If you are planning to have dreadlocks, you should first get information about a good dreadlock shampoo which will keep your dreads really clean and healthy. Don’t know why, but this is the most neglected topic, despite being so important. So, here we will thoroughly discuss about dreadlock shampoo and keeping dreads clean.
Chemistry of Dreadlocks and Shampoo
Today all the shampoos you get in the stores are basically residue-forming, though they claim that they are not. What is this residue and why should it be looked into so carefully? Residue is anything that tends to stay back on the hair even after you wash hair, and slowly build up. They are usually oils and fats in forms of conditioners, fragrances or fixed oils in case of natural soaps. For normal hair, residue formation is good and works for many purposes like smoothness, shine, etc. But for dreads, it is equally dangerous. This is because dreads are formed of many hair strands. If a residue is caught inside them, it traps moisture which doesn’t let the dreads dry completely. As a result, dreads start to rot!
To stay away from the residue, you can read the ingredients of the shampoo carefully. Any oil or fragrance NOT mentioned as being “saponified” is residue. Also, any ingredient starting with “PPG” or “PEG” is a residue. Examples of some PEGs are PEG 28 (Glyceryl Tallowate), PEG 2 (Milk Solids), PEG 6, 8 and 20 (Sorbitan Beeswax), and so on.
Saponification is the name of a process in natural soap-making, during which sodium- or potassium-hydroxide are mixed with oils and fats. Upon this, the mixture undergoes a chemical reaction which forms water and glycerin from the mixture. Many companies add extra oils and fats after saponification as moisturizers/conditioners, which if used on dreadlocks leave harmful residue.
A couple of other harmful ingredients are Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), or for that matter, any ingredient ending with “sulphate” or “sulfate”. These are considered controversial due to some potential health effects. Moreover, both of them remove all the natural oil from hair (or skin), i.e. they are stripping agents. While they help to dry the hair and help in locking process, they may sometimes dry hair too much leading to some problems, especially for those having a sensitive scalp.
Another word of caution is about the so-called “all natural” or “organic” shampoos. These words don’t indicate that they are safe for dreads. Though they say that they are organic, they contain many chemicals.
Therefore it is advisable to buy a dreadlock shampoo the ingredients of which you can read well and understand that they are safe for your dreads.
There is still one more thing to check. Many shampoos contain rosemary oil or peppermint oil. These being oil, you should carefully check whether they are saponified. OR you can also check whether they are mentioned as essential oils. If they are specified as essential oils they won’t build up as a residue. But many manufacturers cut essential oils with carrier oils just to lower costs. These form a residue. So, check whether these oils are specified as “saponified” or “essential”.
And there is a whole lot of ingredients you may find in your dreadlock shampoo that you should be careful of. Best thing is to do your own research and see which of them are harmful for dreads. Anything specified as a moisturizer, emollient, lubricant, conditioner or humectant will form a residue. And remember that they are not safe for your dreads in any form, not just your dreadlock shampoo.
Hard Water and Dreadlocks
Hard water means the one containing high level of trace minerals, commonest being calcium and magnesium. Hard water affects efficacy and lathering capability of shampoos, soaps and detergents.
In such a scenario, you use more shampoo to acquire your desired amount of lather. This not only makes you run out of shampoo sooner than otherwise, but also causes a greater harm to your dreads. It traps soap to build up in the dreads, because of the reaction of soap and minerals in the hard water.
Hard water can also make the hair dry, thin and discolored, and can cause dandruff and/or eczema in scalp. So, it is not just enough to use a good dreadlock shampoo, but also to take measures against the harmful effects of hard water.
While rinsing your dreads, if you see that they are not being cleaned, it is normally the hard water which should be blamed (if no wax is used in the dreads before). In that case, you should consider washing the dreads with an ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse.
ACV Rinse Recipe
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
20-30 drops of rosemary essential oil
10 drops of tea tree oil
20-30 drops of lavender essential oil
Take the ACV into a big pitcher and add water and essential oils till full. Pour this mixture over head and allow to soak for 3 to 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
So, choose your dreadlock shampoo carefully and also be careful of hard water. That will keep your dreads really hygienic and worth flaunting.