Maintaining Traditional Locs at home is fairly easy, if you know what you're doing and practice good hair care. One area the many people fear or aren't very knowledgeable on when it comes to starting locs is the "shampoo process". Admittedly, I was a novice myself when I first started my new set of Traditional Locs and before I took specific "Loc Care" training classes.
The most common questions people have about the shampoo process are "how often should I shampoo my new locs?" and "what products should I use?"; which are two very good questions. Before I answer, let me preface and say that I take a holistic approach to Loc Maintenance and firmly believe less is more and my recommendations are based on experience and formal training. Ok, so let's dive in...
How often should you shampoo new locs?
You should at least wait two weeks, preferably three weeks, before your very first shampoo with your new locs. After the initial wait period, I would suggest waiting at least 9-14 days between each subsequent shampoo. The 9 day period while give the natural oil, sebum, that your scalp produces a chance to reproduce and naturally oil your scalp and it'll allow your hair time to intertwine to begin the loc'ing process. If you're shampooing your locs before 9 days, you'll probably experience dry scalp because your naturals oils aren't being given a chance to reproduce before you cleanse them away again and your hair may take longer to loc because of the constant manipulation.
So as a recommendation I would say two weeks at minimum between shampoos, but on the flip side you don't want to wait too long either. Locs are a natural process of hair interlocking and matting and during this process (typically) we produce dandruff. So if your hair is producing dandruff and also matting and you're waiting a very long time between shampoos you will effectively loc your dandruff in your locs. Not ideal, right?! So you should shampoo your locs as early as every 9 days but not wait beyond 4 weeks.
What products should you use to shampoo new locs?
If you're maintaining your locs with light, water soluble products, you can use a gentle cleansing shampoo and/or normal moisturizing shampoo on your locs. If you're using heavy butters, beeswax, or if you're experiencing buildup or aren't sure if the products you're using are water soluble, I would recommend mainly using a cleansing/clarifying shampoo and do one moisturizing shampoo in the end to add hydration. You can view the Top 3 MUST TRY shampoos for locs in the post "Best Shampoo for Locs" [HERE]. With either shampoo, using a spray bottle is extremely helpful because it will direct the shampoo to your scalp and prevent you from having to overwork your hair to emulsify the product.
In addition to the types of shampoo you use, I would recommend using a stocking cap while you're shampooing your new locs to help prevent them from unraveling during the manipulation until they start loc'ing. You can make a stocking cap yourself, using pantyhose, or you can typically get one for about $1 from your local beauty supply shop.
If you'd like to see and learn the technique for shampooing Starter Locs, take a look at my recent video [HERE].