Our hair color is determined by the blend of melanin that our bodies produce. This is unique to our genetic makeup. Pheomelanin gives our hair tones of yellow and red colors, while eumelanin gives us tones of brown and black.
There are several factors that can influence the melanin production in our hair to be altered. Experiencing a change of hair color is not uncommon but it may be due to an underlying issue.
What is causing your locs to lose color?
1. The sun
The sun is so powerful that the UVA and UVB rays cause discoloration to the hair stands by destroying the melanin. This causes a permanent change in hair color and texture.
Sun bleaching is not unique to dreads but is definitely more noticeable since the same hairs are always facing the sun. The sun will only touch the hair on the outside of the loc and the hair on the inside is always protected. People with natural loose hair have their hairs exposed to the sun at different times, so the highlights aren’t as obvious.
The tips of your hair will always be the lightest since it has been exposed to the sun more than the new hair growing at the roots. It’s a natural ombre! At the same time, the tips of your hair will show the most damage, in terms of split ends and frizziness.
Moving to a warmer climate can also influence your hair to take on a lighter shade.
Exposing the hair cuticle (the outermost layer of the hair strand) to high degrees of heat, such as with a hair dryer or iron, can cause bubbles to form on the hair shaft. Any damage done to the hair is irreversible, that’s why it’s crucial that you protect it. Too much heat can lead to future breakage and dullness as the natural luster is destroyed.
Water that is heavy with minerals like magnesium, calcium, and copper (hard water) is a major reason why your hair could be losing color. Hard water also causes brittle and dry hair as well as a dull appearance.
4. Chemical changes
Going for a swim in the public pool can cause your locs to change color because pools are treated with chlorine. Chlorine is considerably stronger than the bleach you use at home. The main ingredient in bleach hair dye is hydrogen peroxide, which is extremely harmful to your hair. Hydrogen peroxide is also present in Sun-In, an over the counter product that will lighten your hair with the sun or a hair dryer. I do not recommend it.
5. Nature’s ingredients
Honey, citrus juice, rhubarb, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and chamomile all have properties that can lighten hair. You may notice some changes if you use any of these excessively.
Malnutrition refers to a poor or unbalanced diet. Your skin, hair, and nails will generally reflect your eating habits. Bad eating habits and sudden diet changes can have negative consequences on your body. If you have a vitamin deficiency, your hair may begin to lose color and luster.
8. Your hair is too dry
Touch your hair right now. If it feels rough and crunchy, you need to start moisturizing your locs! Dry locs can lead to thinning and breakage so keeping them hydrated is very important.
9. Hormonal changes
Hormonal imbalances are not limited to the time of puberty. The high levels of estrogen and progesterone produced during pregnancy are known to darken hair. If you’re worried about an imbalance, talk to your doctor for professional advice.
Stress is a contributor to many health problems. Under extreme stress, your body goes into a sort of shock. It’s common for hair to stop growing entirely, or possibly begin graying until the body returns to a balanced state.
Many drugs have been found to alter hair color. Chemotherapy and thyroid medications are known for inducing color changes. The anti-malaria drug is known to bleach hair.
12. Health-related issues
Getting grey doesn’t always come with age but it most often does. The older we get, the
11 Ways to preserve the natural color of your locs
If you’re not happy about the change in color, there are a few things you can do.
1. Dye your hair
I don’t recommend you use chemical dyes, or any dye for that matter, on dreadlocks. The dye can get stuck inside the loc and cause dryness and breakage. Keep reading for some ideas on how to lighten and darken your dreads naturally.
2. Cover your locs
If you’re used to spending a lot of time outdoors, wrap your hair in a scarf to prevent the sun from bleaching it.
3. Use lower heat settings
4. Reverse mineral buildup
If your hair is losing color and luster because of hard water, you can try a couple of things. First, wash your hair with a chelating shampoo. This will remove any mineral buildup in your hair. Secondly, rinse with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Lastly, while your hair is still damp, gently coat your locs with a few drops of argan oil. Don’t use too much or else your hair will become too greasy.
An alternative to this would be to get a mineral filter for your showerhead. If you go with this option, make sure the filter is appropriate for the minerals present in your water.
5. Use a swim cap in the pool
If you go swimming often, make it a priority to protect your hair. Line the rim of the swim cap with petroleum jelly to repel any water that wants to get inside your cap. Chemicals don’t just strip your hair color but they permanently ruin the structure of your hair. For strong dreads, you need to have healthy hair.
6. Limit the use of natural products
Before you get too excited about putting a bunch of natural products in your hair, consider how they may alter your hair’s chemical composition. While natural products are generally safe, they need to be used in moderation to prevent adverse effects. Pay close attention to hair product labels (like shampoos and moisturizers) that contain ingredients that are known for modifying hair color (like vinegar or lemon juice, for example).
7. Improve your nutrition
As you begin to make healthy changes to your diet, you will start to feel and see the positive effects rather quickly. Make sure you’re eating enough vegetables, leafy greens, fruits and protein. Drink plenty of water daily. Talk to your doctor about which natural supplements you should be taking so you get all the vitamins your body needs.
8. Do a deep cleanse
Every six months you should be doing a deep dreadlock cleanse. This is vital in removing any extra buildup and residue that your hair collects naturally. You will be surprised how dirty your locs really are after doing one of these cleanses! If you have ever used wax on your dreads, check out this blog where I discuss a couple of tips on removing buildup left by wax.
10. Request a change of meds
11. Embrace your grey hairs
There are natural ways to darken and lighten your hair. Before you choose to go with a chemical treatment, check what natural options are available.
While natural ingredients may not give you the exact results you’re craving, your hair will not suffer as much as with unnatural dye.
Dreadlocks are a long-term hairstyle. One of the greatest things about having locs is learning to care for and protect the hair. As your dreads get older, you have to make sure that they’re not thinning out or breaking because of years of bad treatment.
Your dreadlocks are your crowning glory!