Everyone knows starting and maintaining dreadlocks takes consistent work. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten random people coming up to me in grocery stores and restaurants, exclaiming,” I love your dreadlocks! Those are beautiful.” Then they want to touch it (they almost always want to touch it, permission granted or not). Each time this happens, I can’t help but chuckle to myself a little.
If only they knew.
What’s That Inside My Dreadlock?
However, sometimes we dreadies encounter an unpleasant surprise in our locks. Parents, cover your children’s ears. This is not for the faint of heart. Let me preface the rest of this article by saying that I have only rarely had this particular issue, but when it turns up in your head, you vow never to admit it to anyone. You’re in the process of trimming your locks, when you happen to glance down and discover:
Mystery, strange-colored residue inside of your locks. Ew. What’s that?
I share this with you so that you’re not the only one who’s had this problem, and that there are ways to prevent it. Often it’s caused by ignorance: letting your hair take too long to dry, or using too much beeswax when you were first forming your dreads, two things I have been guilty of on occasion. However, it can also be a combination of old fuzz from hats you wear, and possibly some dirt. Yes, dreads do this. A special note: if you notice a musty smell from your dreads (for the record, I have not had that problem), then you most likely have mold/mildew.
The following are some solutions:
1. Consistently use a good clarifying shampoo, which will regularly clean out your dreads. This is a good solution to getting the junk out, and also prevention to inhibit other gunk from forming. Never forget that the shampoo you’re using makes all the difference in the world in the health of your dreadlocks. Within a couple weeks, with good, thorough washing and rinsing you should begin to see the difference. Use it consistently. The Rasta Jam Mango & Lime Tingle Shampoo is a good one, although there are plenty. The main point is that it should be clarifying shampoo.
2. Try an apple cider vinegar rinse. It’s known that vinegar zaps mold, and also balances the PH levels of your hair. Use a tablespoon of vinegar with a quart of water that is just below body temperature (if it’s too cold, it will close your hair follicle close). Pour it into a plastic spray bottle, and apply. Don’t forget to shut your eyes. Feel free to let the run off run back into the bottle. Once your hair dries, the mild vinegar smell will go away. And an additional benefit is that it helps treat dandruff. A quality, well-known vinegar is Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
There you have it. Although alarming, it's not the end of the world. The great thing about dreadlocks is that almost any problem can be fixed.