Here's How to Repair Damaged Locs

First step: see a professional.

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Model stands in front of a neutral wall and looks away from the camera while touching their locs.
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Making the decision to go on a loc journey is a beautiful thing. However, even though your natural hair is no longer loose, you can still experience breakage and damage if you don't follow a proper loc care regimen.

One of the benefits of having locs is that you can physically repair the damage — as long as you're able to see a professional.

Here, we spoke to hair designer and loc expert Jennifer Lord to get some tips on how to fix broken locs, proper loc care, and how to prevent damage in the first place.

What causes loc damage in the first place?

According to Lord, there are a number of reasons why your locs can break off. Most commonly it can be a result of a poorly done color treatment, side effects of certain medications, an unbalanced diet, stress, and even genetics.

"Over-processing, aka excessive hair dye applications on locs, can lead to breakage due to the thinning caused by chemicals in color systems and bleach," she explains. "Those bright vibrant locs require a lift which means removal of layers off the hair shaft, making the loc thinner and weaker. To avoid breakage and damage, opt for milder coloring systems like Herbatint or Naturtint."

She also recommends giving your hair a break from color sessions every once in a while.

When it comes to meds, Lord says that if you've noticed any hair thinning or breakage since taking a new prescription, it's fair to assume there may be a connection. However, always make sure to check in with your doctor before coming off any medication, as they may be able to put you on a different treatment plan.

As for diet, stress, and genetics, while you can't control the latter, there are lifestyle changes you can make to benefit your hair.

"I'm a firm believer that we are what we eat, so eat good and drink good," says Lord. "That means plenty of water, juicing with green leafy veggies, and taking supplements. Get ya vitamin game up to replenish what might be missing from your diet." Lord also stresses the importance of managing stress so that the integrity of your locs is not compromised.

How can I reattach my broken locs?

The first step will always be to go see a trusted loctician who is trained to work with your hair. Trust us, this isn't something you want to do on your own.

"It's important to attach the loc with precision so there is no line of demarcation," Lord shares. "Make an appointment with a professional loctician to attach your locs. They will reattach with a crochet needle, braid, wrap, or combination technique."

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Is loc repair going to be expensive?

The level of damage and the loctician you see will dictate how long the service is going to take. Generally speaking, having locs is a lifelong investment, so this isn't necessarily something you should cut corners on.

"A loctician will charge hourly, per loc or per service," Lord explains. "As loc repair is a customized service, the prices will vary. Request a consultation from a loctician to get an accurate quote for loc repair needs."

How do I keep my locs healthy going forward?

"As always, the healthy, strong look on the outside comes from the great care of the inside," says Lord. "A bougie, nutritious lifestyle shows up in our skin, hair, and nails." Of course, don't forget to treat your locs from the outside by keeping them cleansed and groomed. "For a refined, shellacked look, loc maintenance is the service. I use Jah Roots Cream ($25; for this," comments Lord.

However, Lord adds that if you have freeform locs, you can go for the less buttoned-up look.

"Simple self-desired grooming and massages are the move," she shares. "Less is more when it comes to products for locs." Lord recommends avoiding gel and instead opting for essential oil or oil-based pomade for luster and to conceal moisture. Plus, she states that "routine visits to an experienced loctician is highly recommended."

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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