Getting dreadlocks can be very exciting, but having them is actually just the start of a long journey of learning how to maintain your locs. If you think that there’s no more work to be accomplished once you get your dreadlocks done… well, you’re in for a ride, because there are tons of things to take note of – you’ve got to learn how to keep dreads healthy and growing.
Since it can be confusing and downright daunting to know how to keep your locs in tiptop shape, we’ve compiled a lists of musts and must nots as you proceed with your dreadlocks journey.
How to keep dreads healthy and growing
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Let’s start with the things you should do.
There are a number of recommended methods to ensure that you give maximum care to your dreadlocks, especially when you’ve only recently had them done.
Fresh locs need increased attention, as they are most susceptible to damage.
However, maintaining your dreadlocks is a commitment you can’t get out of, no matter how long you’ve had your dreads.
Here are tips and hacks to follow for healthier, stronger locs in no time:
Washing your locs
Keeping your dreadlocks clean is an essential step you must take in ensuring your locks stay healthy.
The only time you should not wash them for a week or two is right after you get new dreadlocks.
Afterward, it is imperative that you don’t neglect washing them with water and shampoo to remove dirt, sebum and product build-up on the scalp.
However, there’s no need to shampoo them daily.
For healthy hair, it’s recommended to skip days in between shampooing your hair.
Just don’t forget to be thorough in washing your locs.
If you not thorough, this might be the cause of product build-up on your dreads and scalp!
Using natural hair care products
Dreadlocks need the utmost care you can give them- that includes being particular about the products you use on them.
Commercial products with harsh chemicals usually dry out the hair and scalp, so using them on dreadlocks is a huge no-no.
Switching to natural alternatives might just do the trick.
Just ask a trusted loctician which products are safe to use on your dreads.
For instance, shampoos that are free from sulfates and parabens work well on locs.
Blow drying or air drying your locs
Dreadlocks tend to be difficult to dry; but, that’s no reason for you not to make sure that you’re drying them!
Locs that haven’t been dried properly are prone to stinking and having a horrible smell.
Wrapping them with a scarf, or pinning them in a hat while wet (even when you didn’t do so intentionally!) may cause moisture to get trapped, resulting in a pungent scent.
We wouldn’t want that, so make sure to dry your locks either using a blow dryer or air dry them.
In air-drying your dreadlocks, you may opt to squeeze the water out of them before using a towel to dry them quickly.
Microfiber towels are best for also protecting them from damage.
You can also use a T-shirt as an alternative to a microfibre towel. It works quite well!
During air drying, you can use this time to pull some locs that are starting to touch or connect with each other, lest it causes your dreads to grow inseparably together!
Massaging the scalp
Newly-installed locs – especially on long hair – can feel heavy, leading you to feel discomfort on your scalp.
A good remedy to this is a massage to the scalp – around 5 to 10 minutes daily before sleeping.
This helps alleviate the discomfort you feel, while also stimulating blood flow in the scalp, promoting hair growth and relaxation.
A quick massage also stimulates the release of natural oils into the hair, which contribute to healthier, shinier locs, especially when done daily!
Moisturizing the scalp
Another important thing is to make sure your scalp remains healthy is through proper moisturization.
Dry and brittle dreadlocks are prone to breakage, and we’d hate for that to happen!
There are a couple of things you can explore to effectively moisturize your hair.
Hot oil treatments or regular application of natural oils can both provide the moisture your hair needs to be healthy and beautiful.
Natural oils are a good option since they are residue-free and are also derived from organic materials that won’t harm your dreads or your scalp.
Hot oil treatments are good if you have some time to spare.
The treatments help the hair absorb all the goodness the natural oils provide, leading to glossier, shinier hair!
Clarifying your dreadlocks
Even when we do our best to keep chemical-free hair products, and even when we are careful not to let products build-up on the hair, it’s still necessary for us to deep cleanse (or clarify) the hair around twice or thrice a year.
This ensures that the locs don’t have unseen dirt or build-up that can cause irritation or itching.
Clarifying the dreadlocks will therefore help in removing unwanted residue on the hair and scalp.
Locs tend to get loose if you don’t regularly maintain them.
As your dreadlocks grow longer, you’ll also notice that they will some touch up because of the new hair growth.
You need to continue the locking process by going to a professional who’ll loc the new growth as the dreads continue to mature.
It is ideal that you retwist your dreads in intervals of 4 to 6-weeks, just to make sure they stay in shape and remain tightly knit.
Using other methods, such as crocheting and interlocking, in order to address stray hair strands, can also be scheduled every 2-3 months.
Wrapping your locs at night
A staple for taking care of your locs and guarding them against damage and potential tangling is a silk scarf.
It’s a great investment, especially when you want to protect your hair from getting ruined at night when you’re tossing and turning in bed.
Not to mention, friction between your locs and the pillowcase may cause your hair to break, especially when it causes pulling or tugging on your dreadlocks.
Finally, having your head securely wrapped with a silk scarf also prevents dirt from getting caught in your locs as you have a good night’s sleep.
A satin bonnet is a good alternative to a silk scarf; it works just the same.
If you’re not into wrapping your locs (or don’t have a silk scarf or satin bonnet), you can sleep on a satin pillowcase which helps to avoid unnecessary friction on your dreadlocks.
Consulting a good loctician
To know the best way to care for your hair, it’s best to consult an expert about it.
It’s important that you know a trusted loctician who you can talk to regarding your apprehensions, problems, and concerns regarding your dreadlocks.
Someone who can give you the correct advice on how to care for your locs post-procedure is an absolute blessing!
A good loctician can also help you along the process of growing your dreadlocks out.
It’s paramount to have someone you can be comfortable with to guide you through your dreadlocks journey.
Establishing a dreadlock care routine
At the end of the day, taking care of your dreadlocks is something you have to do.
So, it’s important that you create a hair care routine to maintain the health and proper growth of your dreadlocks.
Take the tips that work for you and show marked improvement on your hair, and avoid the ones that don’t.
A personalized routine ensures that you give your locs nothing but the best.
In the process of trying to learn how how to keep dreads healthy and growing, you’ll discover that there are certain things you should steer clear from.
Now that we’ve covered what you should do with your dreadlocks, let’s find out more about what you shouldn’t do to your scalp and your locs.
Here’s a number of suggestions on what you should do away with if you want your dreadlocks growing beautifully:
Dyeing your dreads
We’ve all heard about the damage chemicals like dye and bleach can cause to your hair.
Dreadlocks are sensitive and fragile and require all the care you can give them.
Using harmful compounds dye can make them brittle and vulnerable to damage.
Thus, as a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid dyeing your locs altogether.
You may want to consider natural dyes like henna, but the safest thing is to avoid dyes completely.
Trimming loose hairs
When you’ve already started with the dreadlocks journey, you’ll notice stray strands every now and then, especially at the start.
As your hair grows and locs lengthen, having loose hair is inevitable.
When this happens, it can be terribly tempting to simply cut these stray hairs off; after all, they only ruin how your dreadlocks look, right?
The answer is no.
You must never, ever cut or trim loose hair strands as you go through the locking process.
Cutting and trimming these hairs will only result in thinner dreads.
Worst case scenario, making a habit of cutting these strands may lead to irreversible damage not just for your dreads, but for your hair.
Using too much product for moisturization
Keeping your hair moisturized is something you should definitely do.
However, you must still remember to do everything in moderation.
Constantly using oils and products on the hair will inevitably lead to product build-up on your scalp, or even in your dreads, and we don’t want that.
Leave-in conditioners, for instance, are a no-no, given the residue they may leave on the scalp and dreads.
Instead, make sure to track every use of natural oils in keeping your hair hydrated.
Creating a schedule or a plan and sticking to it is a great way to ensure that you don’t saturate your hair and scalp with too much product, but still, moisturize your hair.
Using baking soda on the locs
Product build-up is a constant threat when you have dreadlocks.
You may want to take desperate measures to ensure that your hair and scalp stay clean and free from residue.
Baking soda has long been lauded as a natural cleansing agent, and you might have considered using it for your regular hair wash – perhaps to substitute your shampoo.
A word of caution: don’t do it!
Baking soda contains harsh chemicals that can damage both your hair and scalp.
It’s far too strong to be used regularly on such a sensitive area like your scalp, ultimately leading to breakage.
Baking soda effectively strips your hair of all of its natural oils, which makes hair brittle and easily damaged.
Should you really want to try baking soda, you may simply opt to use it during occasional deep cleansing (or clarifying).
This allows you to reap its benefits, without constantly subjecting your hair to the damage it may cause.
Retwisting your locs too often
It’s necessary to do regular dreadlocks maintenance by palm rubbing or retwisting your locs.
However, doing this more than once every 4-6 weeks may put too much pressure on your roots, leading to breakage.
It’s also not advisable to pull your locs up into hairdos that cause considerable stress to the hair, especially for hairstyles that require that you tie your hair tightly.
Practices like these may strain your hair, causing damage to the hair roots.
This over-manipulation of dreadlocks may lead to thinning, or worse, cause traction alopecia.
Using conditioners on new locs
We’ve talked about the need to use only natural products for your hair.
Commercial products, in general, are highly likely to leave residue in the hair due to the many chemicals they contain.
Conditioners (especially creamy ones), as we know from experience, are even harder to rinse off, leaving you prone to product build-up.
In addition, conditioners are generally frowned upon if you want to care for your brand new dreadlocks.
This is because conditioners can affect the dreadlocks’ maturing process and ultimately slow or halting the locking process.
In this article, we tried to provide you with everything you need to do – and avoid – to ensure that your dreadlocks are well maintained.
What has been covered here is a “starter pack” – so to speak – if you’ve been wondering how to keep dreads healthy and growing.
There are a couple of things that you may end up discovering on your own as you go along your dreadlocks journey.
One thing I can’t emphasize enough is that that you should always consult a trusted loctician who is experienced and can guide you in your quest to achieve healthy dreadlocks.