No matter your hair type, texture, or style, everyone’s hair deserves and requires a level of maintenance and a routine to keep it clean and healthy. When it comes to having dreadlocks, there are fewer required steps of maintenance than other hairstyles, but that does not mean you don’t need to care for your hair. 

Learning how to care for dreadlocks will help your hair stay healthy, promote hair growth, and allow your locs to last a lifetime. Let’s dive into all things hair care and maintenance that you’ll need from the beginning stages and throughout your entire loc journey. We will guide you through the steps of a proper cleansing routine, different tightening techniques, and provide insights on the best hair products for natural hair to treat and protect your locs from damage. 

What is a Hair Care Routine?

A hair care routine is a set of steps or practices to take care of, treat and style your hair. This involves things like cleansing and conditioning, the types of products you use, and how often you may perform some of the steps of care. 

The most important part of learning how to care for new dreads is your cleansing and drying routine. We will guide you through the best method of washing and drying your locs and the different types of maintenance steps you should include in your hair care routine, like tightening or re-twisting your locs, especially to protect your hair at night.  

Why is a Hair Care Routine Important?

A common misconception people have about many types of dreadlocks is that there are no steps of care to keep your hair clean and healthy. To have healthy dreadlocks, they must be kept clean and moisturized. This needs to happen for your hair to stay strong and healthy so that it can grow. Without a proper hair care routine, locs can start to thin, break off, and stop growing. 

For example, if you do not have a proper drying method or routine for your locs, this can create a buildup of mildew and cause major damage to your hair. The health of your hair can also affect your overall health and how you feel about yourself, so think of taking care of your locs as a form of self-care. We’re here to help you learn how to get rid of buildup in dreadlocks so that you can make a much more informed decision about what steps you will need to incorporate into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. 

How Do I Stimulate Hair Growth?

Growing hair and more specifically locs takes patience and time. To be exact, dreadlocks can take up to two-plus years before they reach their fully matured stage, and even then, they have the potential to continue growing years later. Outside of establishing a proper cleansing and drying routine for your locs, follow these two quick tips to ensure your scalp is the perfect environment for loc growth: 

Apply oils 

Use carrier oils like almond, avocado, jojoba, sunflower, or grapeseed oil on your locs to keep your scalp moisturized. It’s important to use a natural oil to give your hair the proper vitamins and nutrients to better support hair growth. 

Eat healthy foods 

What you put into your body can affect not only your physical health but your mental health, skin, and hair. Eating the proper nutrients will only bring you one step closer to achieving your hair goals.

How Do I Maintain My Locs?

Taking care of your locs, no matter if you’re in the budding or mature stage, takes patience and requires some level of maintenance to keep your hair healthy and to stimulate growth. If you are still wondering how to take care of natural dreadlocks for the long term, including how often to wash natural hair, here are some tips to give your locs the love and care they deserve: 

Shampoo locs every two to three weeks  

Finding the right shampoo and perfecting your cleansing routine is very important if you want to take care of dreadlocks like a pro. Cleansing your locs will prevent the buildup of product, sweat, oil, and dirt that forms over time. 

Product buildup can cause odor, thinning, and breakage. It’s important to use the right shampoo to get rid of any buildup that can prevent your locs from growing and flourishing. Look for dreadlock-specific shampoos, such as a clarifying shampoo that includes natural oil and is residue-free. 

Regular shampoos contain fragrances and softeners that can cause damage to your locs or loosen/unravel them, especially at the starter stage of your loc journey. 

Condition Your Locs 

Especially in the beginning stages of locs, conditioning your hair can be a tightrope to walk. Even if you’re not in the beginning stages of your locs journey, over-moisturizing your locs can cause damage and loosen or unravel them. No matter the stage of your locs, it’s best to use apple cider vinegar as a safe alternative to a traditional conditioner to get rid of buildup while keeping your healthy hair soft and moisturized. 

Dry Your Locs Properly 

Part of  mastering how to take care of your dreads is ensuring your locs are 100 percent dry after wetting them in the shower or shampooing your hair is important to preventing mildew growth in your hair. If you live in a warmer climate, try killing two birds with one stone by getting some vitamin D and letting the warmth of the sun dry your hair. 

You’ll soon learn that many dreadlock hairstyles are like sponges and can take hours to dry, so you might need some backup to speed up the process. Here are a few hacks to quickly dry your locs:

  • Squeeze your locs 

Squeezing your locs of excess water is the first step you should take before moving on to any additional technique to drying your locs. 

  • Wrap your hair 

Use a microfiber towel to wrap your hair and leave it on for about an hour while the towel absorbs all the moisture in your hair. Using a microfiber towel as opposed to a regular towel is best to avoid damage from friction and prevent lint buildup in your locs from a cotton towel. 

  • Palm roll 

Using the same palm rolling technique used to tighten locs, palm roll your hair from the root to the tip to shake off excess water.  

  • Use a blow dryer

If you’re in a rush and need your hair to dry quickly, try using a blow dryer. We recommend using a low heat setting to prevent heat damage. Use a diffuser attachment to get at your roots quickly and efficiently. Make sure not to use the blow dryer on your hair for too long. This technique will work best in combination with some of the other techniques like squeezing and wrapping your locs. 

Establish a Nighttime Routine 

Protecting your hair at night is important to maintain the moisture in your hair and prevent friction with your pillow that may cause damage. One of our favorite natural hair care tips is to use a satin or silk scarf, pillowcase, bonnet, and or dubag to cover your hair while you get your well-needed rest.  

Nourish Your Scalp

Your locs are sturdy, but they are not invincible and are still prone to breakage and thinning. Keeping your scalp clean and moisturized is key to maintaining healthy dreadlocks. Use a natural lightweight oil and do scalp massage every one to two weeks. Using a lightweight oil will prevent heavy product buildup in your locs.  

Find a Tightening Technique That Works For You 

Tightening techniques are methods in which you re-twist or tighten your locs when there is new growth at the root to help maintain or form the shape of the dreadlock. You should retwist your locs no more than every four weeks. 

Depending on how fast your hair grows will determine how often you will need to do this. Keeping your locs tightened will make your hair easier to maintain your look and the health of your locs. It’s important not to over-twist or over-tighten your locs. 

Doing this often can cause tension in your scalp that results in thinning and breakage in your locs. Here are two different types of tightening techniques most recommended by industry beauty professionals to help you maintain your locs:

  • Twist and pin method 

Take a small amount of product, like twist and lock gel and apply it at the root, and spread it out down throughout the entire loc. Using your fingers, pinch and twist the loc starting at the root, moving down throughout the shaft of the hair until you reach the ends. After you have twisted the entire lock, use a prong curl clip to secure the root of the loc. 

  • Palm rolling method

Lay your loc flat across one of your palms and roll it between your other palm in a back and forth direction, similarly like you wash your hands. If your locs are smaller in size, you can use your fingers to roll the hair. Always start at the root and work your way down to the tip. We recommend using dread wax when palm rolling your locs to keep the hair in place and stick together. Dreadlock wax will keep your hair strong, moisturized, and prevent breakage. 

Don’t Over Manipulate Your Hair 

Constantly manipulating or twisting your roots can not only cause painful tension and irritation on your scalp but can also cause your hair to thin and break over time. Especially at the starter stage, your locs are most fragile to any type of manipulation and can break off. Be sure to avoid applying too much product or touching your hair too much during this time. Outside of required maintenance, letting your locs be is the best thing you can do for their health and growth.

From time to time, you may find your dreads need a refresh. In this case, it’s essential to find stylists that specialize in locs who can help elevate the condition of your hairstyle. Whether you are on the lookout for the best dreadlocks Houston stylists offer or the best dreadlocks Atlanta locticians recommend, we can help get you connected at StyleSeat.

The health of your hair will depend on how well you treat it. Establishing a solid hair care routine will help you achieve healthy and shiny locs. Shampooing your hair and keeping a clean scalp is very important to maintaining the health of your hair. 

Drying your locs properly will also establish a strong and healthy foundation for your locs to continue to grow and prosper. With these tips and tricks, your locs will be in the perfect condition to remain healthy and strong. 

Remember, even with all of these steps, everybody’s hair is different, and nobody gets it right all the time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, hair care is self-care, and with patience and commitment, your locs will be right where they need to be.