Monday 12 October 2015

Bar Soaps Bad For Dreadlocks?

Stop! - Are you using bar soaps wrong?

Now when it comes to washing dreadlocks, most people have two options - using either a liquid shampoo, or a solid bar soap. Now I make no secret of in general preferring liquid options over solid options, but there are certainly situations where having a solid soap is beneficial - they travel much better and they’re often cheaper to purchase. People however often have rather negative experiences with bar soaps, with residue build up often being the common issue. Now while certainly there are going to be some bar soaps that are plain subpar and residue prone, I find that the reason a lot of people are experiencing issues is because they’re not applying the soap to the dreadlocks correctly.

You’re generally going to run into residue for one of two reasons: either the soap is genuinely not very good for using on dreadlocks - or at least your dreadlocks in your situation - OR - you’re applying too much and not being able to rinse it effectively. Even the best residue free dreadlocks shampoo in the world is going to leave build up behind if it’s not rinsed properly - and the more you apply, the more work you have to do to get it back out again. One of the reasons I like liquid shampoos is because you can easily measure out how much you want to apply to the dreadlocks - you just pour out as much as you need - it’s obviously not so easy with bar soaps. The main problem that I seem to come across is people directly applying the soap to the dreadlocks - physically taking the bar soap and rubbing it into the hair and onto the scalp - when you do this you have literally no idea how much soap you’re rubbing off, you can even end up with physical chunks of soap getting into the hair - if you do this while under the flow of water you’ll also have soap rinsing off into your hair at the same time. You really don’t need a huge quantity of soap or shampoo to wash dreadlocks - with a liquid equivalent I will only use around a teaspoon per wash. Using a bar soap this way can very easily lead to way more soap getting applied than is needed and so residue build up can quickly become a real issue.

I would alternatively recommend a different way of applying the soap to the dreadlocks - I hesitate to say that this is the ‘correct’ way as it’s only my opinion on the matter, but in my experience this way is a far more reliable method of using a bar soap and has provided me with much better results. Instead of rubbing the soap on the dreadlocks, get the soap wet, lather it between your hands and then bring the lather on your soapy hands to the dreadlocks rather than the whole bar. When using a bar soap I will lather the soap once, and then that’s it, I’m done with the soap. Using the soap this way will give you much more control over how much you apply - it’s still not going to be as accurate as measuring out liquid shampoo, but it’s much safer than just rubbing the soap directly on your head. Using the soap this way will also lead to the bar soap lasting much, much longer - only use the soap for lathering between your hands and don’t let it get directly under the flow of water and you can find it lasts for months.

So I hope this was useful for some people - I’m sure many of you already use bar soaps in this way - or just plain don’t like bar soaps for other reasons - but for some of you I hope this will allow bar soaps to become a more useable option, because as I said there are certainly situations, such as traveling, where a solid soap can be the superior option. 

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