Are you loving your locs? Great! It’s a chic hairstyle that is a versatile and a cool way to wear your hair.
However, you won’t be loving them so much if you don’t take care of them properly.
Unwashed locs accumulate a layer of buildup that doesn’t look very attractive, can cause your scalp to be itchy, and can even start to stink if left long enough.
Washing your locs too much can dry them out and lead to unattractive frizz and weak hair. Using too much conditioner (or one that’s too heavy) will contribute to the buildup in your hair and leave it looking greasy and dirty.
Avoid all these problems and keep on loving your locs by choosing the best products for maintaining them. Read on to learn what to look for.
Choose a Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Sulfates in shampoos are a cleansing agent that foams and lathers. Manufacturers include it because people like to see and feel a strong lather. It does help to clean away oil and dirt, but mostly it’s the psychological component that people enjoy — it isn’t strictly necessary for a good shampoo to lather.
Unfortunately, these sulfates appear to be quite bad for your hair. They can damage the cuticle as well as strip moisture from the strands. Everyone should avoid these shampoos, but particularly those with dreadlocks — unless they want a sensitive scalp and dry locs.
Residue Is the Enemy
That being said, a shampoo that leaves behind residue is also a bad choice for a few reasons. The residue on your locs can suck up moisture, taking it away from your hair. It can also retain this moisture within the matted hair even when you think you’ve fully dried your locs, making it easier to develop dread rot.
Residue can also make your hair more slippery and make it difficult to maintain the locs. If it gets bad enough it can even unravel mature locs.
How can you tell if a shampoo is leaving behind residue?
Do you notice a heavy coating on your hair? Does your hair look dull and dry hair even after washing? Are your hairstyles falling out more easily? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your shampoo could be leaving behind a residue.
Even some shampoos that are marketed as residue-free leave behind a residue. Always check the ingredients and avoid any shampoo that has ingredients beginning with PPG or PEG.
Avoid “Greasy” Ingredients
Another big no-no is using products that contain thick, greasy ingredients. For example, many moisturizing hair products contain beeswax, shea butter, or petroelum to lock in moisture. However, you want to avoid anything that isn’t water-soluble. Otherwise, you will find that your hair is difficult to fully cleanse.
It used to be common to use beeswax on locs and some people still do it. After all, it’s natural and really good for your hair. Unfortunately, it also leaves behind buildup and attracts lint. Perhaps this practice is part of what contributed to giving dreadlocks a dirty reputation.
Look for Natural Ingredients
As you search for the perfect products for your locs, always read the ingredients. You want to choose products with natural ingredients as much as possible.
Keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t always mean “good for locs”. Remember, beeswax is a natural ingredient. Stick to light oils like coconut oil or peppermint oil instead.
Tea tree oil is a winner when it comes to loc maintenance. It helps keep your scalp from being dry and itchy as well as the anti-fungal properties will ward off dread rot.
Your best bet is to choose products with tea tree oil and free of sulfates, parabens, and silicons.
The only downside to tea tree oil is that the oil has a distinct herbal smell and some people may not like it. However, don’t buy a tea tree oil shampoo with “fragrances” added to cover it up. “Fragrances” is a catch-all term that manufacturers use as a cover for potentially harmful ingredients.
Enjoy Your Fabulous Locs
Once you have the right products that won’t damage your hair or leave behind buildup, you are free to enjoy your locs! You don’t have to wash your hair daily with locs — in fact, you shouldn’t. However, waiting too long isn’t good for your hair either (maximum three weeks). Find what works for you with your favorite products and you’ll be all set!