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The Truth About Root Ties in Dreadlocks

One of the most controversial topics in the world of Dreadlocks. 

The truth is, it's okay not to like them or the idea of them. However, dreadlocks are personal, and what matters most is our Personal experience and preference. Some people have bad experiences, while others see and experience the magic root ties can accomplish. This article aims to set the record straight. For You to make an informed personal decision whether they are right for you, or not.

Smooth, strong, and cohesive dread locking.

The most prominent advocate for root ties is Seienstyle and students of the Seienstyle technique. Students of the technique does not get taught much about the pros and the cons of installing them -just to install them, always, during new installations and during maintenance. I believe that not teaching students about all (or most) aspects of something is an issue. And probably one of the reasons root ties have such a bad reputation. When people don't know the science or mechanics behind something, it's easy to discredit the method. There may be other techniques also utilizing root ties but non (as far as I know) that are as methodical as the Seienstyle technique.


Professional Locticians and Dreadlock Artists ought to have training and experience to help guide you as a client through your options. Because yes, there are so many different options. Even for the 'one method' of crochet dreadlocks, there are different variations. The task of a Professional is to learn about Your situation, environment, and variables necessary to guide you on what's good or less good, for you. All without judgement.


A Loctician offering dreadlock services with root ties should be educated about the pros and cons so that they can guide their clients properly. A Loctician who does not have training in how to use root ties properly, should not use root ties at all. A Loctician who utilize root ties on clients, should in my opinion, always offer FREE non-judgment, root tie removal.


Going into the positives and the negatives. Everyone has their personal experience when it comes to locking hair. There is no one-way-fits- all solution. The positives usually come with a possible corresponding negative. Why? Because YOUR circumstances and variables will dictate what result you will have. Here we go!


Pros & Cons of Root Ties in Dreadlocks


Faster Maturing

Positive: Root ties encourage your hair to grow into the lock instead of out as frizz while also having a 'palm-rolling' effect close to your scalp, promoting faster locking.

Negative: They may fixate your hair into a spot that may prevent the hair from moving properly which is necessary for locking and maturing.


Less Frizz

Positive: Helps keep the sections neat and tight for longer without causing unnecessary stress on the scalp and individual hair strands.

Negative: Because the sections are neat and tight for longer, people who likes looser, softer and more messy locks may think they are too tight and neat for too long.


Maintenance Frequency

Positive: Lower maintenance frequency, 3 -12months.

Negative: Lower maintenance frequency, 3-12months.


Have a Purpose

Positive: Root ties serves its function between maintenance appointments as your hair grows out. Clear indicator of how much your hair has grown. Should ALWAYS be cut out the next appointment.

Don't Stack Root Ties. Cut them out!

Negative: Should never be left in your locks indefinitely. Weather your loctician is putting in new root ties or not. Always cut them out when they have served their purpose. Stacking Root Ties like the picture here is not recommended.


Requires Education

Positive: Root ties is a technique that require education and training to be done correctly. Make sure your Dreadlock Artist have appropriate training.

Negative: A lot of Locticians and Dreadlock Artists that doesn't have education in how to use them are uncomfortable cutting them out.


Balanced Scalp Pre-requisite

Positive: Root ties are great for people with a balanced healthy scalp.

Negative: Imbalanced scalps, or scalps with a lot of discharge (sebum, dandruff, oil, etc.) will experience build-up where the root tie sits.


Root Ties on thick dreadlocks promoting strong growth and even locking
Indentation

Positive: If the root ties are done correctly with the exact series of proper knots, the indention will smoothen out once the tie is removed. Massaging, stretching, finger rolling and/or washing the locks will help smoothen it out after removal.

Negative: May cause an indention where it sits in the lock and potentially cause a weak spot if not applied incorrectly. Stressful to the wearer to feel the indentation.


Build-Up / Importance of Hygiene

Positive: Root ties promotes a healthy wash regiment to ensure no buildup occur. Use dreadlock friendly products, massage and rinse thoroughly to avoid build up.

Negative: They may cause a dense area above the tie where products can build up.


Appropriate String

Positive: A bonded nylon string specially developed for the purpose of root tying is essential. The string needs to move with the hair and not be sharp, fixate and/or chew the hair.

Negative: May cause hair breakage and damage if the wrong technique or string is used.


Aids Sensitive Scalp

Positive: Root ties are great for people with a tender and sensitive scalp as it takes tension off of your hair strands being pulled too tight. The tie helps hold the section together so the hairs can be incorporated without pulling single hair strands.

Negative: May cause a whole head tension experience for the first couple of nights while the ties settle in.


Difficult Removal

Positive: Your Dreadlock Artist should offer free Root Tie removal at any time if they recommend you use them.

Negative: Super difficult if not impossible to cut them out on your own.


Miseducation

Positive: It's an option that should be experienced before judged. Paired with knowledgeable guidance and support.

Negative: May not be for you, and that is okay. If you never want to use or try them, that's okay. Allow people to have their non-judgement experiences.


Smooth Even Dreadlocks

Positive: Promotes your locks maturing in a smooth and cylindrical shape. Less unevenness and fewer lumps and bumps.

Negative: If you desire locks with more texture, then root ties are not for you.


Butterfly Loops
When staring dreadlocks with root ties, this may happen. It's normal. And can be fixed.

Positive: Root ties may cause butterfly loops. See picture. The butterfly loops are fixable.

Negative: This is something that can happen if the hair is backcombed too much and/or not crocheted enough during installation. Can be very stressful to the new dreadhead to deal with the big loops.


Not Permanent

Positive: The Root ties are never meant to be permanent in your dreadlocks. When done correctly, they do not cause a 'pearl effect'. The pearl-effect is where you can see each maintenance occasion on your locks body. Unlike root stitches, root ties are cut out and the body of your dreadlocks will stay smooth.

Negative: Requires consistency and sticking with a Loctician that have education to do and remove root ties properly.


When to Use & When Not to Use Root Ties


When is it a good idea to NOT use Root Ties?

It can and should be as simple as if you don't like them, don't use them. Or if any of the below circumstances apply to you. For a Professional offering service that include root ties; if your client has any of these circumstances, I believe it's a better idea to not use them:


  • Scalp has a lot of discharge (sebum, dandruff, oil, etc..).

  • Using products that aren't residue free or use lots of oils.

  • Locks are micro locks, or sections are very small.

  • Locks are very thick, and don't get maintenance regularly.

  • If the locks are going to have color treatment.

  • If one is prone to migraines.

  • Loctician aren't 100% knowledgeable about pros and cons.

  • If you live far away from your Loctician and you can't see them for removal.

  • If you don't like the idea of them.


When is it a good idea TO USE Root Ties?
  • If you like smooth, even and cohesive looking locks with less texture.

  • If you like your locks neat and tight.

  • If you have a sensitive scalp.

  • If your hair strands are thick, course and/or strong and resist locking.

  • If your Loctician have training and education in how to install them properly.

  • When you know you will visit your Loctician again so you can follow up.



Case Studies

I've seen the wonders root ties can do, but I have also seen situations where they have been far from successful. I encourage my clients to get experience with their locks in order to learn what they prefer and don't like. And I do not take it personally if someone says they don't like the ties. Then we simply don't do them.


Successful Outcome

This client of mine for 2 years now, came to me unhappy with how short previous dreadlock services she had lasted. We started using root ties because she likes them neat and tight and felt her strong hair came loose too quickly. A few months in and we began seeing the smooth way her locks are growing now compared to the technique previously used. Look at the image illustrating the difference. With this being said, doesn't mean the old technique was wrong or bad, it just didn't align with this clients' goals.

Seienstyle Root Ties as Success

Another case where the root ties are serving their function and giving the client smooth, even and stunning dreadlocks. Here with 7months of new growth since our last maintenance with root ties. Old ties were cut out and new ones installed to keep the same projection.


Dreadlock Root Ties Success


Unsuccessful Outcome

This was a first-time client that came open minded and willing to give Root Ties a try. Couple of weeks later she messaged me saying the maintenance had come undone. I asked her to come back, and I had never seen anything like this. Big pieces of hairs had crawled out from the root ties, and they basically had done nothing. Grateful for the chance for redemption, I redid her maintenance without the root ties for more successful result.

When Dreadlock Root Ties goes bad

Conclusion

As cliché' as it may sound, it's called a journey for a reason, and every journey comes with experiences. It is through experiences we learn what we like and what we don't like. Honor other people by letting them do the same. Without the need to project judgement. Your hair, scalp, bed, couch, shampoo, jacket, sprays, loctician, weather, money, frequency, dog, cat, plants, or anything else will be factors that determines your experience with root ties. The truth is, it's not fair to say, 'root ties in dreadlocks sucks' or 'root ties for all dreadlocks'. Make sure you have the information necessary to make a decision of what's best for You. And if you make a less good decision, make a different one next time.


Sometimes we see posts about how terrible, bad, and damaging root ties are. We have to remember that the circumstances for those situations are usually left out. While each one's experience is of utmost importance, a negative experience is not a fair representation of the use of root ties as a whole. There are perfect applications for the use of root ties, and there are situations when they absolutely should not be used.


Your Professional Loctician / Dreadlock Artist will guide you, not judge you.


~ Zarah


 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is to guide you in making an informed decision if the use of root ties is for you or not. To use as a trouble-shooting guide to understand what may have gone bad with your negative experience. And to provide information about root ties. What this article does NOT do is serve as education in how to properly install or remove root ties on someone.



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