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How To Soften Synthetic Dreads (Easy Tips)

Faux locs have been around for a long time, but they’ve skyrocketed in popularity in the last few years. Celebs like Rihanna and Zendaya sported them on the red carpet.

Meanwhile, Instagram stars and YouTubers started talking about theirs more on social media.

It’s become one of the hottest statement styles in the hair world, not just for its protective benefits, but also because of how edgy and bohemian it looks.

But the truth is that getting fresh synthetic dreads isn’t all it’s cut out to be.

When you first get faux locs, your hair will likely feel super stiff and bulky.

Anyone who’s ever gotten them before can tell you how frustrating this can be.

Softening these strands is important if you want to rock flowy, shiny, natural-looking locs.

In this post, we’ll look at how to soften synthetic dreads.

how to soften synthetic dreads

What Are Synthetic Dreads?

Synthetic dreads (also known to many as “faux locs”) may look very similar to traditional dreads, but they’re quite different.

While dreadlocks can be worn forever without taking them out, faux locs are a protective style that should only be worn for a specific period of time.

Faux locs are installed by braiding your real strands and then wrapping a thick layer of synthetic hair around them.

This makes it thicker and more rope-like, so your hair will be more resilient against damaging stressors.

Damaging stressors in the environment include things like UV rays and pollution.

This unique protective style is an awesome way to rock dreadlocks without having to commit to such a huge and permanent change in lifestyle.

It’s kind of like a test run for those who are interested in dreads, but want to see how it feels, looks, and benefits them first.

It’s also very easy to remove them after.

Most protective braids look their best when they’re newly installed.

However, it’s quite different with faux locs.

Because synthetic yarns and fibers are involved, faux locs need time to be “broken in” – kind of like getting new shoes and wearing them for a while before starting to feel comfy in them.

how to soften synthetic dreads
Faux locs

Over time, faux locs will look better and better on your head.

Of course, you’ll have to work to get there.

Allow me to tell you why.


The Harsh Reality: Faux Locs Can Be Stiff And Painful

Faux locs are awesome for protecting your hair and making you look extra glamorous and sassy.

But even if they’re super beneficial in terms of functionality and aesthetics, they still have a downside – and it’s pretty big.

When they’re newly installed, faux locs can feel stiff and hard to the touch.

This makes them look unnatural, like a braided wig with straw-like strands.

Not only do they look and feel hard, they might also be painful on the hair in severe cases, too.

It might hurt to swing your hair from side to side because the locs will tend to be heavy and inflexible because of the synthetic texture.

Because of this, it can also be hard to get comfy sleep at night.

But if you’re going through this after getting your faux locs installed for the first time, don’t worry too much.

This is completely normal when sporting synthetic dreads.

The reason why they feel so stiff is that the synthetic yarn is so tightly and thickly wound around your hair to protect it.

So, even if it feels strange and hard, it’s actually a good sign.

Those faux locs will loosen up and feel softer over time, so you don’t have to worry about them looking and feeling like that forever.

But even if they’ll soften over the weeks of wearing them, it doesn’t mean that you should just sit there and wait it out.

Some might find it impossible to tolerate, especially if doing something as simple as shaking your head is uncomfortable.

how to soften synthetic dreads


How To Soften Synthetic Dreads

There are three things you can do to soften your faux locs.

They’re all awesome not just for improving how your hair looks, but for making you feel comfy with it as well.

Your goal is not to loosen the braids or the synthetic hair wrapped around them per se, but to relax the tension and stiffness.

Here’s how to do exactly that:


Rinse With Hot Water

The first thing you want to do immediately after getting your faux locs installed is to rinse your hair with hot water.

This has the instant effect of softening any stiffness and heaviness in your locs.

Two things help make that happen.

The first is the hot temperature of the water.

The heat will help loosen up your strands, making them less tight and uncomfortable.

Heat will also dull some of the excessively glossy shine your faux dreads might have, making them look more natural afterward.

The second is the fact that faux locs are thick, so they absorb lots of water, just like a sponge.

And as you may know, hydration is best for loosening up and boosting elasticity in the hair.



To give your hair a rinse with hot water, boil a big pot of water on the stove.

When it reaches boiling point, take it off the heat and put it on a table or counter.

Make sure that the surface is low enough so that when you tilt your head, you can easily dip your hair into the pot without standing on your tiptoes.

Wait until the water isn’t bubbling anymore, but is still very hot.

While waiting, part your hair down the middle, putting your hair on each side of your face.

When you’re ready, dip one side of your hair into the pot and let it soak for 20-30 seconds.

Any longer than that, and you could end up discoloring your hair or dealing damage to the synthetic strands.

Then, take your hair out of the water and pat it dry with a microfiber towel.

Do it in the other section next.

Be extra careful when taking your hair out of the pot.

The water is super hot, and you don’t want it dripping down your legs and burning your skin.

Make sure you have a thick towel ready to “catch” your hair and dry it.


Steamy Shower

Getting into a hot and steamy shower will also work for this rinse technique.

Make sure that the water is very warm, but not so hot that it will burn the skin on your scalp.

Let the water run through the length of your locs so that it softens every part of your hair.

When you get out, squeeze excess moisture out with a towel.

Take note: Drenching your hair with water will make your locs feel heavy since they soak up a lot of water.

Don’t be alarmed if your hair feels damp for the next day or so.

Immediately after doing these rinses, you should see a big difference in how soft and flowy your faux locs are.


Shower With A Moisturizing Shampoo

Another way to soften your faux locs over time is to consistently use a moisturizing shampoo every time you wash your hair.

Cleansing with a sulfated shampoo can strip your hair of moisture, making your faux locs feel hard and stiff again.

So, you want a shampoo that is gentle and has plenty of moisturizing ingredients, like the Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap Scalp Care Shampoo.

This shampoo is made of African black soap to help thoroughly cleanse your hair.

It also has activated charcoal and tea tree oil to detoxify your hair.

The formula is also infused with rich shea butter and neem oil to help deeply moisturize the hair as you wash it.

That way, it won’t strip your hair of much-needed hydration and instead replenish it.

It has no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or artificial fragrances and dyes.


Use A Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner

Between wash days, you’ll want to spray on a leave-in conditioner in your faux locs to help soften it more.

Use one that is lightweight and refreshing so that you can spray it into your tresses without worrying about product build-up.

A leave-in conditioner isn’t just useful for softening and hydrating your faux locs.

It will also help immensely in taming any frizzy baby hairs or edges, making your hair look sleek and snatched.

One leave-in conditioner I highly recommend for this is the Taliah Waajid Protective Styles Leave-in Conditioner.

 It’s amazing for conditioning your locs to soften and strengthen them at the same time by nourishing each braid.

One of the main ingredients in this leave-in conditioner is coconut milk which is known for its deep moisturizing effect and nourishment.

Bamboo, another key ingredient in this moisturizer, helps to support hair elasticity.

Aloe vera extracts, on the other hand, play a part in delivering reparative moisture to the locs.



Dealing with stiff and tight synthetic dreads is pretty much inevitable.

Everyone who has them installed will probably go through it.

The important thing is that you know how to soften synthetic dreads as soon as you get the locs installed to save yourself any discomfort and frustration.

Luckily, softening your faux locs is never that complicated.

All you need is hot water, moisturizing shampoo, and a hydrating leave-in spray, and you’re ready to combat stiffness in your new dreads.

As long as you use the right nourishing products in your hair care routine, you’ll be well on your way to rocking those gorgeous synthetic dreads that are all the rage today.

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