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?


Dianne Young Browner

I just got sisterlocs a week ago and I’m sweating in my hair will this stop my hair from locking

Congratulations on your new journey. Yes for most people sweating with Sisterlocks will cause slippage / unraveling.

Help on knowing right products for starter locs

I invite you to join the Loc Goals Club so that I can support you along your DIY loc journey!

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

[…] RELATED: How to Shampoo Starter Locs At-Home […]

[…] Related Article: When to Shampoo Starter Locs […]


Yesterday I’ve started my locs and I want know what oil should I use to grow my hair faster, Before my locs I used Jamaican castor oil and it grew my hair tremendously. Can I still use this product with locs ?

Hello. I’ve just started my dreads and it hasn’t even been a full month yet. I have a lot of dandruff and I wanted to know is it okay to wash them without them coming apart. What should I use and it’s that possible? Please help me.

I’m getting starter locks in a week. My fro is very short. How often should I go for a retwist?

So do you retest after every shampoo?

I’m excited to start my loc journey next month and plan to start with 2 strand twists. Is there a product that is specifically recommended for 2 strand to Locs? I see a lot of info on loc maintenance but not much on products to use for the 2 strand start.

When or how often can I wet my starter locs( two stranded twist)? not wash, wet.

You can allow the steam from the shower to “wet” them from time-to-time. You should be shampooing at least once a month.

I’m trying starter Locs it’s been down 5 months and I still don’t see no difference my hair is short the back rattles my sides getting audited and I really don’t know what to do do you have any advice to try to help me

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! 🙂

I recently started my loc journey with two Strand twist two weeks ago and would like to know if when I should wash it? Also it’s unravelig a bit so should I leave it like that or Retwist?

Hi Jocelyn, I am 58 years old and have always wanted dreads. I just started my dread in December and they’re 3 months old now. and I go to my loctician once a month to wash and retwist. I love them so much thanks to following and learning from you. Thank you for being there for us dread heads for the wonderful information. You rock!

For starter locs, how long do you have to wait until you can put braids in your hair?

I have interlocked locs. Started about 40 days ago, but the loctitian wants me to wait until I go back to her before I wash. That’s gonna be 10 weeks! I’m not sure if I can do that, this has been long enough. Plus there’s a lot of stuff on the internet that says I shouldn’t wait that long, but it’s for the palm rolling locs. I got interlocked because I sweat and I have different curl patterns (tight and a bit looser than tight) on my head. I figured I could wash more frequently also! I don’t think I can wait 10 weeks but I also don’t know how to go about washing it…massage the scalp? Squeeze the shampoo through the starter locs? Air dry the locs? Sit under a dryer? Fasten or clip the locs a certain way as they dry, even though I’m not retwisting or tightening them? I know not to condition them, that’s about it. Help!

I got my starter locs yesterday. Is it necessary for me to keep twisting them

It is recommended that if you are seeking manicured/uniform locs and are maintaining them with palm-rolling that you have a retwist every 4 weeks, however if you are willing to embrace a more “freeform” appearance then you would not regularly retwist/groom them.

I just got my starter locs on yesterday 2-7-2020 when should I apply oil to my scalp and spray with water. And also go for a wash and retwist

I have yet to wash and was wondering if I should still use a cap if my locks are long? They vary from under shoulder to waist length. My stylist said that i was to only wash my scalp. And i wonder ig you can get a deep cleaning from the cap being on. Also I wonder if i will habe to much water in my locks by the time im done…ease advise lol. I may just be overthinking it.

I decided to do the two strand twist with afro kinky extension. My question is, does the shampoo process still apply and wait two weeks? I have a fear that the extensions will fall out when I wash it lol…then do I just have it retwist from the roots and palm roll the end?

When done properly they definitely should not fall out, at all. It should be like your own natural hair.

Hello. I was looking to see if it was advisable to roller set locs at 4 months? I like the look and have been doing it actually before now but I don’t want to hinder my locking process so I was wondering if I was doing that

Does this apply to microlocs started by two strand twists as well? Will I still need the stocking cap?

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