Whether or not you choose to use products on your new, or mature, dreadlocks is entirely a personal choice. There is no ‘right’, no ‘wrong’ – only what works best for you and your hair type. Products aren’t strictly necessary, but they can speed up the natural process and help tame the initial untidiness of many starter methods. Beware of any site, forum or person that tries to bully you either way! As long as you make informed choices, there are really very few hard and fast rules about product use.
There are still relatively few dreadlock-specific product lines on the market. If you’ve chosen to start your dreads with a professional loctician, they’ll either choose to use none, or have a line they prefer and will educate you on the use of whatever they recommend. No matter what method your stylist uses to start your dreads, they’ll probably recommend that you limit your dread-washing to once or twice a week – tops. That being the case, whatever you choose to add to your dreads will be hanging out there until you wash it away! As consumers, we are more educated than ever about chemical additives like SLS and parabens, sustainable harvesting practices and organic farming. If it’s important to you to use vegan, all natural or ethically sourced products, let your loctician know!
Here are a few of the most commonly used products, and a few things to remember:
A binding agent used to hold hair in place until it’s sufficiently knotted together, wax is the most maligned of all dreadlock products and the center of this hairstyle’s most heated debates. Nearly all complaints about locking waxes stem from overuse, so be sure to apply only as much as you need just to bind the hair. When using wax for grooming and maintenance, you should barely be able to feel it on your locks. Be sure to pick a wax that’s shampoo soluble, meaning that it’ll eventually wash out over repeated shampoos. Note that although beeswax is natural, using only melted beeswax will prove to be nearly impossible to remove fully from your hair. Look for wax formulas with natural oils added – they’ll help the product break down and disolve with a few washings.
Yes, you will still wash your hair! The most important thing to look for in a dreadlock shampoo is a conditioner-and-residue-free formula. Most will have some Essential Oils added for fragrance and therapeutic properties, so be cautious if you have allergies.
Unlike a wax which binds your hair, tightening products are usually water soluble. Mostly offered in gel or powder form, lock accelerators speed up the knotting process by adding a grippy texture to the hair. They only work in conjunction with rolling, meaning you can’t just throw them in your hair and expect to get magically tight dreads overnight. Make sure your loctician shows you how to use your particular formula, and use any salt-based lock accelerators sparingly to reduce breakage and damage to scalp and locks.
Commonly recommended for moisturizing dry scalp and locks. Afro textured hair is typically more fragile than other hair types, and natural conditioners can help to replace important scalp oils in dry hair. Dreadlocks in less-textured hair types should avoid adding extra oil or conditioners until dreads reach maturity, as they can slow the locking process.