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What Kind of Dye Should You Use on Your Locs?

Switching up your look can be exciting and give you a sense of newness. Dying your locs is an excellent way to accomplish that. Whether you’ve always wanted to be a red-head or you’re considering electric blue, coloring can take your locs from dull, tired energy to something more youthful and vibrant. But loc-wearers have more to concern themselves with than the appearance of healthy hair. You want the real thing. So let’s talk about how you can dye your locs without compromising their integrity. 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Washing Dreadlocks

What to Consider Before You Decide

Coloring locs is different from coloring loose hair. The potential for damage is always there, but with locs, there are additional concerns. If you’re thinking about doing it, here are a few things to consider:  

How Healthy Are Your Locs?

This is one of the most important questions to answer - how healthy are your locs? If your locs are already having challenges, like thinning or breakage, you probably shouldn’t dye them until health is restored. This is even if you’re using natural hair coloring.  

Are You Committed to Long-Term Care?

The big issue with hair colorings is that they can dry out the hair to the point of severe breakage. It will take effort on your part to keep your locs hydrated and moisturized. It’s always important to hydrate your locs, but it’s especially crucial if your locs are color-treated. Other care measures you may take are professional hydration treatments and protein packs.  

Do You Have the Necessary Funds? 

There are lots of things you can skimp on, but hair dye isn’t one of them. Are you able to spend the money on a quality product? Additionally, you will have to refresh your color regularly - even if you choose less conventional colors like purple, pink, and blue. If you go to a professional colorist (which is recommended), you will have that cost, as well as any hair treatments to protect the health and appearance of your hair.   

Can You Have Patience With the Process?

The sad truth of color treatments is that you don’t always get what you want the first time. Hopefully, this won’t be your case, but if it is, do you have the patience to work through it? Many loc-wearers have naturally dark hair, and this will affect how bright your new color will appear. The temptation is to bleach your locs, but this is a risky move. Bleaching will strip your hair of all its color and moisture, leaving it brittle and damaged. Remember that damage doesn’t appear immediately, it can take months, but when it does show up, it will take time to fix. If you aren’t up to patiently building up to the color you want and feel like you must bleach your locs, the safest thing to do is let a professional handle it. A competent professional may be able to mitigate the damage. 

Are you looking for high-quality, organic loc care products? We make products your locs will love. Check out Lion Locs today! 

What Kinds of Dye Should You Use

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to color your locs, and you’re going to do it yourself. Any dye that will color loose hair, will also color your locs. The issue is that dye, like other hair products, will go inside your locs as well as coating the outside. As the color fades or is washed away, much of it will remain inside your locs, depending on the dye you used. This causes damage to the structure of your locs, not to mention product build-up, loc mold, discoloration, and musty odors. 

Related: How to Maintain Dreadlocks

Person in leather jackleet with red locs


Henna is a natural hair dye derived by crushing the leaves of a plant. It is thought better for your hair than commercial chemical hair dyes because it’s natural. Henna contains properties that make it a strengthening conditioner for your locs. It is limited in the range of colors you can achieve, but you can get reddish tones and enrich darker colors. Henna promotes healthy hair growth and a nourished scalp because of its anti-inflammatory properties. A henna treatment can last for 4 to 6 weeks in your locs

The one disadvantage of using henna is that because it is pulverized leaves, it contains tiny bits. Once these little bits are inside of your locs, they can’t be removed entirely, and they can damage the structure.  


Indigo can work with henna to achieve even darker colors and to effectively cover grey. You would use the henna according to instructions and the following day perform a similar treatment with the indigo. In a couple of days, the indigo will activate the keratin in your hair and give you a much darker color than henna alone

Commercial Dyes

These permanent and semi-permanent dyes usually come in two components - hydrogen peroxide and the dye. The instructions will have you mix them and apply them to your locs for a specified time. The dye works by penetrating the hair shaft, so even semi-permanent colors can be nearly impossible to reverse. However, it will fade in time.  

The chemicals in commercial dyes can be harmful to your locs, so you should be prepared to care for them.  

Tip: Don’t squeeze your locs during the process. It will cause more of the dye to enter the loc, and it will be nearly impossible to remove it.

Hair Chalk and Color Waxes

For today’s trendier colors, hair chalks and waxes are an option. Hair chalk can be applied as a liquid, stick, or sprayed onto each loc and displays a vibrant color. It can last anywhere from 2 to 10 shampoos, depending on the method of application. 

Hair color waxes are smoothed onto the locs by hand. As long as you don’t overdo it, you can avoid flakes. Hair color waxes are temporary, most washing out in one or two shampooings. Neither of these products requires the lengthy process of traditional coloring methods.

Related: How to Get Lint Out of Locs

The Last Word

Coloring your locs can be exciting and energizing, but do your research. It’s possible to dye your locs without doing permanent damage, but be careful. Don’t trade a short-term thrill for long-term damage. 

We think loc care shouldn’t be a hassle. How about you? Our purpose is to provide consistently trustworthy, healthy products for your loc journey. Visit Lion Locs today!  

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