How to Care for “Partial” Dreadlocks

We’re happy to place as many or as few dreadlocks as our clients want. However, it is important to care for one dreadlock just as well as you would a whole head of dreadlocks! Over the course of my career the idea of not locking up the full head has become increasingly popular and as such my understanding of the best ways to care for it have changed significantly over time.

To start, even if you only have one lock, it is crucially important to (at least) keep them CLEAN and keep them SEPARATE; from both each other AND from the loose hair surrounding them. Dreadlocks, whether you have one or one hundred, always have a tendency to want to “eat”/suck in any loose hair around them. In fact, sometimes partial locks do this even more so because loose hair being left out is a part of the style! Unless you want to end up with mega-dreads you need to regularly run your fingers through your hair around the locks to make sure none of the hair you want left loose is getting tangled into the locks.

Also, many folks with just one or a few dreads erroneously think it’s OK to continue washing their “normal” hair with regular, commercial shampoos and either not wash their dreads at all or just wash the dreads with special shampoo. No matter how careful you are, there is no way to be 100% certain your regular shampoo isn’t bleeding/seeping into the dreads. You should plan to switch to dreadlock shampoo altogether, even if you only have one dreadlock, for the best possible results and longevity for your dread(s).

Some folks worry that dreadlock shampoo will cause their “normal” hair to get tangled and knotty. For some, this is not true! In actuality, dreadlock shampoo is far healthier for your hair than the stuff you buy at your local pharmacy or department store. Most products widely available contain sulfates/sulphates which are extremely stripping to the hair. Most mass-produced shampoos strip all of the natural oils out of the hair. However, these oils are our body’s way of keeping the hair healthy and nourished. The use of these harsh detergents in the hair are what necessitates the use of conditioners. However, if and when you cut sulfates out of the equation (such as when switching to all-natural dreadlock shampoos) it is much gentler and only removes the excess oil from the hair, leaving behind the oil that nourishes and keeps the hair healthy. So, some folks who make the switch often find they don’t need conditioners anymore.

Switching to dreadlock shampoo will give you healthier tresses all around. However, there are plenty of folks for whom just this switch to natural shampoo isn’t enough to keep their loose hair in smooth, silky shape. For a long time, I specifically warned folks with partial locks away from conditioner completely, but experience has proven this is not always the right approach. HOWEVER, if you feel the need to condition your hair while in partial locks it is VERY important to remember that conditioner should NOT be put in your locks. It should ONLY be applied to your loose hair. (This includes any long and flowy ends you may have at the end of your locks.)

Just as importantly, if not more so than shampoo, choosing the right conditioners are important. There will always be a risk of unintentionally getting conditioner in your locks, so you’ll want to choose a conditioner that will still be relatively safe even if this happens. One major thing to keep an eye out for in your shopping efforts is to find conditioners that do not contain any silicones. (This includes any ingredient that ends with the suffix “-cone” i.e. “dimethicone” or “simethicone”.) Glycols, which are petroleum-based, are another ingredient to avoid. If you though finding the right shampoo was challenging, conditioner is about 3x MORE difficult, SO, as always to make your life easier I’ve included on this page a list of conditioners that I have discovered are relatively safe to use:

  1. Clarifying Shampoo & Conditioner by Fashion Dreads
  2. Giovanni’s Triple Tea Tree Treat Shampoo & Conditioner
  3. Peculiar Roots Black Charcoal Shampoo & Conditioner (**not recommended for color treated hair!)

The list is fairly short now, but I hope it will continue to GROW in the future! If you ever have any questions don’t be afraid to Email Me!