Researchers at Johns Hopkins are urging women against wearing hair damaging weaves, extensions, and braids that are leading to increased cases of permanent hair loss among Black women.
An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia, a form of gradual hair loss. They say certain scalp-pulling hairstyles can cause damage to the hair follicle from prolonged or repeated tension on the hair root.
“We see it literally every day,” says Yasmine Young, who owns Diaspora Salon in Charles Village. “We are the only licensed natural hair salon in Baltimore.”
“Usually traction alopecia occurs on the hairline. That’s usually the most fragile,” Young says. It can lead to bald spots and damage that is irreversible, but entirely preventable.
“It’s usually from weaves or braids pulled too tight and someone has a bald spot. Then, they keep going back to the same style.”
Young doesn’t offer relaxers or weaves and says, “I wouldn’t do anything that would compromise the integrity of someone’s hair.”
She explains her focus is on hair care, not just style.
Hopkins researchers are advising women against having tight weaves and braids. They recommend women don’t keep braids in for longer than two to three months, have weaves or extensions removed every three to four weeks, and alternate styles allowing hair time to recover. For Young avoiding all those styles entirely isn’t realistic, but making smart choices is.