Can I have dreads if I need a specific shampoo to keep my scalp under control?
November 14, 2008 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Question about dreading my hair if I (think I might) suffer from seborrhoeic dermatitis (sort of like dandruff).

First, why I think I have this condition:
1) About a year and a half ago I started getting wicked dandruff.
2) Tried Head & Shoulders and it did literally nothing.
3) Tried other methods recommended on AskMe, also did nothing.
4) Read up on dandruff on Wikipedia and it was suggested that trying shampoos containing selenium sulfide (as opposed to zinc pyrithione, which is the active ingredient in most dandruff shampoos like H&S), which is usually used to treat this form of dermatitis, might be useful.
5) Bought some Head & Shoulders Intensive Care (containing selenium sulfide) and it worked like a charm- as long as I wash my hair 2-3 times a week with it I have no problems whatsoever and my hair feels and looks great, but if I go longer than a week my scalp freaks out.

From what I've read, if I do have this condition my case is very mild, but I'd like to keep it under control. I haven't seen a doctor about it due to lack of insurance and the fact that the selenium sulfide shampoo works just fine.

I've been thinking about putting my hair in dreadlocks for a while now, it's long enough and I think I'm ready to do it. I'd use the backcombing/wax method. Most sites I've read up on suggest that you should wash your dreads once a week for the first two weeks and 2-3 times a week after that, but that you should use a residue-free shampoo-- is there a good residue-free shampoo that contains selenium sulfide, or if not is there a good way to follow up washing with my SS shampoo to cleanse my future dreads of potential residue? Or is this just not going to work out in any way, regardless of what products I use?
posted by baphomet to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
from my experience: yes, you can wash your scalp when you have dreadlocks. and yes, no matter what you do, you will end up with lots of dead skin cells inside your locks.
posted by gnutron at 12:14 PM on November 14, 2008

The reason why residue-free shampoos are recommended is because the residue will make your hair slippery and your dreads will be loose and potentially loose their lock.

I'd bet, however, that you could rotate between your SS shampoo and a good residue-free shampoo (ie- use the SS shampoo one day, and the residue free shampoo the next time you wash your hair, possibly using your residue free more often .. but you can experiment and find a good balance).

Your first couple of weeks will be rough though, as I'd recommend only using residue free shampoo during this period and only a couple of times at that. But, from then forward, I think you'll be fine.

I'm guessing by your verbiage that you're going with the KnottyBoy method? That's the way I went and was very happy with the results. But, as much as I love their shampoo, its crazy expensive for an american to buy through their canadian website. I'm a fan of Dr. Bronners which can be bought for ~3.50 per bar through Amazon.

Also note - I often wash my locks more than 3x per week. As long as they're getting time to fully dry between washes, you'll be fine.
posted by CorporateHippy at 1:15 PM on November 14, 2008

Not sure if this will help, but I have seborrhoeic dermatitis (more serious than yours, it sounds like) and swear by OTC Dermarest Medicated Scalp Treatment with salicylic acid which is a leave-in, rather than a shampoo.

I use it each morning after showering, so I can't say what sort of build up may occur, but it may be something to consider if you won't be shampooing for a while. It's a fairly thin liquid, and the scent, while present, is slight and not medicinal (or downright nose-wrinkling, like the coal-tar treatments). Good luck.
posted by jalexei at 1:30 PM on November 14, 2008

As a former dread-owner, I can speculate that it probably isn't such a good idea, given your dandruff problem, and the slim chance that there's a residue free SS shampoo. I used dish soap, for lack of a better product, FWIW. Also, dreads with unsuccessfully treated dandruff look gross, and it'll be really hard to get any flakes out of your hair.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:55 PM on November 14, 2008

p.s. using anything that leaves a residue in your hair will be even more disgusting than you imagine.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:56 PM on November 14, 2008

posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 5:38 AM on November 15, 2008

Alright, update time! My dreads have been in for 2 days and I'm loving them, they turned out really well! I weighed the advice in the thread carefully, but after talking to a dread stylist and doing some more research on the shampoos available I decided that it was worth a shot. The all-natural soap I'm using is formulated specifically to prevent both flakiness and oily build-up, the latter of which is the cause of my dandruff. I think that taking care of them and washing my scalp regularly with the product should hopefully keep the problem under control, and I freaking love my new hairstyle. Results in profile! I'm also going to try to take a photo every day for the next year to track how they shape up. Thanks a ton for the advice and assistance.
posted by baphomet at 5:56 PM on November 18, 2008

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