Dangerous Dreadlock Product Ingredients

A lot of people have indicated a couple times now they wanted me to do a blog entry on questionable and/or dangerous dreadlock product ingredients. My research has shown there are relatively few really BAD things to use in dreadlock ingredients, but it all depends on your outlook and stance on things when it comes not only to dreadlocks but on the environment as well.

Many dreadheads in the general online community have expressed a general dislike of any product containing anything ‘chemical’ and prefer to keep their dreadlocks and dreadlock products as natural as possible. No matter what you choose, if it contains chemical ingredients, it will ultimately end up in our water supply. Think about that for a few minutes.

As a user of DreadHeadHQ Dread Soap and Lock Peppa, many of the ingredients I list below ARE in those products. I have to admit that I LOVE my Lock Peppa and no matter what’s in it, as long as it’s not poisoning or killing me, I plan to keep using it, but definitely its important to be aware of what’s out there. If you’re curious about the ingredients of the products you are using, just head to the website you purchased it from (either DHHQ or KnottyBoy…. I can’t speak for other sites) and they will have a list of the products available.

I know a lot of information out there is focus on the ingredients of Lock Peppa so I do want to focus on that product in particular. Here is a list of the ingredients in Lock Peppa:

Zinc oxide, silicone dioxide, methyl salicylate, rosin, bentonite, wintergreen mint

  • Zinc oxide is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Most information I’ve found suggests it is a very benign substance used in many applications for cosmetics, medically, and industrially. Its only real pitfall, as far as I can tell, is that it is a chemical. But, as far as chemicals go, it’s pretty harmless.
  • Silicon dioxide is really a fancy, chemical name for sand. Like zinc oxide it is only dangerous if inhaled. Depending on the particle size, it can build up in the lungs causing lesions know as silicosis. Usually this disease is found among miners and quarry workers, so I doubt we have much to worry about, but these are good things to know! In all other aspects, it is harmless. Silicon dioxide helps to absorb moisture, drying the hair and making it knot easier. I have read that it is insoluble in water, but my experience has been that lock peppa washes out easily in one wash.
  • Methyl salicylate is most frequently found in medical preparation for the relief of aches and pains related to the musculo-skeletal system. It is basically oil of wintergreen. However, in topical applications on the skin can be irritating and cause contact dermatitis. In children less than 6 years of age, a teaspoon (5 mL) or less of oil of wintergreen has been implicated in several well-documented deaths so definitely keep your lock peppa out of reach of your little ones! Interestingly, it’s also used to flavor foods…. Go figure. Methyl salicylate is, as far as I can tell, simply used for its pleasant scent.
  • Rosin is pretty much tree sap. It’s sticky and it makes the hair stick together. There is no information available to suggest that rosin is dangerous in any way.
  • Bentonite is a clay product used for it absorptive properties. It, like the silicon dioxide, helps to dry the hair making it easier to knot. There are no known side effects related to bentonite. However, there has not been a longitudinal study on the effects from humans.
  • Wintergreen mint is an odd addition the list given the already included methyl salicylate is oil of wintergreen. As far as I can tell it has the same purpose as the methyl salicylate.

So, ultimately, it Lock Peppa safe? I think so…. But the general rule of thumb is don’t get it on your scalp, and don’t let small children or animals eat it… which I would think would be a given, LOL. If NOT using any chemical on your body at all is not your thing, steer clear.

Here is a short list of some other dread product ingredients to be aware of. They are not all necessarily ‘dangerous’, but they do have certain effects that are important to know about that I want you all to be aware of.

(1) Oils and butters - Anything that says it is an ‘oil’ or ‘butter’ (mineral oil, cocoa butter) isn’t necessary “dangerous” persay, but using them on dreadlocks that are not mature yet can deter the locking process and cause knots to slip out and dreads to loosen up. One very popular product containing one of these ingredients is DreadHeadHQ Dread Butta, and it says right on the product page to only use on mature dreads, so please stick with the directions and only use if your dreadies are good and mature!!! Some people get really antsy about wanting to make their dreads smell pretty (since DreadHeadHQ dread soap has no scent). Essential oils (despite being an ‘oil’) in small amounts can help add a pleasant scent to your locks. Try adding a few drops (10-ish) to your Lock Accelerator, bath salt soak (a la SaltedEarth Bath Salts on Etsy), or to your aloe and lemon juice spray (lavendar mixes well with lemon!).

(2) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulphate - This is another product that isn’t inherently dangerous, but some people have an allergy to it without even knowing. SLS/SLES is found in toothpastes to hand soap, to shampoo (a la DreadHeadHQ Dread Soap, which contains SLES, a slightly less questionable alternative) and is basically used to create the foaming lather we all like to see and feel represents cleanliness. If you have an allergy to SLS or to other commercial products containing it, be careful! Apparently, too, there is a lot of controversy out on the web as far as the detrimental effects SLS/SLES can have on our health. I am copying and pasting the below text from http://www.health-report.co.uk/sodium_lauryl_sulphate.html for your viewing pleasure:

Studies on SLS have shown that: (Judi Vance, Beauty To Die For, Promotion Publishing, 1998)
  • "Shampoos with SLS could retard healing and keep children's eyes from developing properly. Children under six years old are especially vulnerable to improper eye development. (Summary of Report of Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. conference."
  • "SLS can cause cataracts in adults and delays the healing of wounds in the surface of the cornea."
  • "SLS has a low molecular weight and so is easily absorbed by the body. It builds up in the heart, liver and brain and can cause major problems in these areas."
  • "SLS causes skin to flake and to separate and causes roughness on the skin."
  • "SLS causes dysfunction of the biological systems of the skin."
  • "SLS is such a caustic cleanser that it actually corrodes the hair follicle and impairs the ability to grow hair."
  • "SLS is routinely used in clinical studies deliberately to irritate the skin so that the effects of other substances can be tested." (Study cited by the Wall St Journal, 1st November 1998)

These facts should cause you to not only re-examine what you use on your dreadlocks but on the rest of your body. SLS is an ingredient found in SO many products. Thankfully, there are many companies out there dedicated to making SLS-free products. SLES is a very similar compound and many sources say it's known to have similar effects as SLS, however, there seems to be very little to no official studies out to compare the risks and effects of SLES vs. SLS. If it’s a concern of yours check it out.

(4) Sea Salt - AGAIN not an inherently dangerous ingredient, but many people are unaware that any salt-based dreadlock product, while having the desired effect of roughening and drying the hair, can have the same detrimental effect on the scalp. In people who are already prone to dandruff getting sea salt-based products on the scalp are a BAD idea. I, personally, prefer the use of an aloe spray mixed with lemon juice to get the same effect while moisturizing at the same time. J

So ultimately none of these products are dangerous. Many of them are in other products we use daily with no notable mal-effects. As someone wrote on one of the message boards I sifted through during this research said, "Just because it's residue-free, doesn't mean it's chemical-free!". Now that you know what they are and the risks they pose only you can decide which of them you are still comfortable using. I sincerely hope that this entry has causes you to truly think and analyze what you use on your body and on your hair, because there’s more to them than just ’soap’. I look forward to your comments and questions.


5 Response to "Dangerous Dreadlock Product Ingredients"

  1. Anonymous Says:


  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for writing this article and clearing up the sea salt usage. When I first locked, I used aloe vera gel. If flaked so I stopped using it... I didn't know I could combine with an oil or just use aloe vera juice instead. I made my own sea salt spray and loved the results but it was hellfire on my scalp. I'm going try this aloe loc shampoo off etsy instead. Thanks for all the info!!!

  3. Melissa McMahon Says:

    Your dreads look amazing. I am going on 6 months and my dreads are still super HAIRY. I cannot control the hairs coming out of them no matter what I do. I was just wondering, do you use wax? I have only been using knotty boy tightening gel (which I find works for the day you put it in and then they all blow out again as soon as you tie them up or sleep on them). What would you recommend?

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  5. econoLABS Says:

    Zinc is non-nano and also not a chemical. its natural. its a natural spf. also pine resin is excellent for health and survival. I can say opium is horrible for drug addicts because it can be heroin, but it can also heal. all plants natural or not have the ability to harm just as much as any chemical can. Bentonite is volcanic ash and is a type of cleanser as well as many many uses and benefits. There are no chemicals here only latin names. Silica is the sand, dioxide is a process of oxygen that occurs in nature..naturally... but too much can be harmful. process is everything. re-do this whack ass blog and take a chemistry class would u???

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