Second, I fully expect negative feedback for this, and I'm aware that I did not go about this process with enough thought, seriousness, or experience. In fact, the more I read, the more I think I just did it all wrong. But please, don't just call me dumb and naive - point out my mistakes! Please tell me where/if I went wrong, and if there is a way to fix it from here, let me know. I'm not going to give up just because this time I didn't get what I expected.
I only have before-photos. I haven't had a photo taken of me since I started this and I'm honestly uncomfortable with the idea of right-off sharing a photo of what my hair has become. I'm fairly embarassed of how poorly I took care of it and until I am on my way to fixing it I don't feel very confident posting a current photo of my hair. If I manage to work on it or even just shave it off, I will gladly show what it was like, but I'm honestly posting to test the waters.. if photos are absolutely necessary to help you guys understand what it looks like or give advice, I'll do so.
I'm not sure where to start. Here's a photo of my hair before I decided I wanted to dread it. Slightly wavy, very fine, and I have a thin/almost bald patch on the left side of my skull from a very bad experience in the Caribbean circle age 13-14 when my grandmother made me get that area cornrowed. Dyed, but not damaged from dying. And for the curious, I wanted dreads because it fits my life better than any other hairstyle right now, and I have no fear of ridicule or qualms with the style itself. I like dreadlocks, I wanted dreadlocks. Simple. Not a whimsical decision, I was prepared for a long endeavor. That photo was taken March of 06, my hair has not been cut since, and from what I can tell, is as long as the bottom of my armpit currently.
Unfortunately, I did not do enough research when I decided I would start dreading hair. My at-the-time boyfriend (now good friend/roomate) had a dreadhawk before I met him (maybe 2 years ago?) and was experienced with dreads of all kinds (was a streetkid for a few years), so when I told him I wanted to dread my hair he said he'd help. I assumed he would do most of the work, but he didn't. In fact, all he did was point me in the right direction, but he never actually touched my hair or even mentioned it after I started this.
He told me a method I could use, since I was leery of dreadlocking kits, was to let my hair naturally dread and "rip the dreads" out of the entangled mass when it was ready. I didn't know when "ready" was, nor did I know how difficult it would be to rip individual chunks of hair out of one mass. Which apparently wasn't even the point of it. I decided I would try this, so I stopped washing my hair to let it get tangled and dry, then washed it with plain shampoo (or hand soap) two to three times a week instead of my normal 4-6 times a week routine. I didn't know anyone besides him who knew anything about dreading, and when I did look up information online, my search wasn't very comprehensive and I found little information I could use.
I also lost my brush sometime in July, which is when I began this. No brush meant no way to brush then section off my hair and do dreads that way, so instead of investing, I was confident that I could do without. Not so.
So here's where I went wrong. I assumed that I wouldn't have to do much work if I wanted my hair to dread, especially if I wasn't sectioning off hair and having someone do it for me. So without a brush, I let my hair knot, tangle, and chunkify. I began in July. My hair is now... awful. I don't know how to properly explain it. What I wanted was nice small-to-medium sized dreads and keep bangs in the front. What I have appears to be hair that has clumped into one giant dread-ball in the back and most of the underside. At first, before it was really matted, I would try to section off areas of hair and palmroll/twist it with my fingers, but it ALWAYS became untangled the instant I stopped. I didn't have the skills to reach the back, so I couldn't get a sturdy comb to backcomb start it. I tried to separate my bangs from the rest but most of them got caught in the fray, and the unpleasant part is that the dreaded mess is all centered right below the crown of my skull. The top of my skull the hair isn't dreaded so much as it's tangled and the ends got caught in the dreaded back, leaving me with hair I can't easily pull out from the mat that's not a dread.. it's like having roots several inches long I suppose. And there's a patch or two of hair near one side of my head behind my ears that hasn't dreaded or tangled at all, and is loosely hanging. It's a mess, it's nothing like I thought it would be, and I wish I had done it properly in the first place. C'est la vie. I cannot run my fingers through the hair, I cannot rip it apart (I have tried multiple times, even working it with my fingers to separate clumps from the base of the mess for hours, with no luck. The back of the dreadmat seems to have some natural separations, more like where varied-sized sections of hair ends separated from the main mat but not enough to fully become a dread. Maybe 1-2" deep at most before merging into the whole.)
I thought I could just rip the mat apart and form dreads from that but it seems like a lost cause. I also thought maybe I could cut the mat (starting at ends and cutting inward in segments, as if cutting a dread out of a solid brick) and using what's left after the ruined hair fell out to keep dreading, but I don't want to touch scissors or razors to my hair unless it's a last resort. My friend has been out of town and I haven't even bothered asking him for help in months because he hasn't said more than "it's hard work" since the last time I asked about it. So much for him. I have no friends familiar with dreads near me either.
I have a feeling I may have to just shave my hair or cut it to be as long as I can and start all over. I shampoo once or twice a week (due to some dandruff because my scalp isn't used to such infrequent washings) with no conditioner. I wear a bandana 24/7, which is partially what caused the loose bangs to thread their way into the dreadmat and become useless. The body of the mat is solid, I can't even wriggle a finger through the thickest sections because it's tangled so tightly. This is what's making ripping and tearing.. so impossible. I must have waited too long, because a few months back when it wasn't as matted and I had more loose sections of hair, I was told to wait until it was a bit more matted to do anything.
So here's my question for you guys.
From what I've described, do you believe that my hair can be salvaged and I can still turn it into dreadlocks, or should I cut it off and wait until I can have it done properly? Again, if you really need photos I'll take some tomorrow, but I'm very hesitant to post any right now because my head is just a disaster that I'm not too proud of. I want to fix this mess, and hopefully come out with dreadlocks no matter what. Is it at all worth trying to cut dreads out of the mass with scissors or a razor? Even if it means losing multiple inches, so long as I can use this method to help tear new dreads from the solid mat.
Thanks in advance, sorry if I missed something in the memories. I'm moving in a month and looking for a job after that, and I'd like to at least know my options before filling out applications and worrying if they're going to reject me for my hair.