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Caring for your Dreadlocks at Home
The amount of home-care you are willing to do with your dreadlocks will make a big impact on the way your dreadlocks mature and the kind of experience you will have along the way. Whether your dreadlocks are brand new or years along their journey, these are my best recommendations for caring for your dreadlocks at home and in-between your professional maintenance sessions.
When to wash your hair: It is important to wash your dreads once every 7 to 10 days. Keeping your scalp and roots clean/oil free is essential for the locking process to take place. The action of your hair drying also aids in the maturing process. If you have a very active lifestyle and feel that you need to shampoo more regularly it is ok to wash more often; just be extra sure your hair is clean of any soap residue and that it gets completely DRY! If any soap gets left behind then your hair will struggle to ever become completely dry, and materials such as lint, dust, sebum, etc. will cling in your hair more than usual.
For NEW dreadlocks: - Wait a minimum of 2 weeks to wash or wet your hair after having new dreadlocks installed. If you have permanent extensions it is advisable to wait longer. The water can disrupt the position of your hair and increases the risk of thin spots. After the initial waiting period please find a consistent routine for washing your hair.
What to use when washing your hair: Please purchase a residue free, clarifying dreadlock shampoo. Consider what oil level you experience on your scalp, as well as your typical activity level when choosing a shampoo. Some shampoo's will suit dry or oily hair types better than others. (More about product recommendations below)
How to wash your hair: I recommend using a showerhead that you can adjust the spray settings, or better, one that has a removable spray handle. Adjust the settings to create a dense stream (essentially like a hose, if possible) and rinse thoroughly through all of your hair. Mentally divide your hair into 4-6 sections and work with one section at a time. Use a quarter size amount of shampoo (per section) and emulsify between palms before applying to roots. It's common for the first shampoo application to seem like the soap has disappeared. Don't worry! I assure you it's working! Spread and scrub across your scalp and then rinse. Then do all of that over again. You'll notice that this second application of shampoo creates a lot more noticeable cleaning action; perhaps even a lather! However if you the second wash is the same as the first, repeat and do it a third time. Make sure that after you wash that you RINSE VERY WELL! If you think you've rinsed enough, rinse again! It is important to LIFT your dreads and rinse thoroughly throughout each row and section.
Your dreadlocks will hold a lot of water, especially while they are new. Do your best to squeeze out the water after washing and then you can wrap your hair into a fresh, clean towel. Wear this for around 10-20 minutes. You can use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process if you wish.
Check your sections. Especially after washing it is normal to find that the tiny hairs near your scalp have decided to attach themselves to a nearby dreadlock. This is sometimes called "webbing". Run your fingers along your part lines and pull away all the loose hairs that are going the wrong way. It works well to get into a routine of doing this daily.
PALM ROLLING: Palm roll your dreadlocks from root-to-tip once a day for the first two weeks. Feel free to use a tightening spray or gel while you do this. After this period of time you can switch to palm rolling only as needed, or after each wash. (Tip: an excessive amount of palm rolling seems to lead to dense dreads, so don't think you need to palm roll too often!)
Stretch + Smooth your dreadlocks. This is actually a very important and powerful technique to keeping your dreads long and straight. Perhaps a superior method to palm rolling. Use your hands to massage your dreadlocks in a downward motion from root to tip. You will be surprised how much more smooth and straight your dreadlocks will appear after doing this. You can also use a tightening spray or gel while doing this.
Purchase and use a satin pillow case to sleep on. This greatly reduces the amount of friction on your dreads as you move around in your sleep. (Tried and tested...this works! Don't skip it!)
Finding the right dreadlock shampoo
***Reviews and descriptions coming soon!***
There are many different brands that make dreadlock shampoo and other related products, unfortunately there isn't a one size fits all answer for which shampoo will be right for you and your lifestyle. I am in the process of trying out different brands of dread products and I will explain what I have found here.
A simple dreadlock product line created in Australia. There are four products total.
Lock up Fast Shampoo:
Naturally Knot Shampoo:
A broad dreadlock product line created in Florida. There are a wide variety of product and scent options.
Tightening Spray or Gel:
Bee-Free Styling Pomade: