Ahhhhhh loc lovers.... SO often I am asked this question - pretty much daily and sometimes a couple of times.
Should I wash my dreads? What should I use? How often should I wash them?
Firstly let's get rid of a really old dreadlock myth around washing. Dirty hair DOES NOT dreadlock. You may, over time, get a big chunky matted mess - or you might not.... It depends on your hair-type.
If you do not wash your hair often your hair will get oily (we do have natural oil from our scalp as well so I don't necessarily mean super oily). If your hair is oily then it will not allow the hair to mat-up and form a dreadlock. I'm sure everyone has seen dreads that are dreaded at the bottom and have many inches of undreaded regular hair at the top. You may also see that the undreaded/hair area is either oily or in pretty good (soft 'n' healthy) condition. Either way - not a great environment for dreads.
If you think about all the hair that we lose every day just naturally, without dreads this hair will just come out and you'll find it in your shower, fridge, car, bed.... or where ever else it seems to go (clearly I'm not a fan......). If you have dreads you will still have this hair come out every day, but instead of falling out all over the place it will instead go into the bases of your dreads. It is THIS hair (and the little bit of regrowth) that you want to continue turn into a dreadlock.
To do this you will need to keep you hair clean.
Dreads will form best when hair dry in condition, not oily at all. Take my dreads for instance - they are bleached blonde (I DO NOT recommend that anyone bleaches their hair or dreads as this can and most probably will cause breakage). The bleach dries out my hair so much that it dreads quite easily on its own. That combined with frequent swimming in the ocean means that I have pretty dry hair that dreads pretty well.
So what can you do? You can keep your hair/dreads clean and find the best way for you to have hair that is dry in condition. This can often be as easy as using the right shampoo. Personally I use a Tea Tree shampoo that I get from the supermarket. Its cheap and natural and organic. This shampoo works well for me and dries out my hair enough for my dreads.
You may need to try a few different shampoos before you find the one that is good for you. When looking make sure you buy shampoo that is NATURAL and contains nothing that will result in leaving residue (this will cause build-up in your dreads which can look and smell bad).
Also try a sea salt spray to dry your dreads out. Mix 3 tablespoons of sea salt in a litre of hot water and put it in a spray bottle. Let it cool and spray (not loads!!!) twice a day. If you find your scalp is itchy and dry then try to keep the spray away from your scalp. You may need to add or subtract the amount of salt to suit you.
There are loads of natural recipes for dreads if you do a search, but on place where I refer to often is Raging Roots Salon natural recipes page. Raging Roots have NO affiliation with The Dread Shed and is not Dread Shed trained - I just really like her page 🙂
Ok ok... so you've found your perfect shampoo, or you're experimenting with a few - how often to wash?
This is up to you. WHAT????? I hear you screaming!!!! Sorry 🙂 I personally wash once a week, but that's usually because I can start to smell my own sweat (sorry, not nice..... but true) and I know its time to wash. If your hair is feeling oily, or is smelly - wash it. For some people this is every two weeks, some people every three weeks. Some people who I know who surf daily will wash only once a month just to give them a good clean.
That's it. Simple. YES you need to wash. Find the shampoo that's right for you and wash approximately 1-4 times per month.
Gotta love nice clean dreads.
PS One more thing....... When you're washing your locs remember youre not doing a commercial for shampoo where you need to lather up youre entire head with big movements. Go GENTLY! Gentle scalp massing with the shampoo and squeeze the rest through your dreads. Scrubbing and big movements will make the loose bits at your scalp come out and you'll need maintenance sooner than later x