Dreadlocks are a wonderful way to wear your hair. They have significant spiritual and cultural meaning, and they are beautifully versatile. Dreadlocks keep your hair in its natural state, where it thrives in health and strength. They don’t require a lot of maintenance, just minimal love, and attention. But one of the main drawbacks of locs is that they attract and hold onto fibers, debris, and other environmental substances. Our locs can hide stuff that affects how they look, feel, and even smell.
We have to be diligent about our grooming and protective measures to keep our locs clean, neat, and fresh. It isn’t difficult, but we have to get into regular practices of removing, concealing, and preventing foreign substances.
The five types of build-up
If you aren’t especially careful about protecting your locs, you may find one or more types of build-up in them. Here are five types of build-up that can accumulate in your locs:
Usually, when we’re talking about build-up, we’re talking about product build-up. This is the accumulation of hair care products that either aren’t cleaned away well enough, or they’re products that cling to the inside of your locs. Sometimes the offending products are the very ones you’re cleaning your hair with - shampoos and conditioners. Even the residue of ‘natural’ products can accumulate.
To avoid product build-up, stay away from heavy oils, creams, waxes, and butters. Use lightweight products and become diligent about using a clarifying shampoo whenever you wash your locs.
You may not realize that when you put on make-up, lotions, or even when you eat your food, you might be getting bits of debris in your locs. This debris can accumulate. To avoid it, wear a hairband when you’re applying make-up, and secure your locs in an updo before you apply lotions to your body or eat messy foods.
These are the substances that are usually airborne that can be attracted to oils in your hair. Smoke, dust, air pollutants, and dirt can all find their way into your locs. To avoid contamination in the first place, protect your locs with a cap or scarf when you do housework or are outside where any of these substances are prevalent. Be consistent with a washing routine to keep your locs fresh and cleansed of the things that get into them despite your best preventative efforts.
Biological build-up consists of dandruff, dry scalp flakes, and mildew. If you have a dry scalp with evidence of flakes, ensure that you’re attending to it. Consider using medicated shampoos to get your scalp healthy again. Also, reconsider how often you shampoo your hair; it might be necessary to increase the frequency. When your locs are wet, use a lint-free towel to get out as much water as possible. Don’t allow your locs to remain damp for too long, as mildew can develop over time.
Related: How to Maintain Dreadlocks
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Lint is the most common type of build-up in locs that we discuss. It finds its way into your locs in a million little ways:
- Wool hats and scarfs
Small bits of lint is hard to detect until there is an accumulation. But if you’re mindful, you can stop lint from building up and save your locs from the unsightly discoloration it causes.
What is lint?
Lint is tiny, short fibers from fabrics - clothing, towels, bedding, etc. Your locs seem to catch them, and they quickly become entwined. Lint isn’t dirty, nor will it harm your locs, but it will create whitish patches in them. These small patches can be mistaken for dirt and leave your locs looking unhealthy and unclean.
What’s the difference between lint and build-up
The main issue with lint and product build-up is telling the difference. To get rid of it, you need to know which one you’re dealing with.
Both lint and product build-up appear similar in your locs - whitish/gray patches.
Product build-up is likely to feel oily or waxy when you squeeze those areas of your damp locs.
When your locs are wet, lint will still be visible, but product build-up will become invisible.
Give your locs a sniff - if they smell fresh, it’s probably lint. If your locs smell musty or otherwise gross, you have a product build-up problem. It’s possible to have an issue with both.
How to prevent it
It’s easy for your locs to hold onto lint, but there are ways you can prevent it. Since so much of the lint that finds its way to your locs comes from everyday activities, consider the following:
- Cover your locs when you dust and do other housework.
- Sleep in a satin cap to protect your locs from lint in your bedding.
- Keep your locs secured out of the way when wearing clothes, scarves, or coats with loose fibers.
- After shampooing, dry your locs with a fiber-free (microfiber) towel or a large t-shirt.
How to get the lint out
Here are a few ways to get the lint out of your locs:
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) soaks are good for getting dirt and product build-up out of your locs. This may not remove the lint on its own but could remove the dirt or product that may be holding the lint in your hair. For an ACV soak, pour one cup of apple cider vinegar into a basin of very warm water. You may add 1 ¼ cup of baking soda, lemon juice, and essential oils if you like, but these are optional. Soak your locs in the basin for about 20 minutes. Squeeze your locs often as you soak them to ensure the mixture permeates your hair. Thoroughly rinse when done and dry with a fiber-free towel.
Another method, a more direct approach, is to pick out the lint with a tweezer. This can work, but care should be taken so you don’t damage your locs. Also, this method is very time-consuming, and you may need the assistance of a friend.
Finally, a soft brush regularly used on your locs can help to keep lint from getting embedded. This is also useful in removing debris and keeping your locs looking well-groomed.
A Final Thought
For all of the benefits of having dreadlocks, keeping lint at bay is one of the main detracters. But if you follow the above information, you can protect your locs and know how to get rid of any lint you have.
Are you looking for paraben-free and sulfate-free loc-care products? Look no further. Visit Lions Locs today.