Dreadlocks are more popular and accepted in mainstream American society than in decades past. When done properly, dreads can be an attractive and versatile hairstyle, and they are also relatively low maintenance. However, no hairstyle is without its drawbacks, and one of the big drawbacks of dreads is dandruff. It is not possible to entirely avoid dandruff, but you can treat and reduce the itching and flaking.
Wash your hair. Contrary to popular belief, clean hair dreads better than dirty hair. Choose a locking method that will allow you to wash your hair at least once a week. If you are prone to dandruff, you may need to wash your hair more often. Salt and dirt irritate the scalp. If you are physically active or work in a dusty environment, you will need to wash your hair more often.
Rinse your scalp with water, or a vinegar solution, between washings. Mix 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar into 3 cups distilled water. Pour half the solution over your scalp, and save the rest for the next day.
Use medicated shampoo. Hair dreads best when you wash with residue-free shampoos. However, if you had to use medicated shampoo before you got dreads, the situation will not change after. It’s better to continue using your medicated shampoo and find other ways to help your hair lock, than to endure a skin condition in the name of fashion. To have healthy hair -- in any style -- you need a healthy scalp. Even if you use medicated shampoos, your hair will eventually lock. It may take longer, but you’ll be more comfortable.
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Use products designed specifically for dreaded hair. These products are formulated to be residue free. Residue coats the hair shaft, keeping the hair from tangling or locking together. Also, some residues cause dirt and oils to collect on the scalp, causing irritation and itching.
Apply tea tree and rosemary oil. Tea tree and rosemary oil are both good for dandruff. Make an anti-dandruff spray by mixing 20 drops of tea tree essential oil and 20 drops of rosemary essential oil in 12 oz. of distilled water. Store the mixture in a spray bottle and spray it on your scalp whenever dandruff flares.
Keep your roots neat. If you have thick hair, you may notice that dandruff gets worse as your roots grow out. Twist new growth to allow adequate airflow to your scalp. Keeping your roots neat also allows the natural oils to make it to the ends of your hair.
Do not over-twist your dreads. Twist or tighten your hair when it is wet and only do so once a day, at the most.
Julia Michelle has been writing professionally since January 2009. Her specialties include massage therapy, computer tech support, land and aquatic personal training, aquatic group fitness and Reiki. She has an Associate in Applied Science from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in integrative medical massage therapy.