The Importance of Dreadlock Maintenance

Dreadlocks need proper maintenance in order to look their best.

Photo: Shutterstock

Dreadlocks have long been associated with Rastafarians. Later, the look was co-opted by white hippies and members of the grunge movement who thought it looked cool. Just because they are loosely associated with grunge and hippies doesn’t mean that they are low-maintenance and don’t require effort and care.

To maintain your dreads and take care of your hair, follow these simple guidelines.

  • Washing: don’t forget that dreads, like normal hair, will absorb smells from the air. So if you work in a bar, you don’t want to walk around the rest of the time smelling like cigarette smoke and beer. Dreads should be washed once or twice a week after you have given them two weeks since they’ve been dreaded to set up. Contrary to popular belief, washing dreads will make them tighter and stronger. It’s best to wash with a shampoo specific to dreadlocks. This ensures that there is no chemical residue left to irritate the hair and scalp. Also lots of shampoos have detangling agents in them, which are not wanted.
  • Palm rolling: This is the key to any dread maintenance and your hairdresser should have demonstrated this to you. Roll each dread lock between your palms from scalp to tip. Doing this while they are damp removes bumps or uneven loose areas. This keeps the dreads cylindrical and from loose hairs tangling together. Never wax wet hair, but wax can be used to give the dreads form and keep loose hairs where they are supposed to be
  • Moisture: For thick hair and dreads, trapped moisture is always a concern. If your hair is getting wet regularly and staying wet, speed up the process by drying the locks carefully with a blow dryer. Ideally, let them air dry and use a shower cap when showering but not washing your hair. Never cover the dreads in a cloth or pull them up before they are fully dry. Mildew is not a good smell.
  • Cautionary tips: Cover your dreads when doing messy work. Don’t let your dreads come in contact with someone who has lice or other pests. Peppermint oil can be a great asset for a dry or itchy scalp.

Remember, you want dreadlocks, not “craplocks,” so be sure to keep those dreads maintained.

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