This photo was taken back in February of 09. Literally a few months after starting my healthy hair journey. I began to experiment with protective styling [specifically buns] until I perfected braid outs and twist outs. Because I knew the implications of pulling your hair taught regularly, I decided to braid my hair in about 8 sections, allow to dry overnight, then loosely bun for more of a wavy effect. This saved my hairline and nape from excess tension, and ultimately follicular damage.
1. Be mindful of your hairline and nape: Most damage to the hairline, temples and nape area is due to excessive stress from styling. If you wear braids, buns and other hairstyles where the hair is pulled taught, you are susceptible to Traction Alopecia. Traction Alopecia stems from follicular damage and depending on the extent can be permanent [as follicles are not able to regenerate themselves].
- If you are wearing buns as a protective style, switch up the placement of your bun. A high bun one day, a low chic bun the next, and so forth. The goal is to reduce tension in the same areas and relive stress placed on the follicles.
- Again, for bun wearers; switch up the parts. If you part your hair in the same area over time, you may notice thinning in that area. Alternate the placement of parts to alleviate stress placed on the follicles.
- Avoid excessively tight hairstyles for long periods of time. Sure there are some people that can retain length and thickness by wearing buns excessively for years. However this isn't the case for most of us. In the US, African American women have the highest rates of Traction Alopecia due to our styling preferences. Experiment with other protective styling options from time like loose pony's and even two-strand twists fashioned into a chic updo. Your hair will thank you!
- Do not sleep in tight buns or ponytails. Allow your scalp to breath and relieve stress placed on the follicles. Let your hair down, and give yourself a scalp massage to increase circulation to your scalp. The circulation feeds your follicles and promotes hair growth.
2. For those wearing wigs as a protective style: Don't forget to moisturize. This is extremely important as breakage and brittle hair can go hand in hand with styles that cover up the scalp. This is so because hairstyles like weaves and wigs prevents the absorption of moisture and decreases ability for the scalp to breathe. The key to having healthy hair is keeping your scalp healthy. The main components of a healthy scalp are: cleansing, moisturizing, circulation, and preventing excess stress.
- Weekly shampoo and deep conditioning treatments are still necessary.
- Alternate between wigs, half wigs, and phony-ponys to reduce the amount of time your scalp is covered.
- Implement regular exfoliation treatments [more info and a recipe can be found here], as the lack of moisture and air can trigger inflammation of the scalp which could later lead to hair loss and thinning. In fact, scalp inflammation is the #1 cause of hair loss in women.
- Ditch the stocking cap and opt for a silk scarf instead. A stocking cap can cause breakage around the hairline and nape due to friction
- Moisturize the hair at least once daily, as wigs tend to suck the moisture right out of your tresses.
- Be extremely careful of the placement of combs attached to half wigs and combs, as the digging/friction can cause hair loss as well. Try to stick the combs in the silk scarf so that only a small portion of the comb is attached to your hair. This will help minimize friction.
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