Dreadlocks Beads and Decoration Guide

This article is a guide to decorate your hair, whether you have natural dreadlocks, braids or synthetic dreads. We’ll have a look at how to use:

  1. Dread beads
  2. Embroidery thread or yarn
  3. Small shells and other nature findings


woman smiling with dreadlocks with wooden beads

Photo by Viajero from Pexels


Let’s look at these types of ornaments one by one:

  1. Dread beads

Dread Beads are arguably the most common ornament for dreadlocks and braids. To choose your beads, there are two main things to look at:

  1. Size. Dreadlabs beads’ range from 5mm to 10mm in size. Note that this is the diameter of the bead’s hole. To find your size, measure the width of your dread or braid by holding a ruler across it. TIP: choose a size that is slightly smaller than the dread or braid: you want to feel a bit of resistance when pulling the bead up your hair so that it won’t fall. Positioning is key in figuring out the right size: tighter beads will fit at the tips and larger ones can slide further up.
  2. Material. The options are acrylic, metal, natural stone and wood. They are all durable (especially the ones in stainless steel) so this choice depends entirely on your taste.


Different Dreadlocks Beads

Some of our dread beads: acrylic, metal, natural stone and wood. 


How to install dread beads

You can add beads with your hands, like how Ann-Marie Christell from SeienStyle demonstrates in this video, but you can also use this hook to achieve the same results. Just insert the hook in the bead and then insert your dread/braid in the hook. Then pull through so that the bead slides on the dread or on the braid.

To make sure you won’t lose the beads, pull them up until they don’t slide down by themselves. Try not to pull them too tightly, or you’ll risk ruining your hair. The structure of dreadlocks is ideal to secure beads, but if you’re wearing braids, holding the beads in place can be a bit more tricky. To solve this problem you can add thickness and grip with some mini elastic bands to place underneath the beads.


Extra tips for dread beads

  1. Slide your beads up or down every few days, especially when your hair is wet, to ensure you’re not trapping moisture under them. 
  2. If your dreads are young and soft choose beads that are 2-3mm tighter, but don’t forget to move them every few days to prevent your dreads from “choking” (narrowing and developing weak spots). Keep in mind that while maturing, your dreads will likely thicken up, making it difficult to remove an old bead.
  3. If you have compact and mature dreads choose beads that are 1-2mm tighter than your dreads. 
  4. Our beads are very durable, you can keep them on as long as you want, ensuring that you occasionally slide them up and down, but they will last even longer if you change them when you wash your hair. Take them off before washing and wait until your hair is completely dry before putting on new beads.


  1. Embroidery thread or yarn

You can wrap dreads and braids with embroidery thread or yarn, available in any sewing shop in many different colours.


Multiple colours of yarn displayed in a circle

Embroidery thread/yarn, Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash


The most common pattern for dreadlock/braid wraps is the criss-cross pattern. Cut a piece of thread 2-3 times longer than your hair and create a knot close to the roots. Then proceed with the criss-cross pattern all along the dread or braid. To understand this technique better, watch this tutorial from Elise Buch. This pattern stays open and lets the hair dry, however we don’t recommend you keep an embroidery thread on your hair for more than a few weeks.


Embroidery yarn or thread is also used to create tight hair wraps. While it is possible to create them directly on your head, we don’t recommend it because it makes hair difficult to dry. As you know, in the long run moisture creates mildew and we don’t want that in our hair. As a solution, you can create a removable hair wrap using a Single Ended dreadlock or some Jumbo Braid Hair as a base. Watch as an example this beautiful tutorial by Macranc Tutorial. You’ll then attach and remove your hair wrap easily, just like you’d do with a regular SE dreadlock: find the instructions in the dedicated article.


  1. Small shells and other things found in nature

Nature findings such as shells and small bones make beautiful, inexpensive decorations for your dreads, braids, and even hair wraps. 


Many different type of shells hanging from threads

Shells and wooden beads, Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels


Things to keep in mind:

  1. They should be made of a material that degrades as little as possible (no leaves)
  2. Make sure you clean and sanitize them. Wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse them and then soak them for at least 30 minutes in a solution of half rubbing alcohol and half hydrogen peroxide. This will kill any bacteria. To go the extra mile, boil them for a few minutes in clean water and let them dry completely before attaching them to your hair.
  3. Tie or sew them into your hair.


We hope you enjoyed this article. If you use any of our tips and would like to share the result, don’t forget to tag us with #DreadLab!

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About the author

Margherita Orso Pletti - Italian dread maker, youtuber and blogger living in the UK. Creator of dreadhead.it, website in Italian about dreadlocks.
girl with dreadlocks walking through trees