What do you think is the purpose of any shampoo?
It is to clean your hair and scalp, right?
However, in this process, shampoos strip your hair of natural oils (sebum) which are essential for the general well-being of hair.
Therefore, you can ask for a shampoo that cleans your hair and scalp efficiently but does not overly strip your hair of its natural oils.
Dreads or locs, however, are different from average hair and they require caring routines and regimes that are different than average hair.
When it comes to shampoo for dreads/locs, apart from providing a good cleanout and relatively preserving sebum, we need a shampoo that does not leave a residue.
So, what is this residue, and why it is a big no for dreads/locs?
Commercial shampoos, soaps, and conditioners contain waxes, synthetic silicone, and silica. The purpose of these substances is to make your hair feel nice. However, as they are water-insoluble, they get trapped and coat the hair strands. This leads to gradual product buildup or residue as we call it.
Secondly, as residue builds up, it prevents hair from drying out quickly. As dreads tighten and mature, they take longer to dry. However, if residue coats the hair, it will keep the moisture trapped even for longer. This increased moisture allows mildew to grow and this can eventually cause dread rot.
The question arises, which, where, and how to get these dread-specific shampoos, don’t worry, we are here to help.
Table: 10 Best Shampoo for Dreads 2023 – Why They Make Our List
Finding a shampoo for dreads can take you through a rollercoaster ride. You have to be pinpoint specific to save your twists and turns safe from harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances.
Yet at the same time, you want your product to be efficient at cleaning out, so you want something strong.
The below table enlists our picks and if you have a keen eye you would notice that they contain natural ingredients that make them milder to scalp and hair. However, they contain ingredients that are efficient at covering the basics of a good cleanout.
Below that, we will be reviewing each product in further detail with all of its ins and outs to help make you a better decision. So, without further delay, let’s dive right into it and let us help you find the best shampoo for dreads.
Peppermint and olive oil
Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Lavender and olive oil
Coconut & olive oil
Castor bean & Hemp seed
Amla & coconut oil
Citric acid, castor oil
Oat protein & Henna
Hemp Seed Oil
1. Dr. Bronner Peppermint Shampoo – Best Shampoo For Locs
What if you can get an organic multipurpose cleaner that contains no toxic substances found in the majority of shampoos, soaps, and other cleaning products? Dr. Bronner Peppermint soap is that and much more.
This liquid soap finds itself in a league of its own when it comes to being a multitasker. In fact, it says 18-in-1 which refers to the number of purposes it can serve. These include but are not limited to being an efficient cleaner for your hands, face, body, and hair, keeping insects away from plants, and shaving your face, legs, and underarms.
When it comes to using this castile soap as a shampoo for your hair, it can leave you pleasantly surprised by the result. Castile soaps are naturally derived cleaners produced from the saponification of vegetable oils.
Easily the best thing about this liquid soap is its organic ingredients. Apart from potassium hydroxide which is required during saponification, all of its ingredients are natural. It contains jojoba and coconut oils which are good moisturizers for hair and are rich in multivitamins along with copper and zinc.
What makes it perfect for locs is its cleaning ability. You will literally feel your hair squeaky clean after a single use. Being good cleaners is an innate property of Castile soaps and this is what makes them popular multi-purposes cleaner.
Apply it on wet hair and lather up.
The best is to rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar and this is crucial for a silky-soft feel.
Therefore, withstand a couple of weeks of bad hair before having the hair of your dreams.
A small minority of users have claimed that it leaves small balls of white residue. This is believed to be due to the reaction of soap with hard water. Thus, it is best to wash your hair with distilled water or soft water in any form.
2. Shea Moisture Strengthen And Restore
One of the common problems that affect people with dreads is traction alopecia.
To counter any kind of alopecia, if I had to pick one thing it would be Jamaican black castor oil (JBCO). It is a potent reservoir of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and neutralizes a lot of causes of hair issues.
Founded in 1991, Shea Moisture is a personal care company that is known for its quality natural products. They are best known for their body, face, and hair moisturizers. The product we have at hair is their Strengthen and Restore formulation which comes in a shampoo and conditioner combo.
One of the key ingredients in this combo is Jamaican black castor oil. JBCO in addition to the above is also a potent remedy for hair damage.
Hair cuticles are the outermost layer of any hair strand. These are often disturbed by the cleaning action of shampoos. However, this combo contains apple cider vinegar which aligns the cuticle again and gives the hair a soft silky feel.
One of its other main ingredients is raw shea butter which is high in vitamins and fatty acids. This helps to moisturize and nourish the hair.
In addition, as it contains peppermint oil, expect a cold tingly sensation which is because of the increased blood circulation caused by it.
However, this does not mean that it washes any less efficiently.
On the whole, expect a rejuvenated scalp and hair with strong natural ingredients.
3. WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo And Conditioner
The natural pH of hair is less than 5.5 which puts it in the acidic category. This pH is good for the general health of the hair as it prevents fungi and bacteria growth. However, a study has found that only one-third of popular brands of shampoos have a pH of less than 5.5.
What this means to our hair is increased negative charge and more friction between hair strands and this leads to damage to the hair cuticles.
However, we can repair this damage or prevent it from happening by having an acidic rinse, and what best than a natural way of doing it.
The next entry on our list for the best shampoo for dreads is a shampoo and conditioner combo and contains apple cider vinegar. This not only lowers hair pH but also works as a clarifying agent removing any product build-up.
The best thing about this combo is that it is paraben and sulfate-free. This makes them hypoallergenic and suitable for all the different hair and scalp types. What makes it even better is that it is free of silicone, which is one of the common residues from different hair products.
One of the key ingredients of conditioner is avocado oil which is rich in monounsaturated fats. These fats are able to penetrate the hair pores and not only moisturize the hair but also strengthen them.
You can use the conditioner after shampooing hair as usual. After this, apply a good amount of conditioner to damp hair and massage well. Leave it for 3-5 minutes and rinse with lukewarm water. Squeeze your dreads as you rinse them, this will not leave any residue.
Among its ingredients include argan oil, almond oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil and this makes it rich in multivitamins and fatty acids making it a potent moisturizer. Therefore, expect shiny hair with a soft silky feel.
However, both the shampoo and conditioner require a generous amount to be of good effect. This value side of things is further worsened by its $30 price tag.
4. Dr. Bronner Lavender Soap – An Aromatherapy to Soothe Your Mind and Body
Dr. Bronner has so many attributes to admire that it is hard to leave any of its products away from this list for long or at all.
Apart from being fair trade certified, it is also cruelty-free which means it has not been tested on animals. To validate this, its products are Leaping Bunny certified.
In addition, if you are an environmental advocate, you will be happy to know that this line of soaps is biodegradable. This means they pose no threat to the environment as they decompose completely.
Talking about the product itself, as discussed in one of the earlier reviews, it is a beast at being versatile and that too efficiently at each front.
It comes in eight different scents, however, what better than lavender to include in this list. Lavender in addition to being the most commonly used fragrance in aromatherapy is also a potent anti-inflammatory. It is also believed to be a remedy for anxiety, fungal infections, and hair loss.
You can achieve this by diluting half a tablespoon of liquid soap into half a cup of water.
Dr. Bronner’s castile soap dilution ratio is hair from 1:8 to 1:16.
Apply it on wet hair and lather up.
You can rinse it as normal, however, as with any soap, it does disrupt the cuticles of hair with its alkaline pH. Thus, it is better to rinse it with diluted apple cider vinegar.
In addition, its natural ingredients provide good moisturization and nutrition to hair.
In this, lavender extracts with their relaxing properties will calm your mind and body.
5. Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo
Dollylocks is a Florida-based company that makes a variety of dreadlock products including soaps, shampoos, sprays, and dry shampoos. All of their products are 100% vegan and contain no artificial preservatives or colors.
In addition, they are cruelty-free and have Leaping Bunny certification to show for that. Plus, they are GMO-free, gluten-free, and SLS-free. This makes them suitable for a huge user base with different hair or scalp types including oily and sensitive.
When it comes to ingredients, it contains spring distilled water, coconut oil, olive oil, castor bean oil, and grapefruit seed extract among others.
The first thing you are going to notice about this shampoo in terms of usage is that it does not foam as much. I would like to put down to it being free of a lot of usual chemicals you find in normal shampoos. It essentially has a thick oil-type texture.
However, it does not mean that you need a bigger volume of it to wash your hair. A little of this shampoo goes a long way and you may be surprised to see that it has a lesser consumption than average shampoos. However, it may take you some time to get used to.
After that rinse thoroughly and repeat if needed.
I would advise you to let the shampoo stay in there for 1-2 minutes. This is because Dollylocks shampoos have a cooling effect and this will give you an invigorating feel.
It is a light shampoo which means you would not have a heavy feeling after using it and your hair will be easy to manage.
One characteristic feature of this shampoo is its slightly floral scent which has a nice musky feel.
6. Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo
Knotty Boy was founded in 1997 and has a very interesting story behind its foundation. There was a boy named Andrew who had wild and unruly hair, he tried every possible thing but failed to manage his hair. Finally, he decided to go with dreadlocks, but the problem didn’t end.
Cleansing the dread was nothing less than a headache so he met a friend who was into herbal products. She made him a small batch of some herbs that cleansed Andrews’s hair like magic. It was then, he decided to start his own company dedicated to helping people with unruly hair.
Ever since this company has been delivering top-notch products in the market. The best thing about this product is its all-natural ingredients and the eco-friendly policies of the company. People who care about the climate would be happy to know that all the ingredients are biodegradable.
The key ingredients in the formulation are Rosemary, tea tree, and peppermint that clean the locs and soothe the scalp in the process.
This shampoo is not less than a treat for people with dread as the formulation was specifically designed to clean dreadlocks. Therefore, this shampoo will leave you surprised by its efficiency and cleansing.
7. TGIN Moisture Rich Shampoo – Free of Artificial Preservatives and Detergents
TGIN is the name to reckon with when it comes to hair care products. Founder of TGIN, Chris-Tia Donaldson, has devoted herself to the company and personally supervises every operation in her industry. Therefore, TGIN has lived up to its name by delivering quality products that are free of artificial preservatives and detergents.
The product we have at hand is one such product that is free of parabens, sulfates, petroleum, and mineral oils. In addition, the process of production was free of animal testing, hence, it is cruelty-free.
Coconut oil and amla oil are the main ingredients of this formulation that hold great nutritional value. Amla oil halts the hair loss and stops premature greying of the hair, while, coconut oil makes it thicker, stronger, and healthier.
The key to maintaining healthy dreadlocks is keeping the natural oils locked in and cleansing the hair thoroughly. This product gets both of these jobs done, which is why it is great for dreadlocks.
To get the best results, leave it in for two minutes, so every strand could soak the formulation. Wash it with warm water afterward and repeat the process only if you really need to.
However, this is inevitable when you are looking for natural and organic products. It will take comparatively more quantity and time than a typical shampoo.
But, in return, it would not strip the natural oils from the scalp which is what you need for the dreadlocks.
8. Neutrogena Anti Residue Shampoo For Dreads –
Neutrogena is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of skincare and hair care products. This company has been delivering quality products for almost 80 years and holds a great reputation among stylists. Be it moisturizers, conditioners, facewashes, or shampoos, excellence in performance and quality is guaranteed.
In order to maintain the health and style of the hair, you apply several hair care products on a daily basis. Problem is, residues of these products start to build up over time, which leaves the hair feeling lank, flank, and lifeless.
These residues need hardcore treatment which the regular shampoos are unable to provide. Therefore, Neutrogena has developed a formulation that can get this job without irritating the hair or scalp.
The unique selling point of this shampoo would have to be its versatility. You can use this product on every hair type included the ones that have undergone chemical treatment. Moreover, it is color-safe and does not strip the dyes of the hair.
The directions to use, however, are simple and easy. You just have to wet the hair thoroughly and massage the hair with a normal amount of it. Lather it up and let it stay in the hair for two minutes. Rinse it out with water.
Therefore, using this shampoo would help you in cleansing the scalp and hair thoroughly. Moreover, it will boost the volume of the hair in the process.
However, I believe, you can withstand the trouble once every week in order to get a residue-free scalp and hair.
9. Design Essentials Oat Protein And Henna Shampoo
Design Essentials is a US-based company and specializes in hair care products. In addition, to producing top-notch hair products, it sponsors educational literature events aiming to improve the knowledge of hair care products. The product we have under examination is a shampoo, which as per the company’s claim, is best for dreadlocks.
The shampoo is packed with natural ingredients that cleanse the scalp deeply without stripping it from natural oils. The capability of shampoo to lock the natural oils makes it perfect for the locs and dreads. Though it is best for dreads and locs, it does not disappoint even when you use it on any hair type.
The key ingredients in this formulation are oat protein and henna ash, each of which serves a unique purpose.
Oat protein increases the hydration of the scalp and keeps it moisturized which in turn makes the hair smooth and strong.
Henna ash, on the other hand, imparts shine in the hair and improves its texture. Therefore, the combination of both will help you get the fuller, stronger and healthier hair, that you always wished to have.
The best thing about this shampoo is its smell which is not a natural one but whatever it is, feels amazing.
You can use this product daily or once a week depending on the need of your hair. However, do not use it excessively as it contains sulfates which can damage the quality of your hair.
Using it twice or thrice a week would help you get the clean well-moisturized dreads. You would see a noticeable increase in the shine and improvement in the texture.
10. Dreadhead Shampoo
This shampoo is a must-have for people who have dread. The unique and health-minded ingredients lock and mature the dread faster than ever. Using this product on a regular basis reduces the need for the product like waxes and gels. This shampoo itself is enough to meet the needs of the dreadlocks.
It works by tightening the dreads and locking the loose hair in the locs. Dreadhead Shampoo can be used by both the people who have dreads or are planning on getting them.
The most common problem encountered by people with dread is the residue that hair products leave behind. These residues reduce the friction between strands and trap the moisture inside. Therefore, the hairs get messy and become unruly.
Fortunately, this product does not leave any residue behind which is why it works exceptionally well for people with locs. Moreover, the shampoo cleanses the hair thoroughly and gently. This shampoo does not produce any irritation, therefore, people with sensitive skin can also benefit from it.
The consistency of the shampoo is almost like water which makes it a little hard to apply. Therefore, you would have to be very careful about the spillage when you try to spread it on the palm of the hand.
The product does not contain any harmful ingredients; therefore, you can use it on a daily basis if you want.
Moreover, it is unscented so the people who have problems with overwhelming smell can also benefit from this.
Buyer’s Guide for Best Shampoo for Dreads - Evidenced-Based Recommendations
If you have had dreads or locs for any length of time, you would know that the average shampoo is not the best of options for them.
Fortunately, there are brands now that are companies' products that are dread and loc specific. However, there are products that do not target this type of hair but are as good as anything for dreads or locs.
In this section, we will try to point out factors that you need to consider when going for a shampoo for dreads. Obviously, our list is here to help you pick, but it is better to self-educate to make better-informed decisions in the future.
Here are some of the factors you need to consider when going for a shampoo for your dreads or locs.
Prevents and Cleans Product Buildup:
One factor which you need to consider more than any other when looking for a shampoo for dreads or locks is that it should not cause product buildup.
As discussed earlier, the commercial shampoo contains waxes, silicone, and silica and this gives the hair a temporary shine.
However, these ingredients are water-insoluble and cause a buildup commonly known as the residue.
Firstly, it decreases the friction between hair strands which is necessary for hair to tangle needed for dreads to stay together and mature.
Secondly, as residue coats the hair strands, it makes hair stay wet for longer. Dreads usually take longer to dry and if they are coated with residue it makes it even worse.
However, the longer your hair stays wet, they become more prone to developing dread rot which is essentially a buildup of fungi and bacteria.
Therefore, look for shampoos that do not contain waxes, silicone, and silica.
In addition to that, look for shampoos that can remove even the most stubborn gunk. Therefore, look for anti-residue or clarifying shampoos or save yourself some hassle and pick one from our list.
On the other hand, sodium lauryl sulfate is a good synthetic cleanser in commercial shampoos, but it has its own side effects.
Go for Natural Ingredients:
Pick up products with natural ingredients, I know this has become kind of a cliche, but that does not make it any less important.
Although synthetic beauty products provide a fast result, now we know that over time they cause a variety of different concerns.
Natural ingredients, on the other hand, are no quick fix. They are mild to your hair and skin and provide appreciable results over time without any major side effects. In addition, modern natural products are more effective and efficient.
Therefore, natural ingredients are always a safer bet when we are talking about our health, beauty, or wellbeing in general.
Look for Moisturizing Agents:
It is an innate property of shampoos to deprive hair of its natural moisture, that's how they work.
But, if shampoo has good moisturizing agents to compliment the cleansing effect, that is the kind of shampoo you want.
What better than having natural moisturizers like shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil to have in your shampoo.
In addition, as dreads mature, it becomes difficult for natural oils to travel through the different twists and turns to reach the ends. This can leave your hair dry and damaged.
Therefore, look for shampoos that have ingredients with a good moisturizing effect.
Avoid Allergens and Irritants:
Different shampoos use preservatives such as parabens to increase their shelf life.
However, studies have shown that they cause different kinds of allergic and other systemic side effects.
Some of the common parabens used are propylparaben, benzyl paraben, methylparaben, or butylparaben. Be mindful of the suffix paraben in these chemicals.
Other irritants found widely in shampoos are sulfates. These are used as a cleansing and foaming agents in shampoos but are known for causing irritating to skin, eyes, and hair. Some studies have found a possible link to cancer, but there is no concrete research to back it up.
Two of the main sulfates used in shampoos are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate.
Sulfates are known also to strip off hair color. Therefore, if you have color-treated hair, avoid using shampoos containing sulfates.
In addition to that, allergy to fragrances is also a common phenomenon. There are as many as 85 established fragrance ingredients that can cause allergic reactions. Some of these have natural occurrences in different ingredients used in shampoo.
However, every person has a unique immune system and if one person has an irritant reaction to an ingredient, it does not mean another person would have the same reaction or reaction at all.
We have described some of the common allergens and irritants found in shampoos. However, it does not mean that you would develop a reaction to them. Nonetheless, it does not mean either that you would not develop a reaction to them.
We would suggest saving yourself a headache and pick one from our list which does not contain any of the common irritants.
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Shampoo for Dread
Wherever you are in your dreadlocks journey, you would agree with me that although they are low maintenance in general, you still need to be mindful of what you are doing to them.
Just like any hair type or hairstyle, your hair care routines determine to a great extent how your hair is going to look and feel. In the hair care routine, shampoos have a pivotal role. Therefore, you need to be mindful of what your hair is exposed to.
We have enlisted some of the best shampoos you can get your hands on. They are a beast at providing a good cleanout, however, they are milder on your scalp and hair.
However, our purpose was not to tell you what we like but to make you educated to make a better-informed decision. Thus, we included a detailed buyer’s guide on things you need to be mindful of when going for shampoo for dreads.
We have included some other informative pieces on dreads, do go through them and we will be bringing more. Do comment below on what you would like us to write about and we would love to respond.