Dreadlock Defense: Preventing Hair Loss with Dreadlocks

WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Dreadlocks are an iconic hairstyle that many cherish for cultural and spiritual reasons. However, some dreadlocked individuals experience hair loss as their locks mature. Due to the tight coils and twisting of hair into locks, tension can form that may lead to breakage and thinning over time if not properly cared for. Fortunately, there are several natural and preventative methods one can take to keep their locs thick and healthy as they grow.

How to Prevent Hair Loss with Dreadlocks

The key to preventing hair loss with dreadlocks is maintaining moisture, reducing tension on roots, and promoting new growth. Here are some top tips:

Deep Condition Regularly

Deep conditioning your locs 1-2 times per week is very important. Look for thick, moisturizing hair masks without sulfates or other drying ingredients. Coconut, shea butter and argan oil are great natural ingredients to nourish parched dreadlocks. Let the deep conditioner soak in for 30 minutes under a plastic cap before rinsing. This helps hydrate individual strands to reduce breakage.

Retwist Gently and Gradually

Retwisting regularly helps reinforce dread structure but can also put excess tension on roots if done too tightly or forcefully. It's best to retwist sections individually with your fingers instead of the whole head at once. Loosen your grip and go section by section with a gentle twisting motion. Retwist every 4-6 weeks instead of more frequently. Over-retwisting is a top cause of traction alopecia with dreads.

Palm Roll Regrowth Areas

New growth areas at the root are more prone to breakage and loss if not nurtured. Spend a few minutes each week palming individual sections to encourage thicker regrowth. Palm rolling is the act of gently rolling loose new growth between your fingers or palm to reinforce coils without excess tension. This stimulates blood flow to the follicles for healthier regrowth over time.

Use Natural Oils for Moisture

Coconut, olive, jojoba and avocado oils are best for dreadlocks due to their ability to moisturize without weighing hair down. After deep conditioning and rinsing, rub a dime-sized amount between your palms and firmly palm roll sections from root to tip. This seals hydration without residue. Massage a little extra focus on new growth areas. Oiling 1-2 times per week prevents dry, breaking coils.

Protect From Direct Sun and Chlorine

Prolonged sun exposure can dry out dreadlocks over time, making them more prone to damage and breakage. Always apply a leave-in conditioner, oil or natural butter like shea before time in the sun. Chlorine has a similar drying effect, so thoroughly conditioning hair before and rinsing well after swimming is important. Use a swim cap when possible. Protecting dreads from environmental harshness helps the scalp and hair remain healthy.

Consider Dread Extensions

If experiencing thinning in certain sections, dread extensions can help fill them back out without sacrificing length or form. Extensions come in various textures to closely match existing dreads. They're easily interlocked in place without causing damage. This helps balance tension across the entire head while regrowth occurs below thinning areas. Start with just a few extensions at first to see best placement.

Reduce Styling and Tools

Too frequent combing, brushing or excessive styling of young dreads can disrupt new formation and lead to breakage early on. Let them loc up naturally as much as possible initially. If styling is needed, use fingers instead of tools whenever you can. Once fully locked, occasional combing with a dread-friendly tool like a crochet hook is fine just be very gentle, especially on thinner areas.

Opt for Natural Hair Trims

Instead of sheering dreadlocks shorter, opt for a “dusting” technique by a loctician every 6-12 months. This involves carefully snipping off just the very ends for a natural taper, without losing length. Chopping length puts tension at awkward angles that can cause breakage higher up over time. Dusting removes only damaged portions to promote continuous growth without shocking the hair shaft.

Consider Supplements

Biotin, collagen, silica and Hawaiian spirulina supplements may support thicker, stronger dread regrowth when taken daily. Biotin aids follicle health while collagen promotes elasticity. Silica builds connective tissues and Hawaiian spirulina stimulates full-body cell regeneration for noticeable volume boosts. Talk to a nutritionist about the right supplements for your specific hair needs.

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.