Dreads vs Braids: What are the Differences & Similarities + Examples

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Dreads vs Braids What are the Differences & Similarities + Examples

If you aren’t so familiar with hairstyles, it’s normal to mistake dreads for braids, since they sometimes look similar from a distance. However, dreads are uniquely different from braids, based on cost, longevity, looks, and the time needed to make them. 

On seeing one of my pictures, my boss had to ask if I was in braids or dreads. And I said to myself, couldn’t he tell the difference? Well, if you are like my boss, then this piece will help you know the similarities and differences between dreadlocks and braids. 

What are Dreads Like?

Dreadlocks are segments of your hair that form rope-like strands when the hair locks around itself. During the locking phase, the hair strands begin to coil around and eventually bond together.

To nurture natural dreads you can start with little locks that grow into larger locks over time. Or you can choose to twist your hair with hair extensions.

This is what a natural dread looks like

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And here is how dreads with extension are like

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Dreadlocks Styles

Are you pondering on the next dread style to do, then here are options to choose from:

  • Twisted dreadlocks
  • Rasta dreadlocks
  • Mohawk dreadlocks
  • Crinkle dreadlocks
  • Micro Locs
  • Curly dreadlocks

What are Braids like?

Braids are elegant hairstyles created by intersecting three or more hair strands. It dates back to 3500 BC and at least 5000 years in African civilization. Braids can be done flat, commonly known as “cornrows” or by individual strands. Let’s see some styles you can get from braids.

If you are curious to see what braids with your natural hair will look like? Then here it is

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Here is how a box braid with an extension looks 

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Cornrows are also part of the braid family. Here is what Fulani braids look like

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Braid Styles

There are several styles you can pick from if you decide to go on braids. A few of them are 

  • Cornrows
  • Jumbo box braids
  • Fulani braids
  • Ghana weaving braids
  • Feed in braids
  • Flat twist
  • Kinky twist braids

Are Dreads Different from Braid

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Yes, dreads are uniquely different from braids. Some of the differences you will see between them are

1. Durability 

Braids strengthened with extension hair might last up to 2 months, whereas braided natural hair can last only a few weeks.

Dreads, on the other hand, are nearly fully or permanent, which means you can keep them for months or even years. 

2. Flexibility

Dreads are pretty flexible, as they may be styled in a variety of patterns, including ponytails, straight down, braids and buns. You can try any hairstyle if you have sufficient length.

Some braid styles are not adjustable, for instance, straight-back cornrows cannot be styled differently.

3. Making Process

Within a few hours, you can complete your braids. However, your hair type, size, and style tend to influence the timeframe. Dread on the other hand requires a minimum of 3 to 6 when making use of the extension. However, starting dread with your natural hair will demand long hours or even days.

4. Removal Process

Removing braids is just a matter of unraveling them from the base. While dreadlocks require a lot of time and a difficult process. This explains why many people choose to cut their dread when they get tired of it.

5. Hair Length Required

You don’t require a large volume or length of hair to get your braids done. You’re good to go as long as you’ve got sufficient hair to curl and grab. However, dreadlocks require a minimum of 4-6 inches of your hair.

Doing dreadlocks on short hair is costly and requires regular upkeep because short hair unfolds rapidly during the early loc phases. 

How are Dreads Similar to Braids?

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The similarities between dreads and braids as compared to their differences. However, here are a couple of similarities you’ll commonly notice

1. Style versatility

Braids as well as dreads can be styled in versatile ways. But when I say braids, I mean the 3 strand braids which can be plaited in a box pattern. You can style both dreads and braids as ponytails, straight down, or as buns.

2. Done with or without extension

Both braids and dreads can be done with extensions making it easy to extend the length as much as you want. Also, you can choose to make your dreads and braid with your natural hair only.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is the most expensive: Dreads or Braids?

Generally speaking, Dreads are more expensive than braids. This is because dreads take a long process to make and also maintain. Braids can easily be made within hours but dread requires special skill and care since it is expected to last for a longer time.

Are Dreadlocks permanent?

No, dreads are not permanent. You can freely take them off when you get tired of them. But then, it can be difficult to take off, if you fail to give it adequate care and maintenance. So you should consider this before deciding to go on dreads.

How did Dreads come about?

It would excite you to know how the name dreadlocks came about. Well, it was said that during the time the colonists took Africans into slavery, they had no opportunity to maintain their bodies which includes their hair.
Due to lack of maintenance, their hair would usually get locked. So when they came before the American masters their locked hair often looked dreadful. And over time they got used to the looks of dreadful locked hairs and so coined the name “Dreadlocks”.

Can braids turn to dreads?

Yes, braids can turn into dread over time. Often people begin their deadlock by partitioning their natural hair into small portions and braiding them. 
They then leave the braids for a long period while washing and maintaining them. Eventually, those small braided portions grow into bigger locks giving them their dreadlock effect.

It’s Your Turn

Braids and dreadlocks are both fantastic hairstyles for folks who want to go natural, as opposed to using wigs. Dreadlocks are ideal for you if you want a distinct look that will stay on for a long time.

Braids are my favorite because they don’t require extra care, plus I can easily take them off my head when I want to. Over to you, do you prefer dreads or braids?

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Faith is a seasoned writer and economist. Proud of her ethnicity and delights in helping black women become the best version of themselves. When she isn't working, you can find her with family, reading, engaging in DIY home crafts. You can connect with her on social media at faith.c.ojigbo.