How to Remove Dreadlocks Without Shaving Your Head

Dreadlocks are, in one sense, a wicked mess of tangles in one’s hair that are tied in knots. For many people, attempting to get all those knots out looks like an impossible endeavor. For these folks, shaving the head looks like the only option. Truth is, however, there is another way. Here, we are going to look at how to remove dreadlocks without shaving your head.

The first thing you should know is that natural dreads are actually going to be easier to remove than perms or braided ones. You will have to invest a small fortune in hair conditioner and vegetable based oil. You will need a metal comb (plastic just is not going to survive this). And, you will need a great deal of patience.

The first thing you will need to do is wash your hair with a high quality shampoo. After rinsing, put in a bottle or two of cheap conditioner and let set for at least 20 minutes. You may need to wear a cap during this time and the longer you let the conditioner work, the better. When ready to rinse out the conditioner, try to avoid agitating the hair. Some may come untangled at this point, which will make the rest easier.

Let the hair air dry, then rinse with a mixture consisting of 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar. This will smell funky, but it will neutralize the slightly basic ph left from the shampoo and make the hair smoother.

At this point, you find that your hair is dry and brittle. If this is the case, soak your hair in oil. Jojoba is one example of a good vegetable based oil for this purpose. Wear a cap and leave the oil in overnight if possible. Even more hair may come loose after the oil treatment.

Next you will need to rinse the oil out of the hair and start picking the locks with the comb. You should start down near the end of the hair and work toward the scalp. Take your time so that you do not end up breaking the hair. If you finish detangling this lock, or even if you do not completely finish, braid the loosened hair to keep it from joining into another lock.

You should try to work from front to back and do each side evenly. You are going to need several days to get completely rid of your dreadlocks and your hair will look strange at times. However, if have the patience and enough conditioner you can remove dreadlocks without shaving your head.


  • I managed to get 2 year old dreads old of a friends hair in less then 12 hours total. You have a lot of unnecessary waiting time, and washes. If you use a metal kabob stick with the comb to help pull apart the dreads it makes this a lot faster. And we just worked conditioner into the dread we would be working on next then let it sit well we worked on the other one then rinse (with out rubbing the hair too much) and sprayed it with leave in conditioner. Her hair was extremely fine and soft after (like a babies hair almost) but was back to it's full thickness in less then 6 months.

  • Personally i'd still shave the head and grow new much healthier hair. I love dreads but if I wasn't going to have them i'd shave and regrow. imho

  • Great article, and you are quite correct in that natural dreadlocks are easier to remove than the extension ones. The Take Down Remover Cream is a really good remover for dreadlocks, very tangled or matted hair, knots and braids. it really softens the hair and prevents breakage that does occur if any hairstyle is improperly removed.

  • So I am about to remove my locks 🙁
    I’m thinking out loud: What if you conditioned your dreads a few times a week for a few weeks, just to allow some knots to work themselves out as well as begin restoring healthy hair?

    Does anyone have fact/logic based thoughts on this idea?

    • yup, that sounds logical. I’m about to start trying to grow normal hair before I cut my 10 year old locks. The ones in the back tend to lock on their own from sleeping so I need to stop the roots from locking. I figure daily conditioner may do the trick instead of harsh combing.

      Adam, did you have any success with this method?

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