I was amazingly skeptical. As a loc wearer, I’ve known about the rumors of vinegar and baking soda floating around like some alternative hippy butterfly suckling natural hair domain pollen. I’ve laughed at said rumors.
Gone were my infantile loc days full of residue. I had powerful anti-residue shampoo, I didn’t use waxes, shea butter, creamy conditioners or strange voodoo gels. I kept my hair care simple: Henna for strength/color, and a light moisturizer to seal my ends (shameless plug!).
But recently, I returned from Japan, and Korea, for 2.5 weeks and didn’t get a chance to do my weekly washing routine. Besides everywhere I went, people were sick…so sick that I didn’t want anything nesting in my locs and infecting Seattle similar to Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. While overseas, nursing epic jetlag, I ran across this video via ChescaLeigh: Her vid and this one.
I was curious. Both women washed their hair and it was obvious they did so; it’s distinctly clear dirty locs wearers from washed ones. So I wanted to try it. The worse that could happen is that I would have a cleansing rinse and upon further thought, I workout a lot…so what was there to lose?
The results…were amazing….and terrifying.
I modified the given recipe since I think conventional sea salt is BS and Real Lemon throws the organic scale out the window.
Glatta Mama’s ACV/Baking Soda Loc Cleanse
(with made respect to Bronze Goddess)
3/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar [I used Braaaaaaagg’s; sorry, I always say it like that.]
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 Fresh Lemon(seeds removed)
1 Tbl Himalayan pink salt [I think this is BS too, but it’s all I had.]
1 kitchen sink half filled with warm water
Step 1: Before the Aftermath
So this is my hair before. I wash it weekly because I lift weights and swim. I trim it on occasion because I work in a professional environment. My babies are 11 years mature. By the way, I got a new camera that does this Instagram filter automatically. Sorry about that. I’m old and still working out the kinks.
So I took the liberty of measuring everything out and dumping the special sauce into the water with maniacal vigor. Just kidding; I just dumped the stuff in and fished out the lemon seeds because I’m a forgetful doofus.
Other than the pulp, the water was nearly clear. I used a black plate so I can make sure all the granular stuff was dissolved.
Let me reiterate…water = clear-ish; hair washed = weekly. Just want to confirm that.
Step 2: The Aftermath…?
This was after 15 minutes of soaking and squeezing. I immediately could tell what locs had the most residue because they would float and I had to forcefully immerse them. The water didn’t get this dark until 7 minutes in, I assume when every strand was fully saturated. This 10 years worth of hidden gunk, old Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Soap leftovers, henna, conditioner, probably old wax from when I first started my locs; basically I was confronted with DNA from my college years. I didn’t expect this at all, especially since I wash with clarifying, anti residue shampoo. Let’s drain the pool, shall we?
What is even more delightful about said photos that you don’t see is that there was a sumptuous brown ring around the sink that I had to scrub off. I rinsed heavily until the water was a clear as possible. I then washed my hair with more anti residue shampoo and gave it a deep conditioning. This process is tops in the drying department, so a deep conditioning is mandatory.
Step 3: Your locs are dirty, but don’t feel bad.
It doesn’t matter where yo hail from. Doesn’t matter if you are a Hippy Hooper Burner Dude or a Brown Skin Beauty from D.C.; your locs are gross and need a major spring cleaning. There are pros and cons to the cleanse if you decide to grapple the gunk.
- You’re literally saving your hair.
Many forums ranging from Dreadlock Truth to r/dreadlocks ask the burning question about residue while simultaneously slapping beeswax based products, creams, and occasionally toothpaste(?!) on their locs. The cleanse, though harsh, is supremely more effective to remove a lot of product, and or mold, and giving your scalp a break from the constant weight residue adds. Think of residue as a stylish, but uninvited elephant handing on to a well rooted tree sapling (a hair follicle). There is only so much weight the sapling can take before it’s uprooted
2. Loose locs are a thing of the past.
Many loc wearers complain of unravelling locs, breakage or just wanting to have their mature locs tighten enough where they can be brushed and styled. Well, the cleanse knocks out the residue and oils that cause strand separation (See Benefit 1). The lemon juice, vinegar and salt move the gunk along and helps your strands get all snuggly with their neighbors.
3. Henna, and other natural dyes, color hair easier.
This comes from personal experience. I henna once a year to keep my hair strong during the colder months and I found that after a cleanse, I use less of my henna mixture and get deeper auburn and reds. Maybe the dye doesn’t have to fight through the residue barrier. I don’t even know, but I can say my yearly dye work doesn’t take long to apply and doesn’t take long to get awesome color.
The Not So Good Benefits
1. The Cleanse is MAJORLY stripping
The Cleanse gets rid of old residue and oils, true…but it also gets rid of the natural oils your scalp provides. If there isn’t serious re hydrating(deep condition regiment of your liking) action after, then your hair will be prone to even more breakage.
2. The Cleanse is for quasi mature to mature loc wearers
Some will say that the cleanse can be done once a month until the residue is out, no matter what state your locs are in. I respect the assumption but I’ve been having my locs for a long, LONG time. If you’re just starting out, make sure you wait until you’re in the young adult/teen loc stage. The Cleanse will do more harm than good while your locs are knitting together. If you want to keep your locs as residue free as possible, invest in a good anti residue shampoo, a light, low residue oil (Coconut oil, etc.) and stay away from heavy butters(Shea, Coco, Mango) and Beeswax.
I hope this stuff helps! I do my cleanse once a year, followed by a henna gloss, so I can start January with a clean, beautiful slate. If you try it out, let me know how it works for you. Maybe you have some secret voodoo that I’ve missed.