how to stop dreadlocks from breaking

How To Stop Dreadlocks From Breaking

Dreadlock Maintenance, Dreadlock Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized
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Have you ever seen someone with a dreadlock that is thinning in one section and wondered what could be causing that? A thinning dreadlock is a sign of breakage. I’ve experienced dreadlocks that end up thinning so much that I have to cut one to three inches off. Although there are many factors that can lead to thinning in dreadlocks, I’ve discovered a few reasons as to why dreadlocks thin and how to stop them from breaking.

To stop or prevent dreadlocks from breaking, make sure that you do not pick into your dreadlocks. You’ll also want to ensure that your hair is properly conditioned and moisturized if your hair requires it. Avoid using harsh chemicals such as hair dyes and make sure to prevent heat damage by using a blow dryer on the “cool” setting. It also helps to wear a satin or silk sleep cap to bed to prevent moisture loss,

Picking Into Your Dreadlocks

At the beginning of my freeform dreadlock journey, I was excited to see my dreadlocks naturally forming before my eyes. With freeforming, the idea is to let nature do the work and create the dreadlocks for you. This means that you just stop combing and brushing your hair while still keeping it clean.

Do not pick into your locks to remove lint. To prevent yourself from having to dig into your locks to remove lint, wear a satin or silk sleeping cap to bed every night.

Over time, my hair continued to develop beautiful dreadlocks while also secretly collecting lint from my blankets and sheets. Once I had noticed I, of course, wanted to get the lint out so I began to pick out the lint. To my surprise the more I picked out lint, the more I found. The more lint I found, the more I wanted to pick it out. It became a pandora’s box of lint in my hair and I was determined to get every bit of it out. This was my mistake.

A photo of one of my dreadlocks which is thinning in the middle due to breakage from picking at it.
Breakage from one of my locs

By picking out the lint, I was also breaking off tiny bits of my dreadlocks in order to reach the inner portions of my locks where I discovered more lint. As the years went by, these segments where I had torn bits of my hair had become fragile and began to break even more. This eventually led to my dreadlocks thinning so much that only a few strands of hair were holding my ends to the rest of the lock. So I had to cut them.

Keep Your Hair Moisturized

Depending on your hair type, you may not need to condition and moisturize it. However, if your hair is naturally dry, frizzy, or really curly, you may need additional moisture. It’s a common misconception that you’re not supposed to moisturize or condition your hair in the beginning stages of your dreadlock journey. It is absolutely crucial that you not only wash your hair but moisturize and condition it with a low residue or residue-free moisturizer and conditioner.

Moisturized hair is much less prone to breakage. If you do not moisturize your hair, it will become brittle and break off. Applying a low-residue moisturizer to your hair ensures that the hair follicle retains its integrity.

There’s a difference between hydrating and moisturizing your hair. Hydration comes from within so the first step is to always make sure you are drinking enough water. This step alone could solve many issues people have with their hair. Once you’ve made sure you’re properly hydrated, the next step is to use a water-based moisturizer that will continue to protect your hair.

How To Choose The Right Moisturizer

When it comes to moisturizing dreadlocks, especially within the black community, there are many products that claim to moisturize. However, many of these products that are “designed” for dreadlocks are made up of fillers that give the illusion that your hair is moisturized when it is not.

The very first ingredient in any moisturizer you choose should be water. Water is the absolute best way to ensure your hair is getting the moisture it needs.

Ingredients To Avoid In Moisturizers

Mineral Oil – Mineral oil is a sealant meaning that it traps moisture. If your hair care product has mineral oil, avoid it. Especially if mineral oil is at the beginning of the ingredients list.

Petroleum – Like mineral oil, petroleum is also a sealant so it will prevent any moisture from entering the hair follicle.

Oils – Oils, in general, are sealants meaning that they help to keep moisture in and out. While it’s perfectly fine to use oils on your hair, keep in mind that you want this to be your final step in your hair care regimen. Oils do not moisturize.

Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) – Isopropyl alcohol is extremely drying and has no purpose in any hair care product claiming to be a moisturizeSulfatesr. This will cause breakage. If you see this in the ingredients list, put the product back.

Sulfates – Sulfates strip all of the oils away from your hair leaving it dry and brittle. If you see this in a moisturizer, it will end up doing the opposite of moisturizing.

Use Blow Dryer On Cool Setting

The heat used overtime on your hair can cause heat damage. Too much heat applied at one time can cause split ends, dry brittle hair, and hair breakage. So if you must use a blow dryer to quickly dry your hair, use it on the “cool” setting to prevent any heat damage from occurring.

Wear A Satin Or Silk Scarf To Bed

I made the mistake of not wearing a satin or silk scarf at the beginning of my dreadlock journey. Not only did my dreads pick up lint, but they also ended up losing a lot of moisture in my sleep. Sleeping without a protective head wrap caused the moisture I applied to my hair to soak into my cotton pillowcase which ended up drying out my hair. This was quite counterproductive and I had no idea why my hair always felt so dry.

Wearing satin or silk scarves, head wraps, or bonnets will protect your hair and prevent your locks from losing moisture while you sleep. Of course, you can use a silk or satin pillowcase, just make sure to change your pillowcase often. Otherwise, your hair moisturizer could end on your face causing breakouts.


To avoid dreadlocks breakage ensure that you are using the right moisturizer. Moisturizers with low residue, no sulfates, mineral oil or oils in general, petroleum, or alcohols are ideal. Remember, oils seal in the moisturizer so make sure to use an oil after you moisturize your hair. Using a hairdryer on the cool setting will prevent your hair from getting heat damage. Also, it’s important to note that wearing a silk or satin scarf will prevent the added moisture from soaking into your pillowcase at night which can cause your hair to become dry and brittle.

Follow these simple steps to prevent your dreadlocks from breaking in the future.