Musty Loc Syndrome- Freshen up your Scalp
Funky sour musty danky sticky loc scalp. You best get onto that before it gets out of hand. Not enough thorough cleansing of your scalp is going to cause this problem –but it's a mistake that can be fixed yourself, if you catch it early enough.
I know I have written about scalp issues a lot. Like here, and here. But it's important! For those who insist on not washing your locs for extended periods of time, I'm going to tell you the real deal. It's unhygenic, stinky germy and nasty. Your scalp is your body and you need to wash it. Think you may have a problem? Do you have musty locs? You can ask a friend to sniff your head. If you don't want to do that, take a cotton makeup remover pad and rub the scalp at back of your head with it -- hold it there for a while to absorb, then bring it to your nose. If what you smell is neutral or sweet, you're good. But if you smell something funky, it's not good. And everyone else next to you can smell it too. (horror of horrors).
Well-maintained locs are beautiful things to behold. They are supple, soft and consist of interwoven, entangled structured strands. It doesn't matter how you wear your locs, cultivated or freeform, healthy locs are not maintenance-free and require you to pay attention to hygiene.
Sebum is good. Sebum buildup is not.
No matter what loc style you wear, your scalp continues to protect and balance itself by producing sebum, a waxy substance that repels bacteria and dirt for short periods. This sebum is meant to be washed away regularly, as your follicles produce it daily. If you don't remove it, it will build up and trap bacteria and dirt. It will also trap any product you use on your locs and bind it up... doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do.
This process can cause scalp irritation, itchiness, dandruff and eventually it will begin to produce a musty smell as it builds up. This bacteria-laden wax will then migrate into your locs and grow mildew or mold, causing funk, damage and breakage.
If you are just starting locs, get into the habit of using a dry shampoo or ready-made scalp cleanser like witch hazel, tea tree or apple cider vinegar to cleanse your scalp between washings. Take special care to get deep into the hair at the base of your locs, to dissolve all buildup at that base. If you pinch and rub the base of your loc between your index finger and thumb you will feel the slippery texture of buildup (if it's there). Work it out and rinse it out as completely as you can.
If you have already made the mistake of allowing your sebum to migrate into your locs and build up inside, you will need to employ more drastic measures to rid your locs of this buildup.
The process is simple.
Start with a strong, lathering clarifying shampoo and give your scalp and locs a decent soaking.
Squeeze the shampoo through each loc. Rinse and press the water and out of your locs with a deep, deep warm water rinse until the shampoo is gone then check the water. Is it cloudy? If it is, great! You have removed some buildup. But you need to do more. Check by squeezing a wet loc between your fingers and see if any cloudy water is squeezed out. If it's clear, you may have removed it all.
If you see cloudy water, shampoo it again and until the water runs clear when squeezed out of your locs.
Allow your locs to dry either naturally in a warm environment or using a gently air flow dryer to speed it up or if you are in a cool environment. Do not pull your locs together in a bun or ponytail while wet, just let them dry loose, fully and completely.
Now enjoy your fresh, clean locs and start a retwist and tighten if you cultivate.