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How To Wash Dreads Without Messing Them Up

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Maintaining a hair care routine for dreadlocks might seem a bit tricky compared to other natural hairstyles. Your locks are super delicate and require thorough care and love.

Though getting dreadlocks is quite tempting, there's a whole lot to learn about its maintenance and care. If not properly cared for, these locks might end up greasy and completely filled with buildup residue. 

Keeping your dreadlocks and scalp clean is extremely important for maintaining your locks healthy and nourished. Follow this article to understand all about how to wash dreads without messing them up.

Table of Contents:

  • How Often To Wash Dreadlocks?
  • How to wash dreads
  • Recommended Products for Washing Your Dreads
  • How To Care For Dreadlocks?

How Often To Wash Dreadlocks?

Washing dreads either too often or infrequently isn't ideal. 

There are two categories of dreads: 

Washing new dreads: If you're flaunting brand new baby dreads, wait for at least one week before washing your dreads. 

However, if you're troubled with an oily or itchy scalp, then go ahead and gently wash your dreads. New dreads can get a bit messy and frizzy after a wash, but it's a part of the initial process.

wash dreads, how to wash dreadlocks, best shampoo for dreadlocks

Washing mature dreadlocks: Mature dreads must be washed at least once every week. Use a shower cap to prevent your dreads from humidity on regular shower days. 

Some shampoos can be used weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The hair expert suggests treating your dreads with apple cider vinegar or baking soda rinse before shampooing for better results. For example, apple cider vinegar rinse loosens up oil, buildup, or debris from your scalp and hair, making it easier to shampoo.

How to wash dreads

Whether you have baby dreads or mature dreadlocks, the steps to wash dreads are the same for all:

  • Dampen your dreadlocks and scalp;
  • Use the apple cider vinegar or baking soda warm rinse or just soak them in the solution for a few minutes;
  • Pour shampoo into your hands, add some water and create a rich lather;
  • Apply some lather onto your scalp and gently massage it with your fingertips;
  • Apply lather you created with your palms onto your dreads. Start from the roots and gently squeeze each one of them until they feel clean enough;
  • Repeat lather application, scalp massage, and dreadlock washing process one more time;
  • Rinse thoroughly;
  • Apply conditioner - use your hands to distribute the conditioner evenly on every dreadlock. Leave the conditioner for a couple of minutes;
  • Rinse again;
  • Squeeze water from your dreads and wrap them loosely in a soft towel;
  • Avoid using hairdryers.

Recommended Products for Washing Your Dreads

A residue-free, clarifying, and nurturing hair products are the only effective hair care that will work well for dreadlocks. The most important thing is to use hair products that won't leave buildup or grease behind.

Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo And Coconut/Avocado Oil Conditioner Pack

The ACV shampoo and conditioner pack from WOW Skin Science is a dynamic combination infused with bioactive ingredients. The plant-powered, clarifying shampoo is enriched with raw apple cider vinegar and other nourishing botanicals that work well for soothing an itchy scalp, dry hair at the roots and damaged hair strands that are rough to touch from roots to tip. A clarifying shampoo provides your strands and scalp with something we all wish for - a squeaky clean feeling. 

The combination of ingredients in these WOW products works as a detox formula. Those ingredients are nurturing and mild, and that makes them suitable for any type of hair. 

The biggest advantage lies in a unique formulation that creates balanced pH levels in order to treat scalp issues like dandruff, clogged pores, buildup, and irritation. The formulation is rich in antimicrobial properties, which means that it will even prevent skin problems such as fungus. 

Activated Charcoal & Keratin Shampoo

The WOW Skin Science Activated Charcoal & Keratin Shampoo is a plant-powered formula enriched with a soothing blend of sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, and aloe vera extract apart from keratin. This detoxifying formula replenishes your scalp and ensures a clean and nourished scalp - and that’s why people like to use this shampoo to wash dreadlocks properly.

wash dreads, how to wash dreadlocks, best shampoo for dreadlocks

Application of shampoo on dreads provides relief from dandruff and helps stimulate hair growth. The two active ingredients of the formulation, activated charcoal and hydrolyzed keratin protein, will gently tame your dreads and wash away all the dirt and grime, cleaning your scalp without stripping it of its natural oils. At the same time, the damaged hair shaft is penetrated with the hydrolyzed keratin protein. And, most importantly, the perfect dreadlock shampoo is free from sulfates, paraben, silicone, color, or salt. 

WOW Hair Revitalizer 

The Hair Revitalizer from WOW Skin Science is an exceptional product packed with the best ingredients, including safflower, amla, horse chestnut seed oil, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B7/H and rosemary, tea tree, and lemon extract.

This premium quality formulation fights against fizziness and ensures protecting hair strands from roots to the scalp, which results in minimal split ends. 

The leave-in conditioner will not loosen your dreads; on the contrary, it will ensure they look tidy. The ingredients present in this product will allow your hair follicles to absorb protein easily and smoothen out your dreads. 

How To Care For Dreadlocks?

Here are a few tips that can help you care better for your dreadlocks. 

  • Avoid using wax: Applying wax on your dreadlocks can damage your hair. It will give you that rich shine for a few days, but it will end up as a greasy buildup on your strands that will be hard to remove. 
  • No exposure to heat: Do not use hair straighteners, curling irons, or any other heat element, as they can harm your dreads. 
  • Prefer oils: If you want to keep your hair protected against dryness and prevent scalp itchiness, choose natural hair oils over spray-on products.
  • Use only clarifying shampoo: Make sure to use clarifying shampoos. Dreadlock shampoo should ensure removing buildup and restoring the natural shine of your strands.
  • Don't go to bed with wet dreads: Make sure not to lie down without drying your dreads completely. Since dreads take longer to dry, wash them early in the morning to provide protection from mildew. 

Washing your dreadlocks might seem a bit more complicated than washing loose or natural hair, but all you need is quality hair care products that'll make your dreads lustrous and shiny, and a process of washing and drying that is adequate for the length and density of your dreads. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Are dreadlocks dead hair?

Dreadlocks are not made of dead hair, but they do contain hair that would typically shed.

  1. Do dreads smell?

Dreadlocks can end up smelling if you've gone a long time without washing them. 

  1. How do you get shampoo residue out of dreads?

To clear shampoo residue from dreads, rinse them with apple cider vinegar diluted in warm water. The vinegar is acidic by nature and will quickly dissolve built-up residue without harming your hair.

Geetika Kapoor

Deeply passionate about writing, I’m a freelancer and have been working on several writing projects for several domains across the globe since last three years. I love reviewing different products ranging from skin care products, perfumes, body lotions, feminine products, hygiene items and several others. An English teacher by profession, I love interacting with kids and discovering different personalities as well. When I’m not writing I spend most of time reading novels, listening to songs, solving tricky puzzles and travelling around the world to my favourite destinations. Collen Hoover and Nicholas Sparks are my all time favourite authors. Their writing leaves a deep impact and stays with me for long.

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