This is a MUST READ if you have dreadlocks or debating dreadlocks.

I received a call from a man (we'll call him Bob) in California that has dreadlocks that are 18 YEARS old. I mean honestly, that is nuts! He said he's frustrated because he has to wash his dreadlocks every day.

EVERYDAY?!?! is that what I have to look forward to? If so I need to rethink this journey! Not that I am opposed to washing that often...but the drying time HAS to be forever. I digress...

So I start questioning him as I do anyone that has dreadlocks. He then announces that for 18 years, he's used Dr. Bronners and Neutrogena.

Problem solved.

Why? Well, for one simple fact.


What exactly is superfat and WHY is it bad? Buckle your belts...

When companies / people make soap, sometimes they add extra oils so that you, the consumer, get a more moisture rich soap. The extra oils don't have the ability to mix with the lye and saponify. In theory, do your skin, should be ok. In fact if you have dry skin, it is pretty nice. But for dreadlocks? Not so good.

According to this is what they say about how to superfat the this way you can ask the correct questions when attempting to use something handmade.

"There are three ways to superfat your soap:

1. Use oils which have higher percentages of unsaponifiables. Oils such as Avocado oil and Shea Butter contain oils which will not combine with lye and will remain in your soap for a more nourishing bar.

2. Reduce the amount of lye in your soap (also called discounting the lye). This essentially raises the level of oil in your soap above that which is necessary to combine with the lye for saponification. The excess oil will not saponify and will be available in your soap for a more moisturizing bar. Most soapmakers superfat their soap by 5% automatically. Some superfat as high as 8%.

3. Add certain oils at trace. Adding more expensive and highly nutritious oils at trace, after most saponification has taken place, will results in these oils remaining in the soap. Add oils such as cocoa butter and wheatgerm at trace for dry skin bars. For each pound of soap, add about one tablespoon of warmed/melted oil.

Remember, too much oil in your soap could results in a bar that is too soft to use or in excess oil oozing out of your bar (not a pretty sight). Most recipes from books and on the web have already been superfatted at 5%."

Why isn't it so good? (gosh, my science teacher in highschool would be so proud of would my english teacher!) Well, for starters dreadlocks + oil = a hot mess. The oil traps the daily nonsense in the air and environment around us. Then when you wash with a superfatted soap you think you got it out, right? WRONG! All that garbage STAYS IN YOUR DREADLOCKS! Then, when your dreadlocks are dried and you palmroll (because lets face it...a good palmrolling session is pretty darn amazing) you compress all that junk left in your hair. If you don't get your dreadlocks dry in a short time, all that garbage will turn to mold or a murkey brownish discharge that will seep from your dreadlocks. This is EXACTLY what happened with Bob's dreadlocks.

How do you fix this? Well, you really cannot if you have been using these kinds of soaps for years. Once you get to this stage, you have basically ruined your dreadlocks. There ARE things you can do to help remove this mess but it will take more patience and some extra work.

I have suggested that Bob do a deep cleanse. Mix 1 tbsp of Baking Soda to 1 cup of hot water (typically i suggest warm water but let's be honest...there are 18 YEARS of stuff trapped in his dreadlocks! I also typically suggest 1 tsp but again, time to call out the big guns!) into a large bowl / plastic bin / sink....whatever. Then I instructed him to let his locs soak 15 min and then to change the water out and do it again. After 30 min of soaking, I instructed him to take a full cup of room temperature Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar into a gallon pitcher and then fill the rest with warm water (or you can mix it in the same container you used for your bs wash) and soak 3-5 min. Next step, hop in the shower and RINSE RINSE RINSE RINSE well. For Bob, I suggested he do this 1-2 times week to help break as much of this gunk down as possible. I also told him about the Dread Soap by Dreadheadhq.

The other way you can do a deep cleanse is WITH the Dreadheadhq Dread Soap. Add 1/2 cup of Dread Soap to a bucket / bowl / tub of water and scrub. If your locs are not locked, I would suggest doing this with a stocking cap on to help the dreadies during their fragile state.) Then you rinse really well :)

It's been 6-8 weeks since I talked to Bob and I'm hoping no news is good news. Was hoping he would share what the water looked like to prove this point but he DID say he was way too embarassed.

What if your locs are younger and you have been using superfatted soaps short term? Good news! By doing the SAME rinse on yourself you should be able to stop the damage before it's a permanent issue.

Ok, so far, here is a list of soaps that DO say they superfat their soaps and if you have dreadlocks (or are on the fence as to getting them) you SHOULD stay clear away.

Dr. Bronners (all varieties)
Neutrogena (all varities)
Maylee's Garden Vegan Soaps (I haven't yet gotten a clear answer whether or not she does superfat but from the residue that is left from the soap, it makes this a not-so-good choice for locked hair.)
ANY shampoo that claims its moisture - rich or has moisturizer or moisturizing in the name (or in the description)

Other things to consider when looking for a good shampoo. I know, I know all the flavors smell wonderful! However, a smell left behind in hair is really just an oil and that will lead to residue and that will lead to rot. So, here is a VERY simple test to see if a soap leaves a residue.


I mean, it IS really simple.

Take the soap you would like to use in your dreadlocks and wash your hands with it. After you wash your hands, smell them. How do they smell? If you smell anything then that soap WILL leave residue. If there is no smell, how does your hand feel? A lot softer/smoother? Then its a 95% chance that soap is superfatted and you should run away.

What can you do with all the extra soaps? Give em to your friends that don't have dreadlocked hair :) I'm sure they would be glad to get some free soap / shampoo. Food pantries LOVE donations so you could check with them and explain why you are donating them. Some will accept the donation, some won't. Cannot find a local food pantry? Find a local United Methodist Church. They tend to have food pantries in them.

There are very VERY few shampoos that are actually residue free. Even if a bottle states that it IS, do your research.

If you are thinking I might be making this up, here is what it says at

"Soaps have been made for millennia. Aside from making fire and cooking food, "saponifying" oil and fat into soap is one of the oldest and simplest chemical reactions known to humankind. In fact, the first soaps were accidentally made by fat dripping into the ashes of cooking fires.
Soap is made by saponifying a fat or oil with an alkali. A fat or oil is a "triglyceride," which means that three fatty acids of various carbon lengths are attached to a glycerine backbone. The alkali is either sodium (for bars) or potassium (for liquids) hydroxide, made by running electricity through salt water."

and here is where they ADMIT to superfatting....

"Unlike most commercial soap-makers who distill the glycerin out of their soaps to sell separately, Dr. Bronner's retains it in their soaps for its superb moisturizing qualities.
We superfat our soaps with organic hemp and jojoba oils for a milder, smoother lather."


So now what? Well, the choice is yours. I suggest Dreadheadhq's Dread Soap as it truly IS residue free. It leaves no scent, has no color and is perfectly clear. It lathers well and rinses away very nicely. If you find your scalp is a bit itchy, use less shampoo per wash OR rinse in it cooler water.

The other thing you can do....I did this in the beginning of having dreadlocks. I added some of my bathsalts to the shampoo (a tsp) and then washed them that way. If you do use these bathsalts once a week, that will help keep your dreadlocks clean, healthy AND helps your skin too! (if interested,

My friend Violet ( puts Dreadheadhq shampoo and some baking soda into a spray bottle and that helps with the SLS sensitivity. (Violet, please post your recipe for others!)

I hope this blog will help you make smarter decisions on about the care of your dreadlocks. I do recommend washing 2-3 times a week and then doing a monthly deep cleanse just for an extra safe measure.

Until we dread again...
Peace, Love and Locs,