Spare yourself from suffering from buildup or breakage by being knowledgeable before you start your dreadlocks. These are tips that I wish I knew when I wore mine way back when:
#1 Use light products
Being that your hair will be locked up and not worn out loosely it is easy for buildup to get stuck in your strands. Which means you will want to stick to using products on the lighter side. Some suggestions: Aloe Vera Gel, Flaxseed Gel, Chia Seed Gel, or a product like Jamaican Lime Mango Twist Gel.
#2 Clarify your hair often
Again, since buildup will come easy you will want to clarify your hair often using clarifying shampoos or you can use a mixture of water and Apple Cider Vinegar. You can also use this recipe to combat the itchies, speed up the locking process and moisturize your hair.
#3 Wash your hair at least every 2 to 3 weeks, even when you are starting your dreadlocks off
Washing your hair will not disturb the locking process and in fact may help to speed the process up, being that water will kink and curl your hair. If the person who is helping you start off your locs spews any gibberish about not washing your hair for 6 months, bounce! It is very important that you keep your dreadlocks clean.
#4 Still wrap your hair
Although you will no longer have to worry about your bedding causing damage to your hair, you have to worry about it causing buildup. Always wrap your hair at night to avoid lint getting stuck in your locs. Also if you will be dusting, gardening or doing any activity where dirt or debris will flying around cover your hair.
#5 Avoid re-twisting too frequently
Constantly putting too much tension on your scalp puts you at risk for traction alopecia. Stretch out the times that you re-twist when your locs have become fully formed to avoid breakage. It’s okay if your dreads aren’t completely perfect all the time. You especially want to give sensitive areas like your edges and nape some time to breathe. I use to go a month or a little over without re-twisting.
#6 Always give your dreadlocks time to thoroughly dry after you wash them.
Locs constantly kept in a wet state become susceptible to bacterial growth and mold (yuck)! Leave your locs out rather than put them in a ponytail, this holds in too much moisture and go out in the sun to allow them to get a good air dry. When you are short on time you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.
#7 Depending on how your locs are maintained, it isn’t totally permanent (if you don’t want them to be).
After 4 years of wearing locs I was able to remove them by picking them out and I didn’t have to chop off all my hair. This process was super long and tedious; it took two weeks total. However, I did it! There are salons that do dreadlock removal, but understandably it’s pretty pricey (anywhere from $500 – $1000). The removal through picking may not be feasible if you maintain by interlocking or if you have shaved the sides of your dreads to shape them. My dreads were re-twisted using the palm rolling method.