Everyone’s hair is different. There are dozens of natural shades of brown, black, red, and blonde, and the color you have is based on many factors. Mainly, our hair color is determined by the body’s production of ‘melanin.’
Melanin is a natural pigment in our bodies that determines the color of your hair. Depending on which type of melanin you are born with, and how much your body produces, it will cause hair color to either lighten or darken with production.
It is not uncommon for hair to change colors over time. Most variations are normal and healthy, and get more prevalent the older you are; change is natural. However, there are several reasons why dreads can change colors, showing signs of warning that something may be wrong.
Are Locs Suppose to Change Colors over Time?
Just like natural hair, dreads can change colors as well. As color change isn’t a unique feature to locs themselves, they can be more noticeable. The effects of color distortion tend to be different from locked and unlocked hair.
Dreadlocks seem to appear lighter the older they become. You may have noticed that the tips of locs tend to fade out into an ombre lighter color. This is because of natural sun bleaching. Spending time outside in the sunlight naturally lightens the color of your hair and the longer you spend in the sun, the stronger the effects can be. You may have noticed this change previously, after returning from a vacation to a tropical location, or at the end of the summer season.
There are 2 main reasons for dreadlocks to appear lighter in color overtime, compared to unlocked hair. Dreadlocks are able to keep the same hair for a lot longer; it isn’t regularly cut or styled, and the hair is less likely to fall out or shed from locs. Natural hair is usually trimmed and treated, and brushed daily, being more likely to fall out or shed.
Additionally, dreads tend to usually lay the same way overtime, so there is a certain side of the loc that will always be facing the sun. The hairs on this side will usually appear lighter in color, especially if you have a naturally lighter hair color in the first place; like blonde or light brown.
Most Common Reasons for Color Change
Color change in hair is going to be different for everyone. Natural lightening isn’t the only cause when it comes to your dreads changing colors. There are factors or elements of your daily life that can also alter the color of your hair.
- Sun: The sun is powerful. Like mentioned above, sun bleaching is one of the more natural and most common reasons hair is likely to change colors. The UVA and UVB rays that are produced by the sun destroy the melanin in your hair, causing discoloration.
- Heat: Heat damage is common for dreads when they are overly exposed to high degree temperturatues. Using a hair dryer, for example, can cause irreversible damage, future breakage and loss of luster.
- Hygiene: Practicing correct maintenance and hygiene methods when it comes to your dreads is important for the long term health of your hair. Discoloration from poor hygiene can be caused from excess built up or natural residue, causing dreads to have a grayish tint.
- Stress: Stress is an underlying factor in various different health conditions. Your body doesn’t function normally when under extreme stress and becomes chemically unbalanced. Hair can change colors, fall out, or even stop growing all together
- Chemicals: Chemicals such as chlorine or hydrogen peroxide are a natural lightener, and can easily alter the color of your locs. This is why it is not recommended to use a lot of bleach or lightening products on your hair, and to properly moisturize and maintain hair after the use of swimming pools.
- Health Issues: Health issues such as hormonal imbalances, thyroid disease or anemia can cause chemicals to change the color and texture of hair. Additionally, taking too much medication for health reasons can also induce color change.
It is important to remember that over time, eventually your hair is always going to lighten; dreaded or not. Depending on how old you and your locs are will dictate a lot of their appearance. Age plays a role in most aspects in life, especially when it comes to our bodies. Over time, there aren’t as many chemicals being produced regularly, and the pigment changing cells we do have are getting older everyday.
How To Naturally Lighten the Color of Your Dreads
If you are trying to increase the effects or speed up the lightening process of your dreadlocks, there are a few things you can do. Many ingredients in nature have properties that are known to inflict color change or distortion. Depending on the type of natural hair you have, it is recommended to do some research to see which ingredients would work best for your personal hair type.
Most products can be found at a local supermarket, and can be used or consumed in various different forms. Citrus juice, chamomile, honey, cinnamon, and baking soda all have natural chemicals that cause color change if used excessively or for long periods of time.
Changing your diet is one of the most common ways to intake these products. Increasing your consumption of tea, chamomile, honey or cinnamon tea specifically, is an easy habit to add to your evening routine. Surprisingly, consuming more salt in your diet can change the color of your hair as well. Be careful with this one though, salt can do more harm than good in long term health issues.
Hair treatments and maintenance routines can also easily implement these products and chemicals into your daily life. Practicing regular detox treatments using lemon juice and baking soda is a common home remedy used on dreadlocks. This can reduce mineral build up and increase the strength of your locs.
How to Decrease the Effects of Discoloration
On the other hand, if you are looking to slow down the lightning process, or lower the effects caused by natural factors such as the sun, there are a few things you can do. As discoloration isn’t reversible, try to avoid the use of bleach and hair dye, as it will cause even more irreversible and long term damage.
If you are unhappy with the color of your locs, there are some natural habits you can start regularly practicing that can naturally slow the process.
If you are someone who spends a lot of time outside or lives in a tropical environment, the changes of discoloration due to sun bleaching will be very common and almost unavoidable. To prevent your locs from being exposed to too much sun, keep your hair wrapped or covered with a scarf when exposed to direct and excessive sunlight.
As with most other issues related to dreadlocks, a good health routine and proper maintenance will always play a factor. Practice regular, proper maintenance and do a deep cleanse every 6-9 months to remove build up, residue, and dirt. Additionally, be sure to use properly filtered water, to reduce the minerals that can dry out your locs.
Lastly, try to rest your body and reverse the changes caused by too much stress or anxiety. Meditation and yoga are common ways to help your body recover from stress or anxiety related trauma. If you need to request a change in medication, that can always be another option as well.
The change of hair color is a factor that will eventually affect everyone, especially with the more time that passes. Instead of stressing out or worrying about ways to alter the color of your dreads, embrace your natural color! Gray hair is inevitable, the sooner you learn to accept it, the happier and healthier you and your locs will be.