadlock Hairstyle

Styling your dread into 2-line makes you look younger and trendy. Although this style is best for those who have rectangular or square face types, it can also look good on people with oval, round, diamond, and heart-shaped faces.

Although making the 2-line South African dreadlock style brings out the details on your face more, avoid making it too tight, and also oil the line in-between the two bold braids regularly.

10 Unique South African Dreadlock Styles For Men

South African women are not the only ones who have really nice lockable dreadlock styles, their men also do. Although people see men on dreads as irresponsible or informal, there are also some good ones that men can rock and absolutely look good and responsible on. Here are some South African dreadlock styles to consider:

1. Dreadlock Mohawk

Dreadlock mohawk style is very common among black footballers and is also one of the most decent dreadlock styles a man can make. It usually looks very cool on South African men with rectangular or oblong faces.

In order to look presentable at all times on this hairstyle, always brush the edges to look neat, and use the appropriate dreadlock hair cream to keep the locks looking neat. Also, you should visit a barbers’ shop weekly to crave the edges.

2. Drop Fade Dreads

This South African hairstyle is done by locking the tips of your hair, it is most suitable for those with an oval, diamond, and rectangular-shaped face. It requires regular visits to your hairstylist to keep it looking neat and well cared for. You also want to keep the edges around the drop fade dreads looking brushed and well kept at all times.

3. Interlock Dreadlocks

Another very nice and neat way for a South African man to style his dreadlocks is by interlocking them. This way, you can show off the length of the dreads. as well as avoid disturbances that usually come with long dreads. This style usually looks amazing on those with oval-shaped faces, especially when the edges of the hair are properly carved.

Avoid making the fishtail braids too tight to avoid becoming bald. Regularly apply oil and spray your hair with the appropriate hair products as recommended by your stylist.

4. Short Round Cut Dreads

Short round cut dreads usually look cool on South African men with round or oval faces, although they can still go for other face types. This may not be the right kind of hairstyle for a man who has a formal form, as it is a very informal look and as such, is not professional for formal jobs.

As often as you take your bath, wash your dreads to avoid odor, also try to keep the edges of your hair properly and neatly craved to avoid looking unkempt, because this style can easily look messy.

5. Twisted Dreads

Twisted dreads look good on men just as it does on women. It looks super nice on men who have diamond-shaped faces. You can twist your dreads to be long or short, depending on your preference. For those who have short hair, a hair extension can do the trick.

To keep your hair looking clean, you should visit your hairstylist at intervals for a retouch and retwist. If you use a hair extension to make your dreads longer, you may want to avoid water touching it to prevent foul odor.

6. Front Bangs

This South African dreadlock style makes a man look youthful and it is common among younger men. It’s just perfect for men who have oval and rectangular-shaped faces and short hair.


To care for your front bangs, always apply oil and massage them with the recommended hair products and try to keep the faded edges of your hair clean and looking neat.

7. Braided Dread

This dreadlock style is just perfect for South African men with rectangular or square-shaped faces and is just the same as the braided dread for South African women.

To keep your hair looking clean, you should visit your stylist regularly for a retouch and always massage your scalp with the recommended hair products. You may also want to avoid water touching your hair.

8. Baby Hair Lock

Those who are just starting to grow dreads cannot go wrong with baby locks. They are most suitable for those with short hair and allow the hair to grow over time.

This dreadlocks style is suitable for all South African men irrespective of the face type. It just depends on how well your hairstylist makes and styles the hair. You can care for your baby locks by massaging your scalp regularly with oil to avoid hair loss.

9. High Puff Bun

This South African dreadlocks style never goes wrong on men with round or oval-shaped faces and long hair. Avoid packing the hair too tight in order to prevent bald scalp. This style can be done neatly or left messy, depending on the occasion.

10. Shoulder-length Dreadlocks

Shoulder-length dreadlocks as the name implies are neither long nor short. Oftentimes, South African men who make this style usually allow their hair to pour down. It is usually not heavy and does not disturb as much as long dreads.

This look is usually nice for those who have rectangular or diamond-shaped faces and is cared for by regular washing, airing, and moisturizing with the right product.

The Cost Of Making Dreadlocks Will Depend On Your Preferred Style

The exact amount it would cost you to make these South African dreadlock styles will depend on the type and style you intend to make. Dreadlocks that require extension may cost more than those with natural hair. Hair extensions may cost from R100 to as much as R1000.

Stylists charge differently for their handwork, so it may be difficult to say exactly how much it would cost to make dreads. Just ensure that the stylist is good at what he or she does before patronizing. The length and thickness of the locks will also play a role in determining how much they would cost.

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Romeo Ndlovu
Romeo Ndlovu
Romeo's secret talent is taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary content. At work, he is thinking about how best to provide the most unique, original content that provides utmost satisfaction to the user. Away from work, he is a football addict who loves to catch up on his favorite pastimes


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