We tested five of the best shampoos for dreadlocks and found Jamaican Mango and Lime Tingle Shampoo to be the best overall due to its ability to cleanse and clarify without causing too much buildup, especially for its affordable price.
If you have dreadlocks or are planning on locking your hair in the near future, you may want to know what type of liquid shampoo will work best to keep them clean and strong.
Dreadlocks — more colloquially (and, many argue, more appropriately) called “locs,” given the racist origin of the term from colonists who believed the style was “dreadful” — is a hairstyle that dates back to ancient times and is still increasingly popular in modern times.
This hairstyle is one that many people — especially with 3C to 4C hair types — find to be beautiful and relatively low-maintenance style (day to day).
But just because they are a low-maintenance style does not mean you shouldn’t take care of them. Locs must be clean, so finding the right dreadlocks shampoo is a must.
Other products on this list may have better quality ingredients, better moisturizing properties, or be better at strengthening your locs.
This article provides details on these five best shampoos for dreadlocks. Keep reading so you’ll know what to look for when you’re ready for locs or if you’re on the prowl for a new shampoo.
Best Dreadlocks Shampoos
Best Shampoo for Dreads – Jamaican Mango and Lime Tingle Dreadlock Shampoo
Best Quality – Peculiar Roots Moisturizing Rose Shampoo
Best for Damaged Hair – Shea Moisture Strengthen and Restore Shampoo
Best Sulfate Free Clarifying Shampoo – Twisted Sista Luxurious Clarifying Shampoo
Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Locs – Lions Loc Shampoo and Conditions
Jamaican Mango and Lime is a well-respected brand for hair care products, and their Tingle Shampoo is a straightforward yet exceptional all-around shampoo.
This shampoo is perfect for maintenance because it removes buildup from other oils and loc creams you may have put in your locs up until washing. However, instead of stripping your hair dry, it gently removes buildup and maintains enough moisture for healthy locs.
Getting the moisture balance right is challenging when you have dreadlocks. You want them to be moisturized enough to stay strong, grow healthy, and avoid breakage.
However, you don’t want your dreadlocks to be so moist that it prevents them from continuing to knot and loc.
I find that Jamaican Mango and Lime Tingle Dreadlock Shampoo supports this delicate balance perfectly — while smelling wonderful in the meantime!
In addition to maintaining moisture while getting rid of extra gunk, this shampoo is effective at relieving an itchy scalp.
With locs, it’s easy for your scalp to get itchy because it’s not being exfoliated the same way as when your hair is loose. But this shampoo relieves itching in just one wash.
The downside of Jamaican Mango and Lime Shampoo is that it contains sulfates, which aren’t the best for locs. Sulfates can dry out your hair, so if you go with this shampoo, only use the smallest amount necessary.
A well-respected brand for locs
Cleans while maintaining moisture
Relieves itchy scalp
Not good for dry scalps
The Peculiar Roots Moisturizing Rose Shampoo is the best shampoo for dreadlocks if you’re looking for high-quality, natural ingredients.
The Peculiar Roots company is well known for its refresher spray, which is the perfect way to keep locs moisturized throughout the day quickly and conveniently.
However, their dreadlock shampoo is similar in that it contains healthy, refreshing, natural ingredients and oils that will revitalize your locs without weighing them down.
They use ingredients including rose water, whey protein, and oils like castor oil and avocado oil.
Rose water is excellent for adding softness to locs, especially if you have hard water. It also contains lots of vitamins — A, C, D, E, and B3 — and D vitamins, in particular, can help with supporting the health of hair follicles.
Castor oil is another gem in this shampoo. It’s a natural way to provide moisture to locs without making them greasy. In addition, it can help with hair growth and make locs appear fuller.
Finally, avocado oil contains oleic acid and monounsaturated fats that penetrate the hair shaft instead of coating the hair with moisture, which means moisturizing goes farther and stays longer than with some other oils. This is important if your hair is exceptionally dry.
The main downside to this shampoo is that it’s a bit pricier. But if you’re willing to spend a bit extra on quality ingredients that will nourish your locs, this is the shampoo for you.
High-quality, natural ingredients
Moisturizes without weighing down locs
Rose water softens locs
Castor oil supports hair growth
Avocado oil deeply moisturizes
May lead to over-moisturized dreadlocks
Many people love the Shea Moisture brand, and the Shea Moisture Strengthen and Restore shampoo is one of their top products, especially for people with locs.
This highly-rated shampoo includes 100% pure Jamaican black castor oil, renowned for its ability to fortify and nourish hair. Castor oil helps with damage, so the fact that it is one of the main ingredients is a significant highlight for many people.
It also contains shea butter and peppermint — two ingredients that work together to stimulate the scalp, which can promote hair growth.
Shea Moisture’s shampoo also does a great job of cleansing the scalp and locs without removing their natural oils.
But the real highlight of this shampoo for locs is about what’s not in it. It is sulfate-free and paraben-free.
As discussed, sulfates strip away too much natural oil and leave the hair and scalp dried out. Parabens are also harmful for hair because they can cause hair loss and disrupt hormonal balance.
Shea Moisture’s shampoo also does not contain silicone, phthalates, mineral oil, and petroleum — other ingredients that have no place in naturally fortifying locs shampoos.
Many of these extra ingredients in other shampoos are responsible for increasing buildup, which is especially harmful to locs.
Plus, it’s affordable for all it does and for its relatively high-quality ingredients.
100% pure black castor oil strengthens damaged hair
Shea butter and peppermint support healthy hair and scalp
Cleanses without removing natural oils
No silicone, phthalates, mineral oil, or petroleum
Ideal for oily head and scalp
Changed prior formula
Does not maintain moisture as well as competitors
Not ideal for super dry hair
Twisted Sista Luxurious Clarifying Shampoo contains three primary, powerful oils that get plenty of jobs done — avocado, coconut, and almond oil.
These three oils and other impactful ingredients help cleanse, nourish, and hydrate dry locs. They can penetrate hair follicles beneath the surface to fully moisturize, as well as loc the moisture in.
More specifically, avocado oil penetrates, coconut oil retains, and almond oil supports lasting moisture, scalp health, and hair growth.
Twisted Sista’s shampoo is specifically designed for curly hair types — from 3C to 4C hair — and dry hair.
Suppose you have locs and have a wavy or straight hair pattern and also tend to produce more natural oils on your scalp.
In that case, choosing a different loc shampoo is best because this will lead to over-moisturizing your locs and slowing down the knotting and maturing processes.
Additionally, some people don’t like that it doesn’t lather. But shampoos that lather up quickly tend to contain lots of sulfates, which strip the hair and scalp of moisture. That said, it’s a great sign that this shampoo doesn’t lather that much or that quickly.
It’s moderately priced — not a high-end shampoo but not quite budget either. So Twisted Sista is a great choice if you want to try out a new loc shampoo without breaking the bank.
Avocado oil moisturizes deeply
Coconut oil locs in moisture
Almost oil support hair strength and growth
Perfect for curly hair types
Great for super dry hair
May slow down knotting process due to over-moisturizing
Not ideal for straight and wavy hair types
Last but not least is Lion Locs Shampoo and Conditioner, the best shampoo and conditioner for dreadlocks that comes in one bottle!
Lion Locs created this 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner to safely clean and clarify dreadlocks and then simultaneously hydrate and soften them. This dual action process does a powerful job without leaving any residue or buildup.
This vegan shampoo is also ideal for all hair and loc types. You can use it if you have freeform locs, sisterlocks, twist locs, braid locs, micro locs, or any other version of locs.
The versatility of this shampoo is likely due to the fact that Lion Locs made it with all-natural ingredients that are safe to use no matter what. It does not contain any of the nasty, unnecessary filler ingredients that you often see in other shampoos, such as:
The absense of these ingredients mean you won’t have to worry about buildup, residue, flaking, or heaviness. Instead, you can relax, enjoy the smell, and wait for your hair to feel and look incredibly soft and healthy!
The only downside is that the product is a bit watery compared to other shampoos, and it comes in a relatively small package for the price.
No ingredients that cause buildup
2-in-1 dual treatment (shampoo and conditioner in one)
Simultaneously cleanses and hydrates hair
Appropriate for any hair type and loc style
No sulfates, parabens, silicone, or other harmful ingredients
No residue, flaking, or heaviness
High cost per fluid ounce
Now that we’ve gone over the best shampoos for dreadlocks, it’s time to talk about what you should look for when shopping for this type of product.
Good Ingredients - What's In It
The ingredients are the most crucial factor to verify when choosing a shampoo for locs. You want to make sure that the product you select contains good ingredients that won’t damage your hair or leave behind residue.
Look for natural and organic ingredients, such as essential and carrier oils like coconut and avocado. For strengthening your locs, look for black castor oil and almond seed oil. And for growth, choose products with rosemary oil or peppermint oil.
Proteins, antioxidants, and vitamins are all ideal for nourishing, strengthening, and maintaining the health and longevity of your locs.
Harmful Ingredients - What Should Not Be In It
What’s left out of shampoo is just as important as what’s in it, especially for dreadlock shampoos.
The best dreadlock shampoos contain natural, organic ingredients that are safe for your hair and scalp. Avoid products that contain sulfates, parabens, silicone, phthalates, or dyes. These harsh chemicals can damage your locs, dry out your dreadlocks, or lead to scalp irritation.
You’ll also want to avoid ingredients that commonly cause buildup and residue, which include the ingredients mentioned above, as well as heavy gels and waxes.
If the ingredient list has a lengthy stream of hard-to-pronounce words without any parenthetical indication of what those words mean (such as if they are the scientific name for a natural oil ingredient), then it’s best to steer clear from that product.
PEGs are another common addition to shampoos that tend to increase the residue in your locs, so avoid this ingredient.
Not all locs are the same, and different shampoos are suitable for different hair types.
The best way to figure out what type of dreadlock shampoo is right for your hair is by looking at the product description. However, if it is unclear who the product was made for, it’s always worth experimenting if you are curious about the shampoo.
If you have oily locs, you’ll want to look for a clarifying shampoo that can remove excess oil without stripping your hair of its natural moisture. For dry locs, look for a hydrating shampoo that will moisturize your hair without weighing it down.
If you have normal locs, you have more flexibility regarding what type of shampoo you can use. But, in general, it’s best to choose a gentle shampoo that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils.
Finally, if you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to be extra careful about what ingredients are in your shampoo, as some can cause scalp irritation.
Price is a commonly considered factor when purchasing any product, including shampoo.
It may seem like the range of shampoo prices — from $5 – $25 and up — is not that different, but if you want to stick with one shampoo for the long run, shampoo on the higher end of that scale will surely start to add up.
Look at the overall price and the bottle’s size to estimate how long it will last. Then, you’ll better understand how much you might spend on it in the long run.
You can also price shop by looking at the cost of a shampoo per ounce instead of its total price. This method helps you see if you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
If you are still trying to decide between two or three shampoos and don’t know how to evaluate them, consider looking at online user reviews, such as Amazon.
While you should always take user reviews with a grain of salt, they can be helpful in getting a sense of how popular the product is and what type of experience others have had with it.
Look for reviews that provide specific details about the reviewer’s experience. These types of reviews are more likely to be helpful than those that are vague or simply state that the reviewer liked or disliked the product.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding shampoo for dreadlocks.
What should I use to wash my dreadlocks?
Dreadlock shampoo (or Dreadlock shampoo bar): There are special shampoos made specifically for dreadlocks that are designed to cleanse your locs without causing damage, as we’ve shared in this article.
Dreadlock soap: This is a similar option to dreadlock shampoo, but it comes in bar form instead of liquid. It can be a good alternative if you’re looking to reduce your plastic use.
Baking soda: Baking soda is a natural cleanser that removes buildup from your dreadlocks. It’s important to note that you should only use baking soda every few weeks as a clarifying treatment, as using it too often can strip your dreadlocks of their natural oils.
Diluted vinegar: Vinegar is another natural cleanser that can be used to remove buildup from your dreadlocks. Like baking soda, it’s important to only use diluted vinegar every few weeks.
Can I use any shampoo on dreads?
No, you should not use any shampoo on dreads. Using regular shampoo on your dreadlocks can cause damage and make your locs more difficult to manage.
Use a dreadlock shampoo that is designed for dreadlocks so that you can avoid these problems.
If you can’t find or don’t have access to the best shampoos specifically designed for locs, focus on getting a shampoo that does not contain sulfates, parabens, PEGs, or silicone. The more natural the ingredient list is, the better.
Is Dove shampoo good for locs?
Dove shampoo is not a great dreadlock shampoo because it typically includes sulfates and other residue-building ingredients.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other residue-building ingredients increase buildup and slow down the knot-forming process, which is key to maturing your dreadlocks.
How often should you wash your locs?
How often you should wash your locs will depend on your hair type, curl pattern, natural oil production, and physical activity.
For example, if you have straighter hair, silkier hair, oilier hair, or a sweatier scalp due t more frequent physical activity, you will want to wash your hair more frequently than someone that does not deal with those factors.
The recommended time between washing locs is two-to-three weeks, especially for African American hair and scalp, which does not produce as much oil.
What's a good conditioner for dreads?
Shea Moisture makes some of the best conditioners and shampoos for dreadlocks.
We’ve already discussed their shampoo earlier in this article, but their Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner is another winner when it comes to loc maintenance.
Make sure to use conditioner sparingly, as too much moisture can slow down the knotting process.
What are the best oils for locs?
Some of the best oils for locs are:
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is great for dreadlocks because it can help to moisturize your scalp and locs. This oil can also help to reduce dandruff and promote hair growth.
Olive oil: Olive oil is another good option for locs because it is similar to coconut oil. Olive oil can help to moisturize your scalp and hair. Like coconut oil, it also promotes hair growth.
Avocado oil: Avocado oil is ideal for severely dry hair and locs because of its moisturizing properties.
Black castor oil: black castor oil is ideal for weakening or thinning dreadlocks because it is well known for strengthening and fortifying natural hair.
Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil is good for locs because it can help to reduce dandruff and itchiness.
Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is undoubtedly one of the best essential oils for locs because of its antibacterial properties. It can help cleanse the hair without adding any weight that even some other natural carrier oils can.
Finding the right shampoo for dreadlocks may seem challenging initially, but it doesn’t have to be. By following the tips in this article, you should be able to find a shampoo that works well for your specific hair type and needs.
You can start with one of the five shampoos we’ve deemed the best and click on the product links to purchase directly.
I believe the best overall shampoo for locs is Jamaican Mango and Lime’s Tingle Shampoo because is a reasonably priced residue free shampoo. But don’t be afraid to try different products until you find the perfect one for you!