Starting dreadlocks is starting on an adventure,
where along with new experiences there are questions such as why does my dreads itch? When can I colour them? etc. Why does my hair itch is the first in the series of Dreadlocks 101 questions that dread makers everywhere get within the three-week period of the first install.
- Is the client is someone who washes the hair (a) daily or twice daily, (b) weekly, (c) twice a week or twice a month? If they fall in the daily or twice daily category, this creates a slight problem as dreads require some alone time. They need to be left alone to ruminate, marinate, get in touch with self.
- When they get dreadies who are hyperactive or otherwise controlling they do not do well: the new dreads get washed, oiled, waxed, interlocked, watered, styled into the newest look on Instagram and they end up looking straggly with buildup.
- The scalp of the person who washes daily, twice daily or three times a week over produces oil or sebum. Since they are unable to wash as often, the scalp becomes flaky. They get a buildup of flakes which takes two or three months to return to normal which results in the why does my scalp itch question.
- The opposite can also be true for those that delay washing to two weeks. I do ask my new dreadlocks clients to wait three weeks to wash the first time they are made. Since the new dreads will get messy until they are locked, I expect them have a regular maintenance program to keep the dreads firm until this happens and keep the scalp clean.
- There are people out there who think having dreads means wallowing in laziness and leaving the hair in a terrible state. Having dreads means you have to be willing to either maintain them yourself or pay to have it done. It is not a cheap hairstyle, in fact I would say you have to care them more because of the negative stereotypes! They will be itchy if you are not washing regularly and folks will start having ideas why.
- Using beeswax, gels or other locking products can cause allergic reactions in some persons. If these products rest and build up on the scalp it can cause the scalp to react and cause itchiness.
- If the client has a sensitive scalp wherever the dread is resting can become dry and flakes can form.
- Some people who have a flaky scalp with normal hair should consider treating the scalp by stopping the excessive washings for 3 months before they start dreads. This will help make the transition easier.
- Buying moisturizing shampoos and conditioners whether organic and natural or otherwise is essential as some cheap shampoos contain no ingredients to moisturize the dreads and they also make some scalps extremely dry.
To combat this itchiness, I recommend the following.
- Buying witch hazel solution and clean between the dreads with a cotton ball during the early period.
- Stop washing daily, twice or three times a week down to once a week until they lock. When they lock, once a week is good as washing more than that increases oil production and therefore flaking. While the scalp returns to normal, cleaning with witch hazel and cleaning the flakes from the dreads avoids the buildup seen in some heads.
By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design
Buy my e-book: Dreadlocks: A Hairstylist’s Manifest (Silkielocks.com/Amazon.com)