Woman with dreadlocks
Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

If you have dreadlocks, you’re certainly familiar with photos of Bob Marley’s majestic thick dreads. You’re also probably well acquainted with the rat’s nest perched on the heads of panhandlers at jam band festivals. The difference between the two sets of dreads? Maintenance. If you want to impressively sport the "Natty Dread" look, you’ll have to tend to your hair like everyone else. Although manufacturers provide several synthetic products to keep dreadlocks manicured, all-natural, homemade alternatives stand ready to help you maintain your hair and keep you looking your best.

Treating for Dryness

Place an eyedropper’s worth of essential oil into a spray bottle and fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Essential oils won’t go rancid and begin to smell when exposed to air for a few days, unlike edible oils such as hemp and olive oil, and will leave your dreadlocks smelling fresh after treatment. Make an emulsion of the oil and water by shaking the bottle.

Spray the emulsion on dreadlocks lightly, letting it settle into the lock naturally. Avoid overspraying the mixture, as overuse leads to greasy dreadlocks. Lightly apply the treatment daily, if necessary, rather than heavily treating it once a week.

Spray a mixture of tea tree oil and water on your scalp daily to fight scalp dryness and eliminate the itchiness associated with dry scalp.

Treating for Frizziness

Place an eyedropper’s worth of aloe vera oil into a clean spray bottle. Add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to cover the aloe scent. Essential oils aren’t necessary to fight frizziness, but will help cover the musty smell aloe oil emits when it ages.

Fill the spray bottle with water and shake to mix the aloe, essential oil and water into an emulsion.

Spray the mixture on tangled and frizzy portions of your dreadlocks. Gently roll each dreadlock between two hands, working from scalp to its tip to work the mixture into the dreadlock and help the frizzy hairs re-dread and remain tightly dreaded.

Tightening Dreadlocks

Fill a clean spray bottle with distilled water. Add two tablespoons of sea salt--avoid using processed, iodized salt--per eight ounces of water in the bottle. Add a dash of lemon juice and shake the bottle to mix.

Spray a single dreadlock lightly with the sea salt solution and gently work the mixture into the dreads by rolling them between your hands. Work the sea salt into the dread outward, starting near your scalp and working toward the dread’s tip. Continue the process on each dreadlock. Avoid contact on your scalp with the sea salt mixture, as it may cause itchiness.

Allow the sea salt mixture to remain in your hair. While casual treatments may help tighten and thicken new dreadlocks, prolonged sea salt treatments will leave salt residue in your hair. Rinse accumulated salt away with an all-natural shampoo, such as tea tree oil shampoo.


Perform dreadlock maintenance early in the day rather than shortly before going to bed to allow your locks to thoroughly dry before going to bed. Sleeping on dreadlocks that are even the slightest bit damp can cause them to become frizzy or begin to stink. Always allow your dreads to dry naturally in open air and sunlight.