Did you know that there is more than one type of buildup that can accumulate in your locs?
Typically, you will hear people refer to all types of things that they find in locs simply as “buildup”; however it is important to make the distinction between the different types. You cannot, and should not, treat all buildup the same when you are attempting to remove or prevent it because you can end up doing more harm than good for your locs. So, identifying the specific type of buildup you are experiencing will help you to understand the best way to treat it.
5 Types of Buildup in Locs
The 5 types of buildup that are most commonly found in locs include lint, product, debris, environmental materials, and biological substances. This is not to say that all locs will experience these types of buildup, but it can happen when you are not intentional about how you care for your locs. So, let’s explore the different types of buildup that are most commonly found in locs and how to avoid them.
Lint is by far one of the most common types of buildup that effects people with locs. When you expose your locs to things like wool, cotton, scarves, pillowcases and sweatshirts you are at risk for lint accumulation. Lint is so easily trapped in locs because it is attracted to the oil in your locs; and if you’re not mindful to remove it, it will intertwine inside the locs.
How to Avoid Lint Buildup: One way, you can avoid lint in your locs by always wearing your satin scarf, even around the house when you’re just hanging out. Additionally, after washing your hair be sure that you are using a lint-free towel and not one of those towels filled with cotton fibers. Also, if your locs are mature enough, you can include weekly dry Loc Brushing into your regimen to minimize lint accumulation.
Environmental buildup comes from things that are floating around in the environment that you are commonly in. Similar to lint buildup, environmental factors such as dust and dirt are often attracted to the oils that are in your hair.
How to Avoid Environmental Buildup: Again, always wear your satin scarf when cleaning or dusting, and working in the yard. Also, being consistent with your wash regimen, so that you are washing at least twice per month is ideal.
As your locs grow longer a common type of buildup that you can experience is debris buildup from things like makeup, food, and lotion.
How to Avoid Debris Buildup: To avoid buildup from debris pull longer locs back while getting dressed or eating, moisturize and oil your hair before applying lotion, and wear a scarf or headband when applying makeup.
Product buildup can come from either using the wrong products and/or not thoroughly removing the products you’ve used from your locs. Even if you use “natural” products, if you do not effectively cleanse AND rinse your locs the products will still remain within the locs and result in product buildup. A few of the most common products to cause buildup in locs include creams, butters, heavy oils, waxes, and soap scum.
How to Avoid Product Buildup: You can avoid product buildup by using lightweight products, ideally formulated for locs, and by always using a clarifying shampoo when you shampoo your hair. The repeated use of moisturizing shampoo, without clarifying, will most definitely result in product buildup overtime.
The buildup associated with biological factors is one that not many people consider but lots of people experience. Those biological factors include flakes/dandruff, sebum, and mildew— yes, mildew can develop within locs.
How to Avoid Biological Buildup: To avoid biological buildup within your locs learn to understand your scalp and your hair. Not everyone is able to wait an entire month without shampooing their locs (some people cannot even go beyond a week) due to a pre-existing scalp condition. If that is you, go ahead and cleanse your scalp and you may even need to use an over-the-counter medicated shampoo. What you don’t want to do it continuously apply oils and products to try and mask the issue. Additionally, to prevent mildew and/or mold in locs make sure you’re using a lint-free towel to absorb excessive moisture and limit the air drying.
If you are currently experiencing any type of buildup, do not fall for the trap of using a “one size fits all” buildup removal tutorial. As you can see, not all buildup is created equal. There are multiple levels to the type of buildup removal treatment that you can use for your locs. You can learn more about the buildup treatments and loc detoxification systems in the “Deep Cleansing Fundamentals for Locs” online class, but the best solution to buildup is prevention!
How do you prevent buildup in your locs?
Let me know in the comments!