Despite the misconception, dreadlocks should be kept clean and need to be washed regularly.
Healthy dreadlocks begin with a healthy scalp.
I get asked quite a lot what shampoo to use on dreadlocks. Here is a guide to help you choose your perfect dreadlock shampoo.
Table of Contents
The difference between a dreadlock shampoo and an ordinary shampoo
We could think that dreadlock shampoos have special properties that make them different from an ordinary commercial shampoo. It is actually not the case.
Shampoos mostly contains water and cleaning agents called detergents. Sometimes, oils and butters (shea butter, cocoa butter…) are added to provide extra softness. You can also find actives like protein or anti-dandruff ingredients.
What dreadlock shampoo to look for?
Now that we established that you don’t have to pick a dreadlocks shampoo, what shampoo should you look for?
The shampoo you choose should leave no residue on your hair.
Translucent shampoos and clarifying shampoos are great for washing dreadlocks.
Creamy shampoos contain ingredients like butters or oils that will leave oily residues. They can also contain conditioning agents that bonds tightly to the hair and can be responsible for build-up.
The best dreadlock shampoos
- LOVE LOCS – Wash My Dreads Shampoo
- LOVE LOCS – Wash My Dreads – Deep Cleansing
- A’KIN by Al’chemy – Lemongrass Shampoo
- ECOSTORE – Volumising Shampoo
- EVERYONE – Nourish, Shampoo, Health + Happy
- HERBAL ESSENCES Daily Detox Shine Shampoo
- Home Health, Everclean, Antidandruff Shampoo, Unscented iHerb
- Kinky Curly – Come Clean
- Neutrogena – Anti-residue shampoo
- Neutrogena – T.Gel Shampoo
- TRESEMMÉ Deep Cleansing Shampoo
You can find them either on Amazon or your local supermarket.
LOVE LOCS Wash My Dreads Shampoo
Wash My Dreads is a natural, residue free, gentle-yet-effective dread cleanser.
The blend of juniper berries, cedar wood and lavender will help balancing, protecting and preserving the scalp’s natural barrier to help create a clean, healthy scalp foundation.
Love Locs Wash My Dreads Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Wash My Dreads Deep Cleansing is a natural deep cleansing shampoo. It contains organic apple cider vinegar helps to purify and balance the scalp.
A’KIN Lemongrass Shampoo
Enriched with Lemongrass and Juniper berries to gently clarify and remove excess oil for thoroughly cleansed, refreshed locs and scalp.
ECOSTORE Volumising Shampoo
Gentle cleansing agents rinse away without weight or residue, to protect against breakage and fly-aways, while building lasting body and shine.
Everyone, Nourish, Shampoo, Health + Happy
Your dreadlocks are out there in the sun and wind performing every day. Give it the love and nourishment it craves. Aloe + Quinoa Protein are just what your hair is craving, and Coconut + Lemon leave your locs looking restored and nourished. Safe for color treated hair!
HERBAL ESSENCES Daily Detox Shine Shampoo
Enjoy notes of White Tea and Mint with Herbal Essences Daily Detox Shine shampoo
Home Health, Everclean, Antidandruff Shampoo, Unscented
Everclean Shampoo helps eliminate itching and scalp flaking associated with dandruff, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Kinky Curly – Come Clean
A natural chelating agent that removes hard water minerals such as calcium & magnesium. It willl soften hard water, rinse cleaner and prevent hard water buildup on your hair.
Neutrogena – Anti-residue shampoo
This non-irritating clarifying shampoo cleans your hair and instantly rinses away residue.
Neutrogena – T.Gel Shampoo
Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo is effective as a therapeutic treatment to help control the scalp itching and flaking symptomatic of scalp psoriasis, eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis and even common dandruff.
TRESEMMÉ Deep Cleansing Shampoo
TRESemmé Deep Cleansing Shampoo will clarify and gently remove build-up and heavy residues.
How often should you wash your dreadlocks?
Wash your dreadlocks at least once a week.
If you have just started dreadlocks, wait at least one week before washing them.
If you have dandruff, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends to
- Shampoo your locs daily and use dandruff shampoo twice a week if you are Caucasian or Asian.
- Shampoo once a week using a dandruff shampoo if you have afro hair.
How to wash dreadlocks
Now that you have found your favourite dread shampoo, here is a step by step guide on how to get squeaky clean dreadlocks.
At least once a week:
- Start by wetting your dreads and your scalp with warm water.
- Add some shampoo in the palm of your hands, then work it into your locs.
- Massage your scalp using your fingertips. Don’t scratch your scalp. Be gentle but thorough.
- Rinse using plenty of water. Let the shampoo run through the dreads so that it can clean them without you having to touch them that much. This works especially well if you have new locs which are soft and tender still. It won’t damage all the hard work that you or your loctician has put into the dreadlocks.
- If you have mature dreads, give them a good ‘milking’. This will help clean them well enough.
- Shampoo one more time. You can allow the shampoo to rest on your scalp for a few minutes this time so that the ingredients can work their magic on you. Rinse well. You will feel how clean your scalp is when you’re done. If need be, you can shampoo once more.
- Dry your hair naturally or use a hair dryer set on medium heat. Don’t go to bed with wet hair as your dreads might start to develop mold.
Do not shy away from the beach!
Salt water is actually very good to help with the matting process. After going to the beach, don’t forget to rinse your dreads with clear water. Salt water can be quite drying on the locs.
Should you use conditioner on dreadlocks?
Conditioners contains oils, butters and conditioning agents like silicones that help with softening and detangling the hair. Some of these ingredients bind tightly to the hair and will remain on it even after rinsing. This can be responsible of build-up. I would not recommend using conditioner on your dreadlocks.
If you want to soften your locks, you can apply vegetable oils like olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil. Make sure to avoid the roots area. You can add a few drops of essential oil for the scent.
You can also do a hot oil treatment with the oil of your choice. You would apply hair warm oil on dry hair, then protect your hair with a plastic bag and a scarf and leave the treatment overnight. Wash as usual the day after.
Here is a video on how to do a hot oil treatment on your dreadlocks
What is your favourite shampoo to clean your dreadlocks? Have you tried any of those listed above?