Why You Should Not Use Castile Soap On Your Dreadlocks?

bronners castile soap dollylocks dreadlocks shampoo

A lot of people with dreadlocks prefer going the natural route when it comes to taking care of their hair. Part of taking care of your hair involves how you wash it.

Castile soaps such as Dr. Bronner’s and Dollylocks are quite popular in the dreadlock community since they are biodegradable and natural. However, Castile soaps cause more damage than good to your dreadlocks.

In this article, you will see why you should never use Castile soap to wash your dreadlocks again.

What Is Castile Soap?

Castile soap is a vegetable oil based soap that has no animal fat. They are biodegradable and available in liquid or bar form.

Castile soaps were traditionally made of olive oil. The soap gets its name from the Castile region of Spain.

However today Castile soaps are made of castor, coconut, and hemp oils. They can be made from walnut, avocado, and almond oils as well.

Castile soaps are made by mixing potassium hydroxide lye with vegetable oil and purified water to create a liquid mixture.

What Is the Difference Between Castile Soap and Regular Soap?

Castile soaps are made of vegetable oils while regular soaps are made of animal fats like tallow and lard.

dollylocks shampoo dreadlocks

Are Castile Soaps Shampoos?

Castile soaps are not shampoos. Castile soaps are made of vegetable oils and lye to achieve saponification.
Saponification is the chemical reaction of turning oils or fats into soap using lye. This means that a “shampoo” that is created using saponified oils is a Castile soap and not a shampoo.

Castile soaps are confused for shampoos by consumers who do not understand this or do not read instructions.

Here are some of the most common Castile soaps that most people use as shampoos for their dreadlocks:

  • Dollylocks
  • Dr.Bronners
  • Knotty Boy
  • Most shampoo bars

Why Do People Use Castile Soap for Dreadlocks?

As earlier mentioned most people with dreadlocks prefer to use the most natural option for their hair.

Here are some of the reasons why most people use Castile soaps for their dreadlocks.

  • Castile soaps are vegan and natural.
  • Castile soaps are biodegradable.
  • Castile soaps can be less expensive than dreadlock shampoos.
  • They have a wide range of application as a general cleaner

Why You Should Not Use Castile Soap On Your Dreadlocks?

pH not friendly for scalp & hair

When it comes to taking care of your dreadlocks, the pH of your scalp and hair is very important.

You will however find that most products in the market fail to put this into consideration.

Castile soaps register a pH of around 8.9 which is outside the recommended range for your scalp and hair. As an example, Dr Bronners’ pure Castile liquid soap has a pH of 8.7 to 9.9.

Higher pH than 5.5 in hair cleansing products may cause scalp irritation and possibly dandruff.

Moreover, higher pH cleansing products open up your hair’s cuticle leading to dry, brittle and weaker hair which causes damage over time.

The ideal dreadlock shampoo should have a pH ranging between 4.5- 5.5 to be perfect for your hair and scalp. Shampoo with the ideal pH range is safer for long-term use.

Not Ideal for Colored Dreadlocks

Because the pH of Castile soap cleansers or ‘shampoos’ made of Castile soap is alkaline, they open the cuticle layer of the hair, allowing the colour pigments to leave the hair. Your dye will fade out much faster than using a pH balanced dreadlock shampoo.

Castile soaps should not be part of your hair regimen if you want to keep your hair color for longer.

Dr Bronner shampoo coloured dreadlocks

Incorrect Dilution of Castile Soap

The dilution of Castile soaps can be a tricky. Dr. Bronner’s recommends to mix up to ½ Tbsp. (7.5 mL) for long hair, either worked directly into very wet hair or pre-diluted in a cup of water.

It is important to note that you should dilute it with purified water and not tap water since tap water contains minerals that result in hard water.

If you do not dilute Castile soaps properly, it will have a much higher pH.

If you have a well-formulated shampoo you do not need to worry about the dilution part.

Hard Water Reduces Castile Soaps Cleansing Properties

Castile soaps and most homemade shampoos do not effectively clean the hair in hard water. Below is a statement from Dr Bronner’s website:

“Water hardness/softness, as well as the exact composition of trace minerals in your water, can greatly affect both your hair and the effectiveness of the products you use to wash and rinse your hair. In particular, hard water seems to present issues for any hair care routine that includes our soaps, as the minerals in hard water can react with our soap in ways that ultimately make it less effective for washing hair.

Hard water is very tough on our soaps, as the minerals in the water can break down our soaps and can sometimes lead to buildup or residue on the hair.

If you have hard water, it could be that the soap is reacting with minerals in your water and leaving a waxy film on your hair.”

An ideal shampoo contains a chelator that binds to minerals found in hard water to reduce and prevent minerals from reducing the cleaning properties of the shampoo.

What Should You Use Instead of Castile Soap On Your Dreadlocks?

There are shampoos formulated specifically for your dreadlocks in the market.

We have developed natural dreadlock shampoos, soap-free, that are gentle on the scalp and don’t leave any residue on your dreadlocks.

Love Locs Natural dreadlock shampoo

Click here to shop

With these shampoos, you do not have to worry about any damage to your hair in the long run.


Castile soaps have a pH too high for your hair and scalp. If you use Castile soaps for a long time, you can potentially cause damage to your hair and scalp. Moreover, Castile soaps don’t cleanse well in hard water.

You can use apple cider vinegar to neutralize the high pH on your hair and scalp caused by the Castile soaps. However, to take care of your locks perfectly get a shampoo that is perfectly formulated for your dreadlocks.