Having dreadlocks comes with the possibility that build-up and dirt can get trapped within your locs. To maintain healthy locs, it’s important to keep them clean inside and out; otherwise, you can get a scalp infection or stunt your hair’s growth. Throughout this article, you will learn the ins and outs to dread detoxing. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll feel knowledgeable enough to detox your dreads!
Dread detoxing is exactly what it sounds like–a process your dreadlocks undergo to cleanse and remove built-up dirt from them. Detoxing is much different than just regular shampooing in the sense that it cleans deep within your dreads. It removes all of the dirt from the inside as opposed to shampooing which just cleans the scalp and the surface layers of your dreadlocks.
Detoxing has many benefits, such as preventing mold and mildew from fostering within your dreads, killing scalp infection-causing bacteria, stimulating hair growth, and keeping your scalp healthy. Overall, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try, so why not?
Detoxing is a very drying process because it, essentially, is stripping your hair of all added substances. That includes moisture, dirt, and oils which can leave your hair feeling very dry and brittle. Therefore, detoxing should not be done more than 2-4 times per year, or once every 3-4 months, even less.
I also heavily recommend that you do a deep conditioning treatment immediately after detoxing your dreads to protect and maintain the integrity of your hair.
If you’ve had dreads for a while now and you haven’t gotten a detox yet, it’s probably about time you get one. However, if you’re not sure, here are some signs that your locs need to be deep cleaned.
If your dreadlocks stink and still stink after washing them multiple times, then it’s time for a detox. This means that there is bacteria or something within your dreads causing that smell that needs to be cleaned out.
If your hair feels sticky after washing it, it needs to be detoxed. There is something within your dreads producing a sticky film on the surface, so you need to detox your dreads to remove whatever build-up is causing it to feel that way. Leaving your hair sticky will only make it more prone to dirt and lint which will only cause more build-up within your dreads.
I’m not saying that every time your locs look dull you need to detox–then your hair would be super dry–however, if your hair is dull on top of the other signs, then it’s time for a detox. A grayish cast on top of your dreads usually means that it’s build-up sitting on top of your dreads.
This depends on which method of detoxing you use, but generally, the detoxing process takes anywhere between a few minutes to a few days. Typically, the longer the process, the more of a detox effect it has; however, this isn’t always the case.
An apple cider vinegar detox usually takes anywhere from thirty to forty minutes, and about the same goes for detoxing with lemon juice. You can also choose to detox your dreads using baking soda which you should leave on for about forty-five to sixty minutes.
For some of these, you may be able to leave the detoxing solution on overnight for a greater detoxing effect, but many of these have such strong detoxing agents that leaving it on to strip your hair more would end up doing more harm than good.
You should be detoxing your dreads regularly to get rid of build-up, stop the growth of mold and mildew, and maintain the overall health of your scalp. If you aren’t detoxing your dreads at least once a year then you are exposing yourself to scalp infections due to an accumulation of bacteria over a long period.
Also, by not detoxing your dreadlocks, you make it harder to maintain a neat, non-frizzy appearance. Because you make yourself prone to split ends, they eventually make their way up the shaft of your dreads and cause stubborn–almost “built-in”–frizziness.
Split ends become very hard to manage once they make their way inside your locs, so why not prevent them by detoxing and routine trims?
The simple answer would be to dilute a detoxing agent in water and let your hair soak in it for about thirty minutes to an hour. However, each process is different, so I’m going to take some time to explain each one to you.
It’s most common to create a liquid detox solution and just let your hair sit in it anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, but some detoxes don’t result in liquid consistency. For those, you will need to apply the paste to your dreads and let it sit on top.
When it has dried, the detox effect is over and you can rinse off your dreads. However, even with paste-y detox, try to dilute it enough to get it to a more liquid consistency so that way it can penetrate through to detox within your locs.
There are a few different ways to detox your dreads. I am going to go in-depth and explain the most common and effective methods such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.
For this recipe, you will need
- A bowl (large enough to fit the length of all of your dreads)
- Lemon juice
- An oil of your choice
To start, fill the bowl with enough hot water that all of your dreads will be saturated. Then add about 5 tablespoons of the oil of your choice and enough lemon juice until it becomes fragrant from a standing position.
The amount of oil you add to the solution is up to you, but make sure there’s a 2:1 ratio of oil to lemon juice to reduce the stripping effects of the lemon juice. Use freshly squeezed lemons because the processed kind contains additives damaging to your hair, and strain the pulp out of your lemon juice before adding it because once it’s in your dreads, it’s almost impossible to get out.
Let your dreads soak in the mixture for about thirty to forty-five minutes while the water is still hot. Follow up by shampooing your locs with a clarifying shampoo to completely remove the mixture and any remaining build-up.
Whatever you do, do not leave the mixture on overnight as the constant exposure to lemon’s acidness can cause structural damage to your dreadlocks. You might also notice that after you rinse out the solution, your locs appear lighter. This is because lemon’s acidic properties can strip some of the melanin from your hair causing it to be lighter.
The Pros and Cons of a Lemon Juice Detox
|– Has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
|– If left on for too long or not diluted enough, it can cause structural damage to your locs
|– Balances the natural oils on your scalp
|– Applying too much and too often can leave your hair extremely dry and fragile (it can also cause irreversible damage)
|– Can soften the hair for a short time
|– Over time, it disrupts the locking process leaving your dreads loose and frizzy
|– It’s a natural grease remover
|– If you don’t rinse it out all the way it can dry and leave your locs sticky which only attracts more dirt and lint
|– Maintains the pH of your hair which prevents dandruff
|– Burns open cuts or wounds on the scalp
|– Strengthens your hair follicles which reduce hair loss
|– Can leave your dreads dull
|– Stimulates hair growth
|– Your hair can turn green if used before exposing your hair to chlorine and the sun at the same time
|Removes added chemicals from your hair such as chlorine
Dread Detox Recipe With Apple Cider Vinegar
This is probably the most common, and strongest, detox recipe for dreadlocks. For this recipe, you will need
- A bowl (large enough to hold the length of all of your dreadlocks)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Oil/s of your choice
Depending on which apple cider vinegar you use, you might have to strain it beforehand to remove any floating pieces that would be a pain to remove from your locs later. Fill your bowl with hot water, about two cups of apple cider vinegar, and about three to five tablespoons of the oil/s of your choice.
Again, how much oil you add is up to you. They’re just there to make the stripping effects of the apple cider vinegar less intense and to add shine and softness to your locs afterward. After your detox solution is made, soak your dreads in it for about thirty minutes to an hour, and you can even leave this solution on overnight. Just tie a plastic bag around your locs, to keep heat circulating, and wear a bonnet and you can wash it out the next day.
When you’re soaking, which you should be doing whether you choose to leave it on overnight or not, be sure to rake through as if you were washing your dreads throughout the process. Once done soaking, wash twice with a clarifying shampoo, to ensure the complete removal of the solution, and deep condition afterward to restore moisture.
|– Are rich in vitamin B and C
|– If not thoroughly rinsed out, can leave an odor
|– Inhibits the growth of fungus, bacteria, and lice
|– Can leave hair very dry
|– Limits dandruff
|– Balances hair and scalp’s pH
Dread Detox Recipe With Baking Soda
Baking soda is generally added to other detoxing solutions to mitigate the effect; however, you can make a paste-y detoxing with just baking soda as well. For this recipe, you will need
- A bowl large enough to fit your entire dreadlocks
- Baking soda
- Oils of your choice for added shine and softness
All you need to do is dilute however much baking soda you add in hot water along with the oils you choose. You can even add a little bit of lemon juice to this detox for a deeper clean. Leave the mixture on for up to a day (not forgetting to soak first and scrub) unless you added the lemon juice, then leave on anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours.
This mixture doesn’t have to be a liquid solution if it’s easier for you to apply it as a paste. Instead, add the water to the baking soda instead of the other way around. However, be aware that this will increase the stripping intensity of the detox, so you will only be able to leave it on for about an hour.
After using this method, I recommend following up with an apple cider vinegar detoxing rinse to balance the pH levels of your hair and then washing with a clarifying shampoo for the most effective clean. Never mix baking soda and apple cider vinegar in one solution because they will cancel out the detox properties of each other. Then follow up with a deep conditioner to restore the stripped away moisture.
|Absorb oil and residueAre very effective at removing build-up from within
|Offsets pH of hair and scalp, so have to follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse to restore the balanceVery harsh on the scalpLeaves scalp and hair extremely dry
|– Absorb oil and residue
|– Offsets pH of hair and scalp, so have to follow up with an apple cider
|– Are very effective at removing build-up from within
|– Very harsh on the scalp
|– Leaves scalp and hair extremely dry