Today, we’ll talk about the hair that you want to include in your locs. We’ll discuss different methods for grooming your locs - requiring varying degrees of expertise and the care and repair of weak roots.
Backcombing with palm rolling
Palm rolling is one of the most straightforward methods of neatening dread roots. For some hair types, it will be necessary to first, backcomb the loose hair to make it more easily able to hold once it’s rolled. This method is especially useful for creating smooth, cylindrical locs.
The process is to lay your dread along one open palm, then flattening the dread with the other palm - like praying hands with the dread in the center. The hands roll the dread over and over in one direction, down the length of the dread.
This method will draw in the loose hair, but won’t make the roots tight. As long as this method isn’t over-done, the likelihood of damage is minimal.
Among afro hair types, this is the most popular method - though it is effective for all hair types. Retwisting will only result in damage to the roots if the hair is twisted too tightly, too often, or performed on dry hair. Otherwise, it is an excellent method of producing neat, well-manicured locs.
The process is to moisten the root area, along with the loose hair. You can moisten with twisting gel, rosewater, or perform on freshly shampooed hair. Twist the lock in one uniform direction, until the roots appear neat and all of the loose hair has been drawn in. Secure the locs in the twisted position. Let dry.
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Crochet maintenance has the benefits of requiring very little hair product and creates tight and consistent locs. It works for all hair types, and unlike retwisting, it doesn’t call for any drying time.
With a tiny crochet hook (approximately 0.4 - 0.6 mm), the loose hair is drawn into the dread.
This method does require some practice to perfect. But many qualified practitioners can do your hair for you until you learn how.
Root flipping / Interlocking
Root flipping was left until last because it is a controversial method. Some people swear by it, while others believe it causes severe root damage.
The benefits of root flipping, also called interlocking, are that it is quick and easy to tighten the roots, no hair product is needed, and it appears to produce tight roots.
The process calls for pulling the length of the dread (from the end) through the loose roots. This is done repeatedly until there is little space left to pull the dread through, resulting in tighter-looking roots.
If your roots are thinning or otherwise damaged, the methods mentioned above may not have the desired effect. The look of a balding scalp will be accentuated if thinning roots are tightened.
Thinning roots are a frustrating situation, especially if you aren’t sure why they’re thinning. The reasons are varied and range from physical health to mental-emotional wellbeing to hormonal changes in the body. But consider the following, having to do with your maintenance habits:
- Over-tightening. Are you grooming your dreads too often or too tightly? Over time, this will wring your hair out of its follicles. Tightening once every two months is often enough. And be gentle!
- Grooming hair that is completely dry. No matter the tightening method you choose, manipulating dry hair will inevitably cause breakage and damage at the root.
- Tight hairstyles and up-dos. Constant tension on your roots will eventually harm them as they weaken under the stress.
The good news is, thinning locs can be strengthened and repaired.
Strengthen your weak and damaged hair with natural products. Aloe Vera is a potent hair conditioner. It has long been regarded for its ability to promote healthy hair and prevent hair loss. It may be used as a hair mask, as an additive to your favorite commercial conditioner, or in a spray bottle with water and a few essential oils, as a leave-in strengthener.
There are several essential oils well known for their beneficial qualities. Rosemary and lavender are proven to promote the growth and health of hair. Peppermint oil is highly effective in re-growing hair.
A 2019 Review of Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Alopecia, reported that Ginseng, onion juice, caffeine, and garlic gel, were all found to help promote hair growth.
Of course, there are also medical and pharmaceutical remedies.
Joining two together
If your weak locs are limited to a few unfortunate ones, consider joining a weak loc to its stronger neighbor. This can be accomplished by twisting the two together and palm rolling them, or by the crocheting technique.
Rescue A Dangling Dread
If some of your roots have become so weak that you fear the attached dread will fall off, there are a couple of things you can do.
- Go ahead and detach it - only if it’s hanging by such thin strands of hair that it might just fall off. Now loosen the hair at the end that was attached, and backcomb (or otherwise knot) the loose hair at the root. Next, you can carefully reattach the dread to its root by crocheting the two back together, or by sewing them back together with needle and thread. Palm roll out any lumps.
This union will take a little time to become independently strong. In the meanwhile, it will need your careful attention.
- If you have a loc dangling very close to the root, but not from the root, you can gather the loose hair at the root and gently crochet it to the thicker part of your dread. The loop made with the weak, straggly bit in the middle can be crocheted back into the dread once the new, stronger union is formed.
So we’ve discussed how you may tighten loose hairs at the root of your dread. The methods best known to accomplish this are palm rolling, retwisting, crocheting, and interlocking.
These all benefit from requiring varying degrees of expertise and producing slightly different looks in your dreads. But what if your roots are damaged? All is not lost.
We have methods for nursing them back to health and rescuing the dread on the other end of the weakness. Dreadlocks require time and attention, there’s no getting around that, but if you are good to your dreads, they’ll be good to you.