It’s the moment all LocStars fear. That moment when you get a funny look from your coworker, friend or family member followed by the dreaded question…what’s that in your hair? You scurry to the mirror and suddenly faced with a cruel reality, you have unsightly product buildup in your dreadlocks!
With continued, and even occasional use, waxes, gels, pomades and other styling products collect over time and leave a residue in your dreadlocks.
When this happens, simply washing your hair is not enough to get the gunk out of your dreads and greater measures are necessary to restore your hair’s healthy shine and natural glow. Luckily, there is help…
So how do you get rid of buildup in your locs? The best method is to perform a dread detox in order to dissolve the product buildup and residue that has accumulated in your locs. First mix 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts distilled water, pouring the solution into a spray bottle. Saturate the hair and use it a pre-treatment. Follow the pre-treatment with a mixture of Betonite and Rhassoul clay and the remainder of the ACV rinse and water. Use just enough water in the clay mixture to give it a cake-batter consistency. Let this set on your hair for 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with water until the water runs completely clear.
- Distilled water
- Apple cider vinegar
- Bentonite Clay
- Rhassoul Clay
- Spray Bottle (optional)
- Extra large shower cap
- Wooden spoon
- Glass bowl
*TIP* It’s important to know that you shouldn’t mix your clay and water in a metal bowl. Do not use a metal spoon to stir it either. In fact, let’s just leave all metal tools in the cupboard for this deep cleansing dreads detox.
The reason is because the reaction caused by the clay mixture and water has a charge to it and the metal will cancel out this charge. It’s the charge that is what allows the mixture to draw out the impurities in the hair shaft. And we want as much dissolving power as possible.
Also, it’s a good idea to have your extra large shower cap handy. While this is not an absolute must, it definitely adds to the convenience factor and makes clean-up a breeze. After all, we are working with dirt here (i.e. the clay) and things can get a bit messy if not contained properly.
Is A Dread Detox safe to do at home?
For the method we have described, yes, doing your own dread detox is very safe. As long as you don’t have little kiddos around that like to make and eat mud pies. If you do, be sure to keep an eye on them (smile).
You may have read about alternative methods on other websites that suggest you use boiling hot water with apple cider vinegar and baking soda soaks to dip your dreads in.
While this method will work too, it is more dangerous because you put yourself at risk of injury by being exposed to scalding hot water.
You also run the risk of neck strain and back pain because of the position you have to hold your head in for prolonged periods of time in order to submerge your dreadlocks over a sink basin while you wait for the solution to dissolve the buildup, which can take up to 30 minutes. We recently discovered a handy solution to this dilemma though.
That’s why the clay mask method is our preferred method for a dreadlocks detox.
What are the benefits of a deep cleanse for your Locs?
The main benefit of removing buildup from your locs is their appearance. No more of that whiteish-gray tinge left behind in your locs making them look dull and lifeless.
Here’s a quick tip, if the whitish-gray tinge is there when your locs are dry but disappears then wet, it’s probably buildup. But if it’s visible even when wet then it’s probably lint. In which case, you can read this article to learn how to get rid of lint in your locs.
The other benefit of getting the gunk (and fuzz) out of your dreads is the weight. All of that product buildup weighs your hair down and if your locs are long, this can really add up. Think of how much lighter your dreadlock bun will be without all of that product buildup weighing you down.
Another benefit is that you restore your hair’s natural shine. No need for expensive styling products (which is what contributed to our whole predicament in the first place). Now you can reap the benefits of your scalp’s natural oil production and get your glow on.
The sebum (an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands that protects your hair and skin from moisture loss) your scalp naturally produces is what moisturizes your hair and this, combined with loc brushing will give you drop dead gorgeous results.
Additionally, when your hair is able to retain moisture, it stays supple and less prone to breakage caused by brittle locs. The whole process of detoxing your locs can tame frizzy locs, soften your hair and stimulate hair growth.
In order to make sure that you have gotten all of the gunk out of your dreads, you should let your locs dry for a bit and then examine them to see if the residue is gone. Your locs should feel ten times lighter, softer and a little less dense in the center. This is because the built up residue had formed a solid core in the middle of your locs and now that it’s gone, your locs are more soft, supple and malleable.
However, we’re not off the hook just yet. It’s time to complete your deep cleanse dreadlock session with a clarifying shampoo and hot oil treatment (preferred).
[WARNING] The dangers of deep cleaning your locs
When you use a deep clean treatment, some of the products used can strip the natural oils leaving your hair feeling dry. And while it’s beneficial to use a clarifying shampoo, for example, it’s also just as important that we put that moisture back into the hair and condition it. A light mist of oil and water should do the trick.
Natural plant oils like avocado oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil and castor oil among others are recommended because they add moisture and rehydrate your hair without leaving residue behind. They are able to absorb completely into the hair instead of just sitting on top of the hair strands. Jojoba is a great oil as it most closely resembles your hair’s natural sebum.
A great tip is to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the jojoba and water moisture mist. Rosemary is a favorite essential oil amongst the healthy hair gurus.
Related Dreadlock Detox Questions:
How to get fuzz out of dreads?
There are actually several ways to get fuzz and lint out of your dreads.
- You can pluck it out with a tapered tweezer.
- You can brush it out with a loc brush.
- You can shake it off if it’s not embedded or caught in the locs.
- You can dye it the same color to match your hair color.
All are effective options and the severity of your fuzz situation will determine which method will work best for you.
How do I get mold out of my dreadlocks?
Do your dreads have a moldy smell? Otherwise know as dread rot, mold and mildew can accumulate in your locs if you have gotten a little lazy with your dreadlock maintenance routine. But the good news is that you can always start fresh.
Don’t beat yourself up or feel bad if this has happened to you. Simply do a dread detox deep cleanse and use an essential oil blend in your moisture mist to eliminate the mold and odors.
From now on though, be sure that your dreadlocks are completely dry before doing activities where they are covered or contained or otherwise sealed off from the air.
What exactly is a clarifying shampoo and how often should I use one to wash my locs?
A clarifying shampoo is a shampoo that people use when they want a fresh start from all of residue left behind by hair styling products.
If you hair is feeling dry or dull, or it won’t hold a style no matter what product you use, then it is a good idea to wipe the slate clean with a clarifying shampoo session.
Think of it like using regular dishwashing liquid versus using Dawn dishwashing liquid. Yes, they both lather, suds and all and clean the dishes but Dawn cuts through the grease pronto with a lot less effort.
And that’s what a clarifying shampoo does for your hair. It cuts right through the gunk left behind by the styling products you’ve been using.
It’s a good idea to include a dread detox in your dreadlocks maintenance regimen about 3-4 times per year depending on how much hair product you use (the more regularly you use hair product, the more often you’ll want to detox).
Keep an eye on the health of you hair by checking monthly for signs of buildup. Once you make a plan to stay ahead of it, you won’t ever again be hit with the dreaded side eyes of onlookers. Instead, they’ll be staring in admiration of your royal crown.