This is another Bradelocz Q & A where Joyce asked:
“Is there something special to do to keep locks from looking ashy and dull?”
Keeping your locs from looking ashy and dull, in most cases, isn’t necessarily a matter of what TO do, but rather what NOT to do.
More often than not, the culprit behind locs that are dull and ashen in appearance is…
Ashy Locs Culprit 1: Product Overkill
Using products on locs is totally acceptable, but the amount of product being used is where you have to be careful… some more than others.
For example, shea butter.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shea butter and think it’s great for both hair and skin. But most of us tend to get too heavy-handed and go crazy piling it on in an attempt to have super shiny hair.
Well I’ve got news for you:
Afro-textured hair in it’s natural state is NOT designed to shine… at least not in the ‘glassy’ sort of way that you may envision or desire. And this goes double for locked hair.
Straight hair, or hair with a very loose wave or curl pattern, has that glossy shine because of how light reflects & bounces off of it. But with all the tight bends, dips and zig-zags that ‘OUR’ hair has, it’s not going to reflect light in the same way.
Therefore, our hair will have more of a “sheen” or matte finish” than a “shine” when it’s healthy and thriving.
Piling on tons of grease, oil and hair butter is NOT helping matters, but rather making them worse.
And when you’re talking about LOCS, where your hair can trap product, dirt, and lint inside; you end up with nasty product buildup – which is what typically causes that dry, dull, ashy look.
This was a lesson I, personally, had to learn with my first set of locs.
What can be done about current product build up in your locs?
The best thing to do is prevent it altogether by NOT overdoing it on product.
But if you already have product buildup in your locs:
- Spray your locs with apple cider vinegar and water and really work it in. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing and going to the next step.
- Clarify with either a clarifying shampoo or by adding about a teaspoon of baking soda to a small handful of shampoo. Really work it in. Rinse WELL.
- Follow up with a MOISTURIZING shampoo. Rinse well
- Condition your hair. Rinse well.
Once you’re all done, apply a SMALL amount of either shea butter that has been emulsified in your hands or apply a light oil: olive, jojoba, grape seed, etc. (NO GREASE) Massage it in really well.
You may have to repeat this process in a week or two if there is a significant amount of buildup.
Now, you shouldn’t need to put anymore product on your hair until anywhere from 2-5 days later. In fact, personally, I only oil my hair on shampoo day.
Also, after the initial clarifying process, consider no-poo’ing – using conditioner or co-wash to “wash” your hair as opposed to shampoo.
From there, do a clarifying “treatment” once a month or every couple of months.
Ashy Locs Culprit 2: Trapped Lint
For some odd reason, lint LOVES our locs – especially the ones that are tucked out of sight in the back of your head. Where does the lint come from?
Fibers from white t-shirts, knit hats, coats, blankets… need I go on?
Now, I’m not about to tell you to avoid those items, but you will have to be proactive:
- Be sure to check your locs frequently for little lint balls on your locs. Remove them as soon as you spot them so that they don’t end up working their way inside your locs and becoming trapped inside.
- If possible, sleep either with a satin pillow case, a bonnet, or a loc sock to keep lint from blankets and other linen out of your hair.
- When wearing wool or knit hats or coats, add a satiny lining to the inside of the hat and wear a satiny or silky scarf with your coat.
And if you happen to see embedded lint, get a dull-point needle and carefully pick it out.
If All Else Fails
Should you ever begin to view your locs as unsightly due to the ashiness, there is the option of using hair coloring. This can be a rinse, a semi-permanent, or even permanent hair color.
And if you don’t want to use the chemicals, consider investigating henna or other plant-based hair color treatments.
Either way, just keep in mind that you’ll still need to take preventative measures to keep the buildup from continuing to happen.
A Few Things TO Do
Now, I know we talked a lot about what not to do, but let’s also discuss a few things you should be doing to keep your locs healthy looking.
- Keep them clean. I know that the longer they get, we can get lazy sometimes and not feel like washing our locked tresses as often as we should, But the more you keep them cleaned, even if co-washing or using just water (yes, that’s a thing) for the most part, the better they’ll look and feel. I always notice the difference in how “shiny” (for lack of better and term) and soft my locs are after washing them.
- Apply a light oil after you shampoo and condition or even water cleanse your locs.
- Again, remove lint anytime you see it on the outside of your locs and check them often, especially the ones in the back.
- Clarify at least once a month to remove any buildup or shampoo residue
- When shampooing, be sure to rinse, rinse, and RINSE very well to get all of that out.
After a while, you should definitely notice an improvement and that your locs are now healthy looking with a nice sheen to them!Blessings & Warmest Regards,