How to Keep Your Starter Locs Clean

Starter Locs

Starter locs are the beginning stage of dreadlocks, and as they develop and mature, they require proper care and maintenance to keep them looking healthy and neat. One of the essential aspects of caring for starter locs is washing them regularly. 

Washing starter locs helps to keep them clean and free of buildup, which can prevent them from locking properly. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to wash starter locs effectively.

For many people, starting locs can be a great hair decision. However, it can become challenging if you’re uncertain about how to wash your starter locs or how to properly care for them. Caring for your locs starts with washing, which is a crucial aspect of basic locs maintenance, so it’s important to have a good understanding of how to wash them. 

How To Wash Starter Locs: Two Easy Ways To Prevent Unravelling

Starter locs
Instagram / @mendedbylocs

Regardless of the method used to start locs, it’s crucial to handle starter locs with care while washing, as they tend to unravel. 

To avoid this, it’s essential to know when it’s appropriate to wash your starter locs. Typically, it’s advisable to wait for 4-6 weeks after starting your locs before washing your hair. However, if needed, you may prolong this period, but it’s recommended not to go beyond 3 months without washing your hair.

However, some folks have reported washing their starter locs a week after installation and within the first month.

The underlying factor is studying your hair needs, it is typically advised to refrain from washing for the above time frame mentioned earlier but, if your hair is particularly oily, or you lead an active lifestyle you may need to wash it more often.

In any case, pay attention to how your hair looks and feels and adjust your washing frequency accordingly.

You don’t have to wait a whole month to wash starter locs, especially if you have type 4 hair and some length. Washing can promote faster loc formation, as long as you’re gentle. To wash, apply shampoo and use a parting motion to create suds without creating too much friction.

Washing starter locs can be done quite easily at home or in the hands of a professional stylist, it all depends on your preference. To prevent the unraveling of starter locs, here are a couple of methods to try out:

Supplies for washing starter locs
Instagram / @knattydej

1. Washing With The Banding Method

The banding method is a gentle way to wash starter locs without causing too much unraveling or damage. It minimizes movement to the locs with the right amount of access to the scalp which is the focus of the washing process. The steps involved in the banding method are:

  • Start by sectioning your hair into several small sections, using hair bands or elastic bands to secure each section. The bands keep the locs in place and prevent unraveling while you wash your hair.
  • Wet each section thoroughly with warm water.
  • Apply a small amount of shampoo to your scalp, and use your fingertips to massage it into your scalp and the roots of your hair.
  • It is recommended to use a shampoo specifically designed for locs as it would be able to remove the dirt and buildup without leaving behind a residue or use a moisturizing shampoo that is mild on the hair and isn’t overly stripping of the hair oils.
  • Afterward, the shampooing process, rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water, making sure to remove all of the shampoo and any buildup.
  • Apply a small amount of conditioner, which is an optional process as they could facilitate the unraveling of the locs. Instead, create a mixture of oils and water in a spray bottle and mist your locs afterward.
  • Remove the hair bands or elastic bands from your hair, and allow your hair to air dry, or use a hair dryer on a low setting to dry your hair.

2. Washing With A Stocking Cap

If you’re not at ease with directly washing your starter locs, you may opt to use a stocking cap instead. Washing starter locs using a stocking cap is another gentle method that can help to minimize unraveling and damage. Here are the steps to wash your starter locs using a stocking cap:

  • Take a clean stocking cap and stretch it over your head so that it covers all of your hair.
  • Wet your hair thoroughly in the shower. Apply a small amount of shampoo directly on the stocking cap and use your fingertips to work it into your hair thoroughly. Be careful not to rub your hair too hard, as this can cause yours locs to unravel.
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water, making sure to remove all of the shampoo and any buildup. Repeat the shampoo process twice to ensure the buildup and dirt are cleansed out.
  • Apply a small amount of conditioner to your hair afterward on the stocking cap and do a gentle rub-in as you did with the shampooing process.  
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water afterward. Remove the stocking cap, and let the locs air dry, or blow dry in low heat.

Tips for Effective Washing of Starter Locs

Washing starter locs
Instagram / @earthsidelocks

Washing starter locs can be a delicate process as they are still in the beginning stages of the locking process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Be gentle

Avoid rough scrubbing or pulling on your starter locs while washing. This can cause them to unravel or become frizzy. Instead, use a gentle, circular motion with your fingers to clean your scalp and the base of your locs.

2. Use a residue-free shampoo

Look for a shampoo that is specifically designed for locs and doesn’t leave any residue behind. Residue can cause buildup in your locs and slow down the locking process. Dr. Bronners Peppermint Castille Soap and Shea Moisture Black Shampoo are recognized in the loc community. 

3. Avoid heavy conditioners

Heavy conditioners can also leave residue in your locs, so it’s best to avoid them during the early stages of the locking process. Instead, use a lightweight leave-in conditioner or oil to moisturize your scalp and locs.

4. Focus on the scalp

 To properly wash starter locs, it’s important to prioritize cleaning your scalp over your hair.

Direct your attention to your scalp and use your fingertips to delicately massage it. Avoid vigorous rubbing all over your hair at once. Instead, take your time and concentrate on each section of your scalp. If you notice any buildup in individual locs, gently squeeze them to remove it.

5. Wash and Retwist Together

It’s recommended to schedule your wash and retwist together for your starter locs. Washing your hair may cause some of the locs to unravel, but retwisting during the wash can help put them back in place. However, it’s important to avoid over-twisting by skipping a few retwists if you wash your hair too frequently.

6. Rinse thoroughly

Make sure to rinse your starter locs thoroughly after shampooing to ensure that all the product is washed away. Any leftover shampoo or conditioner can cause buildup in your locs.

7. Air dry

Avoid using a hair dryer or towel to dry your starter locs. Instead, gently squeeze out any excess water and allow your locs to air dry naturally. This will help prevent frizz and breakage.

What to Do if Your Starter Locs Unravel

Unraveling can happen during the early stages of locs, and it’s a normal part of the locking process. If your starter locs unravel after washing, don’t panic. There are easy steps you can take to address the issue and prevent further unraveling.

Take a close look at the unraveled locs to determine the extent of the unraveling. If it’s just a few strands, you can easily retwist or palm roll them back into place. Gently re-twist or palm roll the loose strands back into the loc, using a small amount of natural oil or a locking gel to help hold them in place. You can also use a comb to twist the loose strands back into the loc, carefully working them through the existing hair.

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