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How to choose shampoo for locs: Useful tips

Thursday 9th of December 2021

Posted by Leah Wanjiku

How’s your locs journey so far? Starter, baby, or mature locs?

The first two stages can be expensive when you don’t know what your hair needs, while mature locs have you fighting hair thinning and buildup.

But, whichever stage you’re in, you need a good shampoo. It’ll keep your hair clean so that the nourishing agents can penetrate, soothe the scalp and stimulate follicles to increase length. If you get it wrong, you’ll be working with an irritated scalp and dry, brittle, matted hair.

What’s in a shampoo bottle?

Shampoos have several groups of ingredients. They have cleansing agents called surfactants, preservatives, thickeners, foaming agents, and fragrances, amongst others.

Some of them are problematic, so they are:

The ingredients to avoid for locs

When choosing a shampoo for dreads, keep away from bottles with:

Silicones

They smoothen, soften, or make your hair shine by reducing the friction between hair shafts. In short, they detangle your hair. Imagine losing your starter locs before they are three months old.

Surfactants

Our hair is already moisture deficient because its curly structure prevents sebum from traveling to the tips of our hair shafts. Anionic surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate make it worse. They over-cleanse it and leave us with a mass of dry, kinky hair and an irritated scalp.

Ethanolamines

An example is triethanolamine (TEA), which adjusts the PH levels in hair care products, but it can be harmful to your liver and other organs.

Phthalates

These are binding agents meant to increase the flexibility of the formulation so that its spread wide. They are also fragrant. The problem is, these solvents and fragrances affect reproductive functions and hormones.

Parabens

They’re supposed to inhibit bacteria growth in shampoo, but they may cause health problems from prolonged use. Plus, an allergic reaction to parabens can cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Overall, though shampoos have a few regrettable substances, there are many nourishing agents in them. Let’s turn to such good stuff now.

Must-have ingredients to have in your locs shampoo

When you’re considering a locs shampoo, here are the ingredients you need to look out for:

Natural, organic ingredients

Look for a formulation with rich oils that remove residue and nourish your locs. Some ingredients that come to mind are oils like coconut, tea tree, peppermint, and jojoba. They also soothe an irritated scalp and treat dandruff.

The best alternatives to parabens are natural extracts like rosemary, grapefruit seed, and tea tree.

Clarifying agents

Locs retain product residue because they are matted hair. It increases and covers the scalp preventing sebum from reaching the tips. That’s why you need a clarifying shampoo that removes residue.

Mild surfactants

Sometimes, to counter the irritating effect of the anionic surfactants we mentioned above, manufacturers dilute them with milder nonionic surfactants like cocamide MEA.

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How often should you shampoo your locs?

It depends on many factors. For instance, if you work out daily, you sweat more, and you’re likely to have more buildup if you don’t wash your locs regularly.

Also, if you have starter locs, you may want to skip some days, or you’ll unravel them.

Dreadlocks also take longer to dry. Therefore, if you wash them every day, we’re talking about six to seven hours of air drying every day, plus an extra hour to style them. Then comes the problem of loc thinning from twisting your hair too often.

I wash my dreadlocks every two weeks when I’m active outdoors and once a month when I’ve spent most of the time in front of a computer at home. No, my locs don’t smell like patchouli and weed, how the inconsiderate Giuliana Rancic summed up Zendaya’s locs.

If you’re using natural moisturizing products, enough and not too much, you’ll not have greasy hair.

I learned that from Yannie The Locologist. She advises against overwashing, sometimes advocating for shampooing every six months.

What shampoos are best for locs?

Let’s mention a few products you can consider. First:

Jamaican Mango & Lime Tinge Shampoo


I like its combination of natural ingredients like tea tree extracts to soothe your scalp and manuka honey, a humectant, to prevent moisture loss.

It also has zinc from moringa seed oil to strengthen hair shafts. This shampoo takes care of residue.

Buy now on afrodrops

Dollylocks Tea Tree Spearmint Shampoo

It’s a residue-free shampoo worth checking out for its plant-based ingredients like coconut, tea tree, castor, and olive oils. On top of that, it has an anti-inflammatory ingredient called limonene.

Product link

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

It’s organic, offering a range of nourishing oils like coconut, olive, jojoba, hemp for hair growth, and palm kernel oil to treat thin hair. But, I’d use it cautiously as it has potassium hydroxide, a controversial ingredient that’s useful in stabilizing product PH levels.

Product link

Would you like locs inspo before you go?

I love how Keisha Charmaine takes care of her locs and their length so far.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Keisha Charmaine 🌱 (@keishacharmaine)

MissRii proves that there are so many versatile styles.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by MissRii 💋 (@missrii)

Final Thoughts

When you wash your locs the correct way, using a loc shampoo, and moisturize them with products containing natural oils, they’ll smell fresh for weeks. It’s time to start shopping in the residue-free section of the store.

Lastly, since it’s almost impossible to remember all harmful ingredients, search for restrictions, prohibitions, or regulatory discussions using the EU database.