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How to Clarify Locs

Loc care doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive, but it should be consistent, thorough, and performed with understanding. Investing a little time into your locs will pay off with a healthy, enviable mane.  

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Washing Dreadlocks

Wash Day Routines

Know your locs when you decide on wash day routines, like how often you will wash your locs. Depending on your lifestyle and the amount of hair product you use, you may decide to shampoo weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. No judgment. Do what works for your locs and life. 


Later we’ll discuss methods for clarifying your locs, but for now, think about what practices to include in your routine. Before you clarify, consider doing a pre-poo. You can use a heavily diluted solution of either apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water or baking soda and water. This solution can be poured or sprayed into your locs and gently massaged into your scalp and hair. Either solution is capable of loosening up any build-up, residue, and oils. Give the compound a little time to work, then rinse it out. 


Now you can follow up with several shampooings or other clarifying methods. If you use a clarifying shampoo, remember that it takes more than one shampooing to clean your locs. You should shampoo-rinse-repeat at least three times. Each time you lather up, remember to wash from the scalp right down the length of the loc. Squeeze your locs as you rinse each time to get the clarifying product into the loc and back out again. Ensure that any clarifying shampoo you use is paraben-free and sulfate-free.  

Related: Can You Condition Locs?

Why Clarify

You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need to clarify my locs - what does that even mean?” Clarifying means to deep cleanse the locs with a particular focus on clearing away the residue of regularly-used hair products. Clarifying is especially vital to loc maintenance because locs provide a place for hair products to hide and potentially cause damage. 

The market is flooded with products that claim to be essential to loc maintenance. They smell great, make enticing promises, and answer every concern you have (and many that you didn’t). This isn’t to say that the products don’t work as advertised. Many do work, but they come at a high cost.  

The structure of a loc is an intricate web of knots and tangles, holding together tightly and firmly. Creams, sprays, oils, and serums can enter your locs, but regular shampooing won’t get them all out. You may think this is no big deal - but it is. Sticky gunk on the inside of your locs will create all kinds of problems. Lint, dirt, and debris will get stuck in the gunk and find a home in your locs. The goo will lock in water and keep the inside of the loc wet, leading to loc rot, gross smells, and discoloration. Locs can become weighty, lose their luster, and even break off. Collectively, this issue is known as build-up.   

Clarifying your locs takes care of the problem of build-up before it becomes a problem.  

Are you looking for loc care products that you can trust? Our purpose is to provide products you can count on and that your locs will love! Check out Lion Locs today.

Clarifying Methods

In addition to using a quality clarifying shampoo, you may employ any of these other methods to get the same result - clean, healthy locs. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Wash/Soak

We’ve already discussed ACV as a pre-poo before using a clarifying shampoo (above), but you can also use ACV without a follow-up shampooing. You can fill a basin with an ACV and water solution and rinse your locs repeatedly with intermittent squeezing of locs to ensure the solution enters each loc. You can take the opportunity to gently massage your scalp to encourage blood circulation and scalp stimulation. Or you can soak your locs in the solution for about 20 minutes. Don’t skip the scalp massage.  

The acidic nature of ACV will dissolve the hiding build-up in your locs and give them freshness. 

Follow up your rinse or soak with a thorough clean-water rinse. 

Person with handful of soap suds

Baking Soda Rinse/Soak

The baking soda rinse or soak works the same as the vinegar rinse. Baking soda can break up the build-up. So a baking soda rinse or soak (as outlined above) will do the trick to restore clean luster to your locs. 

You may have heard that you can mix ACV and baking soda for a super-great loc clarifier. This isn’t necessarily true. Combining a strong acidic and a strong alkaline may just neutralize both. In the end, you will be soaking your locs in little more than salty water. It is far more effective to use these two separately. Follow up your ACV rinse or soak with a similar one with baking soda. Finishing with baking soda will restore your scalp’s pH levels. 

Lemon Juice

If you prefer not to use ACV or baking soda, you may go with trusty lemon juice. Lemon juice is also acidic, which means it too can dissolve build-up in your locs. You can accomplish this with a soak or use lemon juice undiluted, applied directly to your locs. Follow up with a thorough rinse or with a clarifying shampoo. 

Tip: If you live in a hot, sunny region of the world, take care using lemon juice. When exposed to sunlight, it has been known to bleach the hair mildly. So if you’re up for highlights as well as clarifying, go for it.  

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Residue-Free Shampoos

Last Thoughts

It’s unrealistic to expect that you will never use products in your locs or that some of that product won’t become trapped inside your locs. But committing to a regular clarification of your locs will go a long way in mitigating the damage. And even if you don’t have build-up, your locs are exposed to environmental pollutants every day. A regular clarifying is a kindness to your lovely locs.  

We don’t believe you should have to sacrifice quality for style in your loc care products. Do you agree? Our products are always organic, residue-free, paraben-free, and sulfate-free. Visit Lion Locs today. 

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