5 Types of Buildup in Locs

Did you know that there is more than one type of buildup that can accumulate in your locs?

Probably not.

Typically, you will hear people refer to all types of things that they find in locs simply as “buildup”; however it is important to make the distinction between the different types. You cannot, and should not, treat all buildup the same when you are attempting to remove or prevent it because you can end up doing more harm than good for your locs. So, identifying the specific type of buildup you are experiencing will help you to understand the best way to treat it.

5 Types of Buildup in Locs

The 5 types of buildup that are most commonly found in locs include lint, product, debris, environmental materials, and biological substances. This is not to say that all locs will experience these types of buildup, but it can happen when you are not intentional about how you care for your locs. So, let’s explore the different types of buildup that are most commonly found in locs and how to avoid them.


Lint in Locs

Lint in Locs
Photo From LocRocker

Lint is by far one of the most common types of buildup that effects people with locs. When you expose your locs to things like wool, cotton, scarves, pillowcases and sweatshirts you are at risk for lint accumulation. Lint is so easily trapped in locs because it is attracted to the oil in your locs; and if you’re not mindful to remove it, it will intertwine inside the locs.

How to Avoid Lint Buildup: One way, you can avoid lint in your locs by always wearing your satin scarf, even around the house when you’re just hanging out. Additionally, after washing your hair be sure that you are using a lint-free towel and not one of those towels filled with cotton fibers. Also, if your locs are mature enough, you can include weekly dry Loc Brushing into your regimen to minimize lint accumulation.

NEW WORKSHOP: Battling Buildup


Environmental buildup comes from things that are floating around in the environment that you are commonly in. Similar to lint buildup, environmental factors such as dust and dirt are often attracted to the oils that are in your hair.

How to Avoid Environmental Buildup: Again, always wear your satin scarf when cleaning or dusting, and working in the yard. Also, being consistent with your wash regimen, so that you are washing at least twice per month is ideal.

RELATED ARTICLE: A Closer Look At Buildup Under the Microscope


As your locs grow longer a common type of buildup that you can experience is debris buildup from things like makeup, food, and lotion.

How to Avoid Debris Buildup: To avoid buildup from debris pull longer locs back while getting dressed or eating, moisturize and oil your hair before applying lotion, and wear a scarf or headband when applying makeup.


Product Buildup In Locs

Product buildup can come from either using the wrong products and/or not thoroughly removing the products you’ve used from your locs. Even if you use “natural” products, if you do not effectively cleanse AND rinse your locs the products will still remain within the locs and result in product buildup. A few of the most common products to cause buildup in locs include creams, butters, heavy oils, waxes, and soap scum.

How to Avoid Product Buildup: You can avoid product buildup by using lightweight products, ideally formulated for locs, and by always using a clarifying shampoo when you shampoo your hair. The repeated use of moisturizing shampoo, without clarifying, will most definitely result in product buildup overtime.

RELATED GUIDE: Shampooing & Deep Cleansing Locs Reference Guide


mildew in locs from air drying

Mildew Inside Locs

The buildup associated with biological factors is one that not many people consider but lots of people experience. Those biological factors include flakes/dandruff, sebum, and mildew— yes, mildew can develop within locs.

How to Avoid Biological Buildup: To avoid biological buildup within your locs learn to understand your scalp and your hair. Not everyone is able to wait an entire month without shampooing their locs (some people cannot even go beyond a week) due to a pre-existing scalp condition. If that is you, go ahead and cleanse your scalp and you may even need to use an over-the-counter medicated shampoo. What you don’t want to do it continuously apply oils and products to try and mask the issue. Additionally, to prevent mildew and/or mold in locs make sure you’re using a lint-free towel to absorb excessive moisture and limit the air drying.

If you are currently experiencing any type of buildup, do not fall for the trap of using a “one size fits all” buildup removal tutorial. As you can see, not all buildup is created equal. There are multiple levels to the type of buildup removal treatment that you can use for your locs. You can learn more about the buildup treatments and loc detoxification systems in the “Battling Buildup” online class, but the best solution to buildup is prevention!

How do you prevent buildup in your locs?

Let me know in the comments!

How to Avoid Buildup in Locs

5 Types of Buildup Commonly Found in Locs
How to Remove Buildup From Locs
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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

I have been using aloe vera straight from the plant. I make moisturizing spray as well as an oil for my locs. This is all I use.

Watching you on Pinterest & Utube, Thank you very much for sharing your professional experience & Knowledge. I am just now entering into my second year with my loss & after everything I have been reading & Watching I like what you are teaching me, I wish I would have found you a year ago. I have made some mistakes with my locs. The worst one was letting someone put beeswax in my hair & I have very soft hair. It took me months to get this stuff out, I hate to admit it but I had to use Dawn dishwashing liquid to get all that beeswax out of my hair. I am still learning how to properly take care of my beautiful locs.

Awwww thank you so much for your kind words and I am glad we have connected! I understand why you had to use the dawn, it cuts through they heavy product. Wishing you a much more holistic and healthy loc journey!

This is great and useful information. How do I actually remove the build up from my daughters hair. She only has a couple of locs that has the build up and she’s 3 years old. So what’s safe for her to help get rid of the build up?

Thanks for the Locked Education

Hello, I love your locs!! I am interested in knowing how to achieve the larger locks as well as what dyes are good to use. Thank You

I’m just starting to grow locs. This video has been very helpful for what and what not to do. Thank you for sharing your information!

Thank you for watching!

Hello. Thank you for your blog. Can I start my own locs at home and what products do I use?

My locs are thin what should I do to keep my locs from thin

Check out this article, “9 Common Causes of Thinning Locs” it will offer some guidance because there are so many factors that can cause thinning.

Right now I’m dealing with dr locs and plenty of buildup…I’m feeling frustrated and just feel like cutting them off. I love them so much.

Oh no! What type of buildup are you trying to eliminate? The Dr.Locs Pre-Cleanse is only for product buildup.

My locs are mature. I washed them in warm water and cold rinse for the first time. I dried my locs thoroughly, then got a retwist the next evening and was caught in light rain afterward. I used cool air fryer and slept in a satin cap. The next day there was white residue near my scalp/roots. No foul smell. But it is slightly greasy to the touch. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Sounds like product buildup, either from your retwist or from shampoo that was left in your hair.

Thank you for this! Your blog is always so helpful!

Peace Adetutu,

Thank you for your support, it is greatly appreciated.

Is it possible to remove dandruff buildup that has begun to go into my starter locs? I’m worried that I will have to unravel all of them to remove the flakes.

Thank you this was soo helpful this was my first time seeing lint in my locs it freaked me out. I acted first. All I knew was I wanted it out. My locs have been such a wonderful personal, soul searching, and self loving journey for me. 5/1/2020 loc journey began. But anyway I began to scape the lint with a blade the exact thing you said not to do. Note I have 2 locs I have in my back last row. I have a shell on each one their my longest locs, I named one of my longest ones after my deceased grandmother for her strength and power because my loc is long but it’s base is on the thinner side but it’s strong, and the other after the person who started my locs who helped me start my journey when I was in a bad place in my life mentally. These are the locs with the lint
( of course). But i notice the more I scraped the more lint I saw and the thinner my loc was getting. Soo I stopped and said let it be what it may be. It’s funny when you said it’s the bottom row and that’s exactly what it is. But your video really helped me see it’s not as bad as I thought and it will be ok. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Stay safe and blessed

So happy to hear that this was helpful and that you didn’t disintegrate your 2 favorite locs!

I’m so connected to your energy. I want more wisdom. Do you give internships or classes to Locticians? I’m trying to learn more before I get my own holistic wellness center.

Hi AJ! Definitely connect with me in one of my training programs, you can learn more on my academy website: NuGrowthAcademy.com

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