Neutrogena Anti Residue Shampoo for Dreads – No More Stinky Dread Rots

Written by Kassidy Ward

Updated on

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Dreads accumulate dirt, buildup, and residues because they are tightly bound, twisted, tangled, and hard to wash.

If you’re experiencing stinky dreads or dread rot, the Neutrogena anti residue shampoo for dreads is a must-have.

It deep cleanses through every single gap, to remove sticky waxes, mildew, pollutants, and even the stench that comes from a sweaty scalp underneath.

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

And the best part?

This anti-residue clarifying shampoo is not superfatted with oils and silicone. Which means, it washes away with water without leaving behind any traces of its own ingredients.

Many people get the impression that those with dreadlocks hardly wash their hair.

Read: Do people with dreads realize how badly their hair smells?

That’s not true.

Because only people with such protective hairstyles know how challenging it is to take care of dreadlocks and braided hair.

Trust me, it’s not easy!

Why Dreadlocks Accumulate Residues, BuildUp, and Stench!

best shampoo for dreads and dandruff
Dirty dreadlocks

Whether you wear it as an appreciation of the Rastafari movement, for religious beliefs, or simply to protect your natural hair, I personally think locs are really cool.

But there’s one inevitable problem that comes with such an intricate hairstyle.

Buildup, Residues, and The Sour Smell.

Let me explain why and how dreadlocks get dirty and smelly in the first place …

1. Waxy and Oily Product Residues

Dreadlocks, also known as “dreads” or “locks”, are rope-like strands of hair shaped by braiding, twisting, or matting.

Therefore, when the hairs are clumped together, wax, styling products, and other environmental pollutants get trapped easily in between the gaps. Over time, the dirt and buildup combined with your scalp’s natural oil mix up to create a tar-like substance which blocks oxygenation.

As a result, your hair takes longer to dry and the residues harden, making them insoluble in water.

Even if you wash your hair once a week, it’s important to note that traditional shampoos and soaps are not made for dreadlocks.

Here’s why …

Traditional shampoos and soap contain glossing agents, silicone, and fatty oils either from animals or vegetables to make your hair look shiny and moisturized.

While these ingredients work well for normal hair to provide conditioning and slip, dreadlocks work better without lubrication.

In fact:

Dreads need the complete opposite. In order to keep your dreads tight and locked, the hairs need friction to help them knot.

Shampoos with conditioning agents not only loosen your dreads, but they also leave behind unwanted greasiness that cannot be washed out thoroughly.

That’s why it’s important to use a deep cleansing clarifying shampoo.

The Neutrogena anti residue clarifying shampoo works differently to ordinary shampoos by elevating pH level and doing more cleansing than moisturizing. With its detox formula, the active clarifying agents nestle deep into the gaps to trap stubborn dirt, mildew, and odor causing bacteria to flush them out.

This shampoo doesn’t contain any glossing or conditioning agents. It simply cleans and doesn’t care about restoring shine and slip to the hair.

Therefore, no leftover residues.

Key Takeaway:

An anti residue shampoo is important for cleansing dreadlocks to keep them tight and locked.

The next reason why your dreadlocks accumulate buildup and mold is to do with how well your dry your hair.

Trust me, it matters.

2. You’re Not Drying Your Dreads Properly

Is it better to air dry or blow dry your dreadlocks?

A lot of people think air drying (being heat-free) is better for your hair.

Yes, that’s true. But not for dreadlocks.


Because the longer the hair takes to dry, the more moisture gets trapped inside. This is worse for those who have matured dreadlocks as they can even take days to dry.

If you allow the dampness to stay inside for too long, it allows mold and mildew to grow within.

I highly recommend using Ionic soft bonnet dread dryers, especially if you wash your hair in the evenings to prevent going to bed with semi wet dreads.

Ionic technology breaks down water and humidity into micro molecules to make them evaporate faster without damaging your hair with heat.

Here is the best hair dryer for dreadlocks I recommend:

Laila Ali Soft Bonnet Dreads Dryer

soft bonnet dryers for dreadlocks

Available on Amazon.


Another condition that can make your dreads stink is your scalp.

3. Scalp and Sebum

If you have an abnormally sweaty scalp, this can also cause bacteria to grow which makes your head smell bad.

It’s very common for people with dreads to overlook the condition of their scalp because it’s not visible to the naked eyes.

With the focus being primarily on hair growth and keeping dreads locked up, the scalp can get neglected over time.

It’s important to follow a scalp detox and cleansing routine to ensure there is optimal sebum production. Because excess sebum can also cause bacterial growth leading to a smelly scalp.

Other causes for overly sweaty scalp:

  • Sulfate shampoos – They strip natural oils forcing your sebaceous glands to produce more oils
  • Bad diet which consists of fatty food
  • Hormonal imbalances

If you think your scalp is the root cause of odor in your dreadlocks, it’s best to consult a dermatologist for help.

And finally, something you may not have thought of …

Your shower water!

4. Hard Water Residues in Your Dreadlocks

If you have hard water in your home, no doubt you’d have noticed the bathrub rings and the white scaly stuff around your taps.

The reason hard water leaves these marks around is because the minerals within prevent soaps and shampoos from saponifying.

Instead, soaps and shampoos become sticky white stuff due to their inability to fight off the minerals which make them useless.

Washing dreadlocks with hard water is also one of the main reasons why mildew begins to grow contributing to the sour smell of dread rot.

How Residues Affect Dreadlocks

Lack of oxygenation means more drying time

Residues affect dreadlocks by filling the gaps in the tightly-packed hair blocking air circulation and oxygenation.

When air does not pass through easily between your locks, they take longer to dry. Therefore, encouraging mold and stench.

Residues create greasiness to loosen your dreads

Residues when mixed with your hair’s natural oil (sebum), makes your dreads loose because they create lubrication that reduces friction and allows the hair to slide over and slip easily.

As you already know, dreadlocks need friction to keep them tight and locked firmly in place.

Residues in the form of waxes, conditioning agents, and natural oils will loosen your dreads and make them difficult to stay in place.

Eventually dread rots will force you to cut them and give up.

How The Neutrogena Clarifying Shampoo Can Help Your Locks

The Neutrogena residue-free formula is a scent-free and translucent shampoo that deep cleanses without leaving traces of its own ingredients.

To put it simply, it washes out instantly with clean water.

The only problem is that the bottle only comes up in 12 Oz sizes, which is too small.

But the good thing is, it’s so cheap you can easily afford to buy a few in one go.

Neutrogena Residue Free Shampoo

After blasting away all the impurities from the core of your dreads, it leaves nothing behind to clog the gaps, and nothing to cause lubricate the strands.

Yes, unlike ordinary shampoos, a clarifying shampoo can leave your hair feeling dry. That’s why you would follow up with a pH balancing conditioner.

Should You Use Conditioners on Dreadlocks?

I wouldn’t recommend using any type of conditioners on dreadlocks. Even if you use intense clarifying treatments like Neutrogena.

Conditioners contain fatty acids, butter, and conditioning agents like silicone that soften and detangle the hair. Therefore, you don’t want them anywhere in your locks.

But having said that, you cannot leave your hair too dry either. Otherwise, you will experience breakage.

Instead, steam your hair if it needs a moisture boost.

Let me explain why this works better …

Hot oil treatments, and steaming hair mask treatments help the oils and moisture-loving ingredients to infuse deep into the hair with the help of steam.

Rather than just sitting on top of your hair like lazy molecules, steam flexes your hair cuticles to allow them to nestle deep into the hair shaft, therefore, leaving no residues on the outside.

To do this treatment at home, you will need:

The Dollylocks Nag Champa conditioning oil (sulfate-free and organic) and the Secura steam hair steamer.

DollyLocks Nag Champa Conditioning Oil

Hair Steamer

Instructions on how to deep condition your dreadlocks:

  1. Apply the oil evenly throughout your locks
  2. Switch the steamer on
  3. Sit underneath the bonnet for 20 minutes

The conditioning and steaming treatment also help to strengthen the roots and make your dreads look fuller.

Tips To Care For Your Dreadlocks

Use a clarifying shampoo

Using the right products like clarifying shampoos and anti-residue soaps will help you maintain your locks. Without residue, you will save yourself from scalp irritations. You will also prevent lousy hair odor and keep you dreads tightly locked. Plus, you get to dry your hair faster.

Wear a headscarf

Matted hair tends to pick up lint from pillowcases and sheets. So wearing a scarf on your head will keep dust and feathers from sticking onto your hair. Now, you can have a proper sleep and be confident that your hair will be neat and clean.

Dry you dreads thoroughly

Squeeze out excess water and wrap your hair with a towel for about 10 to 15 minutes. After doing so, let your hair air dry or use a hairdryer. Make it a habit to dry your hair all the way through to avoid nasty smelling hair.

Moisturize with steam treatments

The longer the dreads, the heavier it gets, and the heavier means it is more prone to breakage. Use moisturizing treatments with a hair steamer to help the ingredients get into the hair rather than sit on top.

To Summarize

Maintaining dreadlocks is challenging enough.

But with the right products, you can keep them healthy, hygienic, and fresh for longer.

Use the New Neutrogena anti residue shampoo for dreads and the Dollylocks range to see how it suddenly changes everything.

About the Author

Kassidy WardKassidy Ward

Kassidy Ward is our curly girl expert and has been following the Curly Girl Method for over 3 years. She's tried just about every product and technique out there to get her curls to cooperate and is always on the lookout for new products to try.

She's also a sucker for free products, which is why she's relentlessly reaching out to manufacturers with her unique persuasive skills. 9 out of 10 times, she wins!