Weaves, Hair Loss and Missing Edges

I am an absolute fan of Serena Willams.  I love her drive, style and of course her banging body she is one of my sheroes.  So when I saw this post on UK’s Daily Mail my heart sank for her.  The mag alleges that weaves have taken a toll on Serena’s hair resulting in a bald patch on her crown.  *insert the saddest of all sad faces*

It is unknown if this is actually a bald patch (could be a wig cap showing maybe?) but it does appear to be some form of hair loss.  I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the subject of weaves and hair loss.  We were blown away last year when photos of Naomi Campbell displayed her tragic hair loss due to years of abuse through hair extensions.

This is not a bash on wearing weaves but rather to enlighten those on safe care for wearing them.

  • Just Say No.  Weave bond/glue can reek havoc on your hair when trying to remove it  so pass up the glue. While it is a cheaper alternative, this is not the place to pinch pennies.
  • Reap What You Sew.  Sewing in tracks is the industry best practice but you still need to be careful.  Improper installation can lead to hair loss.  Using the incorrect thread, braiding or sewing too tightly or adding to much weight can all cause major problems.
  • If Only for One Night.  If you want to add length/color/fullness but only need it for a special occasion (prom/wedding) consider using clip-in extensions.  These are safer then the permanent alternatives but repeated use over time can also cause hair loss so be mindful.
  • Protect the Line.  Your hairline is made up of some of the most fragile hair on your head and once it is gone it may be difficult to grow back.  Always choose to leave a wide perimeter around your hairline that is not sewn or braided.
  • Gimme A Break.  Do take a break and allow for your hair to rest without the added extensions.  Taking your hair down for a day is not considered an adequate rest period.
  • TLC. YOU MUST STILL CARE FOR YOUR HAIR WHILE WEARING A WEAVE!  That includes proper cleansing of the scalp, providing moisture and lubrication as needed.  You should also be checking for signs of distress.  If there is a weft that has been sewn in too tight remove it immediately.  Do not sacrifice your hair for a hairstyle!  For hair care tips while wearing a weave check out this post from my girl Glamswagger.  She has a beautiful head of natural hair but opts to wear weaves as an additional styling option.

If you experience major hair loss please, please, please go see a doctor. Do not try to diagnosis the issue on your own.  There are many different types of hair loss and many different types of treatments so it is important that you are taking the appropriate care for your issue. Here are a few examples of possible issues:

  1. Breakage.  Breakage occurs when the hair snaps along any part of the hairshaft.  It can occur as a result of mechanical, heat or chemical damage.
  2. Shedding.  Shedding is a result of the hair detaching from the scalp. If you examine the hairs closely you will still see the root bulb attached to the end of the hair.  Excessive shedding can result from allergy, stress or hormones (especially after pregnancy).
  3. Alopecia.  Alopecia Areata is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles which cause them to fall out.  (This is not to be confused with Androgenetic Alopecia which is inherited and is permanent.)  Then there is Traction Alopecia which is from excessive pulling or tugging on the hair.  Most cases of thinning hair around the hairline is traction alopecia from wearing tight ponytails, headbands, or braids.

If you take anything away from this post know that hair loss is real!  I have seen traction alopecia in children as young as 6 from wearing ponytails that are too tight.  While weaves can be a quick and fun way to change or enhance your style know the proper precautions and how to care for your hair.  If you are experiencing hair loss please go see a medical professional.  Most importantly avoid the trap of trying to cover up weave damage by installing another weave, that practice never ends well.  Know that this is not just a Black girls issue or a natural hair issue, this effects all women who choose to wear hair extensions as discussed on Good Morning America.


20 thoughts on “Weaves, Hair Loss and Missing Edges

  1. These pictures are so upsetting to me.
    I understand people paying for things they can’t get naturally.
    Though my fingernails grow fast, they are thin and peel off in layers – as a result I am a slave to acrylic nails. That being said, I would never to anything that would permanently damage my natural nail or nail bed.
    Since we don’t know if this picture is depicting Serena’s real scalp or if this is a faux scalp. I will move on to Naomi.
    I have seen Naomi through the years in various fashion magazine and I have never seen her real hair. Every time I have seen her, her hair has been straight and silky, wavy and silky or curly and silky . There is nothing wrong with getting a weave, but you need to take care of your natural hair. You also need to have inner beauty so you have the power to rock a natural you and give your scalp and hair follicles a break! Naomi needs to take out the weave, eat better, stimulate her scalp daily, stop smoking and give her hair follicles a break – before it is too late (if it isn’t already).
    When I got braids this summer, I was horrified at what the three – four African women braiding my hair did to me. If I had known, I would not have gotten braids. Want to hear a story? Well here it go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehGeJ6ClShU
    When I arrived at the shop, I was rocking a wash and go…they sat me down in the chair and started braiding. They would wrap the fake hair around a very small section of my hair pull it tight (which was extremely painful) and then braid. The weight of the fake hair on my natural hair was very painful. Any curls that were defined together or tangled – they just pulled them apart with no care for damaging my hair. One lady did all of the braiding along my front hairline and some on the braids only had three or four of my hair supporting the braid weight.
    The first week of hair braids I was taking two to three Aleves every three to four hours & couldn’t sleep but 1 – 4 hours a night due to the pain. The next week I started getting bumps around my hair line that contained puss and would bleed. By the end of week 3 I had removed all braids around my hair line and was performing flat twist on my exposed natural hair tucking it into my braids so you couldn’t see it.
    Oh…Did I mention, I could see my hair pulled out at the follicles in the braids as it grew out. For every braid I took down more than half of my home grown hair came out with the Indian hair that was braided into my hair – I was lucky because I have very thick hair, so it wasn’t noticeable.
    The moral of the story?
    Getting Micro-braids or any type of weave by someone who is about the dollars and does not care about you or your healthy hair will result in substantial hair loss. If done on a repeated basis, this will result in permanent hair loss.
    What is the point of getting a weaver if you don’t have anything to attach the weave to?

    • YOU are in control of the person braiding your hair!! If they are not using healthy braid practices like using too few hairs around your hairline, tell them to STOP. If they are braiding your hair and it’s too tight, tell them to STOP.

      I comb thru my hair prior to getting it braided and I take my own hard rubber comb for parting. They like to use hair clips which pull and tear your hair. Most of them don’t use healthy hair combing techniques either. So at the end of the day, it’s your hair, if they get upset about what you’re asking them to do or not do, maybe you need to take your money elsewhere!!

  2. Well said..plus I dont think celebs ever give their hair a break (no pun intended) from extenstions..you know too much of a good thing and all…..i mean extenstions and weaves are great protective styles but not to cover your hair all of the time.

  3. Pingback: Bald Is Beautiful | derby city naturals

  4. Excellent piece…said this only today…we forget we have natural living here under there and forego care for the end result – that hott hair style…i will share this with my friends…GREAT JOB!!!!

  5. A brand that I have found to keep my hair and edges strong no matter the damage is Nutress Hair. When I wore my weave, I used the protein pack and the stop break leave in conditioner on my edges and they stayed about as strong as my braided up hair. The product really coated and protected my hair from the heat and from brushing. Check them out! Super affordable too.

  6. My edges have definitely suffered. I am trying to get them back. I have gone natural, and the hair has started to grow back but it is still REALLY thin so i looks like I have bald spots. I’ve been using jamaican black caster oil. Does anyone have any tips on he I can get my edges to grow back thicker?

  7. Thank you for creating this post. I was recently diagnosed with Traction Alopecia after many years of neglecting my hair. I didn’t loose my hair because of weaves. I had locs which I placed in tight pony tails, tight headwraps, and tight updos. I ignored the signs until I found myself with bald spots. I didn’t realize how much hair I lost until I cut my locs to start taking care of my scalp. I had horrible scalp infection and inflammation but three months into my hair journey my dermatologist confirmed they were gone. My challenge now is to loosen my scalp scars which were a result of follicle damage. I am working hard on this and want to reach out to all black women who are battling hair loss. Yesterday I started a forum on my new site hoping that we can share techniques and products to regrow our hair. If anyone is interested please reply to this or visit my new site at firenaturals dot com. This is not intended to intrude. I am sincerely struggling to find sisters willing to help with this universal problem many of us are hiding. Thanks….Soofyah

  8. i just started doing sew in last yr when i began college and it was great at first. My hair grew and everything but now (on my 3rd sew in) i just realized last week that my edges on the left side is now about a 1/2 inch long and very coarse. I always give my hair a break for my sew ins so i’m confused, is it the way i’m wrapping my hair? i am soooo confused and scared. I just got this sew in on 2/14 and here it is 3/04 and i want to take it out already (not only because my hair is breaking off but b/c my weave has gone stale O_o i think it’s b/c i saved this {unused} weave since the summer, but i also want to keep a sew in or try senegalese braids until finish this semester at school. What to do what to do…

  9. There are some interesting stories here and I appreciate each one. I am in my 2nd year of being a “natural”. I have had many experiences with my natural and when I’ve had perms. It is very ironic how some beauticians claim that they promote healthy natural hair but their client’s scalp is suffering. Sure I’ve had braids put in and it did NOT start to effect me until a few hours later with bumps and pain. In addition I am not a guru on braids,extensions,weaves and the whole gamut. But my point is that I am learning to be informed as much as possible, become skilled myself, and no matter what to protect my scalp vs lingering with pain and a cute updo…smh.

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