Should You Use Conditioner On New Locs?

If you just started your locs and are wondering whether or not you should use conditioner on your starter locs, then you are in the right place! While, the use of condition on locs is a heavily debated topic, I want to share with you the science behind conditioner and locs to allow you to make the decision that works best for you and your journey.


First and foremost, I believe that you absolutely should condition your locs, however what that “conditioning agent” looks like can be very different than what you may have expected. The most commonly known conditioning products for textured hair are the cream-based conditioner and opaque leave-in conditioners. These products work great when you have loose natural hair, or even relaxed hair, where the goal is to minimize tangles, reduce frizz, and smooth the hair. However, with loc’d hair the use of cream-based conditioners on locs can slow down your progression through the stages of hair locking. Think about it— your goal is to tangle and mat your hair (to form locs) and conditioner detangles. Additionally, the continued improper use of cream-based conditioner on locs can also contribute to the potential for lint accumulation and buildup.

So, how do I condition my locs?

I’m glad you asked, let’s talk about a few alternatives to conditioner for locs.


While there are numerous ways that you can strengthen and condition your locs without using creamy conditioners, I’ll share 3 of my top favorite methods— herbal rinses, steam treatments and hot oil treatments.

Herbal Rinse: An Herbal Rinse specifically formulated for locs does a great job at nourishing the scalp, strengthening the locs, and preventing any mold/mildew growth. What’s also great about Herbal Rinses for locs is that they double as a refresher throughout the week!

WHERE TO BUY: Herbal Rinses for Locs

Steam Treatment: A steam treatment is great for restoring the softness and flexible of your locs, especially if they’ve been feeling dry and brittle since your last cleansing treatment. A Steam Treatment uses vaporized water to penetrate into the hair shaft and hydrate the locs from the inside out. You should have a Stream Treatment at least every 3 months, regardless if you use this method for “conditioning” or not.

Hot Oil Treatment: Hot Oil Treatments nourish dry, dehydrated scalps and help to seal the moisture into the shaft of locs. The key to Hot Oil Treatments is to use the proper type of oil so that you don’t weigh down the hair or create an environment for build-up. It is also important to know that Hot Oil Treatments are mainly used for the scalp, so don’t slather your locs with oil!

RELATED ARTICLE: Top 5 Oils for Locs

With all this being said, it is no doubt that you will find people using cream-based conditioner on their locs and even hair care professionals and Locticians that swear by the usage of cream-based conditioner in locs. And if you are still a believer in cream-based conditioner on your locs, I’m not against you, just please be sure that you’re diluting it probably and rinsing it extremely well! For everyone else, your best choice for strengthening and conditioning your locs are using one (or more) of the alternatives listed above.

Is It Safe To Use Conditioner On Locs

How do you condition your locs?
Share your favorite method in the comments below!

Types of Conditioners for Locs
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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 love the use of herbal conditioners. I like to steep sage,mint rosemary and green tea in a mason jar under the sun for the day then apply to my hair after my shampoo. I have not had success with clarifying shampoos in the past (with older sets of locs) they make my hair very hard and dry so this time I use a moisturizing shampoo like Aubrey naturals or Taliah Wahid black soap and finish off with the rinse and spray rose water mixed with vitamin E. I love the way my hair feels. It’s not heavy or hard like before. Also, in the past using conditioner on my locs I always felt a film that I dont feel now. Finally I wash my shampoo out for a much longer time than in the past based on your recommendations.

You are so right about keeping a lighter attitude on conditioning. I don’t even wear locks but use your philosophy in my regime.

Is there a special way that these treatments have to be done? I’ve had my locks for 7 months and my new growth tangles TERRIBLY (like cobwebs almost, its a struggle to carefully detangle because I have flyaways) and it seems like nothing works. I don’t want to tear on my hair whenever I want to retwist..

Are there any other places to purchase herbal rinses that may be accessible in local areas? I’ve been using your gel recipe and have only used water based products for awhile but I noticed buildup on my locs & I think it may be from diluted conditioner though I am very thorough with my rinses.

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