The Damage Braids and Weaves Cause on Hair

I can’t begin to tell you the countless times I have come across clients that have balding and thinning hairlines or even worse, a huge thin or bald spot in the center of their head.

Now of course after a certain age, a woman is predisposed to losing hair, but for those that are young, and what I mean by young is under the age of 55 or premenopausal, excessive thinning and balding should not be the norm.

One thing I have found that all these women have in common is this: they wore braids, pinned in ponytails, or weaves as a continuous hairstyle at some point in their 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s.

What do I mean by continuous hairstyle? If you wore braids, a pinned in ponytail, or a weave for more than 3 continuous times. Meaning you wore the style, took it out, shampooed, conditioned, and got the style done over again without wearing your own hair.

Doing this can and will cause significant damage. I have seen young girls hair follicles permanently damaged because their mothers had been putting extension braids in their hair since the age of twelve, and by college, they have to wear wigs or weaves because the hair has ceased growing from many follicles, and was paper-thin.

I remember seeing a tweeted picture of a certain black actress. She had taken a picture of her actual hair with the weave out to show the public just how long it was.

Yeah, it was long alright, but it was paper-thin. I don’t know about you, but thin hair is not cute to me. And if she was so proud of it, why not wear it for a while? She couldn’t, because it could not compare to the beautiful body and weight that the weave provided her.

The reason hair ends up so thin and damaged is that the muscle that holds in each hair becomes either destroyed or lies dormant and something needs to be done to wake the muscle and follicle up.

This muscle is called the arrector pili muscle. It is a part of the skin that actually holds the hair strand itself in place.

You see, this muscle is just like any other muscle, and can get overworked and give out. For example: let’s say I am standing next to you and leaning on your shoulder with my elbow. Even if you are seated, eventually the shoulder muscle will get tired, you will lean over, and I will fall.

The same thing goes for the arrector pili muscle. After months and months of the weight of braids or track hair, the muscle gets overworked, and lets go of the hair strand. And all that’s left is a thin or bald spot.

damage from weaves

That’s why it is so important that you give your hair a break when wearing these types of hairstyles.

And the fact that we as black women also wear relaxers, color, or stiff hairstyles only heightens the probability of follicle damage.

So what is the answer to this balding and thinning? Is there a possibility that the hair can be restored?

First things first. You must stop getting aggressive hairstyles continuously. I understand if you are going on vacation, or you are trying to make it through the summer months with a hairstyle that is easy.

But I want you to keep this in mind, hairstyles that are low to no maintenance are also most likely damaging to the hair.

Also, another common mistake women and hairstylists make is putting a fresh relaxer in before having braids or weaves done. This is a huge culprit to balding and thinning hair in women of color.

The chemical already breaks the hair down and causes it to be weaker, and adding stress to it will cause follicle damage on the scalp because of the chemical product being recently on the skin.

You also must be willing to invest in your hair. I know that sometimes going to a professional may not be in your budget, but save your money and use a “good professional” for chemicals and extensions.

I hear women say all the time that it’s hard to find a “good professional.” Just pay attention to other women around you. Don’t be hesitant to ask someone whose hairstyle catches your eye, the name and information of their stylist.

Ask about how the stylist feels about healthy hair as opposed to trendy and damaging styles. Asking the right questions about the stylist can determine whether or not they will care for your hair.

Talk to the stylist directly. Ask him/her what is their philosophy on healthy hair. If you don’t like the answer, move on to the next.

Bottom line is that we all must take the health of our hair into our own hands. Don’t always rely on someone else to have the same concern for your hair as you would. Be vigilant about your hair, and you will see the difference.