How to Soften Permanent Loc Extensions After a Year or More

Written by Kassidy Ward

Updated on

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how to soften permanent loc extensions

If you’ve had permanent loc extensions for a year or more, you may have noticed that they’ve started to lose their shape, looking stiff, unnatural, and sometimes frizzy. That’s normal.

To keep them looking more natural and at their best, you’ll need to soften them up every now and again.

If you’re unsure where to start, this guide will show you how to soften permanent loc extensions to keep them in good shape and make them comfortable to wear.

1. Start with a Dreadlock Detox

Using a product like the Dollylocks Dreadlock Detox should be your first step in softening your existing locs. This product is formulated to deep cleanse mature locks, removing any dirt and buildup that cause synthetic and human hair extensions to stiffen up.

All you have to do is empty the powder into a container filled with warm water, wait for it to stop fizzing, then soak your dreads for 10-20 minutes while massaging your hair to remove as much buildup and impurities as possible.

The citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and other ingenious ingredients will work their magic and cleanse the hair from the inside out. After that, rinse and shampoo. Your locs will feel much softer instantly.

They’ll also smell much better since the Dollylocks Dreadlock Detox comes with gorgeous scents like coconut lime grapefruit, rosemary peppermint, tea tree spearmint, lavender sky, and nag champa.

Dollylocks Dreadlock Detox

2. Use a Softening Pomade

After using the dreadlock detox, you should go in with the Dollylocks Pomade.

Wait for your hair to dry completely, then apply the pomade. Since it contains moisturizing ingredients like argan oil and pomegranate oil, your locs will instantly suck up that moisture and become considerably softer.

And best of all, you can easily wash it out as this is a water-soluble pomade made without beeswax.

So, unlike other pomades, it won’t leave any residue or buildup in your existing dreads. However, you’ll still be able to give your locs that sleek finish anytime you want, and it’ll never look greasy or weighed down.

Dollylocks Coconut Pomade

3. Use a Conditioning Oil

The next step in softening your dreads would be to use the Dollylocks Dreadlock Conditioning Oil.

Given that it contains avocado, coconut, and jojoba oils, this product will penetrate your dreads quickly, leaving them soft and moisturized. Moreover, it’ll calm any irritation or itchiness you may be experiencing, which allows your hair to become much healthier and stronger.

So, just put a small amount on your hair and wait for it to be absorbed. And if you want to combat dry scalp and dandruff, use it as a pre-treatment before shampooing.

Dollylocks Dreadlock Conditioning Oil

4. Use a Perm Refreshing Spray

To soften synthetic dreads or even ones made from old loose HH hair, you should also use the Dollylocks Dreadlock Refreshing Spray. This hydrating and moisturizing spray for your locs is made with organic coconut, essential oils, and plant extracts.

With just a few spritzes, you’ll be able to revitalize your dreads and scalp between wash days. And thankfully, since it’s water-soluble, you’ll be able to wash them out easily when you hop in the shower.

Best of all, you can use it with any hair texture, wet or dry. Just make sure to shake the bottle well and apply as frequently as often as your hair requires.

Dollylocks Dreadlock Refreshing Spray

5. Use a Mild Relaxer Cream

If all the following methods have failed to soften your dreads, then using a mild relaxing cream, preferably a no-lye relaxer, should be your next step.

As you may know, relaxers can straighten and soften the hair by breaking and reforming the disulfide bonds within the hair fibers. However, when you have locs, you don’t need to break the bonds; you just need to weaken them a bit.

That’s why no-lye relaxers are perfect for the job. They’ll make the fibers swell open, decreasing their stiffness and dryness.

Hawaiian Silky no lye relaxer

6. Use a Steaming Iron

In case you didn’t know,steamis a wonderful moisturizer and softener for locs. Not only does it immensely hydrate your hair, but it also lifts your hair cuticles, allowing your hair conditioner or oils to make their way deep into your locs. Consequently, your hair will significantly loosen up and start moving naturally again.

Read: Using steam on locs for conditioning.

And don’t worry. Steaming your hair isn’t as hard or as scary as it sounds.

Shampoo your hair, apply your favorite leave-in, and start moving your steamer from the roots to the tips. Once done, rinse your hair with cool water to lock in the moisture, then style your hair into your desired updo.

L'Oreal Professionnel Steampod

7. Dip In Tap Hot Water (Not Boiling Water) For a Few Minutes

To hydrate and soften your hair extensions, especially synthetic ones, you can dip them in tap hot water for 10-20 minutes. This way, any solidified hair products will loosen up, and your strands will become more flexible and lengthy.

Don’t use boiling water, as it could damage and melt your synthetic dreadlock extensions and fade their color.

8. Put in Pillowcase and Toss in Washing Machine

If none of the above methods work, toss your hair extension into the washing machine.

Uninstall your loc extensions, put them in a silk pillowcase and wash them as you would with your clothes. Before doing so, read your washing machine instructions carefully and set a gentle wash that won’t damage your expensive dreads.

according to hair extensions forum, wash in pillowcase when using washing machine

9. Try the Baggy Method

This method will only work on uninstalled HH dread extensions.

Wash your dreads, then smother them with your best conditioner. Once you’ve saturated them, stick them in a plastic bag and leave them to sweat in the airing cupboard/steamy bathroom for a while before rinsing.

The conditioner-plastic bag combo (also known as the baggy method) will allow the steam to infuse and soften the loc extensions, giving you flexible and relaxed hair after a short period.

Reasons Permanent Locs Become Stiff

Before I show you how to soften your loc extensions, you need to understand what makes them stiff and unmanageable in the first place. That way, you can prevent it from happening again, allowing you to keep them low-maintenance while providing optimal care.

So here are why synthetic hair or human hair extensions harden and become unmanageable over time.

Lack of Natural Sebum

Sebum is the natural oil produced by the scalp that moisturizes and softens the hair. When the hair has enough sebum, it stays smooth, supple, and elastic. You can easily manage and style it without fear of breakage.

Loc extensions don’t work like natural human hair. They don’t get the natural sebum that our natural hair does.

That’s why dreadlock extensions become hard and stiff; over time, they start looking frizzy and unnatural.

Product Buildup

dreadlocks with buildup of products

Another problem that can cause your dreadlock extensions to become stiff is styling product leftovers (buildup). Any hairstyle needs good care products to maintain it. Gels, sprays, mousses, leave-ins, the list goes on.

However, with permanent loc extensions, less is more.

When you use lots of products on your dreadlocks, these products eventually settle into matted hair and become sticky. Then, with time, they’ll turn solid, causing the hair to become stiff and rigid. And, when that happens, it starts to look dull and coarse.

Only use products formulated for permanent loc extensions; always, ALWAYS shampoo your dreads thoroughly to avoid buildup. Not only will this save your locs from becoming stiff, but you’ll also be doing your scalp and hair follicles a huge favor.

Using the Wrong Products

You may be surprised to know that not all hair products are okay to use on human hair and synthetic loc extensions.

Gel-like or waxy products lock up your dread extensions and make them dull and hard to manage. So, should you forgo all hair products when you have loc extensions?

Nope. That’s because when it comes to loc care and maintenance, you must always keep your dreadlock extensions moist and oiled.

As such, you should apply either a water-based leave-in or a lightweight oil like argan oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil. Any of these products will have your locs feeling soft and looking great.

Note:You may occasionally use a gloss to add shine to your dreads; however, don’t overdo it.

Not Protecting Your Locs

Many factors can harden and dry out your locs, from sleeping on a cotton pillowcase to leaving the house in dry weather or swimming in the pool.

Fortunately, you can still do all those things and keep your locs velvety and moisturized if you know how to protect them.

For example, when sleeping, wrapping them in a silk scarf will keep them soft and smooth.

If you’re going swimming, wear a swimming cap or at least pre-wet your hair with tap water to prevent the chlorine from saturating your locs. Then, once you get out, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to get all the chemicals and hard minerals out of your locs.

Benefits of Softening Permanent Loc Extensions

Here are some benefits of keeping your loc extensions soft and smooth …

Easy to Manage and Style

The first thing you’ll notice when you soften your loc extensions is how much easier they become to manage and style. When you try to style hard locs, you’ll spend the better part of an hour just trying to get your dreads to lay down right.

On the contrary, when the hair is soft and pliable, you can work it into any style you want without breaking a sweat. Want to put it in a bun? Easy. Want a braid? No problem. Any hairstyle will become much easier to accomplish, and it’ll look better.

Less Breakage

When you try to brush or style hard locs, you can be sure that you’ll have breakage.

Since the hair is so dry and solid, any tugging or bending will eventually cause your hair to break off at its weakest point. This will ultimately leave you with thin-looking hair, and your frizz will be off the charts.

On the other hand, when you soften loc extensions, both your natural hair and the hair extensions will be flexible and malleable. The hair will move how you want it without breaking off.

It Lasts Longer

Softening permanent loc extensions will make them last longer. Since you can groom them properly without any breakage, your locs will look full and healthy for quite a while.

In the long run, this will allow you to save money since you don’t need to keep paying for expensive human hair dreadlock extensions quite as frequently.

It Looks More Natural

Dry, crunchy locs don’t look natural.

When extensions become stiff, even if they’re human hair loc extensions, they shrink, lose their movement, and stop looking like normal hair. However, when you soften those locs up, they look natural once again, moving and feeling like normal hair does.

How to Care for Loc Extensions (Synthetic and Real)

Keep Scalp Clean

Always wash your scalp dutifully to prevent sebum and product buildup from clogging your pores and hair follicles, eventually leading to dandruff and thinning hair.

To put it simply, without a healthy scalp, your hair won’t be able to support your dreads, and you’ll start noticing gaps in your hair. So, please pay special attention to your scalp when you wash your hair, and make sure to shampoo it at least once a week.

Keep Locs Moisturized

Locs become stiff and crunchy when they lack moisture. As such, you should always moisturize your locs one way or another. Always apply conditioner, and use conditioning oils as often as you can.

That way, your dreads won’t lose their elasticity, and you’ll be able to wear them for a long time.

Related: How to tame frizz in faux locs

Wash Locs Regularly With Special Loc Products Like Dollylocks

On the whole, you can’t use any shampoo to wash your locs. Since regular shampoos employ detergents like sulfates to wash the hair, they will make the hair dry.

While this is good enough for loose hair, that’s not the case with dreadlocks.

You see, dreadlocks don’t just have oils; they also have product residue, dirt, and sometimes lint. You need something much stronger than a simple detergent, specifically made for dreadlocks, to remove all that.

Get a good clarifying shampoo that can cleanse your dreads by dissolving and washing out all that buildup without leaving any residue, unlike regular shampoos.

Most importantly, shampoo your locs frequently to keep them clean and soft.


To make your dread extensions softer, you must remove the product buildup with a detox treatment and then moisturize them properly with the right conditioner.

Treat them like your own hair.

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!