Braids vs. Dreads: A Thorough Guide For Afro-Textured Hair

Protective hairstyles are often necessary for hair, specializing in rejuvenating the shaft, promoting healthy hair growth, and preventing hair loss. Among the go-to looks are braids and dreads, two of the most dominant designs for natural hair.

Braids and dreads are long-lasting hairdos that secure the development of healthy strands. They also come in various forms, most of which can be worn on any kind of natural hair. Both braids and dreads are also quite compatible with modern companions such as fades, which come in a series of instalments.

Although the two have tons of characteristics in common, braids and dreads cater to different demographics, mainly due to the difference between their installation process. Likewise, if you’re currently looking to give your hair the fresh start it needs, buckle up and join us as we present to you this article!

A Closer Look Into Braids: Formative Years, Types, Benefits, Drawbacks

A Closer Look Into Braids

Braids are protective hairdos that aren’t just known for the boldness in each of their designs, but also popular for the way in which they provide security. The strands are usually stitched and curated using wax and gel, comprising a size that is unbeatable and packed with endurance.

While braids were initially used for tribes to separate themselves from one another, the protective hairdos had their first run at fame during the 70s, when they became a staple in the eyes of those with afro-textured hair. The visuals didn’t just remain influential over the subsequent decades, but now possess the ability to adapt and showcase themselves in a series of endless ways.

From Dutch braids to French braids to box braids, the species of the look almost seem limitless. The hairdo not only welcomes rebellious looks like mohawks with open arms, but also mixes well with fades and taper fades.

The shelf life it offers is one of the many positives of a braided look. It is also a professional at fixing frizzy ends and damaged pieces. The patterns it brings to the table also make the nature of braids very exciting. However, when worn for too long, braids can cause traction alopecia and mild forms of hair loss.

A Brief DIY Guide To Wearing Braids

Diy Guide To Wearing Braids

Now that you’ve learned the basic fundamentals of braids and garnered knowledge of the variants that make them look so popular in the modern era, reward yourself with the beginner-friendly guide we’ve stated below to start your journey at this instant!

Find the right design

Prior to confirming your decision of wearing braids, assess your hair type and density. Afterwards, pick a pattern that not only works well with your hair, but also looks at ease with your frame and appearance.

If your hair is on the finer end, try pairing your braided look with a fade haircut for maximizing the contrast and reward the roots of the strands with more density. Conversely, if you want your hair to look a bit weightless, try wearing a taper fade. You may even install a unique pattern if standing out is your main aim.

Use the two-stitch method

A beginner-friendly method that anyone can replicate at home, even with intermediate knowledge of braids is the two-stitch method, a process in which two pieces are conformed into a thick unit. Although it is anything but time-friendly, the two-stitch method makes up for it with its simple installation process, especially if you’re hoping to wear knotless braids. Once worn out, the look can also be undone without causing much harm.

Two heads are better than one

Squadding up is usually a smart idea, especially if you’re seeking to create a polished set of braids. Having an extra set of hands or two won’t just make the creative process less hectic, but also enable you to wear unique patterns in an effortless way.

For best results, seek out a friend who knows a thing or two about braiding and knows how to use gel in order to bring them to life. You may also ask them to use a tail comb to separate the strands and form healthy and durable sets of braids.

Use clarifying shampoo on the daily

While braids stay put once the formation is stabilized, eliminating signs of build-up is extremely important to avoid aggressive symptoms of male pattern baldness or hair loss.

Since the look is renowned for accumulating dirt and pollution, use a clarifying shampoo on a daily basis to ensure healthy growth of hair and make things easier for the scalp.

All You Need To Know About Dreads: History, Species, Pros, Cons

All You Need To Know About Dreads

Dreads, otherwise known as dreadlocks, aren’t just about the way in which they form the pieces of hair from the outside, but also about the sentimental value they carry.

Prior to becoming a sensational look in the world of streetwear, art, and a go-to look for influential rappers in pop culture, dreadlocks were mainly used to represent cultural practices, one’s heritage, and carry long hair without a hassle. After being discovered by mostly Egyptians, dreadlocks became a huge part of one’s identity in Africa, before taking over trendsetters in the fashion scene.

Dreadlocks are often formed in a spontaneous manner, explaining why each variant looks dissimilar from the rest. In order to grow dreadlocks gracefully, carrying out healthy shower routines and using hydrating agents to elongate the units are advised.

Despite looking best when left alone, dreadlocks comprise various designs that enthusiasts can replicate. While spiral and congo dreads are acknowledged as the go-to options once the pieces reach an admirable amount of size and resilience, incorporating beginner locs is mandatory during the first stage.

Similar to their counterparts, dreadlocks are life savers if your hair needs to be rescued. The density they carry protects the hair from breakage, and frizz, and allows the structure to stay firm until the formation is eventually reversed. Just like braids, however, dreadlocks are also quite heavy to carry around each day, which can easily leave a dent on one’s scalp if not resolved immediately.

An Idiot-proof Tutorial On Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks Tutorial

Once the placement is locked in, wearing a set of dreads should be a walk in the park. And since the first 7 months can be painful and overwhelming to deal with, be sure to skim through the below-mentioned pointers to kickstart your journey of wearing dreadlocks without any signs of repercussion.

Patience is a virtue

As stated earlier, the nature of dreadlocks is quite free-flowing. While the journey pays off after a year, the formative stages of growing dreads from beginner locs aren’t just demanding, but also as long as a marathon.

In addition to letting your hair do its thing, maintain your composure at all times. Wear hats and beanies to protect your hair during awkward hair days, and hydrate the shaft to avoid signs of breakage.

Co-wash regularly

While dreads are also known for accumulating build-up, too much shampoo can eventually hamper the natural structure of the hairdo. Instead of using harsh cleansing agents that solely focus on clearing out dirt, try co-washing in between your washing sessions. You may even apply a leave-in conditioner to keep the locs healthy and full.

Leave the strands be

Too much picking and twisting can be quite harmful not for the shaft, but also for your dreadlocks. Doing so not only compromises the natural structure, but also generates hair damage and frizziness, both of which can lead to hair loss. Therefore, whatever you do, don’t make contact with the strands unless absolutely necessary.

Use wax and gel when necessary

Though washing and conditioning on a daily basis is a great routine for beginners growing dreadlocks, it is also important to use gel and wax every now and then, especially when dressing up for a special occasion. You may also use argan oil if your strands are susceptible to damage.

Dreads vs. Braids: A Direct Showdown To End All Debates

Often, in addition to the visuals, braids and dreads are pitted against one another. Many believe that the quality of braids gives them the upper hand over dreads, while the rest gravitate towards the cultural ties that dreadlocks bring to life.

Indeed, braids and dreadlocks are a duo with tons of common ground. However, at the end of the day, they carry components that make them dramatically different from one another. And if you’re keen to learn about everything that sets the two apart at the end of the day, reward yourself with the upcoming pointers.

Formation and Visuals

Formation and Visuals

Braids often come in various structures, just like dreadlocks. However, in contrast to dreadlocks, braids look more organized, possessing the ability to mimic various shapes and patterns that can mesh well with any kind of hair. They’re always paired with fades or tapers, which brings out the best possible visuals in terms of volume.

Dreadlocks, on the other hand, comprise free-spirited tips that grow in their own, unique way. The visuals are typically more spontaneous and rarely conform to a pattern. However, with the help of an afro-comb or a hair sponge, the structure can be re-adjusted without causing any injuries. On certain occasions, one can even accommodate dreads with a high or low fade.


Regardless of which set you side with, it’s safe to say that protective hairstyles as dependable as braids and dreads last for a lifetime. In other words, both hairdos last for 8 weeks at a time, which has enough room to extend with daily touch ups.

The durability is a plus for natural hair, since the nature of afro-textured hair is notorious for being spontaneous and unruly, being a difficult element to handle in formal settings.


While braids are more favorable in terms of flexibility, dreads are easier to install, on a large scale.

Dreads often require the implementation of the coiling method, a process in which the strands are twisted and manipulated during their formative years with the help of wax. Braids, on the other hand, require complex procedures with stitching and sectioning, which explains the reason behind the hefty duration of their installation process.


While hydrating the shaft using masks, conditioners, and oils is important for ensuring a monumental experience with dreads and braids, use clarifying shampoo to get rid of the build-up accumulated by both hairdos. You should also use pillowcases made of satin or silk for a positive outcome, and redo the hairdos every 6 to 8 weeks to extend the deadline without any repercussions.

Things To Consider Before Making Your Pick Between Dreads and Braids

Consider Your Hair Quality

While both candidates are equally compelling in their own way, pulling both of them off without finding any flaw attached to each could be a delusional approach to take. Similarly, if you’re unsure of which hairdo suits you best, peep at the following segments to make things easier for yourself and your hair.

The quality of your hair

Dreads only pair well with type 4 natural hair, but unhealthy strands can definitely make it harder for one to try out dreadlocks. Likewise, since braids are very demanding on the scalp and cause tons of friction once obtained, having healthy hair prior to wearing one of the many options can result in great success. Therefore, before you finalize your decision, assess the current state of your hair.

Additionally, since both hairdos are often heavy for the scalp to carry, be sure to use gentle cleansing agents such as clarifying shampoos, hydrating masks, and nourishing conditioners to protect the strands at all times.

Your taste in fashion

At the end of the day, your preferences in fashion will also play a pivotal role in the decision-making of this showdown. While you will have to meet specific requirements before contemplating dreadlocks, picking between the multiple options of braids might be difficult if you’re indecisive. To ensure that this experience is nothing but enjoyable, take into account your ideal aesthetics, wardrobe, and aura. Taking into account the gravity of the occasion can also be of great help if you’re wearing braids for a day!

Your styling routine

Similar to your taste in fashion, assessing your current styling routine can also be crucial, since the flexibility and timeframe of it will allow you to perceive everything in a clear manner.

Braids and dreadlocks are both quite long-lasting, but each of them requires different upkeep routines for maintenance. While both of them don’t move an inch until certain tools are used to manipulate the formation, braids pair best with wax and clay, while deadlocks only require gel for hydration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since helping our readers out as much as we can is the main incentive behind our existence, here’s a thorough and helpful questionnaire that tackles the basic and important queries regarding dreads vs. braids!

Q: Do braids and dreadlocks cause hair loss?

Ans: Braids and dreadlocks have an impressive shelf life of 4 to 8 weeks, and are specialists in defending the quality of hair. However, due to the friction they cause on the scalp, both hairdos can trigger signs of traction alopecia, hair loss, and so on.

Q: Is wearing braids easier than dreadlocks?

Ans: When push comes to shove, dreadlocks feel like a dealbreaker due to the patience and care they require. The fact that it caters to natural hair is also a factor that stunts its growth in the world of fashion.

Braids, on the other hand, not only come in a series of variations but also cater to every hair type with ease. As long as one has a tail comb, some wax, and the determination to join two pieces of hair and curate them into a healthy strand, wearing braids feels like a fresh breeze.

Q: How do I maintain the growth of my dreads?

Ans: In addition to using a clarifying shampoo, you may maintain the length and health of your dreads by co-washing with a paraben-free conditioner. To protect the shaft even further, add a leave-in conditioner and a couple of hydrating masks to your routine.

Final Verdict

In retrospect, wearing either option between braids and dreads can be a blessing in disguise. Although dreadlocks pair best with natural hair due to their free-flowing nature, braids seem more favourable for any and every kind of hair if installed correctly.

Braids and dreadlocks share tons of positives in common, which work best on unhealthy and frizzy hair with damaged or compromised cuticles. However, the differences also run big, making them separate entities at the end of the day.

Despite offering various forms that are eligible for any hair type to mimic irrespective of the density, braids are usually easy to manage for beginners. Additionally, since they’re quite malleable, a braided hairstyle feels more feasible in general.

On the other end are dreadlocks, which have options that are open to manipulation and change. They often grow gracefully when they’re allowed to develop in a laid-back manner, but only cater to natural hair.

Read Also: Soft Locs vs. Butterfly Locs: The Complete Guide

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