What Are the Best Tips for Dreadlocks Maintenance?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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Dreadlocks are bunches of hair that are allowed to naturally clump together or are formed artificially using special combs, twisting by hand, or with chemicals. Once established, dreadlocks maintenance is not difficult. To maintain dreadlocks, hair is carefully washed once a week, dried thoroughly, and then re-twisted to incorporate any stray hair.

The first step in dreadlocks maintenance is washing, which is typically done once a week. Before washing, each dreadlock is secured with a rubber band at the top and bottom, unless the neglecting method is being used to develop dreadlocks, meaning that all hair care with the exception of washing is skipped. Many locticians, hairdressers who specialize in dreadlocks, also recommend placing a lose-fitting nylon cap over the head and washing the dreadlocks through the nylon cap to minimize stray wisps of hair. Shampoo should always be thoroughly washed from the dreadlocks. Conditioner can either be applied to the whole head or just the tips of the dreadlocks.


Following washing, the next step in dreadlocks maintenance is to completely dry the hair without damaging the dreadlocks. The hair should be dried while bending over so that the dreadlocks can dangle free. Each dread is squeezed by hand with a towel to milk the water from the hair. This process is repeated several times as the water passes down the dreadlocks to the tips while bent over. It is very important to completely dry the dreadlocks to prevent mildew and odors from developing. Once the hair is dry, any free wisps of hair can be either reincorporated into an existing dreadlocks or formed into new dreadlocks.

There are several daily dreadlocks maintenance steps that can be done to improve the quality of dreadlocks and keep them healthy. Massaging the scalp once or twice a day will release the natural oils produced in the scalp. These natural oils will keep the scalp from becoming dry, naturally condition the hair, and help to conserve the dreadlock form. To prevent dreadlocks from loosening while sleeping, a dry nylon cap can be worn or a silk pillow case can be placed over the pillow.

Many products exist that can be used for dreadlocks maintenance. Special dreadlocks shampoos and conditioners may help to tighten and form the dreadlocks. Dreadlocks wax, applied to dry dreadlocks, helps to hold the dreadlocks together and prevents sections of hair from breaking free. There are also several sprays and gels that can also be applied to tighten and strengthen the dreadlocks. It is best to work with a professional hairdresser or loctician to determine which products are best for each hair type.


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