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If you have dreads or are thinking of getting them, the first thing you should do is learn how to care for them. With the right care and cleansing techniques, your dreads will “lock” tightly and have little to no flyaway hairs. Each dreadlock will also be perfectly hydrated and nourished so it can continue to grow and lock up for the best volume and appeal.
Unfortunately, most shampoos and hair cleansers on the market aren’t dread-friendly (dare we say, they are “dread”ful). This means you have to do some digging to find the best shampoos for dreads that will cleanse and nourish them so you can have your unique hair as long as you wish.
The best shampoo for dreads comes with a lot of expectations because your scalp will be irritated and dreads can become odorous and flaky with skin and other debris without the right cleansing agent. You don’t want to use traditional soaps and cleansers because they leave behind residue. If you see a product that isn’t specific to dreadlocks, then make sure it contains the essentials before you put it in your tresses or on your scalp.
What you’re looking for in a shampoo for dreads includes the following:
- Scalp-nourishing oils and hydration to prevent dread breakage and scalp irritation
- Antibacterial cleansing agents for deep-set debris and odors
- Gentle yet effective cleansing with no residue
- Suds-less cleansing to protect dreads
- Cleansing and conditioning in one product
Along with shampoos for dreads, you can also consider hydrating and moisturizing sprays, dread wax, and other hair care items to keep your dreads healthy, smooth, and well-nourished.
We love your dreads as much as you do and want you to keep your tresses healthy and locked tight! For tighter dreads that have a smoother and more defined appeal, twist them at the root regularly and consider our list of the 18 best shampoos for dreads in 2023.
Don’t forget to check out any accompanying conditioners, lock sprays, and other agents designed for dreadlocks from your favorite brands! While it’s best to stick to one type of shampoo for your dreads to give your locks consistent TLC, we don’t judge you if you’d rather mix and match your choices for custom dread care.
When it comes to caring for your dreads, your locks are not the number one concern, your scalp is. You need a cleanser for your hair that focuses first on your scalp and then moves on to making your dreads tighter and more defined. All this while being a nearly completely natural and plant-based product that won’t leave behind heavy residue.
That’s why we love Blu Atlas Coconut Apricot Shampoo. This shampoo contains not just a delicious scent—who can resist coconut apricot?—it has lots of unique ingredients that work together to give your scalp needed relief while restoring and maintaining your dreads. What do we love most? This vegan shampoo is made of 99% natural and plant-based materials and the scent? Natural, not artificial.
Aloe vera works to target the scalp, soothing the pulled, stressed, and irritated skin so it’s less flakey and more durable as you build longer and heavier dreads. Saw palmetto works at preventing hair loss from its source, blocking the hair loss hormone from weakening and thinning your dreads.
Jojoba oil targets dry and stressed tresses to restore and smooth them, which is essential to helping your dreadlocks maintain their look. This same oil helps create balance in your scalp and introduces vitamins A, E, and D to your hair and skin. It’s also rich in antioxidants and fatty acids.
Finally, coconut surfactants work hard to strip unwanted impurities and oils from your scalp and hair so you can gently cleanse your dense dreads without leaving heavy residue behind. Remember, residue = moisture. Moisture left unchecked soils your dreads.
This shampoo brand is trusted by dreadlocks enthusiasts and comes in a variety of scents. We can see why Dollylocks is a favorite—it’s got a lot of essential oils and necessary additives that help restore dreads and keep them locked tight without stripping them of oils naturally produced by the scalp and hair.
Dollylocks is made in small batches with raw ingredients, so you know when you buy a bottle, you’re getting a fresh product. A variety of scents are available and each offers its own benefits.
Tea tree is a miracle worker in cleansing and healing. It’s got antibacterial as well as antioxidant properties along with soothing and cooling properties for the scalp. Spearmint also offers soothing and cooling sensations when your locks are tightening up and your scalp is paying the price.
This isn’t a sudsy shampoo, and it’s not intended to be. Simply coat your scalp and dreads with this soothing shampoo and let its essential oils and natural essence work their magic before rinsing entirely. Don’t scrub your locks, and make sure to dry them thoroughly before putting in other oils and styling agents.
We love not just the packaging of this cleanser, but what it can do for dreads. Often, the goal of cleaning dreads is not only cleansing them, keeping them smelling fresh, and removing debris but also helping them lock up tight into the favored “locs” that many dreadheads prefer.
This shampoo accomplishes just that, helping looser and fatter dreads tighten up and become more uniformly round for greater appeal and health. Less flyaway hairs in your dread tips and roots mean healthier and stronger dreads that last.
How does Knatty Dread accomplish this? By using a coconut-based formula that cleanses the hair while restoring each shaft. As a bonus, this shampoo aims to reduce the amount of time it takes dreads to dry, which can reduce the bacteria and irritation buildup that any dread lover hates about washing their hair.
Follow the detailed instructions on this shampoo for the best results in your dread care.
We love a good conditioning cleanser, so it’s no wonder that we’ve included one in our list. We rank this Lion Locs shampoo high on our list because it’s a cleanser that washes hair by conditioning it, known as co-washing.
This is a common washing technique for people who have naturally wavy and curly hair, and this product is ideal for anyone with full or partial dreads who wants to keep them looking and feeling fresh. You can either rinse the product out when you’re done or use it as a leave-in conditioning agent if you want to give your dreads some relief and a few days of relaxation without getting them wet.
This shampoo is residue-free, so it won’t leave a film behind. Plus it’s vegan! The co-wash treatment product contains no wax, parabens, dyes, sulfates, mineral oils, or even sulfates or silicone, so you know you’re treating your dreads with a natural cleansing without harsh chemicals and unnecessary additives that weigh hair down. Aloe vera, jojoba oil, and argan oil work to tame and restore your dreads and make them tighter and more defined.
When you have dreads, your scalp is pulled and manipulated as you twist your dreads into shape from the root down. This can wreak havoc on your poor head, but the right shampoo can help make things right.
Introducing Aromatica’s Rosemary Scalp Scaling Shampoo, which allows its lead ingredient to soothe the scalp and gently slough off the scales and dead skin, a common concern among people with dreads.
Not only does this shampoo help remove the plaque and scales on the scalp, but it also works to fortify and rebalance the pH of the scalp to prevent future damage. Imagine having both healthy and gorgeous locks as well as a healthier scalp. Continued use of this shampoo can give you just that. This shampoo is also paraben, silicone, and sulfate-free.
What does rosemary do? Aside from offering an earthy aroma, rosemary aids in promoting hair growth and thickens hair as well. This is important when you have dreads you’re trying to get to lock up since hair can feel stressed and pulled during this time. The scalp cleansing and stimulating effects work their way down your dreads from root to tip, leaving your head and scalp healthier than ever.
There’s something about apple cider vinegar that just makes everything it touches cleaner and healthier, and the same can be said for what it can do for hair. If you have never tried apple cider vinegar as a hair wash to rid your dreads of stale and stinky odors (even a simple half ACV, half tap water solution can do the trick), then you’re in for a treat!
Here’s what makes apple cider vinegar so great: it doesn’t leave behind any offensive or sour odors once it dries. It hardly leaves any odors at all! However, it’s a powerhouse cleaner you don’t want to leave out of your arsenal when it comes to choosing one of our best shampoos for dreadlocks.
This shampoo is free of sulfates. And the other great part about this shampoo—you can use it on your hair and the rest of your family can use it on theirs! You don’t have to have dreadlocks to enjoy this purifying and super-cleansing shampoo, but if you do have dreads, you can benefit even more every time you suds up.
If you need dread care on a budget, then this can be a great shampoo to use in a pinch. It’s gentle enough on dreads to not overwhelm them or leave residue behind, and it’s also great as an everyday cleanser if you want to give your scalp a break and really restore your tresses.
OGX adds lots of unique ingredients to shampoo that can really benefit your dreads, especially tea tree oil. As mentioned above, tea tree oil is excellent for calming and soothing a tired and stressed scalp, and works hard to remove the bacteria and irritants that lead to a scratchy head and dull, musty hair.
Also present are milk proteins for strengthening the hair and helping to protect it against damage. Peppermint oil brings hydration and nourishment to both your hair and scalp for all-around care. All this in a shampoo that’s free of sulfate surfactants!
When using this shampoo, less is more. Pay attention mostly to your scalp and let the suds work their way down your dreads to prevent residue and debris from being left behind.
You already know by the name alone that this is one sweet-smelling shampoo. Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingle Shampoo brings a tropical allure while also promising to hydrate and nourish even the longest and densest dreadlocks. It’s also an affordable option for your go-to shampoo.
As a bonus, this shampoo won’t weigh down other hair types, such as specially textured and curly hair. So if you have half dreads or you’re wanting a go-to shampoo for the whole family on a budget, then this is the product for you.
Moringa oil is a star player in this shampoo, helping to reinforce and strengthen dreads and making the hair thicker and fuller—and shinier and healthier—all around. Manuka honey is also a key player, and these two ingredients are the reason why this shampoo has made it to our list.
Are your dreads thirsty and dry? If so, then pay attention to what manuka honey can do: it creates a lovely and effective moisture barrier around your dreads to trap any moisture in and keep irritants out. It also helps reverse any scalp damage you have and reinforces hair. Paraben-free and not tested on animals, this is a shampoo that’s going to be an asset in your hair care collection.
We love a good dread soap that helps maintain hair and hydrate it without weighing it down, which is why we’ve added this Dread Head HQ Dread Soap cleanser to our list. It’s completely residue-free, making it a trusted hair cleanser for dread heads all over!
If you’re new to dreadlocks or just want to try a simple formula that can give you visible results, then this is a shampoo worth investing in. As a bonus, it’s not scented. If you have sensitive skin or you have naturally oily hair, this shampoo is going to help bring balance to your tresses and leave them feeling nice and hydrated without sacrificing your skin in the process.
While it’s intended for dreadlocks, it won’t hurt or overly dry out natural hair or hair that’s not been dreaded, so feel free to use this cleanser on your straighter locks as well. Add this shampoo to your arsenal when your dreads start to feel a little greasy and need some TLC and you’ll be set straight in no time.
Are your dreads feeling and looking a little dull, powdery, flaky, and lackluster lately? Every now and then your dreads need a boost in cleansing and an overhaul in residue removal. This is why we’ve added LOCssentials Clarifying Shampoo to our list.
This shampoo uses two products we’ve seen on our list already—tea tree and peppermint oils—but we’re loving it because these two oils work wonders on the scalp and hair. If you’ve got residue buildup from waxes, pomades, or even other cleansers that aren’t dreadlock approved, it’s OK so long as you have the right remedy in your shampoo collection.
Consider this shampoo your preventative care strategy to keep your dreads clean and your scalp happy and healthy. If you don’t want to make this clarifying shampoo your daily cleanser, that’s fine—just make sure you use it once a week or so to help remove residue, prevent flakey scalp and skin, and give your scalp some TLC when needed.
Use this shampoo in between your regular dread care favorites. If you have open sores on your scalp or your scalp is heavily irritated after having your locks twisted and tightened at the roots, wait a few days before using this shampoo to prevent irritation because both tea tree and peppermint oils can be pretty strong.
Are your dreads in need of a little TLC and could use some extra growth? This rosemary and mint shampoo gently cleanses and fortifies the hair and scalp, and the addition of biotin helps make your dreads stronger and longer.
Aging and mature dreads can especially benefit from this shampoo, as can dreads that are brand new and just beginning to tighten and lock. Rosemary helps make hair grow thicker and longer and mint helps not only remove bacteria, excess oils, and debris from your hair, but it also works to make the scalp smoother and more relaxed.
This can quickly become your daily go-to when it comes to adding moisture and hydration to your hair. Babassu oil is a new one on this list of the best shampoos for dreadlocks, so let’s see what it brings to the game. Babassu oil is rich in fatty acids, which not only help to lock in much-needed moisture in dreaded hair, it works to help maintain the ends so they don’t split or tear. We think that’s quite impressive!
Coconut oil rounds out this powerful shampoo to help restore hydration to the scalp and repair skin damage before it becomes a worrisome and dandruff-filled problem. We feel this is a real winner when it comes to dreadlock care, and we think you’ll feel this way, too!
If earthy and natural shampoos with lots of vitamins and herbal essences are what you’re after, look no further than Botanic Hearth Tea Tree Shampoo. Loaded with lavender, vitamin C, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree oils, and more nutrients, this shampoo can seriously hydrate your hair and give your locks the TLC they’ve been thirsting for.
This is another shampoo that’s safe for all types of hair, so if anyone in your family suffers from a dry scalp or itchy dandruff, let this shampoo be your go-to for not only keeping your dreads soft and manageable, but also for allowing everyone in the home to have happy, healthy hair. It’s also sulfate and paraben free.
Q Scalp Care Shampoo Plus allows you to take care of your dreads with cool ingredients we haven’t even heard of before, which is exactly why we’ve put this cleanser on our list. We love a new and invigorating way to keep dreads and the scalp clean and refreshed!
Lycium chinense fruit extract keeps the scalp cool and helps it regenerate new skin, Poria cocos extract brings vitality to the scalp, and other nutrients work to keep hair flexible, healthy, and strong. All in all, we love what this shampoo can do for a tired and stressed scalp in particular, and the added health benefits it can provide for the hair.
For clean dreads on the go, we have to include a shampoo bar! It’s hard to find a shampoo bar (or any soap bar) that doesn’t leave behind residue that can create trouble for dreads down the line. But this trusted brand—remember it from earlier on in our list?—hits the mark head-on.
Again, tea tree and spearmint work their magic to soothe the scalp and remove impurities from even the thickest dreads. So even if you’re washing your hair during a camping trip, you know your dreads are getting the care they deserve. Try other scents from this same brand to further customize your experience.
Who doesn’t love a 2-in-1 cleanser that makes the hair smell great and get squeaky clean without having to follow up with a conditioning agent? We know we love it! We also love that this is a plant-based product that doesn’t test on animals.
Rosewater is a new addition to our list of ingredients in hair care shampoos for dreads, and since rosewater is a natural astringent, it’s as good for the hair in removing oils as it is for the face. This shampoo is specifically designed for dreadlocks, but you can use it on all “loose” hair textures and types as well. So we call this shampoo a win when it comes to more-than-basic hair care and oil control.
We’re not going to judge you if your dreads aren’t entirely authentic. Synthetic dreads have their place in our opinion. We believe that if there’s a shampoo for your type of hair, then that makes it legit! SheaMoisture’s shampoo aimed at fortifying and cleansing both authentic and synthetic hair will help you keep your dreads clean and healthy.
Aloe, tea tree oil, and a new one we haven’t seen on our list yet—borage seed oil—work to keep your hair type free of buildup, residue, and bacteria. The result? Healthy hair that looks great, whether it’s your natural hair or a high-end weave.
By the way, borage seed oil is the holy grail of radiance-inducing oils. It works to bring even the most brittle and dry strands to life, so give it a try. Your thirsty roots and tips will be grateful you’ve incorporated this shampoo into your routine.
If you color your dreads, then you need a clarifying shampoo that can protect your hair against color damage and the other styling steps you take to customize your hair. Aloe and rosemary work to fortify and restore the hair while protecting and revitalizing the scalp.
This dreadlock shampoo is great to use in the summertime, or for effective chlorine removal any time you go in the pool. This way, not only can you keep your dreads intact, you can keep them smelling and looking great as well.
Are your dreadlocks lacking shine and luster? Avalon Organics comes to the rescue with this citrus shampoo designed to strip away unnecessary oils and residue to bring your locks to life.
This is a shampoo that you can use now and again to add some sheen to your locks, or you can add it to your hair care routine when you need a citrus boost. We love that this shampoo is super simple in its construction as well as gentle. It has no added scents or dyes that aren’t natural, and the product isn’t tested on animals, either. We love a vegan shampoo that makes dreads healthy and manageable, and this shampoo absolutely delivers.
When it comes to your dreads, the right shampoo can really give them a boost and make them lush and healthy. We’re all about giving dreadlocks a little TLC, and once you’ve tried a few of these shampoo products from our list, you’re sure to find the right one to meet your needs.
Check out more of our picks and deals here!