Dreadlocks are formed when hair strands lock together over time. However, there are faster ways to achieve dreadlocks, such as using the crochet method and braiding your hair. But if you want your hair to lock faster and form mature-looking dreadlocks, you can use locking gel to help speed up the process. Locking gel also makes your dreads look neat, clean, and hygienic.
Dreadlocks is a popular hairstyle connected to various cultures and tribes worldwide, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Rastafarian Movement. But these days, anyone can rock dreads, whether it is for religion, your passion, or fashion. Celebrities like Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa, and so many more wear dreadlocks—and you can too.
But you got to keep in mind that dreadlocks are not easy to maintain. It requires a lot of grooming practices, especially if you want them to look hygienic. Fortunately, there are products like locking gel in the market for that purpose.
What is locking gel?
Your hair can lock together and form dreadlocks even without the use of locking gel. However, locking gels can help make the locking process faster and develop beautiful, clean-looking locs. Besides that, locking gel can also make your dreads appear more natural and shinier.
When choosing the best locking gel for your hair, you want to make sure it holds, moisturizes, and doesn’t leave a lot of residues to avoid flaking.
You want to choose locking gels that provide a good hold to ensure that your dreads will form and come together nicely. As for protecting your scalp and making your dreads shine more naturally, the best locking gel should have excellent moisturization.
Regulating the moisture is suitable for your scalp and hair, so it doesn’t appear too dry. Instead, it will look adequately nourished, which is good for your natural hair and scalp.
Lastly, you want to choose a locking gel that does not flake or leave residue behind. This issue can cause dandruff and foul odor. Some locking gels can be easily washed off if there are excess gel, but others—not so much.
Choosing the right brand of locking gel can be overwhelming, but it’s a good thing that we have already made a list of the best options for you. But before we get to the list, we will explain a couple more things about locking gel, starting with how it works.
How does locking gel work?
Locking gel is used to retwist and hold your dreads, making them look neat and clean. It provides a firm hold and is an excellent option for starter locs to mature faster.
However, you will need to choose one of the best locking gel options for your hair if you want to avoid side effects like flaking, thinning, or worse, getting your hair removed from the roots. The right frequency of use and choosing the right product can go a long way into creating long and robust dreadlocks.
Other than holding the locks firmly, some of the best locking gels can also repair and strengthen your hair, depending on the natural ingredients of the products you use. Lucky for you, we chose some of the best locking gels in the market, so you don’t have to.
How often should you use locking gel on dreads?
Many stylists recommend using locking gel once every 2 to 3 weeks for starter locs. When they mature enough, you can lessen the usage and only use locking gel once every 4 to 6 weeks. You should only think about using locking gels when there is significant growth in your hair. Basically, as your locs mature, the frequency of retwisting using locking gel decreases.
Applying locking gel and retwisting your hair often is not ideal, especially if you want your hair to stay healthy. Locking and retwisting your hair can make them thinner and weaker, or worse—it might even cause traction alopecia, which is basically hair balding because of the tension on your scalp.
It is essential to know when to use locking gels, so whether you are on starter or mature locs, limit yourself to using locking gel only once every month to be safe. Fortunately, you only need to use it until your hair gets loose and when hair from the roots starts growing.
If you like working out and doing a lot of physical activity, your dreads will tend to loosen up because of washing them often, but that does not indicate that you need to use locking gel more often than the recommended usage.
How can you avoid buildup in your locs?
Heavy products like Vaseline, Beeswax, and locking gels can cause buildup in the dreads, and the best way to avoid it is by only applying good products and applying them correctly—and at the right frequency. Also, you want to keep in mind that your locs should be clean before using any products, including hair locking gel.
Applying locking gel on dirty locs is the formula for dirt and grime to build up. Remember that gel may attract grease, dirt, etc. So make sure your hair is clean before retwisting using locking gel and make sure you let it dry before exposing yourself to dirt to avoid severe buildup.
Remember that what we put in our locs, stays in our locs. Buildup in dreadlocks is the hardening and gathering of debris and residue from the products we apply on them. Products like petroleum-based products, wax, common locking gels buildup inside our dreads if we fail to use them as recommended.
Applying the wrong products and not correctly applying them to your locs causes buildup. And you can quickly tell if you have buildup on its way if you feel heavy lumps in your hair after retwisting and using locking gels. Buildup is difficult to remove, so you should definitely try to prevent it from happening so you don’t have to go through the trouble.
How do you remove the gel from your locs?
In case you already have buildup, regular shampoo will not work if you want to remove it. You will need a grease-cutting agent, such as lemon dishwashing detergent. Yes, you heard that right. The best way to remove buildup is to use liquid dishwashing soap on your locs. It may sound weird, but it is definitely effective.
If you want to remove buildup on your dreads, soak your hair in hot water, but not hot enough to burn you. Warm water can help loosen up the buildup before you start cleaning it with dishwashing liquid. It will help to press on the buildup to identify the areas where you need to focus on the most.
Next, wash your hair 3 to 4 times using dishwashing liquid or detergent, and try squeezing the buildup embedded in your dreads. Keep cleaning your dreads until the water that flows out of your locs is clear.
Keep in mind that after washing the excess grease and buildup, you might have also washed the natural oil in your locs. So make sure you follow it up with castor oil to maintain its shine and avoid dryness.
Best Locking Gels
Now that you pretty much have an idea about locking gels, how it works, and how to apply them correctly—here is a list of the best locking gels in the market.
Choosing one of these options might be the best fit, but it will depend on how strong you want the hold, how it moisturizes and strengthens the hair, and how easy it is to wash off the excess product.
Lion Loc (Buy Here)
This product has tons of fantastic reviews on the web. People claim that even if they use it every day to groom their locs and only wash them once a month—it still doesn’t cause buildup. Well, what we can say is that although you can use it every day, you really shouldn’t just to be safe.
With that in mind, this product may not be as firm as other products on the list. However, based on its description, it is an excellent choice for starter locs as it does not cause too much buildup.
- Good for starter locs
- Less flaky
- Excellent moisturization
- Some ingredients may cause discoloration
Jamaican Mango (Buy Here)
This product provides the strongest hold out of all the products on this list. After using it once, you will notice a pleasant difference. It is an excellent choice if you want your dreads to remain clean.
Another thing we liked about this product is that it isn’t super sticky on the hands—even though it holds like a beast.
- Great hold
- Smells fantastic
- It doesn’t cause buildup
- Too many unnatural ingredients
Bronner Brothers (Buy Here)
This locking gel may not show quick results, but it will grow on you after a while. After using it once, it might not present a firm hold on your locs. But as the days go by and after using it a couple of times, you will notice that it holds really well.
With that being said, it is an excellent product for starter locs since it has long-term holding and moisturization.
- Great for any age locs
- Smells good
- Not flaky
- Results take a while to kick in
Stylin Dredz (Buy Here)
As the name suggests, this locking gel is fantastic when it comes to styling your dreads. The consistency is similar to hard wave grease, without significant buildup. It is an excellent option for starting dreads and styling them the way you want.
It provides excellent hold, and you don’t even need to use clips to separate them. It is the best option if you are retwisting your locs without any help.
- Firm hold
- Great for styling
- Dries quick
- It can cause flakes when overused