How to Wash Starter Locs for the First Time

 The decision to lock your natural hair is always a big step for anyone. It is easy to get overwhelmed by everything that you need to do to grow and maintain a healthy set of …

 The decision to lock your natural hair is always a big step for anyone. It is easy to get overwhelmed by everything that you need to do to grow and maintain a healthy set of locs. In this article, we will focus on maintaining, washing, and conditioning starter locs without unravelling them.

 Maintaining any kind of locs is generally easy, with the right information and proper hair care. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make it less problematic or confusing for people just starting their hair-locked journey.

The majority of the questions newly locked people ask are, ‘How long should I wait before I wash my new locks?’ Or ‘What products are suitable for starter locs?’ And ‘How do I wash my starter locs without unravelling them?’.

But before addressing these concerns, it is important to remember that locs are a natural hairstyle and do not require a lot of fuss, so a simple and holistic maintenance routine should suffice.

When Can You Wash Your Dreadlocks For the First Time?

Although hair care and maintenance are common needs for people with locs, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all approach to washing your locs. Every hair texture is different, so it is important to know your hair texture and choose a personalized routine.

The initial stage, also called the baby stage locs, refers to when the locs are newly locked. In most cases, baby stage locs are short-medium length. Because of how short they are, they can easily unravel back into a fro if you are not careful. Hence, it is advisable to wash locs in this stage after 4-6 weeks of locking.

This might seem like a long time to wait before washing their hair if you are new to dreadlocks. However, waiting before washing will give your hair some time to grow out and ensure they are locked properly at the roots. 

Some people decide to wait even longer before washing their starter locs, but waiting any longer than two months before washing your locs is not advisable.

Besides hair texture and length, it is also important to consider your daily and personal lifestyle routine in deciding when to wash your starter locs.

For instance, if you hit the gym frequently or are someone with an active day job and always working up a sweat, your scalp would likely get sweaty. A lot of buildup from heat and sweat will settle on the scalp and cause dirt to build up. Therefore, it is advisable to wash your locs within a shorter time than four weeks in such a situation.

Nevertheless, waiting at least two weeks before washing your starter locs is still recommended. This will give it a little time to grow as locked hair at the roots.

Advice from your hairstylist or personal hair expert is also something you should consider before washing your starter locs.

How do you wash locs at home for the first time? 

After deciding when to wash your starter locs, then comes the confusing question of ‘how’. You want to successfully wash your locs clean without undoing its coils, mats, or dreads- and you may need more than just soap and water.

 Here are some products you will need to wash your locs at home for the first time

Stocking Cap

The first thing to consider, again, of course, is hair texture and length. For some particularly thick and coarse hair textures, washing your locs may be easier without any need for a stocking cap. 

You may be wondering, ‘What is a stocking cap?’ A stocking cap is an elastic nylon cap worn on the head to protect natural hairstyles such as cornrow plaits or dreadlocks. They are also called wig caps.

Now, using a stocking cap for your starter locs is not compulsory for everyone. Still, they can be useful to people who have loose curl hair textures or are just anxious about unravelling their love while washing.

So, there might be a need to purchase a good stocking cap if your starter locs are comb coil-starter locs or finger coils-starter locs. This is because the locs are not as tight and can easily unravel during the wash since the hair is weaker when it’s wet. 


What kind of shampoo should I use to wash my starter lock?’ One important thing to bear in mind concerning locs is they need to be hydrated and protected from breakage as much as possible.

This is why selecting simple hydrating shampoos for those with oily scalp and shampoos with intense hydrating formulas for those of us with dry scalps is the best bet. 

How do you prevent your locs from unravelling?

If you are using a stocking cap, first, you will need to wear the cap on your head with the locs falling out from under. Then, work the right amount of shampoo into your scalp with your fingertips, massage into your hair, and rinse off completely.

If you are washing without a stocking cap, carefully massage your scalp with shampoo and work your way upwards. Focus more on lathering your scalp with your fingertips, then carefully move down your locs with a gentle squeeze before rinsing off.

Try not to scratch or scrub your scalp and locs roughly while washing. Remember to wash gently with your fingertips and focus more on your scalp than scrubbing out the locs themselves. 

Should you moisturize your locs after washing?

The simple answer is yes. First, please moisturize your locs regularly, not just after washing. As we mentioned earlier, locked hair needs to stay hydrated, especially to prevent breakage.

However, there is a catch. Dreadlocks are a derivation of tangled, matted hair, so most generic conditioners (which are made to function as detanglers) are not advisable to be used on locs. Especially on budding starter locs. Instead, applying natural oils and serums like argan oil, avocado, or olive oil is more appropriate to lock some moisture in.

Suppose you are also trying to grow out your hair. In that case, you may include some conditioning cream, leave-in conditioner, or hair growth oils, but remember to apply directly to your scalp instead of the entire locs itself. 

Should you brush your locs? 

Other than the occasional desire to brush outgrowth edges for a neat appearance, there is no need to brush your locs. One of the beauties of growing out locs is that you do not need to run a comb or a brush through your hair every day to maintain it.

Instead, it is neatly arranged with matted or tangled hair to give that dread aesthetic. However, some people who have a fade with their locs may need to brush up the part of their hair that isn’t locked.

And, except you are intentionally going for that fuzzy look your locs will have as a result of brushing it, there is no need to brush your locs. Brushing starter locs may detangle it faster, especially when it is wet.

Does washing starter locs help them lock? 

Quite ironically, washing your locs regularly after your first wash will help them lock faster. It is easy to make your locs dread up faster by giving it a quick wash every three days.

Be careful not to wash vigorously, and giving your hair a quick rinse every time you are in the shower will also help it lock faster.

How often should you wash your locs going forward?

 In conclusion, washing your starter locs shouldn’t be hard with the right information. Neither should it lead to unravelling your newly done locs. Once you get the hang of it, washing your locs comes with ease allowing you to wash consistently. 

How often should you wash your locs going forward? Well, locs are not different from your natural hair. They are just different now because of the matted hair, which can hold a lot of debris and oil in the strands.

Hence it is advisable to wash your locs every 2-3 weeks to keep them clean, free of buildup and healthy. With this information and the right routine, you can maintain a healthy and beautiful locked journey.

In the end, regardless of how you choose to start your locked journey, locks are naturally durable but also require proper maintenance to prevent dryness, breakage and grow beautifully.