Lint shows up in our girls’ curls, braids, combs and brushes. But first...
What Is Lint?
Lint is teeny pieces of shed fabric. It commonly looks like a tiny white ball, but can be different colors depending on the material's color. It's super soft and easily entangles in our hair.
Who Is Most Vulnerable To Hair Lint?
Lint shows up in all hair types, textures and styles. And it doesn't care how young or old you are. For example, lint can be super noticeable on small children, because as lint accumulates over time, it becomes more visible. It can also be difficult for little ones to sit still long enough to remove it.
But lint also shows up in adults. If you see a ton of lint, please don't get frustrated. The hair is naturally designed to be a protective cushion for our scalp. So one of its jobs is to catch lint.
Below is a picture of shed hair removed after two weeks of braids. The white spots you see are pieces of lint that were hidden in the long-term style.
How Does Lint Show Up In Different Hair Styles?
The lint that forms at the base of old braids, is typically only visible after taking the braid out. It looks like a ring of lint where the braid was started. Similarly, if hair ties are worn for days at a time, lint accumulates at its base. And lint in loose hair tends to be sprinkled throughout.
Lastly, while there are times when lint on locs are visible. The lint hidden within the loc can become an important part of that loc's foundation. Below's a video of Sister Soko who didn't discover lint until she trimmed her hair (start at 2:25).
How To Prevent Lint?
Lint is everywhere, because certain fabrics (like hair) frequently shed. Some recommend wearing satin bonnets or bedding. Neither are comfortable for our family, so these are our suggestions...
1. Use Less Oils, Lighter Oils Or None At All
Early in our journey, we used tons of olive oil. It was super heavy and may have been one of the reasons our hair collected more than our fair share of lint. Lighter oils (like coconut, grapeseed or sweet almond) may not cause this problem. Whichever oil you use, remember you only need a very small amount. If you are heavy-handed (meaning you unintentionally use too much product), amber droppers like this one can be extremely helpful. Amber glass is one of the best containers for hair oils, because they're dark (some oils are light-sensitive) and washable (old oil can form a hard-to-clean film on plastic).
Over the years, I've also learned to only apply oil (or conditioner with oils) when the hair is wet. This allows the products to absorb into the hair. If I reapply products after the hair has dried, it makes the hair sticky and an ultimate lint magnet.
2. Regularly Clean Hair Tools
Keeping our hair tools clean is another way to keep our heads lint-free.
Every time I brush the hair, lint moves from the brush back to the hair. The following video has a cool hack for preventing lint from getting stuck in wet brushes. She creates a barrier by securely attaching a dryer sheet -- then she brushes her hair with the dryer sheet in place. All of the lint and shed hair ends up on the dryer sheet instead of the brush. If there is lint already trapped in the brush, a commenter suggested using velcro strips to loosen and remove it.
And the following video is pretty thorough in showing how to remove lint from a variety of hair tools. She uses a hair brush cleaner, a toothbrush, her hands and warm soapy water.
3. Comb The Lint Out
Fine tooth combs do an excellent job removing the ring of dirt and lint that forms at the base of braids. Since the hair is stretched and straightened (from being in braids) it shouldn't hurt to comb it out. But still move super slow to loosen the lint and work it down the length of the hair gradually. You really have to take your time and be gentle.
It's important to comb out or pick out as much lint as possible before washing the hair. Once water hits the hair, and the hair reverts to its natural curl, it may be harder to untangle lint now that the lint is wet and the hair is coiled.
4. Brush It Out
Lint can also come from rubbing up against sheets, hats or clothing. The following video NaturalBeauty0214 uses a boar bristle brush to remove lint from her husband's hair (start at 2:55).
5. Pick-Out Piece By Piece
This technique is best for removing sporadic pieces of lint that may be randomly sprinkled throughout the hair. Using your fingers, take your time and carefully pick out each piece of lint, one-by-one.
6. Wash It Out
If you're having a hard time or there's just too much lint to pick out piece-by-piece, try washing it out. Using a high-pressure shower head can really help loosen and gently move the lint with the water's pressure.
If your children are anything like mine, they may not like getting their hair washed or simply do not stay still during the process. Over the years, I've gotten more creative with our wash days. Make sure to incorporate them into the hair-washing process and allow them to get their hair wet whichever way they like. This could mean laying back in the tub (like they are floating), allowing them to sit under the spout, or detaching the shower head and letting them use it themselves. Make it fun!
The purpose of washing the hair is to remove large amounts of lint quicker and to strip the strands so that they are not attracting more lint.
7. Color It
For those with locs, it may be tempting to remove lint with tweezers, needles or combs. But this can weaken the hair and cause it to break off. Instead you can color the lint with a color kit, touch-up pen or our fave, the blackest mascara (start at 3:25).
While hair lint removal may seem like a tedious task, always remember your hair is doing what it was designed to do -- protect our scalps from debris. Our job is to take our time in tenderly caring for it.
Until next time...
Love The Journey,