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A question I frequently get asked is what to do if  dreads that are thinning at the root.  This happens more often that people with straight hair realize and it can be a big problem.  When the dreads thin, it distracts from the overall look.  Some people will even point it out and the last thing you want is to be told you are thinning on top.

Dreads will thin at the root for any of the following reasons:

  • You are overdue for a touch up/re-twist:  If you take too long to re-twist your dreads from the last time you did them, the roots will appear thinner at the scalp.  This happens because the hair grows out straight and it has to be physically twisted to maintain its form.  This can mean palm rolling, finger twisting, crocheting; whatever the method, it is necessary or you will lose a dread or too if you wait too long.
  • Free-forming or doing neglect dreads:     While I understand some people want their hair to do what it wants, you still have to watch how it is forming.  If you neglect this too long there will be hair loss as some dreads will be huge, some big and others too small.  This can become a problem when the smaller ones become entangled with the big ones as the hair grows longer.    If you don’t mind them joining together, it’s perfectly okay to ignore this advice.
  • Sectioning at the roots too small:  Some people may have wanted thinner dreads at the beginning of their journey.  Along the way though, the length of the dreads  puts a lot of weight on the roots.  The roots then become progressively thinner until finally it will either fall off or you have to start joining 2 dreads to make it more sturdy.
  • Diet needs improvement:  My clients will tell you (rolling their eyes of course!) that I question their food choices every time they start having breakage.  If you diet is low in iron, zinc, vegetables, vitamins or you are on medication, your hair is one of the primary places this will show up.  Also, if you decide to go vegan, please know that whatever food group e.g. carbohydrates you remove, you have to replace with something healthier.  The body is like a vehicle–it needs energy to run, when you stop eating properly, you run into trouble.
  • Your extensions need to go:  On a few occasions I have had clients who added extensions for length at the beginning of the dreads.  These extensions add more weight, are thicker and pleasing to the eye.  The problem happens if the wearer’s hair is genetically thinner than the extensions.   You will see thick dreads part of the way and nearer the roots the dreads are half the size.  In this case, the extensions should either be removed or cut so the strain is removed.

Dreadlocks need maintenance, whether you like free form or normal, so check them regularly and you can have them for a very long time.

By Paula Barker,

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