Wearing these locs will garner attention because of their exotic appearance, perfect for making a statement or setting yourself apart from the crowd.
Looking for tips on how to get them? I’ll provide an in-depth guide to getting perfect congo dreads and advice on avoiding potential routine mistakes.
What are Congo Dreads?
Congo is a type of dreadlocks that forms when the roots of two or more locs merge. Although congo dreads can be intentionally grown by freeforming, they are often also a result of neglecting to retwist or maintain your locs.
This haphazard approach is highly effective in producing congo dreads as the sections naturally tangle and clump together at their roots. This incredible mix of locs joined together at the roots gives a unique look.
Maintenance and styling techniques are still needed to keep these locs healthy! If done incorrectly, this can result in hair becoming matted and hard to manage, so proceeding with caution is recommended.
Congo Dreads vs. Wicks
Because of their striking similarities, Congo dreads and wicks have often been mistaken for one another. At first glance, both appear large and thicker than regular dreads or braids, but upon closer inspection, there is one distinct difference: the ends.
Congo dreads will generally show multiple root-like segments at the end, while wicks tend to have rounded ends and uniform thickness. Wick dreads also look more maintained in appearance, unlike the congo dreads that are kept deliberately unkempt and sometimes may look flatter.
But even though congo dreads may appear wilder than other loc styles, they can still be effectively accessorized and styled to create a distinctive look.
How to create Congo Dreads
If you’re starting from natural hair, Congo dreads are synonymous with freeform dreadlocks. Freeforming is a way of naturally creating locs without using any gel or styling technique. This technique makes knotless, thicker, and more free-flowing locs by not sectioning off hair and allowing the roots to loc up naturally.
To get the perfect Congos, start with shorter hair. That’s because shorter locs will tend to curl up faster than long hair, which hangs straight.
Freeforming doesn’t necessarily mean no manipulation. If you want your hair to loc up faster, you can start with some finger twists or braids. Then leave the locs alone and allow the hair to form freely.
Do you need a sponge when creating Freeform dreads?
Although they are not necessary, “dreads sponges” can help form textured hair – making them especially useful to someone with straight hair.
What do you need to start a freeform dreads?
Creating freeform dreads is a great way to start your loc journey. All you need to get started is a clean, dry scalp and unbrushed curls. For best results, the tighter the texture of your hair, the better – so if you have corkscrew curls or tightly wound ringlets, that’s ideal for this technique.
Plus, the great news is that you don’t need any tools, just your fingers! The most important thing is to be patient, as congo locs can take a year to grow and fully mature.
How to transform dreads to congo dreads
If you’re looking to transform your regular dreads into congo dreads, it’s easier than you think. Tie the dreads or braid them together at the roots and allow them time to matte together.
But if time is of the essence, you can also speed up the process. You can either use a crochet hook or manually join your locs using your hands again.
To manually combine, intertwine your locs by inserting one loc into the roots of another, which is similar to crocheting dread locs. Wrap the strands together when secured at the base to form a two-strand twist.
The best thing about this process is that you don’t need to secure the ends. And you can expect that the twist may unravel. The important part is that the roots are bunched up together to let the roots loc up.
How Congo Dreads Look Like
Freeform dread style is all about letting nature take the reigns. If you let your freeform locs grow without manipulation, they will usually hang in clumps, drooping from the head. But if you let time goes on with no manipulation, these dreads will begin to fall into more of an organic shape and form their unique coils and shapes.
How to Make Your Congo Dreads Stand Up
If you’re looking for ways to make your congo dread stand up, taper-cut the sides of your dreads. This haircut will help create the shape and make a neater style. Ensure you’re careful when cutting, or ask a trusted hairstylist for help! Check out this Dreads With Fade Styling Guide for more inspiration.
Styling Congo Dreads
Congos are a classic dreadlock style, and now you can make yours stand out even more with manipulation! By separating your hair into several sections and tying each section off with rubber ties, you can create Congos with streaming heights and shapes that are uniquely yours.
The number of ties affects the look of your finished product; some prefer two to four sections, while others like to split their hair into many parts for a messier effect.
Dying Congo Dreads
If you want to make a bold statement with your hairstyle, why not consider dyeing your Congo dreads? Something about golden blonde dreads immediately grabs attention and makes a powerful fashion statement.
Dyeing dreads does come with certain considerations, like how often you’ll need to retake the color and how long you’ll need to dedicate to the process. It’s also important to know if you have conditions (like allergies) requiring special products.
It’s always best to seek professional advice from a hairdresser who is first experienced in dread styling and dying. Of course, they can also guide you through which hair dyes are best suited for your hair type, depending on whether it’s light or dark.
But if you want to dye your individual locs by yourself, check out our guide on how to dye your dreads at home.
Another unique yet protective way to style your congo dreads is using dreads tubes or bonnets. Not only can these accessories add an extra bit of flair to your hair, but they also help protect your dreads by holding them in place.
No two looks are ever the same – with the imagination being your only limit when experimenting with different styles. From plain colors to stripes and boho-patterned bonnets, there’s no better way to make a statement.
Maintaining Congo Locs
If you love the look of Congo locs, then it’s essential to understand that a little effort is still required to keep them neat and healthy. While it’s true that the messier your locs are, the better they often look, you’ll still need to keep them clean regularly.
A good scalp cleansing once or twice weekly should do the trick for the first three months. But this still depends on your scalp’s moisture levels.
Avoid overwashing and try gentle shampoos such as diluted Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, which is all-natural and residue-free. If you experience some flaking, try Neutrogena T-Gel shampoo for relief. To replenish lost moisture, use aloe vera juice or create a mixture with added essential oils for extra hydration and nourishment.
When washing your hair, use cold water to help the hair loc up faster. Hot water may open the cuticle of your strands more quickly. It also quickly evaporates, causing drier scalp and hair.
Don’t forget to massage the scalp during each wash! Rotating clockwise or counterclockwise will stimulate faster growth and help kickstart the loc-ing process.
Avoid mildew by air-drying or sun-drying your hair. You can also use a clean towel or a microfiber hair towel. And don’t forget that wearing a hair bonnet when you sleep isn’t necessary – just let those locs loose when you sleep!
How to Avoid Congo Locs?
If you prefer tightly coiled locs, nothing is worse than unwanted Congo locs in your hair! Unfortunately, these pesky little knots can form if you do not adequately care for your braids, dreads, or twist-outs.
The best way to keep congo locs at bay is to retwist your hair regularly. This single step can help ensure that any stray hairs that have become untwisted are put back into place and prevent the formation of congo locs. But remember that when retwisting, it is also important not to pull too tight, as this can cause breakage and damage the integrity of the style.
We’ve reached the end of our guide to Congo Dreads, but that’s just the start of your journey! Whether you want to get the look or find a new way to express yourself, congo dreads is an excellent option. Don’t forget to take the time to maintain your Congo dreadlocks and visit a professional if necessary.
Frank is a barber from San Francisco. He has 10 years of experience providing the best straight-razor shaves, haircuts, and barber facial services for men. With all of his training, he is the go-to for any advice on beard and men’s hairstyles. When Frank’s not working, he spends his free time fishing or spending quality time with his wife and son.