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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.