7 Best Clarifying Shampoos For Dreadlocks, Expert-Approved (2024)

Clean your locs to achieve smoother, tangle-free tresses with good hair care products.

Reviewed by Laura Dale, Licensed Cosmetologist Laura Dale Laura DaleLicensed Cosmetologist linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature), Diploma In Health & Wellness Aditi Naskar MA (English Literature), Diploma In Health & Wellness linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
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All products recommended on StyleCraze are independently selected by our editorial team. If you make a purchase through any of these links, we may receive a commission. Learn more about our product selection process.

If you have been looking for a clarifying shampoo for locks, we have exactly what you need. Dreadlocks have the word ‘dread’ in them for a reason, and anyone who wears dreadlocks like a pro deserves acknowledgment. Many celebrities have flaunted the locs and taken care of them the right way, but they require twice as much care and maintenance than regular hair textures. As combing your hair to keep the blood circulation on is no longer an option, you need to ensure your scalp is absolutely clean to keep infections at bay. Here are 7 clarifying shampoos specially crafted to attend to locks.

What Is A Clarifying Shampoo For Locs?

Clarifying shampoos thoroughly clean and remove dirt from your hair and scalp. They help in getting rid of stubborn buildup left by conditioners, styling products, and daily environmental factors. Clarifying shampoos for locs are a good addition to your hair care routine when you have a serious buildup of sebum and dirt.

Regular shampoos contain conditioning agents along with cleansers to help in moisturizing, but these can leave residue on your hair and scalp, which is counterproductive. Clarifying shampoos contain 80-90% water with a high level of surfactants to get rid of residue and grease in the hair.

Some examples of surfactants are ammonium sodium lauryl sulfate (deeply cleanses extreme buildup on very oily hair) and cetyl fatty alcohols, chlorides, or bromides (mildly cleanse the hair and make it soft). However, nowadays, clarifying shampoos also contain plant-based cleansers and coconut surfactants that deeply cleanse your hair and scalp without being too drying.

Now that we have understood what clarifying shampoos are, let’s look at the 7 best clarifying shampoos for locs on the market.

Top Picks
CHECK PRICE
Best Lightweight Formula:Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo Bar
Price on Amazon
Best For Moistuizing:Dollylocks Nag Champa Liquid Shampoo
Price on Amazon
Best Cruelty-Free Formula:Knatty Dread Loc Shampoo
Price on Amazon
Best For Itchy Scalp:Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo
Price on Amazon
Best For Detangling:Stylin' Dredz Spray Dreadlock Shampoo
Price on Amazon
Best Against Itchiness:Lockology Dreadlock Shampoo with Peppermint Tea Tree
Price on Amazon
Best For Detoxification:Peculiar Roots Nourished Clarifying & Detox Black Charcoal Shampoo
Price on Amazon

7 Best Clarifying Shampoos For Locs

1. Best Lightweight Formula:Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo Bar

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4.5
Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo Bar Image: Dollylocks

Do your locs need deep yet gentle cleansing? The Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo Bar should be your go-to. The antioxidant-rich deep cleansing formula is extremely lightweight and residue-free. It is enriched with plant-based ingredients like organic coconut oil and African shea butter that cleanse your hair and scalp for a squeaky clean feeling. The bar also contains Hawaiian sea salt that tightens your locs. The invigorating, earthy, and floral nag champa scent lifts your spirits and refreshes your senses while leaving your hair with a relaxing and tingling sensation. Just rub this gentle formula onto your hair to create a thick lather and cleanse the most deep-seated contaminants without leaving any residue behind. This biracial hair shampoo is the ideal choice for all scalp types including oily scalp. Check out the review of this product on YouTube to know why it is one of the best out there.

Hair Type: All | Product Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 3 inches | Weight: 4.5 Ounces

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Refreshing scent
  • Long-lasting
  • Residue-free
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Preservative-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Handmade

Cons

  • None

Our Tester's Experience

"This shampoo bar cleanses my dreadlocks and leaves my hair feeling soft and smooth. The formula feels lightweight on my hair. It lathers well and the foam spreads easily on my tresses. My hair looks nourished and shiny after I shower with this. I do not prefer its strong scent."


protip_icon Pro Tip
Use the Dollylocks mesh bag to enhance the lather for a better hair washing experience.

2. Best For Moisturizing:Dollylocks Nag Champa Liquid Shampoo

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4.5
Best Dreadlocks Shampoo For Colored Hair Image: Dollylocks

This shampoo from Dollylocks is recommended for mature dreadlocks. Its residue-free formula cleanses and keeps your scalp refreshed and hair squeaky clean. It is formulated with pure botanical and plant-based ingredients, such as organic seed oils, that provide intense nourishment and hydration with deep cleansing. It is great for sensitive scalp and leaves the dreads clean. The restorative shampoo can also be used to cleanse synthetic dreadlocks. The lightweight product has an earthy champa scent that keeps you refreshed throughout the day. It extracts residual buildup from the scalp and helps remove chlorine from your hair to offer deep cleansing, and that’s not all, this product is not tested on animals. This concentrated formula is best for African American hair and nourishes matted hair from the hair cuticles. In this YouTube video, you will find a detailed review of this tester’s experience when using the product.

Hair Type: Dry | Product Dimensions: 2.25 x 2.25 x 5 inches | Weight: 8 Ounces

Pros

  • Weightless
  • Moisturizing
  • Long-lasting
  • Smells good
  • Phthalate-free fragrance
  • Residue-free
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Preservative-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • None

3. Best Cruelty-Free Formula:Knatty Dread Loc Shampoo

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4.4
Knatty Dread Loc Shampoo Image: Knattydread

Your search for a truly residue-free shampoo for your locs ends here! The Knatty Dread Loc Shampoo gives you fuller, thicker dreads that instantly feel cleaner. Its special formula also dries your hair faster as the roots are cleaner. The shampoo tightens your dreadlocks and promotes new hair growth. It contains coconut surfactants, unlike other shampoos with saponified oils. The unscented shampoo makes your hair smell and feel clean and fresh. It is suitable for locs of all hair types and is easy to rinse out. Multiple reviewers mention the product cleans well without leaving behind any buildup or residue.

Hair Type: All | Product Dimensions: 6 x 3 x 3 inches | Weight: 1 Pounds.

Pros

  • Unscented
  • Lathers well
  • A little goes a long way
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • May dry the hair out
Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo Bar
Best Lightweight Formula
Dollylocks Nag Champa Liquid Shampoo
Best For Moisturizing
Knatty Dread Loc Shampoo
Best Cruelty-Free Formula
Hair Type All Dry All
Dimensions 4 x 3 x 3 inches 2.25 x 2.25 x 5 inches 6 x 3 x 3 inches
Weight 4.5 Ounces 8 Ounces 1 Pounds.
Rating
Reviews109486206
Price$26.95$27.95$19

4. Best For Itchy Scalp:Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo

The Knotty Boy Dreadlock Shampoo is excellent for use all over the body. It contains almost no conditioning agents and is made from 100 percent pure saponified vegetable oils. It is enriched with nourishing ingredients like organic tea tree, rosemary, and peppermint oils that help cleanse and soothe itchy and dry scalp. The build-up removal shampoo has a minty fresh scent and makes your locks sparkling clean. This curly hair shampoo is ideal if you deal with scalp irritation and frizzy hair. It keeps the hair hydrated. The non-drying formula is free of chemical foaming agents and softeners, making it gentle on your locks.

Hair Type: All | Product Dimensions: 2.56 x 2.56 x 7.48 inches | Weight: 1.25 Pounds

Pros

  • Lathers well
  • Non-drying
  • Unscented
  • Biodegradable
  • Vegan
  • Non-toxic
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • None

5. Best For Detangling:Stylin’ Dredz Spray Dreadlock Shampoo

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4
Stylin’ Dredz Spray Dreadlock Shampoo Image: Stylindredz

The Stylin’ Dredz Spray Dreadlock Shampoo is specially formulated with foaming ingredients that create a thick lather to lift and clean all the buildup on your scalp. The residue-free formula also hydrates your hair and does not tangle it. It is enriched with tea tree oil that prevents buildup and eliminates dandruff from the scalp, leaving it soothed and itch-free. It is the perfect choice if you want relief from a flaky scalp as well as an irritated scalp. The curly hair formula adds volume and removes dullness to make your locs manageable, allowing you to enjoy a good hair day. The shampoo promotes healthy hair growth, adds shine, and prevents fall-out. The easy-to-use packaging allows you to spray on the product for effective cleansing. The reviews mention the product moisturizes the locs and reduces flakiness and itchiness.

Hair Type: Normal | Product Dimensions: 2 x 4 x 9 inches | Weight: 1.5 Pounds.

Pros

  • Refreshing scent
  • Residue-free
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • None
Our Tester's Experience

"These shampoos moisturize my hair while cleaning it. They detangle my knots and make my hair look smooth. They create a thick lather that gives me a relaxing experience. The formula soothes my scalp and makes my dreads look healthy."

6. Best Against Itchiness:Lockology Dreadlock Shampoo with Peppermint Tea Tree

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3.8
Lockology Dreadlock Shampoo with Peppermint Tea Tree Image: Lockology

The Lockology Dreadlock Shampoo features an ideal aroma-therapeutic blend of green tea, peppermint, and eucalyptus. It helps you to deep-clean your scalp and hair. The shampoo promotes hair growth and reduces itching without over-drying your hair strands. The organic combination of tea tree and peppermint oil can eliminate impurities and build-up from your hair, reducing flaking and dandruff. It relieves the itchiness from an irritated scalp. Moreover, the shampoo rinses easily and is formulated without any thickeners or fillers. This sulfate-free shampoo removes excess oil, deep-seated contaminants, and residue from your scalp and locs.

Hair Type: Thick | Package Dimensions ‏ : ‎8.54 x 3.58 x 2.52 inches | Weight 1.08 Pounds

Pros

  • Sulfate-free
  • Eco-friendly
  • Contains essential oils
  • Anti-dandruff
  • Lathers easily

Cons

  • None
Our Tester's Experience

"I love how this shampoo lathers on my rough tresses. It removes dirt and buildup from my hair and leaves my scalp squeaky clean. It soothes my itchiness and prevents odor formation. My dreads feel soft and look shiny after consistent use of this product."

7. Best For Detoxification:Peculiar Roots Nourished Clarifying & Detox Black Charcoal Shampoo

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4.2
Peculiar Roots Nourished Clarifying & Detox Black Charcoal Shampoo Image: Peculiarroots

The Peculiar Roots Nourishing Clarifying & Detox Black Charcoal Shampoo is been enriched with activated charcoal that can thoroughly detoxify and cleanse your hair and scalp. The activated charcoal can absorb up to 100–200 times its weight when it comes in contact with impurities; it removes all product buildup efficiently, leaving your scalp and hair squeaky clean. This anti-residue shampoo cleans the dreads from the root and hydrates flyaway hair and dreaded hair. The coconut oil in the formula helps condition the hair follicles, supporting healthy hair growth. The hair softening shampoo also contains hemp seed oil, which adds a high dose of vitamin E to your hair strands. It works on all skin and hair types.

Pros

  • Vitamin-rich
  • Chemical-free
  • Powerful detoxifier
  • Coconut fragrance
  • Suitable for all hair types

Cons

  • Less quantity

protip_icon Pro Tip
Follow with the hydrating Cleansing Conditioner and Intense Healing Mask for the best results.

*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

If you are sporting dreadlocks, you are supercool! However, we do know that a lot of hard work is involved in taking care of this specific hairstyle. Laura Dale, a licensed cosmetologist, says, “Clarifying shampoo is a must-have product when you have dreadlocks to make sure your scalp stays clean and healthy. Be sure to choose one that addresses your hair concerns, for example, if you have dry hair go with a moisturizing formula. It not only needs a lot of products to stay neat and moisturized, but also requires frequent cleansing to avoid frizziness. It is also equally important to find the perfect shampoo that will keep your dreadlocks clean and crisp. Here is a list of things you should keep in mind before buying a clarifying shampoo for your dreadlocks.

Things You Should Consider Before Buying A Clarifying Shampoo For Your Dreadlocks

  • Ingredients

Go as chemical-free as possible. Avoid shampoos containing parabens, sulfates, and preservatives to maintain your hair and scalp health. The ones that are marked non-toxic would be a good option. Choose shampoos with clarifying ingredients like keratin, aloe vera, Moroccan argan oil, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and jojoba oil that are known to offer restorative care and keep tresses nourished and well-maintained.

  • Hair Concerns

Since dreadlocks are tricky to style and require maintenance, it is important to choose a shampoo that cleanses at one go! Clarifying shampoos, on their own, can be drying in nature as it is supposed to strip the hair of product build-up, dirt and oil. However, if you are already battling dry or damaged hair, go for shampoos that hydrate the hair while cleansing it.

  • Usage

Washing your dreadlocks can be a mammoth task, so you need to go as long as possible between washes. It is best to opt for a scalp detox shampoo that will provide long-lasting results. Choose clarifying shampoos that would offer deep cleansing without weighing your hair down.

  • Fragrance

Stay away from clarifying shampoos that promise amazing aromas. This product’s job is to deep cleanse your hair, and nothing else! If you want nice-smelling hair, opt for scented conditioners, texturizers or moisturizers. If you really want a scented shampoo, choose one with a mild, natural scent – like jojoba or jasmine. Opt for a hypoallergenic shampoo if you are allergic or have a sensitive scalp.

  • Price

Clarifying shampoos come in all prices, so it is not necessary that the most expensive one is the best out of all of them. Check the ingredients list and then decide for yourself. You do not need to break the bank just to wash gunk from your hair as the mid priced ones do the job just fine.

Infographic: How To Wash Dreadlocks With A Clarifying Shampoo

Washing dreadlocks needs a lot of effort. If you want to keep your locs fresh and shiny, wash them like a professional with a clarifying shampoo. Check out the infographic below to learn how to wash your dreadlocks and ace your hairstyle.

How To Wash Dreadlocks With A Clarifying Shampoo (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Bottom Line

Clarifying shampoos help in getting rid of the stubborn scalp buildup left by styling products and environmental factors. They are absolutely non-negotiable if you are currently sporting dreadlocks which are immensely prone to gathering buildup. Without a clarifying shampoo, you run a high risk of getting infections. If you are looking for a bar-based clarifying shampoo with a pleasant and long-lasting fragrance, the Dollylocks Nag Champa Shampoo Bar is a great choice. The Knatty Dread Loc Shampoo is a liquid-based option with a residue-free formula, while the Stylin’ Dredz Spray Dreadlock Shampoo is a spray-based option with a moisturizing formula. These shampoos contain plant-based cleansers that deeply cleanse your scalp without drying the hair. They are safe and available in various forms like sprays, bars, and liquid shampoos. They are cruelty-free and paraben-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you clean your locs using a clarifying shampoo?

The frequency between each wash depends on your hair type and lifestyle. More product or dirt buildup will result in more frequent washes. Since clarifying shampoos strip away all product buildup, it is recommended to use them once a week.

How can you avoid residue formation when conditioning your locs?

Skip the conditioner altogether. Residue is an unavoidable result of conditioning and other styling products used on your hair. Therefore, the best way to keep your locs residue-free would be to frequently wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo.

How do you tell if a shampoo is truly residue-free?

If your hair feels weighed down, flat, heavy or coated, your shampoo is definitely not residue-free. If the shampoo leaves residue, your hair will be dull and oily and will not feel or smell fresh. A strong scent post-washing also means that your shampoo leaves residue. Also, the whitish tinge of the locks disappears when they are wet and reappears once your hair becomes dry. This tinge change indicates that the shampoo is not residue-free.

Is clarifying shampoo good for dreadlocks?

Yes. Clarifying shampoos for dreadlocks are a great addition to your hair care routine. If you have a severe product buildup and dirt, regular shampoos will not work. Clarifying shampoos contain conditioning agents that help moisturize the hair without leaving residue on your scalp.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Shiboli Chakraborti, the author of this article, is a hair care enthusiast. Her recommendations on the best clarifying shampoos for dreadlocks are based on user feedback and product reviews on trusted platforms and brand websites. The products mentioned in this list will make your job easier while maintaining your thick locks.

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Laura Dale

Laura DaleLicensed Cosmetologist

Laura Dale is a Hair Expert and licensed Cosmetologist with over 20 years of experience. Laura has worked as a Global Education Director for Beauty Brands specializing in haircare and as a Beauty Editor she is passionate about sharing her love of beauty products and hair tools.read full bio

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