High-top dreads consist of dreadlocks on the top of the head and short hair around the back and sides. This versatile and trendy hairstyle is a modern addition to the existing array of loc styles to choose from. Whether your locs are short or long and whether you want to wear them up or down, high-top dreads will keep your look fresh. Why choose short or long hair when you can have both?

This post shows you 21 fun high top dread styles to try, plus helps you prepare for your first appointment and maintain your look once you have it. 

What Are High Top Dreads?

High top dreads are locs styled on the top half of your head with tapered or faded hair on the back and sides. They are an alternative to full dreads.

High Top Dreads vs. Full Dreads

  • High top dreads are a style consisting of dreadlocks on the top of your head, with the rest of the hair cut short.
  • Full dreads are when you have your entire head of hair in dreadlocks, including the back and sides.

Which one is best for you is a personal preference. While a full head of dreads is the traditional look, high top dreads are a modern variation that allows you to experiment more with texture, length, and design. 

Long High Top Dreads

Just because high top dreads are on the top half of your head doesn’t mean that they have to be kept short. You can tie longer dreads into a ponytail or bun.

1. High Top Dread Ponytail with Fade

This dreadlock hairstyle features dreads gathered in a ponytail on top of the head, revealing a fade haircut on the sides. 

high top dread ponytail with fade
Stylist: Malcolm Lee

2. High Top Dreads in a Bun

This look sweeps long dreads into a high top knot. The shaved sides show off a taper fade underneath.

high top dreads in a bun
Stylist: Malcolm Lee

3. Clean Fade with Locs in a Bun

This dreadlock style features thin locs piled high atop the head and a clean fade on the rest of the hair.

clean fade with locs in a bun
Stylist: Malcolm Lee

4. Lightened High Top Locs with Fade

The man bun gets a modern twist with a loose gathering of long, lightened locs and a sharp fade along the hairline.

lightened high top locs with fade
Stylist: Malcolm Lee

5. Interlocked Dreads with Buzzed Sides

These medium-length locs get a fun twist with an interlocking row pattern along the scalp. The look is finished with a top ponytail and shaved sides. 

6. Twisted High Top Locs in Ponytail

This style adds texture and dimension by twisting thin dreads around each other in a basket weave pattern. The dreads come together in a long ponytail at the back while the sides of the head are buzzed short.

twisted high top locs in ponytail
Stylist: Shelly D

7. Thick High Top Dreads with Buzzcut

In what might be called a dreadlock mohawk, this look features loose dreads on the top of the head and short-cropped hair on the rest of the head. 

thick high top dreads with buzzcut
Stylist: Mother Goat 

8. High Top Dreads with Blonde Accents 

Hair color meets texture in this high top dreadlock style. Long, two-toned locs flow over a bald fade underneath.

high top dreads with blonde accents
Stylist: Brienna Watson

Thick High Top Dreads Ponytail

If you have thicker, more mature dreadlocks, you may want to try one of these high top ponytail looks. 

9. Interlocked Dreads in a Thick Ponytail

Tight, smaller interlocked braids on the scalp blend into a thick ponytail of twisted locs. Complete the look with a sculpted fade along the hairline. 

interlocked dreads in a thick ponytail
Stylist: Karletta Jones 

10. Colorful Thick Dreads with Fade

This show-stopper of a style features chunky long dreadlocks highlighted with a bold color and collected in a high top ponytail. 

colorful thick dreads with fade
Stylist: Mother Goat

11. Long Twisted Dreads in High Ponytail

This high top dread hairstyle has slightly thinner twisted locs with a contrasting color and gathered atop the head in a high ponytail. 

long twisted dreads in high ponytail
Stylist: Mother Goat

Short High Top Dreads 

High top locs are not just for long hair. The looks below highlight trendy short dreadlock styles. These may be worth trying if it’s your first time getting locs.

12. Short Twisted Locs with Tight Fade

Ideal for those with thin hair, twisted dreadlocks can help make your hair appear thicker. If you’re starting your loc journey, you can opt for short high top locs with a tight fade.

13. Short Dreads with Tight Fade

Short locs with shaved sides make a perfect choice for those beginning their dreadlocks journey. Locs are considered a protective hairstyle, which means they can help protect your natural hair from breaking and help you grow it longer if you wish.

14. Interlocked Dreads with Tight Fade

This one-of-a-kind look mimics a French braid with interlocking small twists woven into two larger locs. The creativity continues with a tight bald fade and sharply angled edges.

interlocked dreads with tight fade
Stylist: Karletta Jones

15. High Top Dreads with Low Ponytail

High top locs can be pulled into a topknot or a low ponytail in the back. This particular look features a taper fade with thin top locs pulled into a low pony.

high top dreads with low ponytail
Stylist: Malcolm Lee

16. Short and Thick High Top Dreads

While many short dreadlock styles have thin locs, short locs can also be thick. Seemingly effortless chunky locs pair here with a precision fade. 

short and thick high top dreads
Stylist: Malcolm Lee

17. Thin High Top Dreads with Fade

Mid-length locs hang loose over a taper fade in this on-trend style.

thin high top dreads with fade
Stylist: Latasha Smith

18. Short High Top Dreads with Shaved Design

These locs hang forward instead of backward for a stylish twist. Shaved lines in the fade and the beard take the whole look up a notch. 

High Top Braids with Fade

To mix up the high top look, you could get braids instead of locs. 

19. Braids in Large Geometric Sections

In this style, small braids are pulled from large angular sections of hair, which makes a geometric pattern on the top of the head. The look can be completed with a fade or buzz cut on the sides. 

braids in large geometric sections
Stylist: Mother Goat

20. Braided Dreads in Small Geometric Sections

Similar to the previous style, these braids are pulled from smaller sections of hair, making a tighter geometric pattern with more high-top braids.

braided dreads in small geometric sections
Stylist: Mother Goat

21. Braids with Beads

High-top braids can be accessorized with decorative elements such as beads, cuffs, or rings. 

braids with beads
Stylist: Mother Goat

How to Prepare for Getting High Top Dreads

The first step toward any loc hairstyle is to get locs if you don’t already have them. Locs grow in stages and need training to hold their shape consistently over time. 

If you don’t have locs, you’ll ask your hairstylist for starter locs. The loctician will determine what type of method to use to keep your hair in place, such as palm rolling, twisting, or braiding. 

While it can take anywhere from three to six months for your locs to form, you can get the sides of your hair cut the way you want, such as a buzz cut, undercut, or fade to match your desired high top locs look.

How Much Do High Top Dreads Cost?

Starter locs can range anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on your location and the stylists’ rates. Hairstylists may also charge separately for a haircut to go with your locs.

How Long Does It Take to Get High Top Dreads?

Since only the top half of your head will need locs, it will take anywhere from four to eight hours to get dreads installed. It may take longer if you want microlocs or other very thin locs installed. Once your locs are in place, you’ll just need to keep up with loc maintenance and haircuts to maintain your style.

How to Maintain High Top Dreads

If you have a fade or buzz on the sides or back of your hair, you’ll probably want to get a haircut appointment every three to five weeks to maintain your fresh look. Retwist appointments to maintain your locs need to happen every four to six weeks depending on loc stage and hair type —  so you might consider pairing your haircut with your loc retwist or retightening appointment.

Additionally, you’ll want to follow the below points to maintain your locs and look:

  • Shampoo and condition every two to three weeks. You’ll want to wash often enough to remove the buildup of sweat, oil, and dirt but not so often that you dry out your hair. Make sure to use products specifically designed for locs, since regular hair products can cause loosening or unraveling.
  • Carefully dry your locs. Getting the water out of your hair is important to prevent mildew growth. Whether you squeeze, wrap, palm roll, or air-dry your locs in the sun, make sure they are completely dry after you wash them. 
  • Moisturize your scalp regularly. Hydrating with a lightweight oil can keep your hair healthy as well as prevent itchiness and dandruff on your skin.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase. Protecting your hair with a satin pillowcase or bonnet can help prevent your locs from breaking or unraveling. 

How to Ask for High Top Dreads

High top dreads are a modern twist on the traditional dreadlock style. If you’re just starting the loc journey, you’ll want to ask for starter dreads on top and a short buzz or fade on the rest of your head. A professional loctician should have all the essential knowledge, including how to form various types of dreads and what haircut numbers to give you the look you want. To get started on your high top look today, find a local loctician through StyleSeat.