Hair loss is a major cause for concern among African American women and much of the issues related to hair loss are unique to the community of black women. While there are medical conditions that can result in hair loss and baldness be it permanent or otherwise, the leading causes of hair loss among African American women are related to hair care practices and styling techniques prevalent in the African American community. Women of other races may speak of messy buns and bed head. African American styles tend to be more sleek, neat and tight which is what is costing their strands to break.
Relaxing is a very common practice among black women and though the natural hair community has been growing, relaxing black hair is still the norm. Relaxers weaken the hair because it breaks the bonds within the hair shaft and destroys the hair proteins in the process. Over time relaxers can weaken the hair significantly leading to breakage and hair loss. Relaxers may also burn the scalp resulting in immediate permanent damage or damage that occurs much more slowly over time, also resulting in loss of hair and baldness. Relaxers may contribute to hair loss but often times it is only a part of the problem as other practices are utilized in the styling of the already weakened relaxed hair to push it over the breaking point.
Heat styling appliances such as hot combs, curling irons and flat irons are widely used in the African American community. By themselves, these appliances can lead to breakage even when heat protecting serums are used. Add heat to relaxed hair or dry color treated hair and again you compound the problem or at least increase the odds of breakage, hair loss and baldness. It is basically a matter of attacking the hair on multiple fronts until surrender and in this case breakage results.
Coloring the hair can leave it so dry and so brittle that breakage is inevitable if steps are not taken to prevent the excessive loss of moisture during the process. Once hair has been dyed a consistent approach much be taken to maintaining a healthy level of moisture in the hair so that dull, brittle, dry hair that breaks does not result. Without proper hair care, dyed hair will break and hair loss will occur.
Using Hair Gels
For years hair gels contained protein and alcohol which individually can lead to hair loss but when combined are almost certainly a recipe for disaster. Alcohol is drying to hair and dry hair breaks. Excess protein in the hair makes it brittle which also leads to breakage. The hairline or edges as they are commonly called are the areas most susceptible to damage and usually the first to show the signs of stress. It is important to note that even alcohol and protein free gels can result in breakage. This is because the hairline consists of hair that is fine and delicate and in many cases even the tiniest amount of stress can cause it to break.
African American women tend to wear ponytails, braids, wigs and weaves, and often times these are done far more tightly than is it should be. Pulling the hair too tightly results in the hair being ripped from the follicle and can result in permanent damage to the follicle such that hair never grows from it again.
The Problem with Wigs and Weaves
Wigs and weaves are popular among black women. When used correctly they can offer the opportunity to try a new look or just give your own hair a break. Unfortunately, many women experience hair loss and baldness because of these styling options. Wigs and weaves hide the signs of hair loss so one can easily forget that you have an issue. As a result, hair loss to become more severe. Click here for information about weaves and hair loss.
African American women must be mindful of the things they are doing to their hair and take steps to prevent problems from occurring. Extending the time between relaxers, reducing the stress and tension of hairstyles and ensuring that hair has the proper balance of protein and moisture to minimize breakage are just some of the things we can do to fight hair loss. If ever you notice hair loss the best thing to do is to see your dermatologist.
Restoring Black Hair
If damage is so severe, you may also benefit from looking into other options such as hair restoration. I encourage you to come into our office where we specialize in restoring edges for black women, as well as other African American hair loss treatments specifically designed for Afro-textured hair that has suffered from over styling damage.
To learn more about restoring African-American hair or for a free consultation or call Dr. Frank Toll-Free for more information at (877) 751-4246.
Recently, I watched NPR segment of Snap Judgment. In this particular episode titled “Beautiful”, the talented storyteller Sonya Renee shares her very personal story of Alopecia (hair loss) in a young black girl, which led to what she calls ‘Hair Shaming’ by her peers. She tells her audience that as a young nine year old child, her mother used to try and control her wild hair. It was a ritual that as she sat between her mother’s knees, her mother would pull her hair so tight into braids that she slowly developed traction alopecia.
At the end of this moving and at times, very painful story, Sonya takes off her wig to reveal a completely bald head. I highly encourage you to watch the full video here. This story made an impact on me for a couple of reasons:
- It is an inspiring story of one woman’s lifelong struggle with Alopecia
- Too many black women with hair loss suffer in silence because they don’t know surgical hair restoration for black women exists.
What is Traction Alopecia
Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by excessive tension on the hair shaft from pulling and styling. This type of permanent hair loss in black girls, men and women is more often seen in African Americans, although it can happen to anyone wearing a hair style that causes prolonged pulling on the root.
Afro-Textured Hair Loss Solutions
If you are wondering whether traction alopecia can be reversed, the answer is often is can be. To figure out if your hair loss is temporary or permanent, start with stopping wearing the hairstyles that pull your hair and see if the hair grows back. If you don’t see growth, seek an evaluation from a hair loss specialist, preferably someone knowledgeable about African American hair loss treatment.
In my office we evaluate a women’s hair loss and determine which hair loss treatment options are the best fit. This may include medication, laser treatment or surgical hair restoration.
Restore Natural Hair
Many women of color benefit dramatically from medical hair restoration. A relatively easy medical procedure, I take thick hair from the back and sides of the scalp and re-implant them into the edges. Depending upon your activity level, most woman receiving new edges find they are able to go back to work the very next day. Best of all, once healed, the new hair usually begins to show signs of regrowth in 3-6 months.
Restoring Edges For Black Women
If you are concerned the amount of hair loss you’re experiencing is not related to your pregnancy, talking to a hair loss specialist. I encourage you not to wait to find out more about the treatment options currently available for restoring edges for black women as well as other African-American hair loss treatments specifically designed for Afro-textured hair.
To find out more about restoring African-American hair or for a free consultation or call Dr. Frank Toll-Free for more information at (877) 751-4246.