Here's Everything You Need to Know About Dyeing Your Locs

Read this before booking an appointment — or making a trip to the drugstore.

How to Safely Dye Locs
Photo: Jazmin Quaynor/Unsplash

If you have locs, don't ever let anyone tell you that the style isn't versatile.

Locs can be cut, curled, and yes, even dyed. However since the hair isn't loose, there are a few things to consider before switching up your color, including what shade you want, whether you want to dye your full head of locs, stick with highlights, or opt for an ombré finish.

You'll also want to be very specific about who you go to for your dye job, because not every hairstylist or colorist is trained to work with locs — even if they're curly hair connoisseurs.

Here, we spoke with hair artist and loc expert Jennifer Lord (who currently has blonde locs herself) to learn more about the dyeing process. She also shares a few other helpful tips, below.

What Do I Need to Know Before Dyeing My Locs?

You'll need to ensure your locs are healthy and free of any damage by doing your own self-assessment, but you should probably have a loc expert examine your hair as well. Also, don't be afraid to do a little research and ask questions before you take the plunge.

"Inquire about the ingredients in the color to ensure you're not allergic to anything, and make sure you don't irritate your scalp prior to color application," Lord advises. "Also, during the consultation, ask for a strand test on one of your locs to make sure it's the color you're looking to achieve and that you don't have a negative reaction to the product."

Lord adds that if this isn't your first rodeo with hair color, you should be careful not to over-process the hair. "One should avoid hair dyeing locs if they have recently done color within the last six to eight weeks," she says.

Can I Dye My Own Locs, or Should I See a Professional?

According to Lord, unless you're a loc expert, it's best to leave this type of job to professionals to avoid potential hair damage.

"Locs coloring requires a level of expertise that is gained through years of experience," she explains.

In terms of the dyes themselves, Lord is a fan of both Naturtint and Herbatint. "They are mostly plant-based and have no ammonia," she explains. "While [they] still have a chemical for lifting, it's much milder than other coloring systems."

However, once you visit your stylist, they can assess your hair and decide which dye is best suited for you.

I Don't Have a Go-To Loctician, Can I See a General Colorist?

Unless they specialize in loc care, it's better to be safe than sorry. "I highly recommend going to a professional loctician and colorist with years of loc coloring experience," Lord says.

Since the hair strands aren't loose, special steps need to be taken to ensure that the dye is properly applied and rinsed out. Also, depending on where you are in your loc journey, you may or may not be able to use certain treatment or conditioning products after your hair has been dyed.

So yeah, leave it to the pros.

VIDEO: 6 Twisted Hairstyle Ideas for Anyone with Natural Hair

How Do I Keep My Locs Healthy After a Color Treatment?

According to Lord, when it comes to locs, doing less is more. So, it's fine to stick with your regular wash day and maintenance routine unless your loctician suggests otherwise.

"However, essential oils are good for adding shine to your color and a healthy vibrant look and feel," she says.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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