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How To Treat Dandruff On Dreadlocks

It often takes more than just good shampoo when you’re figuring out how to treat dandruff on dreadlocks. Any number of products or habits could be causing your flaky, dry scalp irritation.

Is It Normal For Dreads To Have Dandruff?

Dandruff is normal for every hair type and style. It’s a symptom of scalp irritation and dryness, which can be caused by anything from your hair products to your genetics.

When you’re first learning to take care of dreadlocks, it’s normal to experience some scalp irritation. You might be washing too often or not enough. You could be using an irritating product, like gel or wax for dreadlocks.  

You’ll have to exercise some patience while you learn what products feel good on your hair, and what moisturizing and washing routine keeps your scalp the happiest.

What Causes Dandruff In Dreadlocks?

There are a LOT of reasons you might be suffering from dandruff in your dreadlocks. Some common explanations:

  1. Your hair products are irritating your scalp. Dreadlock gels, waxes, shampoos, and more are supposed to be gentle, but you never know how your scalp will react to new hair products. Irritation caused by hair products can ultimately lead to dandruff.
  1. You’re not washing out your shampoo properly. The last thing you want is shampoo residue clinging to your dreadlocks. It can encourage mold growth, irritation, dandruff, and ultimately dread rot. Try rinsing more thoroughly, or water down your shampoo.
  1. You’re not washing your dreadlocks enough. When your hair is wound into locs, it’s easier for lint, dirt, and debris to get caught in your hair. You might be experiencing irritation because you’re not washing your hair frequently enough to remove those irritants.
  1. Your scalp is dehydrated. Don’t know how to properly moisturize your scalp with dreadlocks? If you haven’t figured out a way to keep your head and hair hydrated, it’s probably just dryness that’s making your scalp flake up. 
  1. Your diet is causing dandruff. Lots of sugary fats can cause hormonal spikes, making your skin oilier and flakier. It’s a horrible cycle – your skin gets oily, making it irritated and flaky, making it more oily… 
  1. It’s in your genetics. It sucks, but some guys are just more prone to dandruff than others. Changing your hairstyle won’t fix that, but using daily dandruff treatments can help.

There are a million things that could be causing your dandruff, aside from just the few points on this list. The good news is that the treatments are usually the same.

Can You Use Dandruff Shampoo On Dreads?

You can use dandruff shampoo on dreads. It will help control your symptoms and wash away the flakes.

Some things you’ll want to keep in mind:

• If the dandruff shampoo feels thick (like it might leave residue), water it down before you take it into the shower with you. It’ll be easier to rinse so that no suds will get stuck in your hair.

• Read the ingredient list to look for things you might be allergic to. If you have sensitive skin, test the shampoo on your wrist 24 hours before you use it so that you can check for a negative reaction.

• If you’ve been using “normal” shampoo on your locs, you might not need to resort to a dandruff shampoo just yet. Try switching to a shampoo designed for dreadlocks first. It won’t leave residue or cause irritation like regular shampoos.

When you’re picking out a dandruff shampoo, I recommend the best dandruff shampoos for African hair because they’re formulated to work with lots of texture and curls.

And remember, for lots of guys, there’s more to it than just switching shampoos when you’re treating dandruff on dreadlocks.

How To Treat Dandruff On Dreadlocks

When it comes to how to treat dandruff on dreadlocks, getting the right dandruff or dreadlock shampoo is a great first step for treating dandruff on dreadlocks. But you’ll also want to put some other power moves into play:

  1. Wash your dreadlocks more often. You should wash your dreadlocks at least once a week or more if they’re mature. Don’t forget to rinse with apple cider vinegar after you’ve washed – it moisturizes your scalp and hair without detangling your locs. And make sure to dry your dreads thoroughly so that no moisture gets trapped inside the locs.
  1. Moisturize your scalp regularly. You can use hair oil to moisturize your scalp directly. Or pick up some habits like wearing a durag or scarf and washing your hair with cool water to protect your skin’s natural moisturizing oils.
  1. Cut out hair products that might be causing irritation. Gels, waxes, “regular” shampoos, hairspray, and anything else you’re applying to your hair can start to build up at your roots. Use fewer hair products, or try to identify which products are irritating your scalp.
  1. Visit a dermatologist. Most guys don’t need to see a dermatologist to cure dandruff – it’s something you can do yourself with at-home treatments. But if you think a chronic dry skin condition like eczema or psoriasis is causing your dandruff, you may need to see a doctor for more care.

If you’re having a hard time with dandruff, don’t give up on your locs. It’s a problem that plenty of guys face. With some patience and at-home treatments, you’ll have your locs looking sleek and flake-free.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.