How to Shampoo & Maintain Starter Locs

Maintaining Locs at Home

Maintaining Traditional Locs at home is fairly easy, if you know what you’re doing and practice good hair care. One area that many people fear or aren’t very knowledgeable on when it comes to starting locs is the “shampoo process”. Admittedly, I was a novice myself when I first started my new set of Traditional Locs. My lack of knowledge led me to invest in hair care training classes specifically for locs to learn how to best care for my hair on my own.



The most common questions people have about the shampoo process are “how often should I shampoo my new locs?” and “what products should I use?“; which are two very good questions. Before I answer, let me preface and say that I take a holistic approach to Loc Maintenance and firmly believe less is more and my recommendations are based on experience and formal training. Ok, so let’s dive in…





When to Shampoo New Locs

You can try to wait at least two weeks before your very first shampoo with your new locs, but it is not completely necessary. On average, I shampoo my hair every 9 days and have done so since I first started them. The 9 day period usually gives the natural oil your scalp produces, sebum, a chance to reproduce and lubricate your scalp. Also, that week and a half will also allow your hair time to intertwine which is a major part of the locking process. If you’re shampooing your locs, on average, before 7 days, you’ll probably experience dry scalp because your naturals oils aren’t being given a chance to reproduce before you cleanse them away again and your hair may take longer to lock if you’re not using the proper shampoo.

So as a recommendation I would say one week at minimum between shampoos, but on the flip side you don’t want to wait too long either. Locs are a natural process of hair interlocking and matting and during this process (typically) we produce dandruff. So if your hair is producing dandruff and also matting and you’re waiting a very long time between shampoos you will effectively loc your dandruff in your locs. Not ideal, right?! So you should shampoo your locs as early as every 7 days but not wait beyond 4 weeks to shampoo your hair.

Products To Shampoo New Locs

If you’re maintaining your locs with light, water soluble products, you can use a gentle cleansing shampoo and a normal moisturizing shampoo on your locs. If you’re using heavy products such as butters, beeswax, or if you’re experiencing buildup or aren’t sure if the products you’re using are water soluble, I would recommend mainly using a cleansing/clarifying shampoo and do one moisturizing shampoo in the end to add hydration. For a list of my favorite shampoos, check out the “CLEANSE YOUR LOCS” reference guide.

RELATED E-BOOK: Shampooing & Deep Cleansing Locs Reference Guide

How to Prevent New Locs From Unraveling

In addition to using the appropriate type(s) of shampoo, I would recommend using a neat cap while you are shampooing your new locs to help prevent them from unraveling. Also, when you shampoo your starter locs, I recommend using a spray bottle because it is extremely helpful to dilute the shampoo and  direct the shampoo to your scalp; which will prevent you from having to overwork your hair to emulsify the product. If you’d like to see and learn the technique for shampooing Starter Locs, take a look at my recent video “How to Shampoo Starter Locs“.

Now that you know what type of shampoo to use on your locs and how often to shampoo your locs, check out the workshop on “How to Properly Retwist Your Hair At Home” and also invest in a “Starter Locs Kit” that has all the essentials needed to care for your new locs! 

Update: Read & bookmark “3 Tips to Properly Shampoo Your Locs at Home” to be sure your locs remain healthy and free of build-up! 

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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

I like! this was really helpful.. and I think I met you at a hair expo in Baltimore!

I’m glad it was helpful! I was definitely there so we might have met 🙂

Thanks for your advice on washing locs. I started my locs in February and my stylist hasn’t washed my hair yet. I did try but my hair is now dry and frizzy. Can you offer advice on how to solve this problem?

I have been natural for almost two years. I have always wanted dreads. I didn’t want to do the short look after my big chop and did real human hair dread extensions. My new gro would not lock up. It would completely unwind after two days. I cut off the extensions. I thought it was the unnatural weight keeping my roots too straight. I have tried to start three more times since then. But two days later its unraveling. My texture is different around my edges. But it should still lock up. Any advice? ??

Are you using any product? Sitting under the dryer? Using clips to hold in place? – You may need to style your locs in braids or twists for a few days after your retwist to allow the roots time to settle and not unravel. Additionally, you can try starting with interlocking and once your hair starts to loc use palm rolling to maintain it. I hope that helps, if not you can email me directly. xo

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I’d like to know the top5 oils I should use to ensure my locs grow and thicken up! I like mixing my pils with water in a spray bottle. Is this a good idea? I instant loc’d my hair almost two weeks ago. My hair wasnt locking when I tried to do it on my own and allow my hair to loc naturally.

Mixing oils and water together does not work for everyone, most people in fact cannot get adequate hydration this way. I recently did a live broadcast on my Facebook page about this topic. I would suggest separating your moisturizer from the oil and applying each one individually— moisturizer first, then oil. You can check out the post, “Top 5 Oils for Locs” to read more about the oils that I would suggest. I hope this helps! 🙂

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