As someone with mature dreadlocks, I've learned to appreciate the beauty and convenience they offer. Their hardiness means that they can endure adverse weather conditions, absorb sweat from intense workouts, and resist the strains of rigorous labor. In essence, they save me both time and money because I can simply wash and go, making them quite low maintenance.
However, low maintenance does not mean no maintenance. For the growth, strength, and health of my dreadlocks, I make sure to clean them on a weekly basis. To achieve this, I rely on a collection of essential cleaning items, which include shampoos, oils, tightening gels, nylon stocking caps, styling clips, and a blow dryer.
Twisted Locs May Require More
Yet, it's crucial to understand that not all dreadlocks are cared for in the same way. For instance, twisted locs, another type of dreadlock, demand a distinct upkeep routine compared to my freeform locs. With twisted locs, a regular tightening regimen using gel or wax is required every three to five days, accompanied by a weekly shampoo. Freeform locs like mine are comparatively simpler: I cleanse, moisturize, and occasionally separate any matted locs.
If you have freshly twisted locs, here's a guide based on my past experience: With your locs about one to two inches long, place a nylon stocking cap tightly over them, carefully dividing the locs. Soak your hair and then apply shampoo, creating a lather in the palm of your hand before rubbing it onto the stocking cap. You should then gently squeeze the lather into each loc and massage your scalp. Rinse your hair through the stocking cap using warm water, then place a towel over the stocking to press out as much water as possible.
After each shampooing session, it's essential to maintain the newly loosened locs. While they're still damp, retwist each one, apply wax or gel, clamp it in place, and blow dry. To keep them tightly bound, it might be wise to retwist all your locs. When sleeping, cover your hair with a nylon stocking, head wrap, or doo-rag.
You might be using beeswax or tightening gels, but remember, their use should only be temporary. The aim is to hold the hair strands together until they lock naturally. This process may need to be repeated until the locs mature, which can take between two to six months, depending on your hair type.
Oils, Shampoos, and Styling For Mature Dreadlocks
As your dreadlocks grow longer and stronger, you'll be able to create many styles without causing any damage. Let your locs flow freely, style them into buns, or tie them into a ponytail. The maintenance routine changes slightly as well. Although weekly cleaning is still necessary, there might be little or no retwisting required. Shampooing becomes more straightforward—wash, rinse, and repeat.
I recommend using natural oils such as almond, coconut, or olive oil. You can mix these oils into your shampoo lather or apply them to damp locs. These oils can help prevent itchiness and dandruff. After rinsing, squeeze out the excess water, wrap your locs in a towel, and let them air dry. Like sponges, mature dreadlocks can hold a significant amount of water, so drying may take between two to six hours, depending on the length and thickness of your dreadlocks. To speed up drying, keep the dreadlocks as loose as possible or use a blow dryer.
It's also important to note that not all shampoos and soaps work well with dreadlocks. Most of them contain additives or residues that build up, block hair follicles, cause scalp itchiness, and leave the scalp dry.
When choosing a shampoo, opt for those with natural ingredients. It's equally crucial to avoid certain harmful components like parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. Parabens are known to mimic estrogen in the body, facilitating the growth and spread of cancer cells. Phthalates, often used as gelling agents or fragrances, have been linked to permanent damage to the male reproductive system. Sulfates can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dehydrated.
To make an informed decision, conduct thorough online research and carefully read the labels. Amazon can be a good starting point due to its product reviews and recommendations. You can also consult a loctician or hair stylist for guidance.
Finally, here are a few more tips based on my personal journey of nurturing great dreadlocks:
- Consider dying or bleaching your hair before it forms dreadlocks, as chemicals can weaken them.
- If you like wearing hats, you'll need a large one to accommodate your dreadlocks—cultural shops often stock a variety of such hats.
- Experiment with different methods of growing, cleaning, oiling, and styling.
- Try to avoid smoky or dusty environments, as dreadlocks can quickly absorb smoke, resulting in unpleasant smells.
- Limit the use of rubber bands, as the tightness can weaken or even cut your dreadlocks.
- Be careful around exercising equipment or machinery to avoid getting your dreadlocks tangled.
- Lastly, oil your hair regularly—natural oils provide deep conditioning and moisture. Apply them immediately after shampooing for soft and shiny dreadlocks.
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