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What are the Best Tips for Dreadlock Maintenance?

By L.R. Ferguson
Updated May 21, 2024
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Practicing proper dreadlock maintenance is crucial to avoid damaging the unique look of dreadlocks — tightly twisted hair that is coiled and matted. Although this style requires some maintenance, the look is considered natural because it relies on a person’s original hair texture and requires no chemical alteration. Dreadlocks are more common among those of African descent, because textured and kinky hair holds the style easily, but people who have naturally straight or loose hair can also wear dreads. Maintaining dreadlocks simply requires a few general, but key, tips. Among the best tips are washing the hair properly, protecting the hair from damage and using the correct products and tools on the hair.

First, one of the most important tips for dreadlock maintenance — and a frequent area of concern for those who have beginner dreads — is learning how to properly wash the hair. It typically is advised to not wash the hair for the first week or two that dreadlocks have been formed. Washing the dreadlocks before this stage might cause them to come undone and to loosen considerably. After washing the dreads, the hair should be dried by squeezing as much water out of it as possible and then allowing it to air dry. Hair that is very oily might require more frequent washing than hair that is not oily, but washing dreadlocks about every two weeks is generally considered appropriate.

Another important tip for dreadlock maintenance is to avoid damaging the locks with everyday habits. Until dreadlocks become thicker and stronger — a process that could take several years — they are very delicate and should be treated as such. A good rule of thumb is for one to avoid touching the locks unless washing, styling or palm-rolling them to maintain their shape. It is important for individuals to not twist or pull on dreadlocks, because this will loosen them and can cause breakage. Another daily habit that will help dreadlocks remain neat and prevent them from pulling apart or becoming frizzy is for one to sleep while wearing a silk scarf on his or her head or to sleep on a silk pillowcase.

A final important tip for dreadlock maintenance is learning what type of products, tools and accessories are necessary for daily and long-term care. It generally is recommended to wash dreadlocks with a shampoo that is residue- and chemical-free, because this will prevent buildup from occurring on the locks and will soothe scalp irritation. Another important product to use is dread wax or dread cream, a type of pomade that will smooth the dreads and lock loose strands into place. Steel dread combs are considered the best styling tool to use for dreadlocks, because they are sturdier and more durable than typical plastic combs. Finally, it is recommended for people who have dreadlocks to invest in accessories — such as scarves, knit caps and wraps — that not only will keep the hair in place but also will add style to the dreadlocks.

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