Dreadlocks hair care like with any type of hair maintenance need a minimum knowledge. If your goal is to grow healthy bountiful locs, attention to the health of your scalp will be paramount.

Just because a routine works a friend with health long doesn’t mean it will work for you. Usually, new loc wearers have misconception that loc hair equals care-free. While you want to keep styling to a minimum, it’s essential you keep your scalp clean.

No matter what stage you are in your loc journey, it would help if you had well-established dreadlock care to avoid damage and buildup down the road.

Are dreadlocks hard to maintain?

Locks maintenance isn’t any different from other types of hair. Initially, it would be best if you got to know your hair type to nourish it properly. A clean scalp is the first step to growing long loc hair.

You can’t expect them to smell like spring and roses if you never wash them! Depending on your lifestyle and location, you might want to wash them once weekly or go longer. Washing cleans your scalp and removes lint, build, and oil.

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Taking Care of Your Dreadlocks by Selecting the Best Products

Choosing the appropriate products for your locks is crucial. Choose shampoos and conditioners made especially for locks that leave no residue. Your hair and scalp may benefit from organic products like tea tree oil and aloe vera.

Developing Your Washing Technique

A crucial aspect of maintaining your locks is washing them. Here’s a quick and efficient strategy:

  • Use warm water to thoroughly wet your hair and get the scalp wet as well.
  • Use a tiny quantity of shampoo on your palms and massage your scalp and locks with a gentle motion.
  • Rinse well with warm water, removing all shampoo. Being patient, it takes time to water flow through the locks and get all the shampoo out.
  • Gently squeeze out any extra water from your dreadlocks, then cover them with a cotton shirt or microfiber towel to absorb moisture. Your dreadlocks should not be rubbed because this might result in hair frizz and damage.
  • To stop the formation of mold and mildew, let your dreadlocks air dry entirely.

How Often do You Wash your locs?

Depending on the type of hair you have, the health of your scalp, and your personal preferences, you should wash your dreadlocks often. In general, washing once every two to four weeks is an excellent place to start. Pay attention to the condition of your scalp and hair when adjusting your regimen.

How do you moisturize dreadlocks?

  • Aromatic plants

Essential oils can improve your dreadlocks and scalp in a variety of ways. Lavender, rosemary, and tea tree oils are common choices. In addition to assisting with moisture maintenance, these oils support a healthy scalp and minimize smells.

  • Water

Add water to a spray bottle to hydrate your hair as you see fit. Additionally, rose water is another excellent choice to add moisture to thirsty locs. I have always used the Basics Organic Rose Water.

  • Organic Moisturizers

Aloe vera gel and coconut oil are natural moisturizers that can help hydrate and nurture your dreadlocks. These lightweight moisturizers prevent buildup and ensure that your locks stay healthy.

You don’t need a fresh re-twist after each wash.

If it’s been a while since you cleansed your locs, you should try an apple cider vinegar pre-wash treatment. The ACV treatment is 1 part of vinegar added to two parts of clean water. Pour it into a spray bottle. Spray liberally on the scalp and massage well. Keep away from your face and eyes. Let the treatment sit for ten minutes. Then, rinse and proceed with shampoo. The Apple cider vinegar solution lifts build-up from your scalp and hair.


It’s food grade and contains just roses and water. I like mixing natural rose water with dollops of glycerin during winter and a few drops of rosemary essential oil. The solution allows my hair to retain moisture while looking shiny, soft, and healthy. It doesn’t leave any residue.

To moisturize and oil your dreadlocks:

  •  Mix a few drops of the essential oil of your choice with an all-natural moisturizer.
  •  Gently rub the mixture through your scalp and locks.
  • Rinse the combination from your hair after a few minutes, or leave it to sit longer for further benefits.

Retwisting and Palm Rolling Your Dreadlocks

Maintaining Tightness: Strategies

You can keep your locks tidy and tight by palm rolling and retwisting. To roll the palm:

  • Gently roll a loc back and forth while holding it between your palms.
  • As you go, smooth out any lumps or stray hairs, starting at the root and working to the tip.

Avoid Over-Twisting

Do not overtwist your dreadlocks because this might strain your hair and scalp and harm them. Lengthen your hold and reduce pressure if you feel any discomfort or pain.

 Planning routine upkeep

Schedule frequent maintenance treatments every 4–6 weeks to maintain your locs in optimum condition. Change the frequency depending on your particular preferences and the pace of hair growth. Your locs will stay healthy and manageable with consistent maintenance.

How do you take care of your dreads daily?
  • Sleep with a satin or silk bonnet (or scarf)to prevent your locs from unraveling
  • Remove lints
  • Trim your locs to avoid dead locking ends when needed.
  • Don’t wear tight hair styles to avoid traction alopecia
  • You don’t need gels, butter or wax on dreads.
  • Keep your fingers away from your locs to avoid breaking them.
  • Apply a water mist to keep them moisturize
  • Throw away any products with grease or unnatural ingredients
  • Massage your scalp before bed.
  • Keep your scalp clean.


The loc journey stages

Before your hair is fully loc, it goes through 5 stages. They are:

  • The starter stage. It is when you have baby loc, freshly twisted hair. (Duration: 3-6 months)
  • Budding stage or pre loc stage ( Duration: 6-12 months.)
  • The Sprouting stage or teen stage( Duration: 12-15 months)
  • Growing Stage or Mature stage. ( Duration: 15- 18 months.)
  • Rooted Stage, AKA the end game where the locs are firm to the touch. They require less re-twist.

How to Maintain Your Dreadlocks at each stage?

Baby locs

  • Start with healthy hair. While some start their dreadlocks with permed hair, it is not preferred to avoid damage. Before you even get started on your installation, you need to consider how many locs you want, the type of parts or pattern, the size, and the density of your hair.
  • Don’t be afraid to wash your hair. Some will tell you not to wash your hair to avoid unraveling the twists. Remember you can always retwist. If your hair is dirty, clean it. Stay away from deep conditioner or conditioner to prevent buildup and unraveling.
  • Keep your baby locs moisturized. Your hair is still your hair. While water is the best source of moisture, you need to find a suitable sealant. Avoid greases and petroleum-based products to avoid buildups.
  • Minimize your products. It would help if you let the process evolve naturally, and too many products will delay your loc formation and create avoidable frustration.

Teenage locs

Those deadlocks are usually frizzy. That’s a good thing.

At this point, you should be familiar with which products do well with your locs.

  • Embrace the frizz. When you wash your hair, avoid regular towels. Instead, use microfiber cloths or soft cotton to remove extra water. It is the time to embrace headwraps, scarves, and hats. 
  • Do not prune your locs.

Mature Locs

  • Avoid manipulation such as over twisting and styling. 
  • Also, be aware styling your hair too tightly can lead to traction alopecia, breakage, and bald spots. 
  • Do not ring the water out of your locs, and it can lead to thinning over time. 
  • The best way to dry your locs is airdrying. If your air is not thoroughly dried, it will start getting mildew. Trim your locs when needed to avoid split ends.
  • Try some apple cider vinegar soak.
young black man with dreadlock hair outside

Dreadlocks Don’ts:

  1. Never retwist on dry hair. 
  2.   Do not experiment on your locs ( to each its own, but some stuff is not meant for your hair, even if it’s locked.)
  3. Don’t trim your frizzy hair
  4. Don’t wait for two to three months to wash your hair.
  5. Don’t wear the same style, such as updos, for an extended time
  6. Approach DIYs with caution ( buildups and mildew)
  7. Don’t neglect your maintenance routine.
  8. Don’t color your locs if you don’t know what you are doing.
  9. Tie your locs in knots to prevent losing lengths. 
  10. Think short-term with your locs. ( carelessness has consequences on your locs, hence buildups and breakage.)
  11. Expect the same exact dreadlocks set as somebody else.

Managing Common Dreadlock Issues

The process of growing dreadlocks often involves loose hairs.

  1. Carefully tuck the stray hairs back into the dreadlocks using a crochet hook.
  2. To assist stray strands, palm roll your dreadlocks often.
  3. Adopt a natural appearance since a few stray hairs may give your dreadlocks personality.

How to remove build up in locs?

A buildup on dreadlocks is an accumulation of products inside of the hair. The leftover product calcifies inside the hair subsequently starts to weigh down, causing dryness and breakage. Buildup compromises the integrity of the locked hair.
Even if the loc looks healthy externally doesn’t mean it is healthy internally.

Apple cider vinegar mixed in with warm is hand down the best solution to lift buildup from your dreadlocks! Add one part ACV to two parts of warm in a spray bottle like mentioned above. Spray the solution all over, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Don’t forget to massage your scalp and hair gently for maximum penetration. If you still have some excess buildup and your regular shampoo isn’t cleaning the residue, try the Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo sparingly. The Neutrogena anti-residue shampoo kept me from cutting my hair after a weekend at the beach, rolling in the sand without proper precaution. A word of caution, though, It is a drying shampoo containing sulfates, and I advise using it only if everything else fails.

How stop accumulation of Build up?

  1. Use shampoos and conditioners made for dreadlocks that leave no residue.
  2. Steer clear of heavier items that might lead to buildup, such as wax or pomades composed of petroleum.
  3. Once in a while, use water, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar to cleanse deep. Any remaining residue in your hair will be removed with this.

Excellent video on how to remove build from dreadlocks:

man taking care of a piece of loc

How to remove lint or surface residues in your dreadlocks?

Lint tends to embed into the hair if you do not remove it. Unfortunately, you can pick a piece of lint with your nails. To prevent lint, the best thing to do is to avoid non-shedding materials such as wool, fuzzy sweater, and scarves if you can. Wear scarves whenever possible to protect your hair, hats, or beanies. You can also try styles that keep your hair off your clothes.

tweezer with soft rubber tips to remove lint from dreadlocks without damaging them.

To remove lint, you will need a simple tweezer. I like to use a tweezer with rubber silicone tips. The soft tweezer tips pick at the lint or small object embedded in the loc while avoiding snagging. Carefully pick the lint out, one piece at a time.

Shake the hair gently to get the surface residue out before washing, so the lint doesn’t get embedded into the hair—palm roll after you are done to avoid unraveling. The tweezer gives you control over the pressure you apply over the lint creating unnecessary friction on your hair.

Dreadlocks Do’s

  1. invest in a satin/silk pillowcase or a silk-lined bonnet
  2. Moisturize your locs
  3. Daily moisture mist
  4. Seal your moisture with a quality sealant focusing from the body to the end
  5. Air dry your hair
  6. Eat a healthy diet to encourage hair growth
  7. Wash your hair
  8. Enjoy your hair

How to Prevent Dryness and Itchiness

  1. Use natural oils and moisturizers to keep your scalp hydrated.
  2. Use a mild shampoo that won’t deplete your hair with its natural oils to wash your dreadlocks.
  3. After washing your hair, rinse it with a diluted apple cider vinegar solution to help calm and balance your scalp

Keeping Your Scalp Healthy

Great dreadlocks are built on a healthy scalp. To keep your scalp healthy:

  1. To maintain your hair clean and irritation-free, wash it frequently with the right products.
  2. Gently massage your scalp to increase blood flow and encourage hair growth.
  3. Steer clear of tight haircuts that strain and irritate your scalp.

Dreads vs Locs

The terms “dreadlocks” and “locs” are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference in their origins and cultural associations.

“Dreadlocks” is a term that was originally used by European colonizers to describe the matted hair of enslaved Africans, whom they perceived as “dreadful” or fearsome. As such, the term has negative connotations and is associated with the cultural oppression of black people.

In contrast, “locs” is a term that was coined in the 1960s by Rastafarians, a religious and cultural movement that originated in Jamaica. Rastafarians believe that growing and wearing “locs” is a way to honor their African heritage and connection to nature, and they consider it a sacred practice. Historically, the origins of locs are not exclusive to people of African descent and are not attached to any specific culture.

In terms of the hairstyle itself, both dreadlocks and locs refer to a style of hair that is intentionally allowed to mat and form into long, rope-like strands. The process of creating and maintaining dreadlocks or locs can vary depending on the individual’s hair texture, length, and personal preferences.

All in all, while the terms “dreadlocks” and “locs” may be used interchangeably in some contexts, it is important to be aware of their different cultural origins and associations.

Protect Your Locs During Styling

Try out these simple to make accessories and styles to keep your dreads looking new:

  1. Half-up, half-down: Pull back the top half of your locs and fasten them with a band or hair tie.
  2. Ponytail: Form a ponytail with all your locs and fasten it with a hair tie or band.
  3. Headbands and scarves: Wear a bright headband or scarf to draw attention to your locs and keep them in place.

Consider using these more ornate looks for big occasions:

  1. lock bun: Twist your dreads into a bun and fasten it with bobby pins or a hair tie.
  2. French braid: For a refined and classy appearance, French braid your locs.
  3. Updo: Secure your dreads in a bun.
  1. Updo: Pin your locs into an updo while experimenting with different shapes and styles to obtain the ideal appearance for your occasion.

Keeping Dreadlocks Safe While Sleeping and Exercising

To keep your dreadlocks safe when you sleep and work out:

  1. Use a satin or silk pillowcase to minimize friction and avoid frizz when sleeping.
  2. To keep your locs in place and retain their shape, use a satin or silk cap or wrap a satin or silk scarf over them.
  3. To reduce tension on your scalp and hair when exercising, use loose, comfortable hairstyles.
  4. Repair and Extension of Dreadlocks

Reasons for Extensions and Repair

Some people want to have their locs repaired or extended for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Extending dreadlocs in length or volume.
  2. Fixing locs that are brittle or damaged.
  3. Improving the way their locs look overall.

Selecting the Appropriate Approach and Materials

To guarantee the finest outcomes:

  1. Select human hair extensions that closely resemble the texture and color of your hair.
  2. Find out which attachment technique is ideal for your hair kind and your requirements by researching it, such as crocheting, interlocking, or sewing.
  3. Speak with an expert to review your options and pick the best products and techniques for your dreadlock.

Choosing a Reliable Professional

To locate a qualified expert:

  1. Consult with friends, relatives, or the internet for recommendations.
  2. dreadlocked-populated areas.
  3. To determine the caliber of the expert’s work, read reviews and client endorsements.
  4. Make an appointment for a consultation to go through your needs, ask questions, and gauge the expert’s knowledge and experience.

Removing or Combining locs

Reasons for Removal or Combining

People may choose to remove or combine their locks for various reasons, such as:

  1. Choosing a new hairstyle or look.
  2. Experiencing thinning or damaged locs.
  3. Wanting thicker lock or a more manageable number of locks.

Dreadlock removal safely:

  1. To soften and release your dread, gently clean and condition them.
  2. Keep your hair moisturized using a detangling spray or a solution of water and conditioner.
  3. Start at the tip of the dreadlock and carefully through the tangles and knots using a fine-toothed comb, a dreadlock comb, or a crochet hook.
  4. Working cautiously and deliberately to prevent hair damage, gradually advance toward the root.
  5. Continue until all of the locks have been taken out.

To make your locs look fuller, combine them:

  1. Pick two locs that are close together that you wish to merge.
  2. After removing stray hairs, entwine the roots of the two locs using a crochet hook.
  3. Crochet the locs’ whole length, fusing them.
  4. Palm roll it to smooth and tighten the newly united dreadlock.
  5. Carry out the procedure again if you wish to merge any more locs.

Consider the consequence before merging locs because doing so will result in fewer locks. To avoid breakage and damage, treat your hair gently at all times.

The experience of growing dreadlocks is singular and transformational. Accept the process, love your dreadlocks as they develop, and be ready for the frequent personal development of this hairstyle.

 The value of consistency and patience

Maintaining good locs requires patience and consistency. Recognize that the maturation and evolution of locs take time and cannot be hurried. As your locs grow, be patient and continue your care schedule as usual.

Honoring uniqueness and personal style

locs are a striking way to convey one’s uniqueness and sense of style. As you continue your trip, experiment with various looks, add-ons, and styling methods to make your locs distinctly you. Celebrate the individuality of your locs by wearing them with pride and embracing your natural beauty.

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