Coloring Locs

 

If you have not started your locks yet, then this is the best, easiest and most inexpensive time to color your hair.  If you already have locs, they should be formed enough to handle being washed thoroughly without coming apart.  Dreadlocks have many nooks and crannies that may or may not be filled with the new color.  These nooks also make it difficult to wash out any product that is left behind inside the locks.  You do not want to leave any chemical coloring residue inside your locs.

Permanent Color (chemical)

Permanent color alters the top layer of the hair shaft, permanently.  For full, even coverage, you should go to a professional.  Staying with your natural shade or going 'darker' is easier to do yourself, but if you are going 'lighter', it's best to go to a professional.  If you have never colored your hair before, go to a professional.

Also, keep in mind that permanent colors (or any chemical processes) are drying to the hair.  It is important to deep condition the hair each time you wash it after the process.  Make sure your hair is strong enough to recover from any weakening related to this process.  What your hair can handle can only be judged by your or a professional.

If you are going to do it yourself, remember that dreadlocks are super-absorbent.  You may need 2-3 boxes of hair color, depending on the length of your hair and the thickness of your locks.

The process:

  • Protect your work area and USE THE GLOVES!!! 

  • Prep your hairline with petroleum to avoid staining.  Wear an old top and use your scruffiest towel.  Hair dye WILL cause stains.

  • Most people find it easier to work from the back of the neck and move forward. 

  • Unlike unloc'd hair, you can't comb the dye through to ensure even distribution.  Instead you must thoroughly coat the outside of each loc. 

  • It is not necessary to squeeze the dye into the loc, just to have a full coat on the outside of the loc. 

  • Pull excess dye off the loc and use for the next loc. 

  • Be careful to not miss any locs.

  • When finished coloring each loc, you may use the remaining dye and rub that throughout your hair.

  • Put on an old plastic showercap, a plain plastic bag or wrap hair in plastic wrap.  The heat helps the dyeing process (wrapping also protects your household items while you wait). 

  • Follow the box instructions for the proper amount of time.  Do not exceed the recommended time...the solution will begin to damage your hair.

  • Be prepared to rinse, rinse, rinse and then shampoo.  If you have a spray attachment for your faucet or shower, use it.  Spraying with good water pressure will help to push the excess color out of your locs.  After shampooing, rinse again until your locs drip clear water.  You do not want to leave dye in your locs!  It can be damaging.

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Using Henna as a Coloring Alternative

Henna is great because it is natural and doesn't alter the hair shaft like permanent color (Permanent color permanently alters the top layer of the shaft. and henna  'coats' the hair shaft.  They should NOT be used on top of each other).  It doesn't damage the hair and the coating seals in your hair oils which serves to strengthen and condition the hair.

Because it is natural you may apply it repeatedly.  Repeated applications result in a richer, deeper color and a longer time before it fades.  It fades naturally within a few months so it is great if you don't want that hard line of roots in your natural hair color as it grows out.  It's perfect for graying hair that you don't really want to alter or get rid of permanently (believe it or not, some of us actually like our gray hair).

We've only worked with ready-mixed liquid henna.  When buying any henna product, check the label.  If it does not contain Lawsonia Inermis, then it is not henna.

The downsides to henna:

  • The final color is totally dependent on your natural shade

  • Because of the former, you can't 'go lighter' with henna

  • It prevents the use of chemical dyes and perms in the immediate future due to its coating of the hairshaft

The process:

  • The brand of henna we used required us to wash the hair first.

  • Protect your work area and USE THE GLOVES!!! 

  • Prep your hairline with petroleum to avoid staining.  Wear an old top and use your scruffiest towel.  Henna WILL cause stains.

  • Since henna is not a radical hair color change, many people use it for touch-ups only.  But if you are doing your entire head, most people find it easier to work from the back of the neck and move forward. 

  • Unlike unloc'd hair, you can't comb the henna through to ensure even distribution.  Instead you must thoroughly coat the outside of each loc. 

  • It is not necessary to squeeze the henna into the loc, just to have a full coat on the outside of the loc. 

  • Pull excess henna off the loc and use for the next loc. 

  • Be careful to not miss any locs.

  • When finished coloring each loc, you may use the remaining henna and rub that throughout your hair.

  • Put on an old plastic showercap, a plain plastic bag or wrap hair in plastic wrap.  The heat helps the henna process (wrapping also protects your household items while you wait). 

  • Follow the box instructions for the proper amount of time.  Unlike hair dye, the longer you leave henna on, the richer your color.  Henna causes no chemical damage to the hair if you exceed the recommended time.

  • Be prepared to rinse, rinse, rinse but NO shampoo.  Most hennas require you to wash your hair before application.  If you have a spray attachment for your faucet or shower, use it.  Spraying with good water pressure will help to push the excess color out of your locs.  Rinse until your locs drip clear water.  You do not want to leave henna in your locs.  While it may not damage your hair, it will rub off on clothing and head wraps.

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Touching up with Hair Color Touch-Up Sticks (instant applicators)

Hair coloring sticks come in different forms (mascara-like brush, lipstick-like stick, whole kits including a comb).  Some claim to be permanent, most are temporary.  They range in price from $3 - $30 (the most inexpensive is Cover Your Gray). 

They are perfect for the quick touch-up for graying dreadlock wearers looking to quickly and temporarily "young-up".

Detailed instructions are not necessary.  Simply buy the product at any beauty supply store.  Open it and apply it where necessary (following the manufacturer instructions, of course).

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Lemon and the Sun 

Some people have had good results using lemon juice combined with sunlight to lighten their hair.  However, it can also be very, very drying.  Lemon juice is acidic, so please remember to use a deep conditioner after each lightening process.

A few things:

  • Lemon juice only works to lighten hair in combination with the ultraviolet rays from the sun (not just the heat, so a blow dryer will not do).

  • You will have to do this several times for any significant affect

  • Darker hair may show no noticeable changes

  • You should only use real lemons, strained of pulp (no juice mixtures)

You will need:

  • Unsweetened juice from 3-4 lemons

  • 1/4 cup of warm water

  • 2-3 tablespoons of oil (olive is best, but vegetable or canola will do) - Optional

  • Spray bottle if you are doing all of your hair

  • Sunscreen for your skin (for while you sit in the sun)

  • Deep conditioner for your wash afterward

  • A good sunny day

The process:

  • Mix lemon juice, oil and water.  You may skip the oil, but remember, lemon and water alone will be extremely drying.

  • Apply to the locs you want to lighten by either spritzing with your spray bottle or dipping your loc ends directly into the solution.

  • It is not necessary to saturate your locs.

  • Apply sunscreen to your exposed skin and sit in the sun for at least 2-3 hours.

  • After you check for lightening you may re-apply some solution and continue to sitting the sun, but please, no more than two applications per day.

  • Be patient...you may require multiple days of the process before you see any significant lightening. Remember, this method may not make a huge difference on dark hair, so be careful not to overuse.

  • Because it is natural the color results are unpredictable. Also, please know that any lightening of the hair is permanent.

  • IMPORTANT: Afterwards, thoroughly wash and deep condition your hair.  You may be tempted to leave the mixture in for an unlimited amount of time to increase results.  You should not.  Lemon juice is very, very drying.

Tips:

  • It's best to pick a day where you already plan to be out in the sun for a long time (beach, picnic).

  • Dirty hair is best to work with since lemon is so drying, but it can be just washed also.

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