What Causes Thinning Sisterlocks

I have seen more and more new clients experiencing thinning Sisterlocks and hair loss than ever before. So today I’d like to share with you the most common causes of Sisterlocks thinning and a few ways you can avoid thinning. You can also take a look at a recent video that I posted “Do Sisterlocks Causes Thinning” on my YouTube channel.


In my experience as a Sisterlocks Consultant over the past 10 years, I’d say there are 3 common causes that contribute to Sisterlocks thinning. Those common causes include the frequency of retightening, the state in which the hair is retightened, and the lack of hair care with Sisterlocks.

Frequency of Retightening

You’ll most likely hear people mention that they retighten their Sisterlocks every 4-5 weeks. That’s too soon — in my professional opinion! Generally the 4-5 week recommendation is made because the Sisterlock Consultant is not trying to spend 4+ hours on the maintenance and coming once a month will mean less new growth to retighten. However, working so closely to the scalp so frequently will often lead to scalp tenderness, and traction alopecia (hair loss).

The State of the Hair at Retightening

Most Sisterlocks Consultants are not trained Cosmetologist which means (in most states) they cannot shampoo someone else’s hair. Due to the legislation or maybe even some Consultant’s preference you have to shampoo your own hair. Having your Sisterlocks retightened with dry hair makes the hair more prone to breakage at the roots and thinning.

Lack of Hair Care with Sisterlocks

The basics of care for Sisterlocks include no usage of products like oil or moisturizer and no conditioning. *cringe* While I’ve lived these fundamentals (for a short time) when I had Sisterlocks, I quickly learned these recommendations are not sustainable long-term. Of course, you know I’m a not huge fan of oil, I do believe moisturizing and conditioning (with an herbal rinse) are essential— even with Sisterlocks. Without conditioning and consistent moisturizing Sisterlocks will become dry and/or brittle which is a recipe for thinning in breakage.



I’m sure the last thing you want is to experience your Sisterlocks thinning in the crown of your head or your Sisterlocks falling out. If that’s true, let’s discuss 3 ways that you can avoid thinning with Sisterlocks.

1. Have your Sisterlocks Installed Professionally

There are a lot of “Stylists” claiming to offer Sisterlocks. Make sure you do your research and due diligence to find a trained Sisterlocks Consultant. Ideally a trained professional will know which size(s) are best for your head to give your Sisterlocks long term growth (and strength).

2. Get Multiple Sets of Eyes on Your Scalp

Hopefully you’ve heeded the warning and found a trained Sisterlocks Consultant, but sometimes that’s not enough. You may also want to seek out a Licensed Trichologist (Doctor of the Scalp) or Dermatologist to visit a few times a year, just to check in on your growth. This is especially important if you have a family history of thinning or hair loss.

3. Speak Up If You Have Pain

Your retightening appointments should not be painful. You should not have to take pain medication for days or have small bumps at your roots. This is not normal. If during your retightening you’re experiencing pain or discomfort— say something! If after you leave the appointment and the next day find that it’s too tight, say something at your next visit. There is no reason that you should be experiencing pain every time you get your hair done. Those days are over!

Now if you are currently experiencing thinning with your Sisterlocks, be sure to check out the article “Next Steps for Thinning Locs” for further guidance.

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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

Hi my hair has been breaking around the perimeter of my whole hair. I went to a beauty shop for consultation. She suggested some products for me to use, for two weeks. And then Come in at the end of two weeks to install my sister locks. Am I doing the right thing? How long should I wait, before having the installed?

I would not go back there. Two weeks is not a full hair growth cycle to evaluate if your hair is responding well or not. You should not start Sisterlocks if your hair is actively thinning.

I do offer Virtual Consultations or you can go directly to a Dermatologist or Trichologist for evaluation.

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