One of the most popular questions in the MyDreadlocks.com inbox is "What can I do about my thinning hair?" In fact, Violet S. (a Locked Up! newsletter reader) was the last person to comment on this popular issue:
"My locs are now very thin at the scalp and I don't like the look. It could be a factor of age. (I'm a Grandma now!) Or it could be that they need a break from the weight."
With that background information, off we went to get an expert opinion on how to deal with dreads when they're thinning out, especially at the hairline.
Enter Rodney Barnett, a US-based trichologist with almost 20 years of hair care experience. Trichology is the scientific study of hair and scalp disorders and was founded over 100 years ago. Despite that kind of longevity, trained trichologists can be hard to find.
"Thinning hair falls into one of two categories," started Barnett. He went on to talk about two different types of hair loss (also known as "alopecia"):
Reserved to one patch or area of the scalp, Barnett said this type of thinning hair happens "when you pull hair right out of the follicle." In fact, whenever any tension is put on the hair (for example, when maintaining locks or starting them for the first time), traction alopecia can occur. "Hair is not indestructible. Not as much tension can be put on the hair as one would think. It's aggravated with dreads and can rush the process [of thinning hair]," said Barnett.
Also known as "male pattern baldness," hair loss appears, in both men and women, in a gradual fashion along the hairline. "High levels of testosterone start the recession process. If genetically you inherited this, then women after the age of 30-35 will see their hairline receding. It wouldn't be just due to dreads," explained Barnett.
When asked how thinning hair and breakage could be treated for dreadlock wearers, Barnett quipped: "Abandon that type of hairstyle!" That being said, he's well aware how attached we all are to our hair and hair style choices. His specialty as a trichologist is to help people restore their hair by helping them restore their health.
By way of a consultation, trichologists claim the ability to determine the cause of thinning hair. According to Barnett, the main cause of hair loss is due to a person being deficient in key vitamins and nutrients or having excess toxins stored in the body. Treatments can include natural products like black cohosh and wild yam supplements or scalp cremes. There are even herbs for thinning hair:
Ten drops of any one of these essential oils in any shampoo or conditioner, says Barnett, will minimize hair loss and may help disguise thinning hair for those wearing dreadlocks.
It won't be a quick fix, though, warns Barnett. Full hair regrowth can take years. "Look at your diet and lifestyle to see what's being compromised then correct the weakness. Hair doesn't fall out radically unless there's trauma. It's a gradual process to fall out. It's a gradual process to grow back, too."
Thinning hair and hair loss can be a scary, uncomfortable process for both men and women. "It's not the end of the world and it doesn't have to be overwhelming. I want people to feel empowered because their hair is actually doing a good thing," said Barnett. Over the years, he's come to realize that hair loss is the first sign that something in your body is having challenges. "Address the symptom. Your hair will come back."
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