Dreadlock Shampoo

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The needs of everyone’s hair and scalp can greatly vary from person to person. We all produce skin, hair, and natural oils differently. Oils produced below the scalp and hair follicles come from the sebum sack located beneath the epidermis. These sacs produce natural nourishing oils that help hydrate and moisturize locs. These oils are essential for hair growth and overall hair health. Without the nourishment of these oils, hair strands will start to dry out (2).

Hair strands are covered in tiny fish-like scales that protect the inner layers of the structure. These scales are called cuticles. The cuticles allow moisture in and out of hand, depending on their porosity. 

When cuticles are not regularly kept hydrated, they begin to dry and lose their ability to lay flat and protect the cortex. These scales lock in moisture during dry weather. When cuticles can’t lay flat, they can’t close properly when it’s humid and end up trapping more water, creating frizzy, fluffy hair that can be hard to style and maintain. There are known methods to help benefit hair’s health.


Hair strands and locs collect dandruff, lint, dirt, and many other foreign contaminants. This build-up can prevent your scalp from properly nourishing the hair strands. Luckily you can cut down on this grime and yuckiness!

To help control the build-up, you can use shampoo or other detergents to help break dirt apart and clean filth collections away.  You can also add nourishment and replenish minerals lost during these washes with a moisture-locking conditioner. 


Different needs require different remedies. Check out five of our favorite ways to wash locs. 


A wash like this will strip your natural hair and healthy scalp of mostly everything. Clarifying shampoo is detergent on steroids. 

Recommended for when your hair needs serious build-up removal, rejuvenation, and PH balance. It really helps deep cleanse into serious build-up. The ingredients help remove sticky waxes, mildew, pollutants, and even the stench from a sweaty scalp. 

There are natural home remedies like the famous Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse or a Baking Soda rinse.  These are safer methods for clarifying your dreadlocks because these products don’t contain unsafe chemical detergents. You don’t have only to use home remedies. There are some great products on the web that are great for clarifying dreads. 

Some shampoos contain silicones and other minerals that can leave residue in your hair. This is not good for your hair’s health. There is some good dreadlock clarifying shampoos on the market that are paraben and sulfate-free. We recommend organic residue-free clarifying shampoos when washing dreads.

Clarifying your hair will strip hair and your scalp of mostly everything.

You don’t want to strip the natural oils too many times for healthy dreadlocks because this will damage your hair. Clarifying your dreadlocks often or even just once may cause you to have a dry scalp.


Many popular shampoos use ingredients called surfactants, conditioning agents, active ingredients, and additives. Liquid Shampoo is an emulsifier. 

With the help of detergents, dirt and oils become completely engulfed in shampoo. Dirt and oils become unable to stick to surfaces and are washed away with water. The detergent helps break the surface tension between oils and water. 

Normally the oil created by your hair, called sebum, doesn’t dissolve in water. To allow the water to wash away the oils, the shampoo must use a special chemical reaction. 

The shampoo is good for removing oils and dirt from your hair. Conditioners, on the other hand, do the opposite. They add products to your hair to help with nourishing the follicles and closing in moisture.

Shampoo and conditioner would technically be opposites. They serve different purposes. 


Dry shampoo is not cleansing your hair and scalp. It’s a powder that’s absorbing some of the oil and preventing your hair from clumping.

We don’t recommend dry shampoos on dreadlocks unless you physically can’t wash your hair. I want to extend the time between washes.


Some brands have been able to put shampoo into a bar soap. The soap is used in warm water and lathered up while being applied to each dreadlock.

We have noticed this leaves many residues, and it is not recommended on permanent hairstyles unless for specific hair treatments. 


The conditioner works differently than shampoo.

A hair strand is covered in microcells that look like small fish scales. As time and damage happens to the hair, the scales start to bend out and point irregular. The conditioner works by moisturizing these cells. Giving them moisture and nutrients. The hair strands become smoother, shinier, and create less static electricity. 

Just as shampoo opens the cuticles of the hair. Conditioner closes them, trapping in nutrients and adding moisture. This keeps hair healthier and with less breakage. 


The shampoo is meant to loosen build-ups and entrap oils while helping wash them away. 

The chemicals used in most detergents don’t wash away fully when you are rinsing out your hair. Because of this, Your locks will begin to smell, look dull, and gain a little weight. The build-up of this residue can turn great amazing hair into dull, lifeless locs. Products that have accumulated on your hair prevent moisture, oils, and other nutrients from penetrating your hair.

Residue-Free Shampoos typically don’t contain waxes, synthetic silicones, and silica that coat your hair to make it “feel” nice. These products actually leave a residue in your hair. Synthetic silicones are derived from soft, plastic, gel-like substances called polymers.

Most products you use to style up your hair can leave a residue behind. 


Many companies have come out with a line that claims to be residue-free because of the potential to build up dread heads.

 These are good to use as a dread shampoo because they limit the amount of soap scum and residue left after washing. Many of these products don’t contain any paraben or sulfates because these minerals leave a residue behind. 

Although many of these companies claim to have “Residue-Free ” Shampoo, we are claiming False. It’s almost impossible to break the surface tension of dirt and other hydrophobic materials without some detergent. 

Because the use of detergent is needed, there will always be some residue. Bigger companies respectfully label their products with 90 percent “residue-free” or up to 95 percent “residue-free.”

When shopping online or on Amazon, look for products specifically labeled “Residue Free.”


Typically, when something is organic, it contains natural ingredients and is free of Genetically modified organisms, nanomaterials, human sewage sludge, plant growth regulators, hormones, and antibiotic use in livestock husbandry are prohibited. Natural ingredients are typically biodegradable. 

This means the product is free of harmful chemicals that are not naturally occurring. This is not the same as Residue-free. 

Residue-Free refers to products free of minerals or chemicals that will leave behind a residue after being rinsed off. Many products are labeled sulfate-free or paraben-free

This is why Castor Soap is usually made organic but does not qualify as residue-free. 


Still, getting Buildup? 

You started using products that are “residue-free,” and you have stayed away from those “hydrating shampoos,” but you are still getting build up?

It might be your water!

Studies have shown that minerals in hard water coming out of your tap actually leaves a residue behind(1). Thus, many companies make a water softener filter to help remove a lot of these minerals. If you notice there’s a lot of residue on your dishes, your sink, or even in your shower, it might be your water!




Faux locs are typically made with a mixed blend of hair types. All of these products can get wet. Unless a product specifically is labeled not to wash, you will be okay to wash regularly.  Human hair is usually treated with oils to help keep healthy hair. It might not be good for deep cleansing when you use human hair because some shampoos might strip these oils away. 


CO washing is washing and using a conditioner. These combined products are gaining more popularity than some of the best shampoos. These products claim to wash and condition hair with special detergents. These detergents are not traditional and don’t leave residues like most emulsifiers. As the products clean, they are also said to lock in moisture. 

Co-washing is most beneficial on curly hair and wavy hair. It also brings back life to dull, dry hair. You wash your hair with the product and lather up, then comb it through and let it sit for a little. Minutes later, wash it out like normal. The moisture should be locked in, and the hair feeling nice and clean. 


  • DOLLYLOCKS Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
  • Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo Bar
  • Shea Moisture Water Mint Detox
  • PURA D’OR Original Gold Label Peppermint Aloe Shampoo with argan oil


  • Jamaican Mango And Lime Tingle Shampoo
  • Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Blend
  • Neutrogena Shampoo with coconut oil and essential oils


Keeping a healthy hairstyle requires knowing your hair needs. Always look out for dry and itchy scalp. Wash less frequently when you notice these issues. 

If you would like to recommend some products to us, leave a comment below.


1.Hardness of Waterwww.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0.

2. Draelos, Zoe D. “Essentials of Hair Care Often Neglected: Hair Cleansing.” International Journal of Trichology, Medknow Publications, Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002407/.

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