9 Common Causes of Thinning Locs

Thinning Locs due to dryness

Contrary to “horror stories” you may hear about thinning locs— locs do not cause your hair to thin. In fact, well maintained locs actually promote hair growth and length retention. While the causes of thinning locs are often times things that people don’t want to admit to, it is important to recognize these factors in order to find solutions, if possible.


9 Common Causes of Thinning Locs

9 Reasons Your Locs Are Thinning

1. Heavy products.

Products that are not water-soluble do not work well with locs because they build up and require harsh surfactants and shampoos to thoroughly remove them, if possible, from deep within the locs. When products that contain creams, butters, honey or waxes are applied to locs overtime, if not immediately, they will accumulate and suffocate the locs from the inside out causing thinning and ultimately breakage.

2. Hair Color (including henna).

Any process that chemically alters the hair can potentially cause thinning and weakness if not properly executed. Often times, remnants of bleach or the actual haircolor are left inside the locs which result in thinning locs or breakage caused by deterioration from the inside out.

3. Medication.

Unfortunately, sometimes the side effects of certain prescription medications or medical treatments result in thinning locs and/or hair loss. Without removing the medication from your system, there is little to no control that you or your hair care professional has over the amount of hair that is lost. However, it is very important for you to inform your hair care professional of any medications that you’re taking to ensure there are no adverse reactions with other products they may be using in your hair that would lead to further hair loss.

4. Tension.

Hair loss or thinning due to tension is commonly known as traction alopecia and it can definitely happen with locs. If you’re constantly pulling your locs into the same style or using hair accessories that are too tight these are quick ways to damage your hair follicles and cause thinning. Also, excessive tension at the roots, especially with interlocking maintenance that’s performed too frequently, will also cause thinning locs.

Locs do NOT cause your hair to thin and break off! Click To Tweet

5. Genetics.

The density of our hair is mostly derived from our genetics which means if hair loss and/or balding are common in your family you may be susceptible to those traits as well. There are precautions that you can take to help minimize the impact but there is pretty much nothing you can do about your genes. Sorry.

6. Stress.

Typically the effects of stress, whether physical or emotional, manifest in our hair in patches. You may notice certain areas of your hair begin to be more fragile and weak than others if you are under moderate to severe stress. Alleviating the stress from your life as much as possible is the best solution for thinning locs under these circumstances. Try yoga, meditation, long walks, crocheting, reading a book scalp massages, a technology detox, or soothing tea.

7. Waiting Too long Between Maintenance.

Not all hair textures or types of locs can withstand prolonged periods of time between maintenance. More specifically individuals with fine hair, Microlocs or Sisterlocks should not go extended periods of time between your maintenance appointments because it will lead to thinning locs or loss locs. How so? Well, as your hair naturally sheds the loose hairs from scalp should encapsulate inside the loc adding to its strength, but when too much time elapses the shed hairs begin to fall and/or grow away from the locs and the roots thin out.

8. Picking out lint.

There are many ways to remove lint from your locs, but constantly picking at the locs with your hands or using scissors to cut into the locs to remove lint will ultimately cause weak spots that are prone to breakage and thinning.

9. Diet / dehydration.

Poor nutrition and lack of adequate water intake will most definitely contribute to thinning locs. A balanced diet with dark leafy greens, essential omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids, and at least half your body weight (in ounces) of water per day are necessary to grow strong healthy locs.

This list is only a few of the most common causes of thinning locs so if you’re experiencing thinning in your locs, I would recommend that you seek professional hair care advice instead of online forums or YouTube videos because the root cause(s) are different for everyone. You also don’t want to let the online “horror stories” of thinning locs deter you from preserving your locs.

Causes of Thinning Locs from Medications or Poor Diet

Professionals That Treat Thinning Locs

If you’re experiencing thinning in your locs, it is important for you to visit a hair care professional that will help you determine the cause(s) of the thinning and possible solutions. In some cases, the thinning can be treated by the hair care professional in the salon with herbal remedies or you could be referred to a Trichologist (Specialist of the Scalp) or a Dietitian for additional guidance. In circumstances where medications or genetics are the culprits of the thinning locs, a non-surgical hair care specialist would be the ideal referral.

Let us know in the comments below if you’re experiencing thinning or have overcome thinning and what worked for you!

Previous Post
Next Post

Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

Thank you for sharing all of this wonderful locing info. One this I learned in this post. I maybe have been trying to go too long in between interlocing trying to be careful. I have very fine curly hair, one wrong turn and it will break off. I was told to be very careful when I started using my custom made locing tool, which I love. But after reading your artical I think I maybe waiting too long in between tighen 12 wks. Maybe I should try 8 wks instead. I know it’s hard for you to say for sure without seeing it. But believe me it is soft fine and curly. But go completely straight when wet.
Would love your feedback.

12 weeks in a really long time. I definitely can’t give you a definite recommendation without a consultation to learn more about your hair. If you’re interested in setting one up, visit NuGrowthSalon.com to book a “Virtual Consultation”.

I have ONE thinning loc in the very front of my head, along my hairline. I’m sure it’s only one and idk why it’s thinning. I would combine it to another loc, but then my grid would be odd in that one place. I retwist at least once per month, sometimes longer. I have really coarse, dense, kinky hair, and my hair grows at a pretty good rate.

Is it thin from manipulation or the size of the foundation maybe? Sometimes interlocking can help to reinforce the thinning loc until it strengthens up. Ever consider that?

I have the same problem. I have thin locs in front of my head and side that I fear will break soon. I have a soft curl pattern, started with two strand twists, and interlocking. Part of me want to just do an undercut, grow it out, then loc with extensions with a larger size. I work in healthcare and have to wear my hair up a lot. I can’t comb my locs out…and may just shave my head. So, frustrated.

Sorry to hear you’re experiencing such frustration with your loc journey and thinning. Regular interlocking and maybe a style for reinforcement may help you maintain your current set since you have to wear them up all the time.

Thanks for writing this article. My last set of locks began to thin after year 2-3 & I couldn’t figure out why, so I combined them… Hated doing that. It was probably my stressing & constant dehydration.

Thank you so much for reading. Yes it is very important to have a healthy balanced lifestyle and diet, especially with locs.

Hello, very helpful info…..thank you very much.
Pls it’s been a week since I had my sisters pls when do I go back for retightening

Thanks for reading the article! If you’re referring to Sisterlocks, your consultant should have advised you on your follow-up schedule. I would suggest reaching back out to them to inquiry when you should come back.

I stumbled across forum. Thank you so much. I’m going on 7 months since I’ve began my loc journey and I’ve noticed that some of my locs started pulling away/thinning at the very tip of them. But I also realized that the ones doing this were either thin hairs from the beginning thats gotten thicker, combined locs, or in an area that had color.

[…] at the roots or if you’re experiencing hair loss, first it is important to identify the cause(s) of the thinning. After the thinning has been identified, if you’re looking for an oil to apply what will […]

I have freeform locs and I recently noticed a few are thinning. I said I wasn’t going to retwist my hair anymore; have just been separating my root bed for the last 7 months.

How do you retwist if you freeform? Freeform locs does not twist the hair and lets it naturally form.

[…] adapt that same principle as well so that you won’t have to deal with excessive buildup later on, thinning locs, or locs that are heavy from an internal accumulation of products. I do not believe you should […]

[…] product choices are the most detrimental because they can lead to scalp issues, build-up, breakage, thinning of locs, and internal health issues. Did you know that product mistakes made in the beginning or early […]

I know this is a late response but I just found this information. Thank you so very much! I was experiencing thinning and now I know why! My hair is thin and fine (braid locs) and I initially thought I was over manipulating my hair but now I realize that I’ve been waiting too long in between tightening’s. I’ll try every two months and see how that works out. Again, thank you!

Happy to help! Best of luck healing the thinning! 🙂


Barbara J Benefield

Itchy scape. Will scratching cause hair lost.

Absolutely! You never want to scratch your scalp with your hands/fingers. Use a tool like the “Scalp Revitalizer” to prevent breakage.

Hi, thank you for your info. on thinning locs. My locs are thinning really bad and I have a few bald spots. I believe it is a combination of stress, diet, genetics, menopause, and tension hair styles. I want to keep my locs (had them for over 14 years) and just recently went to someone who combined a lot of them (to keep them from breaking off) and interlocked them very loosely from the roots to not add more stress. And recommended that I not shampoo for 3 months to give my hair a break. Was combining them a good ideal and to start interlocking? I feel like me hair is not as full anymore but want to to do what’s going to make it healthy, stable, and grow back.

I cannot tell you whether this was a “good idea” without a consultation— pictures, hair history, medications, etc but from my experience combining is not always a good idea if the locs are already thinning and the locs are long because then you essentially place two long locs on one weak root. I also do not agree with not cleansing your scalp and locs for such an extended period of time because the weight of weekly product usage not removed (cleansed) for 12 weeks will only make the locs heavier. I do however agree with interlocking to help to build the integrity of the locs if it is done properly.

If you are interested in scheduling a virtual consultation with me, you can do so by visiting this link: http://bit.ly/VRconsultations

Hi thank you for this great article. I currently have Sisterlocks 10 months. However, for the past few months I’ve been experiencing thinning locks and eventual breakage would happen on several locks. It’s becoming more pronounced as I’m noticing changes in the thickness and volume of my hair. I spoke to my consultant about it and says it’s natural for thinning and breakage to occur. But I don’t like the fact that I entered this loc journey and experiencing weak hair. Also, I believe with my retightening schedule 7 weeks it places too much tension on these small thin strands. I was thinking traditional locks with combining 3-4 Sisterlocks would be great to transition to as I like the freedom and thicker/fuller look. What are your thoughts or opinion about combining Sisterlocks to combat thinning and breakage?

Thinning and breakage is not normal. So I would first question that Sisterlocks Consultant. And to address your question, combining Sisterlocks can help with thinning because it would strength them but it would have to be done properly. It would combined them improperly it could cause more tension at the roots.

Thank you for the valuable information. I’ve had my sisterlocks installed about 10 months now. Hindsight, I should’ve gotten a trim before the install, since my ends were split and damaged (due to coloring), but the rest of my hair was healthy. Instead of proper budding some of my end are thinning forming knots and then breaking off. Is there anything I can do to stop this? My locs are also very very very dry. I shampoo with the Starter shampoo every two weeks and I don’t style my hair.

At this point it is unlikely that you can stop the shedding because that is the state that your hair was locked it in. You can trim the ends to help them to seal evenly. Also, that Sisterlocks Starter shampoo is very drying because it is so concentrated. I often recommend to my Sisterlocks clientele to add in the use of an Herbal Moisturizer, such as MOISTURE INFUSION, a few times a week.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.