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Aftercare Guide – What to do after your appointment

Our Aftercare Guide is intended for anyone who crochets, backcombs, or freeforms their dreadlocks. It explains everything you need to properly take care of your dreadlocks. It is designed specifically for our clients after their first installation or maintenance. If you’re a client of ours we highly recommend reading over this entire guide as part of your appointment prep.

** Not for those who re-twist their locs with locing gel **

 

 

Aftercare Overview

 

  1. Be skeptical about advice from others – there is a lot of bad information out there, especially from salons.

  2. Wash 1-2 times per week with a shampoo that’s on our recommended list (listed below)

  3. Separate dreadlocks at the roots to prevent dreadlocks from growing together

  4. Palm roll dreadlocks when damp for the first 6 months (only necessary if you want to reduce loops, bumps, and fuzz)

  5. Safely crochet once every 2-3 months (the frequency may vary – it is a matter of preference but not more often than once per month)

  6. Avoid over-maintenance, waxes, conditioners, “locing gels”, rubber bands, bleach, most shampoos, ponds, lakes, and be sure to use baking soda properly.

 

 

QUICK NAVIGATION

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Our Aftercare Guide is useful for anyone who crochets, backcombs, interlocks, or freeforms their dreadlocks however it is specifically designed for our clients after crocheted maintenance, installation, or extensions.

Please read over this entire guide so you have a full understanding of everything that is involved. This guide is fully conclusive and will outline just about every detail you need to know about caring for your dreadlocks.

 

 

BE SKEPTICAL

A lot of people (including salons) are poorly educated or just completely uneducated about dreadlocks.

Many salons will tell you to do certain things despite not having the experience or knowledge of how to deal with your specific hair type or your original method of installation. We get most of our business from these situations where we fix problems that other salons create in the first place!

Another thing to consider is that many individuals and YouTubers are speaking from their own experience and fail to understand varying hair types, methods, and other factors. We suggest only taking advice from professionals who have used the methods you use and have dealt with multiple clients and not just their own dreadlocks.

 

 

PRODUCTS

The products you chose can make a HUGE difference in your dreadlock experience.

To learn more about the details of why certain things are bad in shampoos you can visit our Shampoo Guide here. However, for the sake of simplicity, we recommend using one of the shampoos listed below according to your dreadlock age.  We recommend sticking with this short list and avoiding 99% of other shampoos.

 

 

 

WHAT TO AVOID

 

Do not use baking soda in place of shampoo!!!

Baking soda is a very harsh substance for your scalp and your hair. It strips everything and leaves no natural oils behind, therefore it’s only recommended for use during a Deep Cleanse. You can inflict a lot of damage to your scalp and hair with baking soda which is likely to lead to breakage!

 

Do not use just any shampoo

Most shampoos on the market contain a variety of ingredients that are likely to build up inside your dreadlocks. We HIGHLY recommend sticking with the shampoos listed above. You can read more about details about ingredients and specific shampoos with our Shampoo Guide.

 

Do not use conditioner

Using a conditioner is the absolute last thing you want to do if you want your dreadlocks to mature properly!

Conditioners are mainly designed to prevent knots from forming, yet knot formation is the entire goal for dreadlocks. A dreadlock is a large collective mass of knots and using a conditioner can dramatically slow down or even prevent the locking process!

 

Do not use wax, especially beeswax

Wax is 100% unnecessary for dreadlocks. Certain waxes can act as lubricants and actually slow down the locking process. Other waxes can hold moisture and shampoo residue inside the dreadlocks which can lead to mold and mildew often referred to as “dreadrot”.

 

 

WASH ROUTINE

Some people have the assumption that you “don’t wash your hair” to get dreadlocks couldn’t be further from the truth!

The cleaner and dryer your hair is the quicker it will tighten and mature, therefore washing on a regular basis is very necessary.

 

The importance of how often you wash

Your scalp produces sebum, which is basically natural oils which can become waxy and almost flaky. Sebum is completely normal and healthy, but too much or too little of it can dramatically affect your scalp.

When you wash your normal hair every single day what you’re doing is constantly stripping the natural oils from your scalp. As a result your scalp produces a heavy amount of oils to compensate leaving you in the vicious commercial shampoo cycle. Therefore, when you first get dreadlocks you must slowly decrease the frequency of your wash routine so that your scalp can readjust itself to a natural production.

Basically, the early stages of your dreadlock journey will involve more frequent washing and as your dreadlocks get older you can wash less frequently.

 

 

WASH FREQUENCY BY AGE

 

0-6 Months – 1-2 times per week

Washing more frequently in the beginning will keep your hair and scalp free of oils allowing it to knot up quicker and tighter. Just be sure to give your dreadlocks enough time to fully dry between washes. If you wash once every 3 or 4 days you’ll be perfectly fine! However, once a week is perfectly acceptable as well.

 

6-12 Months – wash weekly

At this point your dreadlocks should be reasonable tight and washing once a week is completely reasonable.

 

1 Year plus – weekly or bi-weekly

Your dreadlocks should be approaching maturity by this point. Typically 2 years is considered mature. At this point you can stretch your washing frequency to once every 2 weeks. Just be careful about stretching your wash frequency too far because you can end up having too much oil and sebum building up on your scalp.

 

 

WASHING MISTAKES TO AVOID

 

Do not wash everyday, or every other day.

It is important to give your dreadlocks at least one full day to dry. Even if you think your dreadlocks are dry there’s a very good likelihood that they’re still damp inside. Thick mature dreadlocks can take as long as 2 or 3 days to fully dry with some hair types. Thinner and younger dreadlocks will dry quicker. Also, climates with very high humidity will take much longer to dry as well.

 

Do not stop washing and do not wait 2-3 months to wash.

Washing too infrequently can lead to a buildup of natural oils and sebum on your scalp and in your dreadlocks. If you experience this it is highly recommended that you do a Deep Cleanse and start washing more frequently.

 

Do not aggressively scrub your scalp

Aggressively scrubbing your scalp is a quick way to get fuzzy roots. The same goes for aggressively scrubbing the length of your dreadlocks. Treat your dreadlocks like a sponge or a mop, you squeeze shampoo in and squeeze it back out until it washes clean. No need to aggressively scrub.

 

 

DEEP CLEANSE

We recommend doing a deep cleanse every 3 or 4 months. Learn all of the details and follow the step by step process with our Deep Cleanse aka Dread Cleanse Guide here.

 

 

MAINTENANCE

New dreadlocks require the most maintenance. In fact, younger dreadlocks require more maintenance if you want them to tighten quickly while continuing to look as neat as possible.

 

Pull dreadlocks apart if they start to grow together

  • This is the most basic necessity
  • Do this after every wash, be sure to pull any hair apart that connects 2 or more dreadlocks together
  • If you let this go for too long, your dreadlocks may grow together to the point where you cannot get them apart – separate regularly to avoid this problem

 

Palm roll dreadlocks when they are damp (only for the first 6 months)

  • Your dreadlocks will dry faster because water is squeezed out
  • Will reduce fuzziness of the dreadlock
  • Palm Rolling can reduce loops and bumps
  • Will help tighten the knots within the dreadlocks which helps with maturing
  • Avoid obsessive palm rolling – 1-2 times per week after washing is sufficient

 

Avoid obsessive over-maintenance

  • Any over-maintenance can lead to damaging hair
  • Palm roll after washing 1-2 times per week
  • Root rub no more than 2 times per month
  • Crochet no more than once per month

 

 

WHAT TO AVOID

Learning what NOT to do is just as important as learning what to do. I have seen many mistakes made by people who are just starting out due to either having zero information to guide them or listening to poor advice from individuals who THINK that they know what they’re doing.

 

Prevent lint by avoiding organic material

  • Organic material such as wool or cotton may embed into your dreadlocks
  • Ideally you’d want to avoid these materials touching your dreadlocks, especially when the color is bright and vibrant because it will be very noticeable
  • If your hair is black and you accumulate lint that is black, it’s not a big deal, but most people would want to avoid lint entirely
  • Use synthetic and silky material instead of organic material

 

Avoid swimming in ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks

  • Algae and other microscopic creatures can get in your dreadlocks
  • This does not necessarily mean you can NEVER do this, it is simply something to avoid
  • If you do this for an extended period of time, it’s recommended that you do a deep cleanse

 

Use baking soda properly

  • Baking soda is a VERY HARSH substance that is extremely alkaline which can destroy your hair if used improperly
  • DO NOT wash with baking soda regularly even if you think you’re diluting it enough
  • ONLY use baking soda when performing a deep cleanse
  • ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS rinse with a 50/50 Apple cider vinegar and water mixture to neutralize the effects of the baking soda
  • For a deeper understanding read our Dread Cleanse Guide here!

 

Avoid rubber bands

  • Rubber bands can be useful, although unnecessary, and they often create problems
  • If used, do not tie them tightly – you want the rubber bands to be loose enough to allow the hair to slightly move underneath
  • If used, do not leave in for more than one week
  • Long-term rubber band use can lead to weak spots or a gooey substance that gets embedded within your dreadlock – and nobody wants that!
  • Learn the details with our Rubber Band Post here.

 

Avoid using scissors

  • Cutting hair can be very risky
  • Each dreadlock holds its strength with individual hairs
  • Cutting can create thin spots if you’re not using common sense

 

DO NOT cut loops

  • ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DO THIS!!!
  • Cutting a loop can dramatically weaken the dreadlock
  • It’s very possible for that weak spot to break of entirely over time
  • You need the hair within the loop to keep the dreadlock strong
  • Those loops can be crocheted
  • If left un-crocheted they will mature over time and likely turn into bumps

 

Avoid interlocking

  • More often than not, interlocking causes problems
  • However, some people can get away with it just fine
  • We advise people to avoid it entirely
  • Interlocking tends to create a braided effect or a giant knot effect and does not create a true dreadlock
  • The use of interlocking can also split the root which will hinder the locking process
  • Interlocking can also create weak spots which may lead to dreadlocks breaking off at the interlocking point
  • Learn more about interlocking and why we are so strongly opinionated against it with our Interlocking Post.

 

Avoid bleach and certain dyes

  • Bleach is one of the most damaging things you can do to your hair
  • Many dyes that lighten hair are also damaging in the same way
  • In order for bleach and lightening dyes to work your individual hair must be stripped of the outer sheath – this effectively weakens the hair strand
  • If you bleach or dye your dreadlocks we suggest the following:
    • Only bleach or dye the outside of the dreadlock
    • DO NOT try to penetrate the dreadlock with bleach or dye
    • Wash with extreme thoroughness
    • Rinse out the bleach or dye and then rinse some more and once you think it’s all out, rinse some more…

 

 

OTHER TIPS

 

Swim in the ocean or a sea salt pool

  • I’ve found this to be one of the most effective ways to tighten dreadlocks
  • Alternatively, you can create a sea salt soak with water, sea salt, and a container
  • We don’t recommend using sea salt sprays because you’re simply coating the exterior of the dreadlock which will do very little to help tighten it and it may lead to frizziness with zero benefit – honestly it’s a waste of time a money

 

Use beads to control loops and bumps

  • This can be extremely effective at controlling your dreadlocks
  • Slide a bead tightly over a loop or bump to contain it
  • Leave the bead in for as long as necessary
  • Typically wearing a bead 2-4 weeks is long enough depending on the age

 

Use string to wrap down the length of a dreadlock

  • This can sometimes help with fuzzy dreadlocks
  • It will also help maintain the form to some degree

 

Sleep with an acrylic beanie, a DreadSock, or something similar

  • This can help keep dirt and lint out
  • This also prevents dreadlocks from falling in your face if you change positions in bed

 

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