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In case you don’t know, not drying your hair properly can lead to moldy hair. And unfortunately, it’s common to people with dreadlocks. More so if you let your hair damp for at least two days.
To avoid this, make sure that you properly dry your dreads before or after styling and or wrapping it.
5 Types of Buildup That Causes Mold in Locs
The five types of buildup that are most normally found in locs include lint, product, debris, environmental, and biological elements. This is not to say that all locs will encounter these types of buildup, but it can occur when you are not deliberate about how you take care of your locs.
So, let’s examine the different types of buildup that are most commonly seen in locs and how to avoid them.
Lint is by far one of the most prevalent types of buildup that concerns people with dreadlocks.
When you use wool, cotton, scarves, pillowcases, and sweatshirts for your hair, this can cause lint accumulation. Lint is so easily confined in locs because it is drawn to the oil in your hair. If you’re not careful to remove it, it will weave inside the locs.
How to Avoid Lint Buildup: One method, you can avoid lint in your locs is by constantly wearing your satin scarf. Additionally, after washing your hair, be sure that you are using a lint-free towel to dry your locs and not one of those towels filled with cotton fibers. If you have mature dreadlocks, you can incorporate weekly dry loc brushing into your regimen to reduce lint accumulation.
The environmental buildup is caused by elements that float around the environment you are in. Same as lint buildup, environmental factors like dust and dirt are often drawn to the oils that are in your hair.
How to Avoid Environmental Buildup: Again, always wear your satin scarf when cleaning your house or working outdoors. You should also be consistent with your wash routine. We recommend doing it twice a month once your dreadlocks mature.
As your locs grow longer, it is common to pick up some debris like makeup, food, and lotion.
How to Avoid Debris Buildup: To avoid this, pull your long locs back while getting dressed or eating, moisturize and oil your hair before applying lotion, and wear a scarf or headband when applying makeup.
Product buildup can develop from either applying the wrong products or not completely removing the products you’ve applied on your hair. This includes cream, heavy oil, hair butter, and soap scum.
It doesn’t matter if you are using “natural” products. If you do not completely cleanse and rinse your locs, the products will settle within the locs and result in product buildup.
How to Avoid Product Buildup: You can avoid product buildup by applying lightweight products that are specifically made for dreadlocks. Also, make it a habit to apply clarifying shampoo.
When you keep on using moisturizing shampoo without clarifying it, it can certainly result in product buildup over time.
This is often overlooked, but biological buildup on dreadlock can happen. These are dandruff, sebum overproduction, and mold and mildew buildup.
How to Avoid Biological Buildup: To avoid biological buildup within your locs, learn to appreciate your scalp and your hair.
Not everyone can wait a whole month without shampooing their locs (most people cannot even go beyond a week) because of a pre-existing scalp condition. If that is you, go ahead and wash your scalp. You may even require to use an over-the-counter medicated shampoo.
What you don’t want to do is the continuous application of oils and products to try and mask the issue. Additionally, to stop mildew or mold from growing in locs, make sure you’re using a lint-free towel to sip in all the excess moisture and limit the air drying.
If you are encountering any type of buildup, do not fall for the trap of applying a “one size fits all” buildup removal tutorial. This is an issue unique to every person. You may be required to seek professional help to resolve this issue.
How to Determine if You Have Mold in Your Locs
It’s hard to identify whether one has mold in their locs or not.
If you’ve been applying anti-mold products, then you should not have to worry about any buildup forming in your locs.
But mold does not result from the products applied on locs. It is mostly created by how you dry your hair.
When it gets to mold in locs, prevention is key. The key here are healthy habits and routines.
The Smell is a Certain Giveaway
If there is a foul smell coming out of your locs, then odds are there’s mold in there. If you’re still not sure, the smell is similar to how a wet towel that isn’t laid out to dry properly stinks after a few days.
If you’re still not convinced, how about soaking a small hand towel and tying it into a tight ball for two days and then loosening up the towel and inspecting how that smells? If the smell is all too comparable to your locs, then you probably have mold in your locs.
The biggest and only sign of dread rot is odor. If you have a blemish of some kind that you’re concerned about, it is more likely residue build-up or fuzz held in your locks than mold.
If your dreadlocks smell like mildew, dust, a dirty exercise bag, or a wet puppy, you most likely have dread rot. This means that there are molds growing in your locks. The smell may only be obvious to you while your locks are wet, but then all but go away when dry.
If discoloration is your issue, the Wax/Oil Removal Deep Cleanse is a good way to try to eliminate residue from your locks.
How to get rid of Mold?
While you may be going out to purchase some apple cider vinegar to detox your locs, we suggest you go for a Pre-Cleanse to penetrate the inner cast of the locs.
The apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil in the locs will clarify it. Other ingredients, such as jojoba oil, can keep the hair well stabilized and moisturized. Detox your locs with the use of Pre-Cleanse and buildup-free Shampoo together during a washing session.
Some people decide to cut into locs to see if there is in fact mold in there. While it is fine to do so, we don’t suggest it. That’s because this can lead to breakage.
Together with a regular washing and rinsing routine, it’s critical to dry your locs completely.
Listed below are suggestions on how to keep your dreadlocks from smelling bad and how to eliminate the smell and mold effectively:
Wash your dreadlocks frequently and effectively
We suggest you wash your hair at least once a week with a certified dreadlock shampoo. Washing your dreadlocks with water or vinegar alone will be inefficient.
If you have dandruff, if you work out, or if you work in a dusty environment, you might need to reconsider washing your dreadlocks more often. Washing your dreads will eliminate the excess of sebum, sweat, dirt, residues, and pollution. Some shampoos will also leave a pleasant smell to your dreads.
Don’t lay in bed with wet dreadlocks
Have you ever done a huge load of laundry and forgot to take it out of the machine for days?
Well, this is the same for dreadlocks.
Your hair will begin to develop mildew, also identified in the community as dread-rot, if they stay wet for too long.
This is why we suggest washing your dreadlocks early in the morning and let it air dry for a while. If you can bask your hair under the sun, do so.
As an alternative, you can use a hairdryer and set it on medium heat.
Don’t tie your hair up while your hair is wet
As mentioned earlier, making sure that your dreads are completely dry before tying them up will avoid them getting smelly.
You have a scalp condition
Conditions such as dandruff, psoriasis, and eczema can cause your scalp to smell. In this case, we would suggest you consult your doctor.
Don’t apply wax on your dreadlocks
Wax holds moisture inside your dreadlocks, making it very difficult for them to fully dry. It also pulls dirt, dust, and lint.
It is very hard to remove wax on dreadlocks. This is why we suggest you not apply wax on your dreadlocks.
The Best Way to Wash Your Moldy and Smelly Dreadlocks
It may seem unreasonable to wash your dreadlocks frequently. But to keep healthy, hygienic locs, it is necessary to wash your dreads once a week or at least bi-weekly.
Washing your dreadlocks keeps your hair hydrated and your scalp cleansed. This is what makes the hair healthy.
However, washing your dreadlocks, particularly if they are long and weak, needs a different washing method. Otherwise, it can get smelly or can cause hair breakage
If you want to circumvent smelly, moldy locs and hair loss when you wash your dreadlocks, you should follow these tips:
The Best Way for Shampooing Long Dreadlocks to Avoid Bad Smells and Hair Loss
If your dreadlocks are long and thinning or weak, it is necessary to keep on washing your hair and not be discouraged.
Washing your dreadlocks is still a crucial part of hair hygiene and health, as it stops the buildup of bad bacteria and odors. If you are experiencing treatment for hair loss and applying products, such as ProTress, washing your locs is part of the routine.
So, one way to wash your dreadlocks without creating further damage is to follow these steps:
- In a large basin, add warm water and shampoo. Mix it lightly and then pour it over your scalp.
- Lightly set your dreadlocks in the bowl of warm shampoo water and cleanse the locs by gently massaging your scalp.Washing dreadlocks in a bowl lessens the force of the weight of the water on the locs. This reduces pressure on the hair follicles that can trigger hair loss.
- Keep on cleansing your locs in the bowl of warm shampooed water for 10-15 minutes until the water is discolored, that way you identify you have all the dirt out.
- Gather your shampooed dreadlocks in your hands and shift them into another bowl with lukewarm water, massaging the shampoo out of the hair. Use the container to pour water on the scalp to rinse the shampoo away. Lukewarm water is applied to rinse the hair and scalp because it helps to seal the hair shafts.
The Best Way to Avoid Smelly Dreads After You Have Washed Your Hair
The composition of dreadlocks consist of hundreds of individual hairs locked. If not dried correctly, the clump of hair in each loc can produce a damp, moist environment for mold to grow.
This is why it is especially necessary to ensure that dreadlocks are thoroughly dried after shampooing.
The use of a towel or a hairdryer on low heat (to avoid heat damage) to dry your dreadlocks completely helps to avoid mold and unpleasant smells. Keep in mind that if you wrap your locs, which are not entirely dry after washing, and go to sleep, your dreadlocks become almost completely stripped of air. The damp condition becomes a breeding ground for mold and bad, stuffy smells. It also prohibits your locs from drying completely.
The most suitable treatment for dread rot, unfortunately, is to cut or comb out the locks. While it is possible to eliminate most of the mold that is alive and growing within the dreadlocks, you cannot completely get rid of it without cutting your hair.
Apply a deep cleansing shampoo
A deep cleansing shampoo should effectively eliminate any smell on your dreadlocks. If the smell is still there, you might need to apply a few rounds.
Once you’re done, don’t forget to dry your hair either by basking under the sun or with an air dryer.
A deep cleansing shampoo contains apple cider vinegar that will help you eliminate any residue and smell out of your dreadlocks.
Dip your dreadlocks in baking soda
Baking soda is a very efficient way to deep cleanse your dreadlocks and remove any irritating smell. Baking soda, combined with Himalayan salt, can remove residue, gunk, wax, and smell out of your dreadlocks.
Do a vinegar soak
Pour some white vinegar into a basin then add some warm water and soak your dreads straight in for 10min.
Once finished, rinse your dreads with warm water, shampoo them twice with a dreadlock shampoo and dry them thoroughly. Both the vinegar and wet dog smell will evaporate.
Preventing dread rot from happening is vital. Hence, you should wash and dry your dreadlocks properly.
We get it. Maybe it’s difficult to dry your locs all the time and it can get rather time-consuming. But if your locs are not completely dried, then you risk mold growth and having stinky locs.
Take the time to dry those beautiful locs so you don’t need to waste that time cleaning out any mold! If you are skeptical about mold, see a loctician and take a professional assessment.
If your dreads always smell, you may need to see a dermatologist. This is to make sure that your scalp is healthy.