If you are planning to get locs or have already gotten locs, you must be ready to use only the best non-residue shampoo, specifically made for dreadlocks. Just because a bottle of shampoo at your local drugstore advertises itself as non-residue, it does not mean it’s actually true. You must do your research and do it well.

Shampoo for dreadlocks is not often discussed when you are looking into getting dreads. How many times have you seen an article advise you that you are going to need a residue-free shampoo? That is why we have put together an article that will educate you on the most important part of your locs maintenance.

What is a residue free shampoo and why is it important? 

Now, you might be asking your computer screen, “Why does it matter what shampoo I use, and whether it leaves a residue or not?”

Because of its nature, dreadlocks are more prone to product buildup than regular hair. Fats, fragrances, oils mixed in with soap, practically all ingredients found in soap and commercial shampoo will accumulate in your dreads and make them almost impossible to dry completely because of the trapped excess moisture.

This is as bad as it sounds, and will lead to unhealthy locs that will be difficult to care for and maintain, and you don’t want that.

What should I be looking out for?

Basically, any synthetic fragrance should not be in your shampoo. Every “moisturizer”, “emollient”, “lubricant”, or “humectant” will surely build up in your dreads. Any ingredient that starts with “PEG” or “PPG” will leave a residue and build up in your dreads over time. Below is a list of only a few examples of “PEG” and other “moisturizing” ingredients that are usually in regular shampoo:

  •  Tallowate
  • Tallow Polyamine
  • Glyceryl Tallowate
  •  Lanolin Oil and Wax
  • Milk Solids
  • Hydrogenated Tallow Amide
  • Sorbitan Beeswax
  • Urea
  • Silicone/Dimethicone (anything that ends with -cone and -loxane are silicones)
  • Mineral Oil
  • Petrolatum (a byproduct of Mineral Oil)
  • Keratin
  • Lanolin
  • Glycerin
  • Glycogen
  • Elastin
  • Collagen
  • Cetyl/Stearyl Alcohol (fatty alcohols)
  • Stearic Acid

Please note that these are just a few examples, and the ingredients that you must avoid if you want healthy dreads are not limited to this list.

Ingredients that leave behind residue and trap moisture are not the only things you should be wary of from now on. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS is a surfactant that functions as a detergent cleansing agent.

Often used in shampoos and face cleansers, this is also what makes them lather. Although a very effective cleansing agent, this form of sulfate is a very controversial ingredient--even in skincare--because it can strip your hair or your skin of moisture and leave them too dry. Its sister surfactant, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, is almost the same, but is touted as the much safer alternative and just as effective at cleansing.

The shampoo says it’s organic. That should be fine, right?

We hate to break it to you, but not everything that claims itself to be “organic” or “natural” is good for you. Sure, they may contain a lot of natural ingredients, but you may not notice the synthetic and harmful ingredients hiding in their midst.

The best thing to do is to read the label carefully and examine the ingredients. Anything you can not pronounce should not go anywhere near you and your precious locs. Better yet, do your research and read up on any ingredient that is not familiar or is hard to pronounce. Almost all the information that you need is right at your fingertips through the power of the internet--use it.

Even your water can cause a buildup of residue

Studies shows that minerals in hard water coming out of your tap can also cause residue and buildup in your dreadlocks. Yes, even the water you are using to rinse your hair can be harmful to it. If this is the case, a water softener which filters the minerals found in hard water is recommended.

If you cannot a water softener, you can rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar/ACV every once in a while or use Dr. Loc Pre-Cleanse. Make sure to do it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like your locs are becoming brittle, stiff, or difficult to dry.