Why are the Tips of my Locs Lighter in Color?

I got this email from one of my readers or possibly YouTube subscribers and decided to answer it in a post or two as they are the “issues” I mentioned I had with my locs in my 5 year Braidlock post. Here is part of the email:
“….however, I have failed to find an answer as to why the loc tips lose colour – they look tinted. how can I avoid that. Secondly i am in the process of removing one of daughter’s locs due to unsightly lint, so much that when i look at it, i lose the joy! Yet, I don’t have any except at the back row. Please help!..”
Now I am not a scientist of any kind so what I’m about to say is strictly my opinion based on a bit of research and putting stuff together in my head! Results are not guaranteed. lol
Having said that, I think the reason the tips look tinted is due to oxidation of the hair which is a natural process but can be inadvertently hastened. It just looks more prominent on locs probably due to all the hair strands being wound together thus making it a lot more noticeable than on loose hair.  If one observes, it’s there on longish loose hair as well but you must be looking at it at the right angle in sunlight, ie the red-ish tint you can see on someones hair that you know does not dye or henna their hair.  The other reason I say on long-ish hair is that the oxidation is on the ends which is the oldest part of the hair and takes awhile to show up. You more than likely will not see it on shorter hair because the old ends have been cut off or broken off.
I’ve noticed this on my braidlocks/dreadlocks as well and of course on the bottom 1/3 of the locks.  I really noticed it today with my hair in a half-up, half down style.  Half up-Half Down  Not sure if you can see the color difference in the pic but I can definitely see it.

Now, I bet  you’ve heard of people naturally bleaching their hair with lemon juice and sunlight. Yeah the same process is going on with our hair without the lemon juice thus at a slower rate.

Can this be prevented?  Again, I’m not a scientist but I don’t think so.  However, it probably can be slowed down.  Wearing a hat while outside is probably one way. Though not always practical especially in the middle of summer in the very hot regions of the country where temps can get above 95 degrees. Diet always places a big part in how our hair looks so start there by making sure you are getting enough vitamins and nutrients like protein, vitamins C & E.

Vitamins C & E are known as antioxidants. Hmm… antioxidants. The last part of that word should ring a bell.  Oxidizing is what the sun and air is doing to our hair so it makes sense to me to put things on the hair that contain some version of these two vitamins  to help slow down this natural process.

I also stumbled upon something while researching what herbs to put in my herbal coconut oil to make it like a leave in conditioner for my locs. One item put into conditioners is called a sequestrant.  From Wikipedia:

” A sequestrant is a term for a food additive. Sequestrants improve the quality and stability of the food products. Sequestrants form chelate complexes with polyvalent metal ions, especiallycopperiron and nickel, which serve as catalysts in the oxidation of the fats in the food…”

The reason this ingredient is included in conditioners is so they will function better in hard water. Ok, the bolding of the word oxidation is mine. Now I know they are saying “the oxidation of  fats in food” but why would I want to put something on my hair that causes oxidation of any kind when that’s one of the things I’m trying to prevent or at least slow down in the first place? I’m all about prevention, not having to fix the problem after the fact. Plus, I don’t want to oxidize the oils which are fats on my hair. Even the natural sebum contains fatty acids.   This is probably done so that the conditioner can bond to the hair as they’re designed to leave some of the conditioner behind on the hair even after it is rinsed it out.

Needless to say, this is one of the reasons I stopped using conditioners. For the brief period I was using them I noticed that “ashy brown tinted’ look on my locs.  And I was in the sun a lot more back then as well.

So since using oils and herbs to condition, I’ve noticed the ashy brown has gone to a little darker brown. Still there, but looks a lot better and almost deliberate. Hibiscus is a great source for Vitamin C and I bet that’s why it’s used in Indian hair care.  Grapeseed oil has Vitamin E and of course my personal favorite, coconut oil!  So this maybe something to think about.

I’ll address the 2nd question in the next post.

Related Articles:

Make Your Own Nyle Herbal Coconut Oil

How I Use Coconut Oil on My Locs

Why Does Hair Lighten in the Sun But Skin Darken?

Coconut Oil for Out of Control Curls and Lack-Lustre Locks