Should You Use Shampoo When Dying Dreads?

Shampoo out the color as a best practice.

Photo: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

It's a myth that dreads don't need to be cleaned and washed — they get oily and dirty just like unlocked hair. Dreads particularly need a good shampoo right before and right after a dye job. Skipping this super-critical step can lead to hair problems form overprocessed dye or dye problems from waxy hair, neither of which you want to experience firsthand.


Shampooing during a pre-wash can make or break your dye job. If you do a good job on dread maintenance, chances are your locks have gel, wax or another dreadlock product keeping them in line. You've got to remove the residue before the dye can penetrate. Hop in the shower and rinse out your hair product, using a dreadlock shampoo. When locks are clean, the dye can penetrate the hair.


After your dreads have soaked up the dye for the right amount of time — per your dye kit — it's time to rinse out the dye. Another round of shampooing helps strip out any remaining dye — and chemicals — from the locks. Lather up with your dreadlock shampoo, which is formulated to be gentle to locked hair. Coat the scalp and locks, pressing the side into the locks. Rinse again to get all of the suds out.


Dreadlocks work like mini-sponges. They soak up a lot more dye than un-locked hair. After the shampoo, you've got to rinse the hair out completely, especially if you used a bleach-based dye. If you don't, the hair will dry out and snap off, and you won't have dreads or dyed locks. Rinse until the water runs clear, then keep rinsing for several minutes.


All of this washing and rinsing can be traumatic to dreads. Young dreads are apt to fall out, loosening up from the shampoo, the rubbing and the contact. If you're new to locks, and your hair still looks and feels loose, wait until it locks up tight to dye. Don't try to dye loose locks and skimp on the shampooing or rinsing — that can damage hair.

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