Locs are quite different than regular hair. Normally everyone is stuggling to prevent knots and keep their hair from matting. It shouldn't be surprising that Dreadlocks thrive when they are treated to shampoo that was created with their needs in mind to help them get tighter, mature faster and dry quicker. Knatty Dread Shampoo provides these benefits and more. Your locs deserve the ultra-clean sensation that comes with washing in a completely residue free dreadlock shampoo.
Residue Free? What exactly is residue.
A general definition of soap residue is anything that's left behind after the soap is rinsed away. We take for granted that some part of soaps and shampoos that we use remain after we rinse. We know that our hands and hair have a fragrance and we associate this with them being clean. We know logically that our clean hands to not smell like fruit, obviously we are smelling a scent and that means that something is on our hands still...even if it isn't the dirt that we intended to wash away. Some residues like scent and conditioners are added to be left behind on purpose. Others are related to how the soap works and are present even when nothing additional is added to the soap. Such is the case with traditional soaps such as castle soaps. These soaps are very poor at rinsing away. This is why they leave rings of residue behind in sinks and bath tubs when they are used. Some people are very sensitive to these residues but most have no problems with them, in fact you might choose your shampoo based on the smell it leaves behind.
When growing dreadlocks we find that avoiding residues is important for two reasons. First, Dreadlocks need to be clean in order to knot easily. Clean means more friction between hair strands so hair tangles more readily and knots can be started. Residues reduce this friction and impede the dreads ability to lock at the roots as it grows. It also makes maintenance more difficult because it is more difficult to knot straight hair. Using a residue free shampoo helps you form knots at the roots when you clockwise rub and this keeps even the most stubborn dreads locking tight as they grow.
The second reason it is important to avoid residues is to keep the dreads drying quickly. Dreads take longer and longer to dry as they mature and tighten. In tight dreads they hair is packed together very tightly and it's difficult for water to evaporate from the inside of the dreads. If you've ever left wet hair in a pony tail and taken it out hours later to still find it wet you know exactly how this works. Clean, healthy dreads take a long time to dry but if they are allowed to air dry properly, (hanging free, not stuck in a hat or tied up in a pony tail that keeps them wet), they will be fine. Problems can occur though when residues are allowed to build up inside large locks. These residues don't evaporate like the water does. As they build inside the dread they slow down the drying more and more. It's like waiting for ranch dressing to dry instead of water. Eventually it reaches a point where it's is staying wet long enough for mildew to begin growing. As the mildew grows and dies repeatedly the dreads begin to smell like musty gym shorts. This is called Dread Rot. Washing your dreads with residue free shampoos and taking care to let them dry properly will ensure you do not have to have cut your locks due to a bad case of dread rot. It's important to note that smaller dreads always dry much quicker than larger dreads. While they will still dry noticeably faster when they are free of residues getting dread rot is more rare. It's also worth mentioning that dread rot takes quite a while to get started. Many people have their dreads 2 years or more before they experience it. It can be heart breaking to loose dreads that are several years old so be aware that the potential exists and take steps to avoid it.
How often to wash dreads.
There doesn't seem to be one right answer to this question. Two facts have a lot of bearing though. First, washing dreadlocks helps them mature. This may not have been your experience in the past but the truth is that once dreads have begun to lock and are no longer in danger of falling out washing them and getting them truly clean will help them tighten. Second, washing dreads that are delicate can make them fall apart almost completely. This has led people to fear washing. When you wash for the first time and how often you wash for the first few month has a lot to do with the method you use for starting your dreadlocks. If you start your dreads by twisting alone they are very delicate for a long time. People often wait a month or so before their first washing. Dreads that have been backcombed are much less delicate, especially when they are secured that the root and tip with a rubber band. Please note that rubber bands can damage the hair if they are not used properly. Dreads that have been "latched" or pulled through themselves are less delicate still; however they are not fully dreaded in the true sense of the word. Latched dreads are a combination of knots and dreaded parts. This can be seen on close inspection, although this is harder to see in dark, textured hair.
When twists are washed great care has to be taken not to disturb the twists more than necessary. Washing the dreads with a tight nylon stocking on the head can help keep the twists together. Washing still needs to be done delicately and rinsing away all the shampoo requires great care. Leaving shampoo of any type on the scalp will cause itching later. The nylon stocking cap needs to be tight enough to hold the twists against your scalp to be effective. After you think you have rinsed all of the shampoo out continue to rinse it a bit more. If your locks are a bit more established you can remove the cap at the end of the rinsing and very carefull rinse them a bit more trying to disturb them as little as possible. You might try reducing the water pressure just a bit to avoid blasting the delicate twists apart.
When dreads are started by backcombing or latching they can be washed as soon as 4 days after putting the locks in. The dread should be palm rolled1 often during these first days to help prepare them for their first wash. Palmrolling continues to be important during the first few months as the dreads mature. Washing in regular intervals will keep itching to a minimum. After dreads have matured washing frequency varies a lot from person to person. Those with highly textured hair generally have less oil produced at their scalp and are comfortable washing less frequently. Once a week seems to be common.
When I first tried it [Knatty Dread Shampoo] I missed having a fragrance. Soon I began to really enjoy it. I noticed a big difference when I used regular shampoo in a hotel. I could feel the residue it left in my locks and it's scent seemed overpowering and my locs didn't look quite as full afterward. They made it clear what they prefer. :) Thanks for your help!
Anita Sims -San Jose, CA
Don't take my word for it...I am but a lowly loctician. You can try it yourself, just request a sample from our store.
1 Palm rolling is rolling the dread back and forth between two palms with a fair amount of pressure. You normally palm roll each dread for less than a minute. Palm rolling compresses the dread and it's most effective when the dreads have dread cream in them. Sometime it's easier to grab part of a dread rub roll it between your fingers which has the same effect. This works especially will for very small dreads.