Dreads come in many different styles, all with varying degrees of thickness. Maybe you started with thin dreads, and now you’d like thick ones. Or perhaps you started with thick dreads, but they’re losing thickness as they grow out. Either way, this article is for you.
In this article, I’ll go over what causes your locs to be thin and how to keep your dreads as thick as possible while maintaining your scalp and hair’s health.
What Causes Locs to be Thin?
Despite the common stereotypes, locs are not dirty and are actually a protective hairstyle meaning that they can help your hair to grow and maintain its health over time more than wearing it out would. However, a couple of mistakes can cause your locs to thin over time.
These can include overtwisting your locs, letting them dry out, as well as using too much product. Another thing to remember is that new locs will shrink for the first bit of time after putting them in. This is not anything to be worried about, and it should stop within a couple of months.
When you first get your locs put in, chances are you won’t notice much growth. If anything, it’ll seem like your locs are shrinking, and that’s because they are.
When you first get locs put in, they’ll be twisted together and held into place. However, they won’t be the same texture as established locs and will actually be quite fluffy as opposed to older locs, which will be very dense. In the first few months, and sometimes years, depending on your hair texture, your locs will slowly be knitting together and becoming denser. This will result in them appearing to shrink.
You’re not losing hair, and your hair is still growing. It’s just getting compacted into the dread.
Over-twisting Your Locs
When you first get your locs put in it can be tempting to twist the base all the time. After all, you want your locks to look neat and tight. Twisting them more frequently should help with that, right? As a matter of fact, twisting your locs can actually make them look thinner by causing hair loss due to the excess tension.
Anytime you’re putting tension on your hair, you’re increasing the chances of pulling new growth out, which can cause thinning. For example, if you wear a ponytail all the time, chances are you’re going to see some thinning and breakage near the front of your head from the tension breaking the hairs off.
Locs Have Dried Out
Another common reason that your locs could be thinning is that they have become dried out. When your hair isn’t in locs, it is far easier to keep it moisturized. Just add conditioner or a hair mask when you shower, let it sit, then rinse most of it out, and you’re good to go.
Due to their compact nature, it can be a lot more challenging to keep locs moisturized as it can be difficult to get moisturizing products to penetrate the locs surface. Plus, you don’t want to be putting too much product on your locs, or buildup can occur. It will take some time to find the best products and schedule for maintaining your locs, and you’ll have to learn through trial and error.
Methods To Get Thicker Locs
The best thing that you can do to help thicken your dreads is to maintain a healthy scalp. By maintaining a healthy scalp, your hair will grow healthy and strong and be able to resist breakage more effectively.
Take Care of Your Scalp
The first and most important way to make your locs grow thicker is to keep a healthy scalp. After all, that’s where your hair is growing from, and if your scalp isn’t happy, your hair won’t be happy either.
Taking care of your scalp is a combination of two things, removing buildup and keeping it moisturized.
To prevent buildup, you’ll want to first make sure that you’re thoroughly rinsing your hair when you wash it. You don’t want to leave any shampoo in there. Remember, dreadlocks can be more difficult to rinse than other hairstyles, so make sure the water is running clear when you’re rinsing it of shampoo.
You can also try using products with “clean” ingredients to prevent buildup, but here’s the reality: buildup will happen, and it’s natural. After all, our scalps are constantly releasing oil and shedding skin cells, both of which will need to be removed.
The best way to remove buildup once you start to notice it is by using a clarifying shampoo. These shampoos are specially designed to remove buildup from the hair strand and scalp. Just don’t use them too frequently as they can also dry your hair and scalp out if used too often.
If you have a dry scalp, you can also consider oiling it to maintain its health.
Keep Locs Moisturized
Like I previously stated, locs can be notoriously hard to keep moisturized because they’re so dense. However, it’s necessary if you want to have healthy hair that isn’t breaking off every two seconds.
The best way to keep your locs moisturized is by conditioning them regularly, using either a leave-in conditioner, a hair oil, apple cider vinegar, or a combination of those products. Once your locs are mature, you can also deep condition them using a hair mask every couple of weeks.
Wear A Cap At Night
This tip not only helps to keep your hair from drying out it also prevents breakage. Cotton is notorious for wicking moisture away from hair and causing friction, both of which will lead to hair breakage.
The best thing you can do is go and purchase a silk or satin sleep cap and wear it every time you go to bed. It will prevent unnecessary friction and help keep your hair from losing moisture while you’re sleeping.
If you can’t manage to keep a cap on while you’re sleeping, a satin or silk pillowcase is the next best thing and will serve a similar function. A benefit to silk pillowcases is that they’re anti-bacterial, so switching to silk can help your skin significantly if you struggle with acne.
Sometimes your dreads really are just too thin because you didn’t put enough hair into them when putting them in. In these cases, the solution is to simply twist a few dreads together until the new dread reaches your ideal thickness. Keep in mind that this could mess with your part lines, and if you’re particular about them, it’s best to comb out your old dreads and completely start over.
As I said earlier, one of the most common reasons for thinning dreads is applying too much tension to them. This tension can include overtwisting your dreads.
The best thing you can do to prevent this is to wait at least two months in between having your dreads twisted. Yes, this means they won’t look quite as neat at the base, especially toward the end of that time frame, but it will allow your hair to grow without tension pulling it out at the root.
Use Hair Extensions
If you really need your dreads thicker for whatever reason and your natural dreads simply aren’t cutting it, you can always add hair extensions. However, keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution.
Hair extensions will temporarily give your dreads more volume and length, which can give you the look you want while you’re waiting for them to grow. Just keep in mind that hair extensions can add tension, resulting in further thinning.
Give It Time
The last way to thicken your dreads is somehow the easiest and the hardest at the same time: just wait. It can be hard to be patient, especially when you have your heart set on a certain look, but you need to give it time.
Dreads can take several months, and even up to a couple of years, to mature. Until then, it can seem like your hair isn’t growing at all, and you aren’t making any progress. Just stick it out. If you can make it through the maturation process and take care of your dreads the whole time, you’ll be rewarded with thick, healthy dreads in the end.
Keep in mind that, on average, hair only grows six inches per year. Dreads are twisted, so out of that six inches, you’ll usually only be able to see three to four inches of growth. When your dreads are still maturing and compacting in the first bit of time, you may only see one to two inches of growth per year. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not growing. Just be patient.