How to Install Dread Extensions on Short Hair

Dreaming of dreads, but don’t think you have “long enough” hair? While it’s recommended to have at least six inches of hair, you can successfully install dreadlocks with as little as one inch of hair. However, the proper installation must be used for success.

Installing dread extensions on short hair is relatively simple, whether you’re going with double-ended or single-ended dreadlocks. Essentially, you will “bond” your natural hair to the dreads using elastic hair bands or matrix thread. 

Are you ready to transform your look with some quirky and cool dreadlocks? Then keep reading. This article has three guides for installing dreadlocks on short hair – and no, you don’t need to have any experience to be successful. Really, all you need is time and patience.

Dare to dread? Let’s dive in.

How to Install Dread Extensions on Short Hair – Three Ways

Dread extensions are a great way to completely revamp your look, taking short and “boring” manes to an all-new and enchanting level. Whether you’re going with mystical and colorful double-ended dreads or prefer a natural-looking single-ended piece, you can do it on short hair.

Method 1: Installing Double-Ended Dread Extensions

Installing double-ended dreadlocks on short hair isn’t dreadful (see what I did there?). In fact, it’s pretty simple. Here’s how to do it.

1. Section the Hair

First and foremost, you will want to create the section of hair to place your double-ended dreadlocks. The section should be around 1×1 in size. Keep the rest of the hair in place with flat clips

Tip: Make sure you don’t try to use other types of clips! They won’t be able to hold those tiny, loose strands in place like flat clips, which can ruin your installation progress and final appearance.

2. (Optional) Apply “Dread Dust”

If desired, apply dread dust to your section of hair. This will make the hair less slippery, giving you more structure and support when placing the dreadlocks. It’s not essential, but it will make your job easier – and I’m all about making my job easier!

3. Place the Dreadlock In Between the Hair

Now, you will want to split the 1×1 section of hair in half vertically. Place the dreadlock in between the two sections. There should be equal lengths above and below the hair. 

Then, use a small elastic band or matrix thread to bind the two sections of hair together around the dreadlock.

4. Secure the Dreadlock to Your Hair

Use your elastic bands or matrix threads to bind the ponytail to the lower dreadlock all the way down. You will want to go about half an inch below the natural hair to get a secure bond. If you’re using a matrix thread, cut the extra off.

Visual learners, don’t panic! This video is great at showing you exactly how to use the method I’m describing. Check it out!

5. Continue with the Rest of Your Mane

That wasn’t too hard, right? Now that you’ve finished your first double-ended dreadlock installation, it’s time to move on to the rest of your hair. Yes, this is a time-consuming process, but it’s well worth the time.

Method 2: Installing Single-Ended Dreadlocks With Bands or Thread

Do you prefer single-ended dreadlocks? Don’t fret – you can also install these types of dreads on short hair! The process is basically the same as it is for double-ended dreads, but there are a few key differences. 

1. Section the Hair

Just like in method one, you will need to start by sectioning off your hair. You can use a little bit less hair if desired, as single-ended dreads aren’t as heavy as double-ended. Section using clips and apply dread dust if you’d like.

2. Place the Loop on the Top Mini Ponytail

You will need to part your small section of hair into two small ponytails, the same as you would for double-ended dreadlocks. The main difference is that you want to section them horizontally rather than vertically.

From there, you can place the loop of your single-ended dreadlock onto the top miniature ponytail. Tie the two tiny ponytails together using your elastic bands or matrix thread.

3. Secure the Dreadlock to Your Hair

Flip the dreadlock down, so it’s covering the ponytail. Then, use your elastic bands or matrix thread to secure the hair and dreadlock together. Again, you will want to continue binding about half an inch below the natural mane to ensure it’s tightly secured.

Visual learners, I’ve got you covered once again – use this video if you want to understand better how to loop and secure single-ended dreadlocks!

4. Continue With the Rest of Your Mane

Not too complicated – some would even say the single-ended dreads are easier because they come with a handy loop that you can easily secure to your hair. Regardless, keep going until all of your locks are dreaded to perfection.

Method 3: Installing Single-Ended Dreads with Latch Hook Tool

There’s another option for installing single-ended dreadlocks, and it involves using a latch hook tool. You may prefer this method as it does provide some added security for your dreads. Here’s how to do it.

1. Section the Hair

As always, you need to start by sectioning your hair. The same rules apply – use your handy flat clips, use dread dust if desired, and make small 1×1 portions. Separate the 1×1 section of hair horizontally to make a top and bottom ponytail.

2. Pull Hair Through the Dreadlock

Okay, so this sounds a little crazy. I promise, it’s not. Just hear me out.

Start by pushing the latch hook tool through the top of your single-ended dreadlock. Then, place the top ponytail into the hook of your instrument. Push the dreadlock upwards and pull the tool down to slide the hair through the single-ended dreadlock.

Flip the dreadlock so that it’s placed upward, over the head. From there, you can bind the two ponytails underneath using an elastic band or matrix thread.

Here is a great video that can help you out!

3. Secure the Dreadlock to Your Hair

Like the other two methods, you will need to secure the dreadlock to the hair by adding more elastic bands or matrix thread until you’ve gone about half an inch past your natural strands.

4. Continue With the Rest of Your Mane

Keep going until your head is covered in totally awesome dreadlocks!


See? I wasn’t lying – installing dreads on short hair is simple. So simple that you should go install some, like, today. But before you run off to the beauty shop, check out these frequently asked questions about dread installation on short manes!

What is the minimum hair length for dreadlocks?

The minimum hair length for dreads is six inches. However, that doesn’t mean those with shorter strands can’t successfully have dreadlocks installed (or crafted naturally). Use one of the above methods to install dreads on shorter locks successfully.

How long do dreadlock extensions last?

Dreadlock extensions can easily last several years, provided they are cared for properly. You also need to consider what material was used to create the dreadlock, as not all materials are created equally. Regardless, even lower-quality extensions should last for a year.

What not to do when you have dreadlocks?

You want to avoid build-up at all costs, whether from too many products or not washing regularly. You also want to avoid ultra-tight hairstyling, which can put undue stress on the roots. That said, wash your dreads every two to three weeks and avoid oil-based products.

Installing Dreadlocks on Short Hair is a Cinch!

Even though it might seem challenging, installing dreads on short hair isn’t too complicated. Double-ended and single-ended dreadlocks can be installed on shorter manes with ease. It all comes down to sectioning the hair appropriately and binding it with elastic bands or matrix threads.

Have you ever installed dreadlocks on short hair? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

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