Home Beauty The Best Shampoo For Locs – Our Top 10 Picks

The Best Shampoo For Locs – Our Top 10 Picks

by Ellay
Best Shampoo For Locs

If you’ve recently styled your hair with dreadlocks, you’ve probably just discovered that your regular shampoo doesn’t quite work!

That’s because locs require a bit more TLC if you want them to look great, and appear residue-free.

Don’t just give up on your locs because your regular shampoo doesn’t work. All you need is the RIGHT shampoo.  Find that and you’ll soon be loving your dreads.

Best Shampoo For Locs – Ultimate Guide

Yes, specially formulated loc shampoo does exist, and it works.

We’ve reviewed all of the top brands to put together a comprehensive list of the most popular products around and we’ve explained the ingredients you’ll find in each one.  In our guide you’ll also find plenty of top tips to make your locs look amazing.

Our mission is to help you find the best shampoo for your locs and we’re confident that, if you take a look at our TOP 10 list, you’ll find it.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the best buys.

What Are The Best Shampoos For Locs Right Now?

With quite a few products flooding the market, you might feel a little overwhelmed.  To make things easier for you, here are three quick recommendations, right from the start:

What Products Are Good For Locs?

There are a few different types of products that are advertised as loc-friendly, but not all are the same.

They’re all a bit different, so it helps to know what’s out there before you pick a product for your hair.


You already know that regular shampoo won’t work well on your locs as it will leave your hair full of residue.

Specially designed loc shampoos are made with ingredients that don’t leave anything behind in your hair.

Always read the label to check that the product doesn’t contain anything that you’re allergic to, or anything that might leave your hair stripped of its natural oils.

Loc Soap

Even some specialist loc shampoos can leave behind a little residue in your locs from time to time as everyone’s hair and scalp are different.

If you’re looking for an alternative, a bar of loc soap is a great option.

But an ordinary bar of soap won’t do!  The soaps that are made specifically for locs have similar properties as very high quality soaps in the sense that they don’t strip your hair or your skin of its oil or natural moisture.

If you’re not getting good results with a loc shampoo try a loc soap instead.


Using conditioner for dreads is a good idea if the shampoo you’re using leaves your hair too dry.

That might happen due to your hair type, or other hair troubles, such as split ends, breakage, and thinning.

A good conditioner could solve these issues, as long as you pick the right one.  We’ve included a couple of suggestions below.


We should also mention the merits of using tingle shampoos, which aren’t as widespread as the other products we’ve mentioned.

The primary purpose of this type of shampoo is to cleanse your scalp thoroughly and not just your locs.

These products are usually made with deep cleansing active ingredients, which may cause a tingling sensation on the surface of your scalp.

If you’re not particularly crazy about this kind sensation you might want to skip them, but if you’re scalp is left pretty dry after cleaning your locs it might be worth considering.

The Top 10 Shampoos For Locs That We Recommend

Finding the right shampoo for your locs is not an easy task, so we’ve done the hard work for you.

We took a close look at the most popular products around right now. So here they are:

1. Dollylocks Tea Tree Spearmint Liquid Shampoo

Dollylocks Tea

Dollylocks might not make the cheapest shampoos for locs, but it does bring to the table top-notch ingredients that work, so the extra spend is well worth it, which is a view shared by hundreds of independent users.

This particular formula is made with organic coconut and other plant-based ingredients, so you can expect its action to be gentle on your hair.

It won’t load your hair with product as some regular shampoos can.

Dollylocks’ formulas are hypo-allergenic and with a balanced pH level. That’s good news for people who have a sensitive scalp, and don’t want a shampoo that strips away the natural oils of their hair.

The nice clean scent it leaves behind is lovely. For those who like their hair to smell clean and fresh after a wash, this one is an excellent choice.

What we like about this product:

–    It’s based on natural and organic ingredients so it’s not aggressive on your hair

–    The balanced pH makes it a good option for people with a sensitive scalp

–    The nice fresh scent is a huge hit with users

What we don’t like about this product:

–    Due to the coconut oil, it might leave a tiny amount of residue now and again

–    It doesn’t lather so well, but that is a trait for most organic shampoos

2. Design Essentials Oat Protein & Henna Deep Cleaning Shampoo

This product from Design Essentials is very popular among people with dreads, as it has some significant advantages over other products.

It’s actually designed to suit all hair types, not just styles, like locs. That’s very important since you shouldn’t neglect your hair type when picking a shampoo for your dreads.

The shampoo is as a deep cleanser, which means you’re left with clean-looking and clean feeling hair.

As it’s made with oat protein, the shampoo hydrates your hair, while the henna helps make your hair more resistant to breakage.

Another thing that makes this shampoo stand out is that it will also give your hair volume and shine. Since you don’t want your locs to look dull and lifeless, that’s a real plus.

Those with thinning hair or hair that breaks easily will find this their best option.

What we like about this product:

–    The use of natural ingredients increases the nourishing power of this shampoo

–    It is a formula based on a few natural ingredients, so it is less aggressive on your hair than others

–    Adds volume and shine for healthy-looking locs

What we don’t like about this product:

–    Although it has a hydrating formula a few users report a little dryness

3. Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo Bar

One of the most important things you want from your loc shampoo is hair that’s residue free.

If you have trouble finding a shampoo that does that, here’s the leading alternative.

Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo Bar is a soap bar that cleans without leaving behind any residue like other products can.

You might like the fact that you can use this as a body soap too, which means that, when you travel, you don’t have to pack multiple products.

The combination of rosemary, peppermint, and tea tree will help your sensitive scalp get rid of any itchy sensations, whilst leave you feeling fresh and invigorated.

It’s made to suit all hair types, as well as all skin types, and it’s priced very well making it a great choice for everyone.

What we like about this product:

–    The refreshing feeling it leaves behind due to the scalp soothing ingredients

–    It can be used as a body wash too

–    It won’t weigh down your hair, leaving it residue-free

What we don’t like about this product:

–    It’s not a sulfate-free formula

–    Some people comment that the bar is a little on the small side

4. Dollylocks Nag Champa Natural Shampoo For Locs

Like many products from Dollylocks, this shampoo is made with organic and natural ingredients. That ensures that the formula isn’t too aggressive on your hair, and it will not strip it of its natural oils.

In fact, thanks to the coconut oil, it will actually nourish your hair, leaving a healthy shine.

The floral scent is exotic and appealing, and stays in your hair all day, which is seen as a major benefit by users.

For those who dyed their hair before styling it with dreadlocks, this shampoo is a top choice – the manufacturer advertises it as a good pick for someone with colored dreads, presumably to help preserve the coloring.

Although not as popular as the tea tree and spearmint fragrance reviewed above in terms of sales volume, this loc shampoo scores higher than any other on our list based upon independent feedback.

What we like about this product:

–    It’s made with gentle cleansing ingredients to avoid stripping the hair of its natural moisture

–    It’s well balanced to ensure that your hair gets cleaned thoroughly

–    The pleasant scent of Nag Champa is a highlight of this formula

What we don’t like about this product:

–    Getting the residue out of your hair can be a hassle according to some users

–    You might experience a slight oily feel after using the product

5. Knotty Boy All Purpose Shampoo Bar

Lovely smelling ingredients create the scent for this bar of soap that can be used to clean locs and dreads.

Made from cold-pressed castile soap, it’s ideal for all skin types and hair types, and it can be used as a body soap, too.

People who travel will find it an option that’s hard to beat.

The soap is biodegradable, and it doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients.

Using it is easy, and seeing that it’s so compact, you can take it anywhere you go.

Many people comment on the lightness its smell, which has a hint of fresh cut grass.  And the patchouli scent makes it exotic, adding to its general appeal.

Highly recommended.

What we like about this product:

–    It’s an all-purpose product, which means that it can be used for any type of hair and skin

–    It doesn’t contain toxic ingredients, and it is also biodegradable

–    The scent is beautiful and exotic

What we don’t like about this product:

–    Unfortunately, it  doesn’t have the longest lasting scent, no matter how pleasant

–    Some users report that it can be hard to wash off

6. Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingle Shampoo

So far, we’ve looked at shampoos and soaps that are created to wash and cleanse your locs.   But now it’s time to introduce you to something a bit different.

This tingle shampoo is a powerful formula that’s intended to cleanse your scalp and leave it itch-free.

It gently cleanses and removes any build-up.

The mango and lime scent is very nice, and the tea tree extract makes it fresh and revitalizing, which users seem to love.

It’made with natural ingredients, so it won’t harm the structure of your hair. However, the term ‘tingle’ used is there for a reason; you will definitely experience a tingling sensation when using it.

The manufacturer also mentions that some old Jamaican recipes were used in the creation of this formula.  We’re not sure what that means but they do say that it helps to maintain healthy, well-groomed locks and twists, which we do care about.

What we like about this product:

–    It contains powerful deep cleansers like tea tree extract

–    Using old Jamaican recipes, it might be the right thing for dreads

–    It also has a nourishing effect

What we don’t like about this product:

–    It produces little lather compared to other shampoos

–    The ‘tingle’ sensation might not be for anyone

7. Knatty Dread Dreadlocks Shampoo

If you prefer a shampoo that is scent-free, you should take a good look at Knatty Dread Dreadlocks Shampoo.

It has the quality of leaving your hair residue free, which is precisely what you want in a dreadlock shampoo.

Impressively this shampoo is suitably for all hair types, so you’ll have no issue using it, regardless of yours.

It also has the advantage of helping your dreads tighten a little, which is a good thing when you’ve been carrying your locs for a while, and your hair begins to grow out.

Short drying times also help to make this product a must-have for many people with locs.

Although fragrance-free the formula uses coconut for its nourishing effects.

What we like about this product:

–    It helps people who have been styling their hair in dreads for a long time

–    The coconut in the formula will nourish your hair

–    It’s ideal for all hair types

What we don’t like about this product:

–    Some users report frizz effects, which might mean that the shampoo dries the hair out a bit

–    Others are not pleased with the lack of a clear list of ingredients

8. Bewild Dread Head – Dreadlock Soap

This formula is designed for people with sensitive scalps, and it doesn’t contain any oily perfumes that would weigh your hair down.

Its main advantage is that it doesn’t allow residue to remain in your hair.  And there are no oily ingredients, which is another plus.

You may find out that this shampoo also helps with the dreading process. It will not affect the look of your locs, and it will help to tighten them for a beautiful appearance for a long time.

In case you’re planning to get locs, washing your hair with this shampoo before styling could help, as your hair will be a bit more manageable.

What we like about this product:

–    It cares for sensitive scalps

–    The formula doesn’t contain any oils so it doesn’t weigh down your hair

–    It might help with styling your hair

What we don’t like about this product:

–    According to some users, this shampoo is not very good at cleaning oil from your hair

–    You might also notice that you need to use a lot for each wash

9. Maple Holistics Argan Oil Conditioner

This formula is not a shampoo, but a conditioner, and not just any conditioner, but one made with Argan oil.

You might want to use this one for hair that needs repairing or for added strength. You might consider using it before you get dreads, to ensure that your hair is well cared for and nourished before styling.

Your hair will thicken and grow faster if you use this conditioner regularly.

A main advantage is that it can reduce the adverse effects of oil-stripping shampoos.

And, because it has a hypo-allergenic formula, it’s a good pick for anyone.

Other advantages of using a conditioner like this are that it will prevent split ends, breakage, and overall thinning of your hair.

What we like about this product:

–    It’s a good option for people with thin and damaged hair who want to get locs

–    Due to its hypo-allergenic nature, it is a good pick for everyone

–    It can address multiple hair problems, like split ends, and thinning

What we don’t like about this product:

–    This product may cause a bit of tangling after use

10. Dollylocks Coconut Lime & Grapefruit Liquid Shampoo

If you are interested only in organic products, you might want to give this natural shampoo for locs from Dollylocks a shot. Made with coconut and other plant-based ingredients, it acts as a gentle cleanser for your hair.

The formula is hypo-allergenic, so anyone can use it. Due to its pH-balanced ingredients, it’s also ideal for people with a sensitive scalp. It’s made specifically for people with locs and dreads.

With a nice combination of essential oils, this shampoo will offer your hair the nourishment it needs.

It doesn’t contain any toxic compounds, so you won’t have to worry about the health of your hair.

The coconut, lime and grapefruit scent is fresh and invigorating.

What we like about this product:

–    It’s made with organic and natural ingredients

–    The effective cleansing will not strip your hair of its natural oils

–    pH-balanced and hypo-allergenic, which makes it ideal for people with a sensitive scalp

What we don’t like about this product:

–    It does not generate a lot of lather for thick hair

–    The scent is not long-lasting

So, What’s The Best Shampoo For Locs Then?

All of the products on our list will do a good job.  They’ve all been around for a long time and have received hundreds and hundreds of positive reviews from independent users.

If you really pressed us to choose the best shampoo for locs we’d have to go with any of the Dollylocks Liquid Shampoos.  Tea Tree and Spearmint is the most popular, but the Nag Champa and Coconut, Lime & Grapefruit fragrances are excellent too.

Dollylocks shampoos are a tad more expensive than some of the others but they’re a top choice; made with organic coconut, and rich in natural ingredients, they smells great and do a great job of cleaning locs without leaving any build-up.

Design Essentials Oat Protein & Henna Deep Clarifying Shampoo for locs deserves a mention as a great all-around option; it comes with a decent price tag, and it contains some natural ingredients that are really good for your hair.

Either of the Knotty Boy Shampoo Bars makes a great alternative to conventional loc shampoo and are worth considering if you’re not getting on with the shampoo, or are looking for something small to carry with you when you travel.

Things You Need To Know About Shampoos For Dreadlocks

People who have been carrying for their locs for some time can tell you a thing or two about the products they use.

They never use regular shampoos because, as we’ve discussed, these leave way too much residue in your hair.

What you need is a product that genuinely cares for the needs of your dreads. The shampoo should provide deep cleansing to ensure that your hair is well washed. At the same time, it should not leave your hair feeling dry and frizzy.

A good idea would be to search for a residue free shampoo for locs that is ideal for your hair type.

You’ll find that many good quality products usually cater to all hair types, and, in the case of soap, for all skin types, as well.

There are, however, other considerations that you should bear in mind when picking a product for your locs.

That brings us to our list of things to look out for when shopping for  a good shampoo for dreadlocks.

How To Pick The Right Shampoo For Locs

One issue that people with dreads struggle with is that their locs end up looking unkempt no matter how religious they are about washing their hair.

That might happen because they’re using the wrong type of shampoo. So here are the things that you should look for in a good shampoo for locs.

1. Choose products that leave no residue

For shampoos that are made specifically for washing locs, residue should never be a major issue. You might find some that are very good, but still leave a little residue, which you might not be particularly bothered by that.

However, if you want to stay on the safe side, it is essential that you get a residue free shampoo for locs.   You should look for products that don’t have many oily perfumes on their list of ingredients, as these are the most likely to stick to your hair and make your dreads look heavy.

2. Pick a sulfate-free formula

While you don’t want your hair to remain too oily, you certainly don’t want it to be too dry. That’s why you should pick a sulfate-free formula.

Sulfates are present in the vast majority of shampoos available on the market, so they are not that easy to avoid.

However, there are good quality shampoos for locs out there that do not include sulfates.

Stay away from any elements that could strip your hair of its natural moisture, as that is sure to cause excessive hair dryness, and even a sensitive scalp.

3. Always go for a formula that is designed specifically for locs

Do not let yourself be influenced by hearsay when it comes to caring for your dreads.

Always pick a shampoo that is made specifically for locs, as that product is most likely to have the right ingredients and offer your hair the care it needs.

4. Not all that is organic is good for your locs

Since you want to care for your locs the right way, you might feel tempted to reach for a bottle plastered with phrases like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ all over them.

While it may be good to opt for an organic formula for your locs, there is no guarantee that you will get the desired results.

Some ingredients, even if they are organic, are not suitable for dreads, for the simple reason that they cause a lot of buildup.

For example, beeswax is a total no-no because of how much residue it can leave behind.

How To Start And Care For Locs

For advice on how to start and care for your locs, check out this awesome clip:

What great advice!

What Ingredients Should And Should NOT Be Present!

As is the case with any shampoo, some ingredients are desirable, while others are a complete no-no.

Here is a breakdown of things to look out for and things to avoid so that you can start making the right decisions when it comes to picking a good shampoo for locs.

Natural oils are great for your locs

What you don’t want your shampoo to do is to make your dreads look dry and unappealing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to find a formula with natural oils, such as coconut oil, that will nourish your hair and lock in the moisture.

Deep cleansers like peppermint and tea tree extracts are good, too

While you don’t want your locs stripped of their natural shine, you definitely want to have a formula that is great for cleansing. Peppermint and tea tree extracts are ideal because they leave your hair fresh and clean, and smelling great too.

Sulfates attack your hair cuticles

There is a reason why you should stay away from formulas with sulfates. These are responsible for attacking the hair cuticles, thus making your hair look damaged and easy to break. Sulfates can also cause split ends.

Any ingredients that weigh down your hair

Beeswax and other elements that tend to make your hair too loaded with product are a definite no-no. Always check the list of ingredients for wax of any kind and things that are supposed to make your hair shine. If they are not natural oils, you should avoid these products.

How Are Loc Shampoos Different From Normal Shampoos?

Manufacturers invest a lot of time and research into the shampoos that they make for locs.

Due to the nature of this hairstyle, it’s quite a challenge to get the formula right. The ideal product should have a pH-balanced formula to ensure that your scalp receives the same care as your hair.

At the same time, some profound cleansing effects should be provided, as they are needed to thoroughly clean your locs.  Normal shampoos come up quite a bit short in this regard.

Don’t forget that these shampoos should never really leave any residue behind.  A standard shampoo, as you may have found out, will almost certainly leave plenty of residue behind after use.

Best Brands Making Residue Free Shampoo For Locs

When it comes to who makes the best shampoo for locs there are a few brands that stand out. Here are the most important names to look for out there.


This hair care product manufacturer is entirely devoted to making deadlock specific shampoos. Their organic products are regularly featured in magazines, and they have received a lot of positive feedback from customers over the years. They also run a popular hair salon in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Knotty Boy

A company founded by people with dreads, Knotty Boy has more than 30 years of experience in making products that cater particularly for those who prefer to style their hair in locs. Started as a way to create products that would address the unique hair problems of those with locs, Knotty Boy continues to be one of the major players in this market.

Design Essentials

Design Essentials has been dedicated to the creation of products for natural hair ever since its beginnings, in 1973. They launched a unique hair care system in 1990, and they varied the range of products offered to customers, by including dreadlock oriented shampoos, like the first product on our list above.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q – What is the residue left by some shampoos?

A – You might wonder why there is still some buildup in your hair even when you’re using shampoo for dreadlocks. If saponified oils are used in the making of the product, these will stick to your hair and will attract dirt. Rinsing well and washing your hair frequently should help to combat this.

Also, don’t forget to check the independent reviews for each product to see which ones don’t leave any residue at all. It’s the safest way to make sure that you won’t have any residue to worry about.

Q – Will natural shampoo for locs work on damaged hair?

A – It all depends on the list of ingredients, but the good news is that you’ll most likely find that high-quality shampoos for locs are abundant in elements that can work on, and even help to repair damaged hair. For example, since all of the products we recommend are made with natural oils, you’ll find that a shampoo for dreadlocks will also repair broken and damaged hair.

Q – What is dread rot?

A – People with locs are most afraid of something called ‘dread rot’. If you have never heard the term, here is the short explanation. It is, simply put, the mold and mildew that can appear inside your locs if you don’t dry them properly after each wash. Because of their thickness, drying them thoroughly can be difficult.

Even if this may sound pretty bad, don’t rush for the scissors. There is no reason to cut your locs out. Instead, use a good-quality shampoo that can provide a deep cleanse for your dreads. This way, you’ll ensure that all the mold and mildew is washed away.

Don’t forget to dry your locs properly. Even if it’s a tedious process, and you don’t feel too crazy about it, it’s necessary to avoid the dreaded ‘dread rot’!

Wrapping It Up

So hopefully you have all of the information you need to pick the best shampoo for your locs.

If you’re looking for a product that you can use on a regular basis, Design Essentials Oat Protein & Henna Deep Clarifying Shampoo For Locs gives your hair what it needs to grow strong and thick.

If you’re happy to spend a little bit more for a top product, Dollylocks Liquid Shampoo is our top pick, as it is made by a company dedicated to creating excellent shampoos for locs. It’s made from high-quality ingredients that work, and it smells great, so the price is well worth it.

dollylocks tea tree spearmint

But you don’t have to spend much to have great locs.  Our budget option is the Knotty Boy All Purpose Shampoo Bar Patchouli Love. Although it looks like a regular bar of soap it’s made by the proud owner of dreads for others with similar hair. You’ll also love it and it comes at a decent price.

As you can see, there are quite a few options out there, but hopefully you have everything you need to make an informed decision.

Good luck on your loc building journey!

We hope this guide was useful.  If you feel we’ve missed something out, or if you have any recommendations please let us know below.  We’d love to hear from you.

While you’re here, why not check out our recent post on the ultimate guide to hair types here?

You might also like our recent post looking at some of the most popular locking gels around at the moment to help with styling and hold, or our new post on oils for locs to help with moisture and maintenance.

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