Dreadlocks, or "dreads," are a timeless hairstyle that has gained popularity in recent years. Although they can look effortlessly stylish, taking care of dreads can be challenging. Dreads have unique needs that require specific products and care routines to maintain their health and appearance. One of the most important products for maintaining healthy dreads is shampoo.

Explanation of What Dreads Are and Their Unique Needs

Dreads, also known as dreadlocks, are rope-like strands of hair created by matting and twisting hair. This unique style can be done on any hair texture and can vary greatly in size and shape. Dreads require a specific hair care routine, different from other hairstyles due to the way hair is twisted and the natural oils it produces. Dreads also require their own unique shampoo to keep them looking healthy and beautiful.

man with dreadlocks

Importance of Using the Right Shampoo for Dreads

Using the right shampoo for dreads is essential for maintaining their health and appearance. Dreads are prone to becoming dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage and damage if not cared for properly. The right shampoo for dreads will help to keep them moisturized, protecting them from damage and promoting healthy growth. It's recommended to use a shampoo that is designed specifically for dreadlocks, as it contains natural ingredients and avoids harsh chemicals that can damage them.

Overview of What the Article Will Cover

This article will cover everything you need to know about dreadlocks and how to care for them. We'll explore the unique needs that dreads have and why it's so important to use the right shampoo. We'll also share our top picks for the best shampoos to use on dreadlocks, as well as some tips for maintaining healthy and beautiful dreads. With this guide, you'll have all the information you need to keep your dreads looking their best.

Understanding the Needs of Dreadlocks

If you're thinking of getting dreadlocks, it's important to understand that they require a unique hair care routine to stay healthy and maintain their appearance. Here are a few things that make dreads different from other hair types and some tips for caring for them:

What Makes Dreads Different from Other Hair Types

Dreadlocks are formed by twisting and matting hair together to create rope-like strands. This twisting process can cause dreads to become more prone to breakage and tangling. Additionally, because of how the hair is twisted, dreads block natural oils from spreading throughout the hair, often leading to dryness and breakage. For this reason, dreads require regular maintenance and specific hair care products.

washing the hair

The Importance of Keeping Dreads Clean

Keeping dreads clean is vital to their health and appearance. Dreads are more susceptible to collecting dirt, lint, and other debris, which can contribute to odor and create an unclean appearance. Not to mention, dirt buildup can cause dreads to loosen and undo. It's recommended to wash dreadlocks at least once a week to maintain cleanliness.

How to Care for and Maintain Dreads

When it comes to caring for dreadlocks, there are a few things you can do to keep them healthy and looking their best. First, invest in a good dreadlock shampoo that is specially formulated for this hair type. Regular shampoo can leave behind a residue that can make dreads heavy and sticky. Instead, opt for a shampoo that uses natural ingredients to avoid leaving buildup.

Additionally, it's crucial to ensure that dreads are dry before styling or going to bed. Wet hair is more prone to breakage and can lead to mold growth in the twists. Finally, regular maintenance is key to keeping dreads looking tidy and maintained. This maintenance may involve retwisting loose hairs and trimming damaged ends. With these tips, you'll be able to easily care for and maintain your dreadlocks while keeping them looking their best.

long dreadlocks

What to Look for in a Shampoo for Dreads

When it comes to choosing a shampoo for dreadlocks, it's essential to consider the type of ingredients used in the product, as not all shampoos are created equally. Here's what you should look for in a shampoo for dreads:

Ingredients to Avoid and Why

There are certain ingredients commonly found in hair care products that you should avoid when shopping for shampoo for dreadlocks. Ingredients like sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving your dreads dry and brittle. Additionally, these ingredients can cause buildup and leave a residue on your hair, making it look dull and lifeless.

Ingredients to Look for and Why

Instead, look for shampoos that contain natural ingredients and essential oils. Tea tree oil, for example, is a great addition to a dreadlock shampoo because it has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help to eliminate any buildup or odor. Peppermint oil is another great ingredient to look for because it has a cooling effect that can soothe an itchy, irritated scalp. Jojoba oil is a fantastic ingredient because it can help to nourish and moisturize your dreads without leaving behind a greasy residue.

Considerations for Fragrance, Color, and Texture

It's also important to consider the fragrance, color, and texture of shampoo for dreads. The fragrance is entirely a matter of personal preference, but if you're sensitive to synthetic fragrances, you may want to opt for a shampoo that uses natural fragrance oils or is fragrance-free. When it comes to color, keep in mind that darker-colored shampoos can leave residue on your scalp. Finally, the texture of shampoo can vary greatly, so it's worth trying out a few different textures to see what feels most comfortable and effective for you.

By choosing a shampoo that avoids harsh ingredients and uses natural, nourishing ingredients, you can ensure that your dreadlocks remain healthy, clean, and looking their best.

bottle of shampoo in salon

Our List of the Top Products in This Category

  1. Jamaican Mango and Lime Tingle Dreadlock Shampoo & Protein Conditioner
  2. Dread Head HQ Dread Dreadlock Soap
  3. Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo
  4. Alaffia Skin Care, Authentic African Black Soap
  5. Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo
  6. Knatty Dread Dreadlocks Shampoo
  7. Twisted Sista Luxurious Clarifying Shampoo
  8. Dollylocks Shampoo Bar for Dreadlocks
  9. Dollylocks Dreadlock Locking Powder

Tips for Washing Dreads

Maintaining clean and healthy dreadlocks is essential for keeping them looking their best. Here are some tips for washing your dreads:

Step-by-Step Instructions for Washing Dreads

  1. Start with wet hair. Wet your hair thoroughly before shampooing. Apply shampoo.
  2. Apply a small amount of dreadlock shampoo to your scalp and work it into your hair, focusing on the roots. You can massage the shampoo into your scalp, using your fingertips.
  3. Rinse well. Rinse your hair, making sure to rinse out all of the shampoo.
  4. Repeat if necessary. You may need to repeat these steps if your dreads are particularly dirty.
  5. Condition (optional). Depending on the type of dreadlock shampoo you use, you may not need to condition it afterward.
  6. Rinse thoroughly. Make sure to rinse out the conditioner completely.
  7. Squeeze out excess water. Squeeze out as much water as you can by wrapping your dreads in a towel and pressing them down.
shampoo bottles

Dos and Don'ts for Washing Dreads


  1. Use a gentle shampoo that is specifically made for dreadlocks.
  2. Rinse your hair thoroughly to make sure you remove all shampoo and/or conditioner residue.
  3. Use warm water when washing your dreadlocks, as hot water can damage and dry them out.


  1. Rub your dreads vigorously when washing, as this can lead to damage and breakage.
  2. Use regular hair products such as hair oils or creams, as they can cause buildup and weight down the hair.
  3. Use a hair dryer on high heat, as it may burn your hair and cause damage.

Advice for Drying and Styling Dreads After Washing

After washing your dreadlocks, you'll want to make sure you dry them thoroughly. To do this first is to gently towel-dry your dreads by wrapping them in a towel and pressing them down. Allow them to air dry or use a hair drying towel or hair dryer with the cool air setting. When styling your dreadlocks, it's important to be gentle and avoid pulling or tugging on them. A common way to maintain dreadlocks is to palm roll them regularly, which helps to define their shape and maintain their appearance. With these tips, you can easily wash, dry, and style your dreadlocks while keeping them healthy and looking their best.

FAQs about Dreads

Is it okay to use regular shampoo on dreads?

Regular shampoo isn't recommended for dreads as it contains sulfates and wax-based ingredients that cause buildup, matting, dullness, and dryness. Specialized shampoos for dreads contain natural oils and ingredients like aloe vera juice, ACV, tea tree oil, and shea butter, which provide deep cleaning and conditioning benefits. Pre-Shampoo Detangling Treatments can also be used to avoid knots and lock formation and excess buildup. Conditioners that are specially made for locks are necessary for maintaining healthy and vibrant dreads. They provide extra hydration after cleansing to keep your locks looking luscious.

Is coconut shampoo good for dreadlocks?

Coconut shampoo is perfect for dreadlocks. It contains coconut oil that provides moisture, promotes growth, and prevents breakage. It is sulfate-free, preventing buildup and itching. It also contains vitamins, like Vitamin E, and essential oils that moisturize and nourish the locks. Consider using natural and organic formulas for gentler yet effective care. Use appropriately and never leave on too long without rinsing for the best results.

white bottle of shampoo

Can I wash my dreads every day?

Although washing dreads every day can strip them of natural oils and cause dryness, frequent washing with natural ingredients designed for dreadlocks can be beneficial. Pay attention to how your scalp and locks react to daily washing. Using non-toxic and eco-friendly products specifically for dreadlock cleaning is important to avoid harm. When washing, use gentle massage strokes instead of scrubbing too hard to avoid tangles and weakened strands. Take caution when rinsing off excess shampoo to avoid pulling out sections of loose hair. Remember that deep conditioning treatments and occasional mineral oil massages are crucial for maintaining healthy dreadlocks.

How do I stop my dreads from smelling

For eliminating odor in dreadlocks, regularly wash them with a non-toxic alternative such as witch hazel or vinegar diluted in water. Dry shampooing is also effective between washes. Rinse locks with cool water, use citrus juices or try soaking your head in water combined with essential oils like tea tree oil. Avoid fragrances and synthetic products as they would only mask odors.

How to wash dreadlocks