Can Locs/Dreadlocks be colored?

Yes, locs can be colored as with naturally loose hair. Here’s some advice from one of Atlanta’s top natural hair stylist, colorist and owner of No More Hats Salon, Joy Barnes:

Loc Extensions

When coloring loc extensions clients have to understand that because of the technique involved installation wise it could be a little tricky. Because you wrap hair around a braid it can cause problems with the product (color) penetrating due to overlapping. 

If the hair you use for loc extensions has already been colored by the manufacture then the colorist has to use lighter to lift pigment out of the hair which can cause unraveling or fraying. Also if the client desires to have a blonde shade that cannot be achieved by color alone, even if the hair has not been colored by the manufacture, the hair may have to be bleached which can cause fraying and unraveling.

Sometimes when coloring loc extensions depending on shade desired and how much of the actual loc is your own natural loc the roots may process differently than the locs that are extended especially if the locs as a whole have been previously colored ( natural and extension).

My suggestion would be to encourage clients to have a strand test done and for their locs to have at least 6 months to a year or more maturity, so that the their entire head of locs will not be compromised.

Traditional Locs

When coloring traditional locs things are not as complex as with loc extensions.  The basic color principles still apply but there aren't as many hold ups as with loc extensions. In both cases if henna was used or Bigen hair color then I would recommend a strand test because these products really seal the cuticle shut and make it hard for color to penetrate.

When locs are interloc'ed it is like coloring a braid and sometimes can come out a little spotty but it can be fixed easily and usually requires a lot of color being applied.

With locs you can experiment with different colors and techniques but clients must be mindful that the more they do the weaker the locs can become if not managed correctly. It is always good to use a shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair and to schedule hot oil treatments and once a month protein treatments to keep locs in good condition.

My suggestion would be to encourage clients to have a strand test done and for their locs to have at least 6 months to a year or more maturity, so that the their entire head of locs will not be compromised.