Can You Be #TeamFakeNatural? What’s The Deal With Fake Dreadlocks?

February 14, 2013  |  


According to the website This is Africa, South Africans rocking dreadlocks might want to lay low for a bit as it appears that they are the new targets of a underground human hair theft ring.

Police say not many cases have been officially reported – there was one case in Durban last year, and another in Johannesburg last month (in which a Zimbabwean partying with a friend in a club went missing and was later found passed out and shorn of 10 years’s worth of locks. The thief/thieves didn’t touch his mobile phone, wallet and money; listen to The Times‘ reporter Poppy Louw‘s interview with The World, below), but one stylist told a reporter that he gets up to 10 customers a day asking for such extensions, and a police spokesperson said the crime goes underreported because many victims are too embarrassed to report the theft of their hair. Sounds plausible; after all, how on earth do you explain having your hair stolen? And poor cops, how do they manage to keep a straight face while taking victims’ statements?”

I know I couldn’t keep a straight face reading the article. But as noted in the article there have only been a couple of reported cases so the literal wig-snatching has not yet reached epidemic portions. Also, before anyone thinks of going on about those “crazy Africans,” the article also notes that the dreadlocks theft is part of a international trend, with reports of high-stakes human hair extension thefts occurring in cities across America.

What’s most compelling about this story for me is the idea that there is actually a market for human hair. Especially dreadlocks. Like what happened to just growing your own?

And this is not the first time I heard about this fake dreadlocks trend. Erykah Badu shocked the world (or maybe just me) when we realized that the signature dreads she used to rocked upon her arrival on the scene, were actually fake.  And not too long ago, I witnessed with my own eyes a guy in the next salon chair over from me, getting blonde dreadlocks extensions weaved into his hair. I tried not to stare and gawk but I couldn’t help it. First, I couldn’t get over how realistic they looked. And secondly, I wondered if the ghost of Marcus Garvey past would be visiting this dude in his sleep…

I mean nothing wrong with that…you know, screw it. Yes, dammit! There is something wrong with fake dreadlocks. I’m sorry I don’t take hard stances when it comes to hair politics. I tried to stay #TeamSwitzerland in the whole #TeamNatural versus #TeamPressNCurl fight. So I think I am entitled to one hair prejudice. And this whole fake dreadlocks trend is where I have to draw a line down the glue track. Fake dreadlocks just seem flat out self-defeatist. Unlike some of the weave styles, which require certain textures of hair to achieve, your own hair is the required texture for dreadlocks. Sure the argument could be made that dreadlocks are just a hairstyle and like any other hairstyle, is not a definition of a person. However I feel this particular hairstyle does has more of political and spiritual significance than the average hairstyle. And even as they have grown more fashionable, dreadlocks are still generally regarded in that same historical connotation. So those, who choose the hairstyle usually embody this historical significance and in some cases philosophies in one way or the other. I mean, why else would you risk being socially and economically ostracized for a hairstyle?

Maybe I’m just being a hair snob on this issue. If so, I can live with that. But the idea of a person rocking a press and curl on Monday and by Friday, they look like Damian Marley, just sounds like something a hipster poser would do. Anyway what are your thoughts on the fake natural trend?

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  • Yvonne

    What if someone wants them but just don’t want to dedicate all their hair to that hairstyle forever. Don’t you have to cut your hair completely off if you no longer want them?

    • Yep true. I had dreads before and the texture of my hair allows me to be able to take them down. Even after two years. But I ended up cutting them because it is a lot of work. So ya, the fake dreads are definitely for ppl who don’t want to keep the style for ever.

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  • stonerspice420

    everyone i know who has dreads has problems finding work. some people may want dreads, but cannot have them permanently due to their working situation.

  • Chelsea

    Personally I have yarn braids right now. Because I want them . I wanted to see how I would look wih locs and so im using these braids to start my locs . I think everyone should have the desire to do what they please with their hair . It isn’t hurting anyone . Everyone is entitled to their own opinion as well.

  • OneLove_Dread

    I Believe There’s A Difference . I Started My Locs When I Was Little and I Got Teased and Made Fun Of and Was Actually Outcasted Because I Wasn’t Like Everybody Else . I Went Through My Phase of Hating How I Looked and Almost Cut My Hair Off But, I Gained The Courage and Trusted In My Beliefs and Kept Them and 13 Years Later … Everyone Wants Them and Not The Real Ones . It’s A Slap In The Face To Me Because My Journey Was Long and Hard and Now I See People With These Extentsions and Fake Dreads and It Just Doesn’t Seem Right .. My Hair Isn’t Just a “Trend” It’s Been My Lifestyle and My Spiritual Being Since I Was 7 Years Old .

  • Phil J.

    yea this is bull, fake dreads are no different from wearing weaves or wigs, many people do it and its just to switch up their style, no different from switching up clothes

  • Crystal

    This was COMPLETE CRAP. Lol I really can’t believe I just read this. I agree that dreads are “spritually significant” and they are very different from the average hairstyle, but why does a person getting fake dreads make them “self-defeatist”? That’s ridiculous. What about a girl that has kinky hair that wants straight hair so bad that she always gets weaves and NEVER shows her hair because she’s ashamed of it? THAT’S self-defeatist.

    Just my opinion though.

  • casandrasface

    Well do you not think that hair, just like clothes, is a form of expression and freedom of speech ? I understand if it were a religious stance . yes . people wear Muslim religious praying hats as a fashion trend but nobody comments on that but hair ? I think it hypocrite that by supporting the natural movement you restrict others to join even if not natural , this augment can be associated to any trend . I think as long as it does not insult anybody what is the issue ?I just went from perm to dreads I love it , get complimented and I have to shame saying I like to diversify my hair styles . even if it is fake lol

  • vista

    “But the idea of a person rocking a press and curl on Monday and by Friday, they look like Damian Marley, just sounds like something a hipster poser would do”

    My thoughts exactly! Smdh. Furthermore, its insulting to people who have truly taken the time and care to grow their own NATURAL dreads because, lets face it, most people can’t tell real from fake these days. Unless you look at them up close or see picture of the same person before the dreads. Oh wait you had 5 ft long dreads under your straight-hair weave this whole time?? My bad.

  • Mandy

    I realize I am posting this WAY after the fact, but I stumbled on this looking for a way to do temporary or fake dreadlocks. The thing is, I have ALWAYS longed for dreadlocks. My entire life. Growing up the daughter of a conservative baptist pastor… I was not allowed this wish. Now that I am older I am in a profession where dreadlocks simply are not allowed. So I felt that perhaps I could fulfill this longing with a temporary style on my off days. Just my .02

  • Victoria Darlene Walker

    I am a Native American/Scotch-Irish woman who loves the way dreadlocks are. I do not believe that ANYONE, race or nationality or spirituality have the right to claim dreadlocks nor discriminate against them. Many different kinds of people through history have had them, and many not by choice. Africans, Native Americans, and hell even pirates from all over the globe have had dreadlocks. Yes, some due to hygine issues. I personally have very fine hair that prevents my hair from knotting. Half the time it will not hold a curl, so I get synthetic dreads and have them installed with a pinch braid or some kind of wrap. I personally, have always been judged and ostracized and have never even had to appear different. I am different on the inside, I suffer with the condemnation of the world internally. I am a wonderful person and a carefree spirit. Why should I have to stop doing something simply because others feel disrespected? The world never gave me that option. I do not do things out of spite nor ignorance, but I do them because I feel we should all respect each other as we wish to be respected. And just as you have reasons for the things you do, I do also. There are implications in everything a human being does, even if it is for social acceptance. We are social creatures and thrive off of the bond we share with others like us. Now as for the real topic, it does not matter if you have dreadlocks for spiritual reasons or just simply have long hair because it makes you feel more like a woman, someone cutting off your hair without permission can be extremely violating and dehumanizing. It can destroy who you are, or who you feel you are. In many cultures men shave their women to take away their beauty and break their spirit. Even in some white cultures, men force their women to get their head shaved so they will be considered undesirable. Hair, in any way, plays a huge role in who we are as a person. You take it away, you take our self-identity. Poor souls, stay strong.

  • Una

    Men & Women in India get their hair stolen all the time for American weaves. So sadly stolen locs is in no way a shock. Greed and evil are greed and evil. Secondly, right now I am wearing yarn wraps that look like locs. I am trying to fool no one. It is just how I am wearing my hair at the moment. I take very good care of my natural hair, as I do my entire body. Locs are no more from the heart and soul, than anything else. It is the care that is what matters. The respect of gifts you have been given. Whether one is loc’d, relaxed, fro’d or press, the beauty of a respected body will always shine through.

  • jolie

    One of the main things I don’t like is locks being a halloween costume.
    I find it a bit insulting that – wht people say to me “I have a costume it’s
    a rasta hat with locks attached as they laughed……what do you say to that?

  • jolie

    To me Dreadlocks are not a fashion but a spiritual and embracing experience.
    Spiritual because you love the hair God gave you and embracing, cause
    we finally learn to embrace what we were born with – despite the negative
    responses we will get from those who don’t like them. Like it or not this
    is the hair God Gave me and nothing anyone can say will make me change it.

  • Bb

    Who cares if a person wears fake dreadlocks or weaves/wigs it’s their hair.I REPEAT its their head!! Just worry about your own gosh darn hair! I swear the natural hair police are trolling again

  • 2Ja2

    Its just hair y’all…destress! I am natural and get extensions, those natural hair “purists” who criticize also have altered hair color. Girl pleassssssssse, just do you.


    I have personally grown locs for SIX years and on boring
    morning I cut them all off! They ended up in a bag and I made attempts to save
    them to reattach. Unfortunately they were accidently discarded when I moved so
    I was left with the option to reloc my own hair (knowing how tedious the first
    THREE attempts were)…yes it took three tries for my hair to loc (and I am not
    mixed…) or the other option was Loc extensions. I chose loc extensions. I do
    not feel I’ve done any injustice to the hair style or the symbolism behind it.
    I am a woman with locs, and I wear the style PROUDLY daily. My own roots have
    loc’d into the extensions and my hair is completely loc’d… it was not a
    TEMPORARY choice or fix and these set of locs are just as important a choice
    and permanent as the last set that grew from my scalp. First off growing locs
    is a tedious and patience-testing experience that can take up to 2-4 years to
    even see desirable results. I’ve gone through the baby loc, not so locs yet, no
    hang time, don’t take my pic, everydays a bad hair day stage before and I did
    not want to return. Not to reveal the depth of my pockets but this hair choice
    also cost close to a 1000 dollars and took 10 hours to complete because each
    loc was hand crafted and made out of human hair. My hair looks, feels, and is
    essential real. Beauticians cannot even tell that they are extensions. I
    respect others opinions but before you bash someone PERSONAL connection and
    journey with their hair; extensions or not, permed or natural… understand it
    is just that: a personal journey. It is not offensive to my African Origins.
    Marcus Garvey would still see me as the strong African woman I am. How can
    donning a hairstyle that is culturally linked to my heritage ever be
    SELF-DEFEATIS. I love my culture, myself, and the knotting locs I paid for or
    grew!! In the words of aforementioned Marcus Garvey “Remove the kinks from
    your mind; not your hair.”

    Its attitudes like the author’s that perpetuates more hate
    than love of someone free choice in their appearance. Stop the judgment and try
    some understanding.

    • valpielou

      It’s been a long time since you wrote this but can you share where you got the loc’s and what hair salon put them on for you. I’ve been searching to get fake loc’s. I’ve been trying to go natural for sometime and deeply want locs. This sounds like just the thing. Email me at vav11238(at)yahoo(dot)com

  • Dee

    I don’t have locs, however I am natural. I know people who put in yarn braids (look just like locs) and you know what, SO WHAT? it took just as much time and energy to grow the enormous fro i have, but if someone puts on a kinky weave, i’m not gonna be up on arms about it. #GetOverIt

  • Kiss


    You didn’t realize there’s a market for human hair?? I couldn’t even read the rest after that.

  • IAJS

    I’d rather see fake dreads than these girls walking around with these long wavy weaves that I am so sick of seeing.

    • Ms. Kameria

      Or regular braids. I’m not a fan of long wavy weaves…..that look extremely fake, but being worn with all of the confidence that it was actually grown from their heads.

  • Tamz

    I started my loc journey 2 years and 8 months ago. If there are some people that want to wear loc extensions, that’s on them. It would absolutely break my heart if someone were to cut my hair. And this is just my own quirk, I despise the term dreadlocks. There is nothing dreadful about my locs.

  • Rock whatever hairstyle you can afford. I aint mad at ya!! Not my business.

  • Regal Naturalista

    There are people out there that are currently rocking their locs and are some swine eating, chain smoking non spirituality folks around. So with that said, acknowledging self and know who you are is a personal spiritual journey, not just a physical one. In my opinion, a true, honest spiritual individual will not judge someone’s personal growth. I have been rocking my knotty fro for almost 2.5 years, I have more than enough hair to turn into locs and even this has been a spiritual journey & transition.

  • Chassie

    I get adding hair to create locks… but I’m really confused about attaching cut locks to one’s head. How does that even work?

  • Sagittarius81

    I’ve been growing my dreads for 6 years now and it’s 100% real. I have a friend who puts yarn in her hair that looks close to dreads. I also have another friend who is from Jamaica herself who told me years ago that in Jamaica, if you wear dreads and you’re not Rastafarian, they’ll kill you because each dreadlock means something in their lives. I wear mine’s for style.

    • Longpig

      She’s lying and dumb. I’m in JA from JA and I know all kinds of dreads who are not rastas. Eat pork and all and just wear it for style. Your friend needs to check herself and stop giving the place a bad name ugh!

  • Endurance97

    Also, the whole point of THIS article is the fact that people are being ROBBED. But instead of being robbed of their wallet or jewelry, etc. they are being robbed of their HAIR. It is not the same as just going out and getting a haircut. Most people who wear locs DO NOT cut their hair in the first place. Eh – let me navigate away from this mess, because I’m becoming more upset the more I consider all of the ramifications. Thanks for bringing this to our attention..

    • Endurance97

      I mean, I would understand the arguments below if these were people who were cutting or selling their locs of their on volition. In that case, we could argue the merits of wearing loc extensions. But that’s not what this article is about. It not as simple as someone “paying for the hair so it’s their hair, now.” if you were carjacked and someone else unknowingly bought your car from the carjacker, would it then be their car? Cause they paid for it. You see the difference? These poor people have been violated.

      OK, I’m really done now. Ignorance.

      • Insighteyesight

        are you talking about people buying other peolpes locs?! I heard of that and it is disgusting and disrespectful. but where I am from, you can create dreadlock extensions by buying marley hair….which is manufactured….it can be used to increase the length of your existing dreads or starting to grow your own

  • Candacey Doris

    To be honest, most people i know who have locs (from their own hair) wear it because they like the style. Not because of historical connotations. I have no problem with people getting loc extensions. I just think that some people look ridiculous with them. I DO have a problem with people getting jacked of their hair though, that’s the weirdest thing i’ve heard today.

  • T

    I am natural and last summer I got yarn braids. After a while they really began to look like locs and I seriously contemplated keeping them in and starting locs from that point. I decided against it because I feel that when I grow locs I wanted to be 100% authentically me. However, I say when it comes to hair, to each their own.

  • rzakia

    I just have one question…how does one put in fake dreadlocks? I can’t for the life of me figure out how it would be done, especially with pre-dreaded hair no less. If someone knows please enlighten me. Thanks in advance.

    • Roofer

      You braid it first in blocks then buy regular hair synthetic or real (they have Bob Marley hair & Afro Kinky) from the store and wrap over the braids or twists to your desired length and they look just like locs. They call them Loc extensions. Then if you like how it looks on you, you can start from scratch.

    • Angel Carter

      There’s a couple ways to do it 1st is with glue and then palm rolling or wrapping or number 2 is what hipsters like to do adding braiding hair,braiding the hair down and then start wrapping the other hair all the way down and then lightly burn the ends and then palm roll it to make them stay.

      O yeah and last but not least the lace front kind where the dreads are already pre made and all you have to do is glue the wig on and wah lah you have dreads lol not lying I’ve seen it all.

      Idk i feel like when the natural hair trend dies down fake dreads will to,along with the people who were only natural because it was a trend to them and not a life style.

      I heard ppl say to one another “go natural;its in style now” smh what are you going to do when it’s not “in style anymore” smh to many ppl are bandwaggners.

  • Raeday

    I don’t see what the big deal is? If i had the money and could afford to get dread extensions I would in a heartbeat becuase with the extensions I could have the shoulder length hair style I desire, currently my natual hair is short. I’m #TEAM DO YOU

    • Me

      I like that: #TEAMDOYOU! I really don’t care what the next chick does with her hair.

  • LEX


  • Its no different than a person wearing weave to achieve a desired look. Maybe they want their dreads to be longer than their natural hair will allow? Either way, they bought the hair, it’s their hair & THEIR business. I can’t stand individuals who self-righteously think that wearing their natural hair somehow makes them better than the next individual.

    • paula

      You’re missing the point. Dreadlocks may be growing on your scalp, but they are actually sprouting from your heart. Growing dreadlocks takes time, energy, lovication and truckloads of love, they’re not just a hairstyle, they are a lifestyle. And this has nothing to do with being a Rastafarian.

      Growing dreadlocks is a a labour of love and I can’t imagine the devastation in the soul of someone who gets their 10-year dreadlocks shaven by force. It’s a whole chunk of their lives that suddenly goes missing.

      • kierah

        I think we can all agree that it’s emotionally painful to have your hair cut without your permission.

        However, I know quite a few people that have locs added to their hair as they are growing their locs (for the sake of length). It is more common than you think.

      • xxdiscoxxheaven

        Tell me you aren’t serious??

      • Regal Naturalista

        I get what you’re saying. However, I had locs for almost 6yrs many years ago. I was a vegetarian and ver much so intrigued by the rastafarian way of life. i prayed a lot, read the bible all the time and there was just this aura about myself that till this day I vehemently miss! I was more Free spirited, and less indulged to judge others because i was so intrigued on working on self and my humility that I couldn’t bring myself to judge others. So yes, it is horrid that people are stooping that low to cut someone else’s hair, but you can’t buy someone’s Spirit- It comes from within!

    • Endurance97

      I would be devastated if my locs were taken . . . They are 12 years old, and I have put a lot of love and time into maintaining them. When I started them, I knew I would never cut my hair again. I take every precaution when I travel, when I visit salons, etc. Your hairstyle may be just that for you. But do not assume that every other person is as lackadaisical about their hair as you seem to be. Your point is taken, but your ignorance is showing.

      • SanCot

        I absolutely agree with you #Endurance97. I have also had my locs for 12 years and would be beside myself if they were taken from me. The journey of growing them has spiritually defined my life as much displaying them has. I find deep historical meaning and an ancestral connection to those who came before me long ago as I proudly wear what is naturally mine. I, too, will never willingly cut my locs and believe it to be criminal assault for someone else to cruelly and viciously take them.

        Also, it continues to be unconscionable to me that there are people who will deliberately overlook and disregard the political implications associated with locs by wearing them simply as a hairstyle, thereby possibly putting themselves and others of us at risk for being socially ostracized, while also diminishing and disrespecting those of us who have taken the time and effort to grow, nurture and protect our own crowns of locs and embrace the lifestyle, glory and majesty that locs represent. They should neither to be stolen nor worn like the latest fad as youngsters, in particular, are prone to treat them. Let us be clear. Locs are, always have been, and always will be a lifestyle, not a hairstyle.

        • Why can’t locs be all that you say they are to you and be a nice hairstyle to someone else? Why would it diminish what YOU see them as if someone else likes they way the look and wants to wear some because they think they are cute? I’m not understanding.

          • SanCot

            While it is true that admirers of locs should be able to enjoy wearing them as well as observe them, the main issue is that taking locs by force from others or violating them (by touching or pulling without permission) while on others dishonors them and disrespects the person exhibiting them. Further, locs have a particular cultural context spiritually, globally and historically to those who have them that other styles, to my knowledge, don’t have. those connections should be respected. Everyone is free to adorn themselves as they wish. Don’t take, violate or disrespect what I have, get your own.

            • I feel you. It is simply ridiculous to be mugging people for their locks. I can understand your point that you spent 12 long years to get your hair right and for someone to just assault you for someone else’s vanity is terrible.

              But I think you kind of wafted into a rant against people wearing locs (their own) simply for fashion.

              • SanCot

                You could be right. I’ve reached a point in my spirituality and my physical life where I do things more for how they feel than how they look and appreciate the same form others. My locs were DEFINITELY a part of my spiritual transformation and acceptance of what is natural for my hair (and life) after 40+ years of trying to conform to a standard and expectation of beauty that was not meant for me and therefore out of my reach.

                • More power to you! Rock on with your bad self. 🙂

      • My ignorance is showing? Never did I comment and say that I thought it was perfectly fine for people’s hair to be cut off. I said if a person chooses to purchase hair from the store and add it to their head…its their business. Plain and simple. Thanks for attempting to insult me, but you simply proved ANOTHER point I made. Locs in your hair makes me a lazy individual because I choose to get a weave? Honey please. I’m a full-time mother, employee, AND graduate student…If not wanting to wear locs makes me “lackadaisical” about my hair in your self-righteous eyes, so be it. Your 12 year old locs make you no better than the next individual. It may show pride, commitment, and dedication…but an individual can show those same qualities WITHOUT locs. Get over yourself.

  • Kenedy

    Haha, the same way people wear fake afros….but you can just grow that on your own…its your own natural texture… would think that if people wear fake hair, they are trying to achieve something they can not naturally do on their own….but anywayz, to each their own

    • pretty1908

      or wearing weave as protective style from the harsh winter air and breakage….but yes to each its own

      • Rayjulian85

        LOL…Thank you