By Terez Howard

Dreadlock maintenance.  It has to be done to maintain neat-looking locs.  Your hair care routine must include regularly tightening your roots, such as by palm rolling, and keeping your natural hair clean.

If you fail to do regular dreadlock maintenance, your locs will suffer.  They will develop into various sizes, become weakened or snap off.  If you want to grow long, healthy locs, you must keep them clean and tightened.

How often should you wash dreadlocks?

This depends on how your natural hair texture responds to dreadlocks.  Your hair care routine might include washing your dreadlocks every week or even twice a week religiously.  On the other hand, your hair texture might respond well to less frequent shampooings, such as every couple weeks.

Your early stages of dreadlock maintenance will vary from the mature stage.  Once your locs are mature, you can basically wash them as frequently as you’d like.  In the beginning, you should make a washing schedule to ensure the locs will develop properly for your hair type.

How can you keep dreadlocks clean?

One part of dreadlock maintenance is checking and removing lint.  If you do not remove lint, the lint will get trapped in your locs, and your natural hair will loc with lint inside.

A second way to keep dreadlocks clean is by shampooing them with water.

A third way to keep your locs clean, especially if you sweat a lot or live in a hot climate, is to rinse them as needed.  Be careful doing this when your locs are still babies.  After they grow into maturity, you can run water over them at any time to freshen them.

How should dreadlock roots be maintained?

This is one of the most important parts of dreadlock maintenance.  Your hair care routine should consist of regular times for tightening your new growth.

The frequency that you maintain your roots depends on how fast your natural hair grows, the type of locs you have and how often you wash your hair.  Fast growing hair will need tightened more frequently than slower growing hair.  (Hair grows an average of 1/2 inch per month).  Washing your dreadlocks might make them unravel a bit at the root area.  While this is a natural part of the process, if you wait too long to tighten those unraveled roots, when you do go to tighten them, your locs will be very tangled.  You might also lose some of your original parting.

You can maintain your roots by palm rolling or twisting new growth when your dreadlocks are still wet from washing.  Aloe vera gel, olive oil or tea tree oil can be used for the process.  After you twist or palm roll the roots, secure them down with an alligator clip until your locs dry.

Another way to tighten your new growth is by using a tool, like a latch hook.  You don’t need to have wet hair to tighten your locs this way, and the locs have no need to be secured down with alligator clips.  Dreadlock maintenance this way will give you tighter, thinner locs.

Dreadlock Maintenance Tips

  • When washing locs, focus on your scalp and then work your shampoo through the length of your dreadlocks.
  • You should avoid conditioners when your dreadlocks are in the early stages.  Conditioner smooths the cuticle (outer layer of a hair strand), and you want your cuticle to be rough to encourage matting.
  • Use residue-free shampoo to wash your dreadlocks.
  • After you shampoo your dreadlocks, finger comb your natural hair.  You don’t want to have crawling locs (when the locs connect together at the root).
  • Cover your dreadlocks in a satin scarf or bonnet at night to keep them looking neat.


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