Getting ready for new dreads and caring for your scalp health doesn’t have to be intimidating or confusing.As soon as you know you’re going to lock up, or a month or two in advance, buy a GOOD DREADLOCK SHAMPOO! I can’t stress that enough! Now it really doesn’t have to say dreadlocks on it, but it doesn’t hurt. You need to find a good residue free shampoo. Check your labels carefully. I make sure mine are also sulfate/ paraben/ SLS/ glycerin free and vegan/cruelty free. The two shampoos I personally favor are Giovanni Triple Treat Tea Tree (very affordable) and Dolly Locks liquid shampoos. They both have everything I look for and have ingredients that soothe the common itchy scalp that usually comes with dreadlocks at some point. Stop using conditioner. Period. You want tangles!
Begin spacing out your shampoos ahead of time so your scalp can adjust to producing less oil as early as possible. Every other day, then every third, and so on to around a week to ten days. You will find your own sweet spot after a month or so. Everyone’s a little different. I wash my hair about every 8-9 days now, but I used to wash it every 3 or 4. Little tip: dilute you liquid shampoos with water so it is less of a gel. Once you have dreadlocks it will run down along your scalp under your roots sooo much more easily- and it lasts longer too!
If you’re into essential oils you can add a drop or few into the ‘poo for additional benefits. I’m a sucker for (sustainably sourced) frankincense- it’s very grounding and highly energetically cleansing and protective. Tea tree oil can help with itch, irritation, inflammation, dandruff, psoriasis,etc…, as well as ward off lice and mildew. Good old lavender is great for soothing irritation of the scalp (and mind) and all three have anti-bac/ viral/ fungal properties to some degree!
If your hair has excessive buildup (usually from years and years of hard water and products)you can diy or buy a dreadlock detox kit before you start your dreads, and once or twice a year afterwards. If it’s a diy recipe, it usually has baking soda and ACV in it, as well as essential oils. Use discretion when picking a recipe- baking soda is very hard on your scalp and hair and too much or too long can seriously irritate you or cause breakage. You’ll need an ACV rinse to return your scalp’s ph back to normal. Don’t worry about the smell , the vinegar odor disappears as it dries
Doing these things ahead of time will save you a good bit of frustration and irritation and your scalp will be much more welcoming to your new dreads when they go in. You will probably still follow this routine after your dreads are installed, just make SURE you always let your dreadlocks dry fully. Use a blow dryer if you have to, stay out in the sunshine, or stand in front of a fan. If you make a habit of sleeping with damp dreads or they take all day to dry, you run the risk of dread rot. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like and you don’t want to smell like a wet dog either!
Doing these things before (and after) your install will help your hair lock up faster and keep your scalp from excess stress. In the long run your dreadlocks will be stronger and healthier for it!