Whether you’ve been loc’d for 5 months or 5 years chances are at some point along your journey you may have seen these little balls at the ends of your locs. The balls at the ends of your locs may be hanging on by a few strands or dangling to a single strand of hair for dear life. Either way, I am sure you’ve asked yourself “what are these balls at the ends of my locs”?!
Well, you’re in luck! I’ve had these balls at the ends of my locs before AND I also know what they are!
Why Do These Balls Happen?
What if I told you that locs get split ends just like loose natural hair?! Sound crazy? Just hear me out for a second! There are generally two reasons that a ball forms at the ends of your locs. Either the loc is sealing or it is shedding.
Sealing. When your locs are maturing and growing through the locking process you will notice the ends of your locs clumping together and tangling. This process is known as sealing. The ends of your locs are budding (i.e. sealing) and beginning to form the internal loc matrix. For some of us, this sealing process can create what looks to be a ball at the ends of your locs. YOU DO NOT WANT TO CUT THIS.
Shedding. If your locs are shedding you will notice something that looks like a ball, but is slightly detached from your locs (see photo below). These are the equivalent to split ends with locs. Much like split ends with loose natural hair, this shedding process at the ends of locs is common when your locs are not properly taken care of. For example, a few of the common appearance of these balls are amongst starter locs that did not begin on freshly trimmed hair, color-treated locs, and/or locs that are dehydrated.
Should I Cut The Balls?
You can absolutely trim off the balls at the ends of your locs if they are the result of shedding. If you decide to trim the balls off of your locs, you want to cut as close the shaft of the loc as possible (see photo below). However, I would NOT recommend pulling off the balls at the ends of your locs. Pulling these balls off can weaken the locs and lead to more shedding (i.e. split ends). You can see how I removed the balls at the ends of my locs in my recent video “Ball at The Ends of Locs”.