The rumors aren’t true. Dreadlocks aren’t dirty, unkempt or odorous.
However, like other types of hair you can have a smell or absorb
odors from our environment so to be on the safe side, here are a few
reasons why your locs may smell and some tips to help too.
1. MOLD – I put this at number one not because it is common but because it happens and it is very important that you can identify it and take care of it immediately if it does. Mold in your locs is usually caused from hair that isn’t dried properly over a couple of days. It has a distinct, almost chemical like smell that your nose will pick up on. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours under a dryer, it just means that whenever you wash your hair or it gets wet you should ensure it gets dried completely. Also stay away from styling wet hair. This is the number one cause of moldy/mildew locs. Locs must be dried properly before they are styled.
How To Get Rid Of It: Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle or sink. Completely saturate your hair, make it soaking wet or soak your locs in the mixture for at least 5-10 minutes. Rinse the solution from your hair and shampoo it thoroughly 1-3 times or as needed. Once completed you can do another spray/saturation of the vinegar solution and then just rinse and dry, no shampoo necessary. You can also do the same with 1 tsp of tea tree oil to one cup of water. After drying your hair should be completely free of any mold smell. Repeat if necessary.
2. SWEAT – If you have a sweaty scalp through genetics or exercise then more than likely your dreads will have a sweaty sour smell. Shampooing your locs is one way of getting rid of that sweaty smell but washing your hair everyday just won’t do. Unfortunately you can’t just get rid of sweaty scalp but you can clean your scalp between washes using diluted apple cider vinegar, diluted baking soda, Lockology Scalp Cleanser or Whitch-hazel. Just use the item of choice with a wash rag to wipe between your partitions as needed. Be careful not to do it too often and wipe away your natural oils.
3. ENVIRONMENTAL ODORS – From smoke and chemicals to food, hair is known to easily absorb odors from your environment. Whether from work or home we can often be exposed to odors we have no control over and keeping your locs odor free may be a challenge. Keeping your hair covered is one way to lessen the absorption. It may not completely remove the odor but it makes a huge difference. In situations like this you just have to wash your hair. If the odor remains after washing try doing an ACV soak (see above) before to help eliminate the odor.
4/5. DIET & GENETICS – Yes, I said your diet! We are indeed what we eat. Our body odor is determined by our genetic make-up, bacteria and our diet. According to Dr. Debra Jaliman “The fermentation of your perspiration by naturally occurring bacteria on your skin produces the distinctive scent we less generously call body odor. We each have a distinct combination of bacteria — about 1,000 types live in human sweat glands — and therefore, our own unique smell.” This combined with our diet and hair products that we use can sometimes give off a pungent odor. We can’t fight genetics and most food odors disappear from the body within 8 hours. Keeping your hair and scalp clean is essential to fighting odors caused by bacteria and sweat. If odors are high and consistent I would recommend consulting with a physician so they can rule out any scalp infections or other illness.
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