Many people achieve dreadlocks with the help of a professional "loctician", or through years of careful styling and maintenance.

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If you're like most people, you put your hair through some sort of regimen every day. You wash and condition it, then brush and dry it, maybe even put in some product, and tie it up in a clip or band. But what would happen to your hair if you just left it alone? What are we really doing to our hair when we put it through our daily grooming rituals?

If left to its own devices, human hair tends to form knots, tangles and eventually large matted sections. Anyone who's tried to run a brush through a child's hair that hasn't been combed for a few days can tell you how tangled it will become in just a short amount of time. And if you let that child's hair keep growing without ever brushing or combing it -- even if you washed it occasionally -- chances are it would start to resemble one of the world's most misunderstood hairstyles: dreadlocks.

But don't let the reputation that's often associated with dreadlocks fool you. While they certainly can be caused by sheer hair neglect, that doesn't mean they're necessarily dirtier or messier than other hairstyles. Most people who wear dreadlocks, in fact, achieve the look through careful styling and maintenance, by building the locks strand by strand on their own, or with the help of a professional "loctician."

While dreadlocks became popular in the Western world through the rise of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica in the 1960s, and the spread of both the philosophy and the hairstyle through reggae musicians like Bob Marley, intentionally wearing hair in long matted strands actually dates back much earlier in human history. To find out how thin strands of hair can permanently join up into thick, matted locks, continue to the next page.