The #1 Cause of Thinning Hair in Black Women
Natural hair is beautiful. There are so many ways to style it, different thicknesses, textures, and lengths. But one concern all women, especially women of color, contend with is thinning hair— especially the delicate hair at the hairline.
Baby hairs shape the face, are a sign of youth, and also make for a stunning addition to any protective or natural hair style. For those whose edges are full and intact, you may not even notice them. But for those whose edges have thinned or receded over time, you know how valuable your edges are to your confidence, your self-image, and your self-esteem.
While protective styles can be a great way to keep naturally high-textured hair from damage or matting, or serve as low-maintenance styles while letting your hair grow, many protective styles can cause more damage than they prevent. Braiding or twisting the hair too tight, pulling hair with too much tension with high-heat tools, or using harsh glues and removing hair pieces without properly removing residue can compromise hair follicles. This damage is called Traction Alopecia, and it affects women of color at an alarming rate.
Traction alopecia is medically described as “hair loss due to repetitive tension on the hair.” The reason women of color, specifically Black and African or Afro-Caribbean women, are disproportionately affected by traction alopecia is due to the traditional—and honestly most effective—kinds of styling. Traction alopecia is most commonly caused by styles like high tight ponies, tight buns, cornrows, box braids, passion twists, locks, weaves, wigs, and frequent use of curlers. (So…basically everything but a wash n go, right?)
While this list may look daunting, luckily, the damage caused by protective styling can be prevented. The Practice of styling the hair is not necessarily what causes traction alopecia, it’s how the hair is treated before, during, and after the hair is placed.
To make it easy for you, here are a list of do’s and don’t’s for how to prevent traction alopecia:
Traction alopecia is no joke, and anyone who has experienced hair thinning and loss from repeated tight hairstyling can testify. Long-term damage can be permanent, but arming yourself with the knowledge of what causes traction alopecia and how to keep your hair healthy, strong, and full is the first step to preventing it.