traction alopecia naomi campbell
Hair Care

Hair Damage: Traction Alopecia


Weaves and braids are often considered to be good ways of ‘giving the hair a rest’. Weaves especially often allow us to achieve those glamorous red-carpet styles. It’s definitely a quick and easy way to have the flow summer tresses. Sure a sexy fabulous style is good for the short term, but are we considering the long term effects of weaves and braids?

Unfortunately more and more women can be seen with thinning or bald hairlines and patches throughout the scalp. Quite often it is the result of regularly applying tight corn rows for sew-ins and from braids.  Sadly, applying more weave to cover is often considered the quick solution. One very public example of this has been Naomi Campbell who appeared to be a sufferer of traction alopecia back in 2010 whilst on a shoot with Dennis Basso. Sometime later in 2012 it was revealed that her condition may not have improved, but just covered with more luxurious weaves.

traction alopecia

Traction alopecia occurs when the hair follicle experiences trauma from regular and tight pulling. Over time there are patches of hair loss and the areas may grow smooth and clean of hair.  Some people see blisters, redness and even a difference in the pigmentation. Traction Alopecia can be reversed IF DETECTED EARLY.

The blog Black Girl Long Hair accurately states:

“Traction alopecia is caused by cosmetic hair stress. Styles that frequently pull the hair back tightly in one direction, such as braids, twists, locks, weaves, and cornrows, are the most common traction alopecia instigators. Hair accessories like headbands are also major traction alopecia culprits. Chemical relaxer products and excessive heat use can also encourage traction alopecia. Individuals who frequently part their hair in the same orientation can also trigger a widening of the part which is related to traction alopecia.”

With this in mind, the first step to prevention should be to figure what is the cause of the damage? Is it excessive heat, chemicals or tension?  Maybe switching relaxers, stretching your relaxer longer or even going natural all together. The Belgravia Centre notes that the best prevention is to wear your hair naturally. For those who are definitely pulling too tight, you should ‘loosen up’. Loosen up those tight ponytails and braids. Yes sleek styles are great, but THINK LONG TERM.

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