Balding From Damaging Natural Hair Choices

There seems to be an epidemic of women visiting the salon with severe hair loss.   There are any number of reasons for this loss and what saddens me about the clients visiting me for consultations, is that in most cases the hair loss they have, could have been prevented.

Now that I’m in my third decade of the natural hair business, I realize that I am seeing the historical results of bad choices.  It’s not only chemical straighteners that cause baldness.  For instance many clients with balding hairlines claim that years of having their hair braided, diminished their hairline.  I’m here to testify that I have worn braids for decades with no loss of hairline.  Braids can only damage your hairline if they are done incorrectly; meaning that are either too heavy, too tight or are left in too long.  It is not the braiding in and of itself that damages the hairline.

As for weaves, done properly weaves are a great way to have your hair rest, repair and rejuvenate.  Unfortunately, most weavers  care more about the extension hair they are adding to your hair, than they care about your actual hair.

Other women are loosing their hair from wearing long Locs for too many years.  I  have also had my hair locked, three times.  But I never allowed my Locs to get very long.  Once they grew passed my shoulders, I would either cut them  shorter or cut them off.  But what I am seeing today is the result of many women waiting until the weight of the Locs has pulled a considerable amount of hair out their crown before they realize the damage is serious.

Let’s not forget Sister Locks.  A Sister Locks re-tightening that is tightened too closely to the scalp can also stress your follicles and pull your hair right out of your head.  If it’s a struggle to make that last turn of the re-tightening per SL, then it shouldn’t be done.  A little space at the scalp is a good thing.  It will save your hair and your scalp.

Then there’s the dying.  I can testify that with my first set of Locs the main reason I cut them off is because they were popping off at the ends from countless applications of dye.   Back then I had to have red hair.  Many women who visit me have hard and brittle hair, thinning hair and in addition, they are dying their hair on a regular basis, which exacerbates the thinning, breaking, brittle problem.  I no longer dye my hair, I stopped putting dye on the hair at my scalp over 15 years ago.  If I want to add some color, I will dye the tips of my hair or I will add extensions to add color.  For instance my Tom Boy is three shades of brown.  I will admit I have very little gray hair, but even if I had a lot of gray, I wouldn’t dye my hair.  I’m always trying to encourage sisters with damaged hair, to stop dying their hair.  In most cases they don’t listen to me.  They are determined to cover the gray.

Hair can also shed from hormonal changes.  When transitioning from childhood to puberty there’s a big hormonal change, but seemingly no loss of hair.  Another big hormonal change is child bearing.  Many women will see an increase in hair volume and growth while pregnant.  Then once the baby is born, many will start loosing this extra hair and in some cases a little more than the extra hair that grew, while they were pregnant.  But that’s a temporary hair loss problem.  The other hormonal surge is menopause.  This is a time when the body becomes unforgiving for all the abuse of prior years.  All of your bodily systems are slowing down and this includes your systems of healing and repair.  The hair grows at a slower rate, it repairs at a slower rate, and it doesn’t bounce back from abuse the way it use to.  Put all those factors together and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, if you haven’t been mindful and proactive about protecting your hair, your health, your body.  What amazes me is how long it will take before sisters will admit there they are headed (excuse the pun) down the wrong road.

There are some things that are beyond our control (so to speak) like disease, heredity, external stressors etc.  But in most cases these are not the circumstances of the people I’m referring to.  I’m referring to those who are deciding to make choices that have a negative result on the health of their hair.

While natural hair is an excellent idea for healthy hair you still have to make right natural hair decisions.  If you are making damaging choices, be advised that the longer it takes you to face the truth about wrong hair decisions, the less options you will have when you finally see the light or worse case scenario, there will no choices left that appeal to you.

Click here to see a historical look at hair choices I’ve made over the years Anu’s Retrospective.

Natural Hair is good for hair growth

17 responses to this post.

  1. My staff and I found this very informative.
    Espeically me, I cut my locs when they go past my shoulder.
    I find my head hurts and they get stuck in my sweaters, coats and one time a few were pulled out.

    The only thing is I hate my gray not ready to go all the way, so I know the stylist there knows what she is doing. I am in good hands.

    I also found working a lot and not taking care of your body and mind messes with the
    balance of your hair also.


    • See Jo-Anne,
      I told you it was all here. Thank you for weighing in and letting us know your thoughts. You are much more likely to get a response from me here than at Twitter. I still don’t have the hang of hanging out there in twitter land.

      More hair,


  2. Posted by DeeUK on April 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Anu,
    Great article! I have suffered from hairline hair loss since my childhood. Cornrows were mandatory for all girls in my school. So no matter how slanty my eyes would look or my complaints of headaches and discomfort after my hair was done very tightly, I was forced to bare it and watch my hairs pop out of their roots.
    Now I always have to wear my sisterlocks in a way that covers as much of my hairline as possible.
    Anyway my questions are, is there anything I can do to encourage/stimulate some or all of my hairline to grow again? And if I were to dye my hair, which product would you recommend? E.g non peroxide, natural extract based?


    • Dear Dee,
      This is exactly what I was referring to. When it comes to children, improperly done hairstyling really takes its toll. This is because children’s hair like their entire body, hasn’t fully developed and usually the damage done is irreversible. My best recommendation would be for you to go see a reputable dermatologist to have your follicles accessed to see if they are still functioning. I answered the color concern in an earlier response. Check a well stocked health food store for dye alternatives.


      • Posted by Robyn Renee on April 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm

        Dear Anu,

        I too have a thinning hairline. Some is from past damage from braids, but mostly it is thinning
        due to genes and premenopause. I was thinking about the two strand twist extensions or your
        hair styles using baby curl twist hair. Can any of these sytles be created without braiding my hairline? Would this do more damage?

        Dear Dee, I am not sure of your location, but if you live in New York City, Dr. Fran Cooke-Bolden
        is a great dermatolgist.


        • Dear Robyn,
          If it is possible, it would be great if you could come into the salon so that I can better assess your hairline. If not, then please send me some photos via email of your hairline. Send it to

          It is possible to get the Tom Boy as a full head weave.


  3. Posted by Shay on April 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I use to wonder if locks could be felt on the head or got heavy. The long locks always looked like they where heavy on a persons head. So now I have my answer. Good info Anu, you covered everything.

    @DeeUK you might should look into henna for a natural dye.


  4. Posted by DeeUK on April 15, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Thanks For the tip @Shay. I’ve read that the best form of henna to use is the body colour kind. I worry about it turning my SL orange red! Not the colour I’m after! I just want to cover up the specks of White pulp on my locks with a medium to dark brown.
    Any suggestions readers?


  5. Posted by shay on May 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Is there a way to cover balding spots on the crown and blend in my own natural hair so that my own natural hair is mostly out instead of hidden?


  6. great article and insights! though we perform hair transplant on ladies but we always recommend them to go the natural route first.


  7. Posted by Ghinger on August 2, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    It was quite insightful. I must admit. I learned a little sompin’ sompin’.


  8. Posted by sohappy on February 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I’ve been considering sisterlocks since the dematologist diagnosed me with alopecia in 2006. I’ve been wearing two-strand twists ever since. My hair is balding in the crown and I’m concerned that sister locks will either show a lot of scalp or I would lose hair due to traction. My hair is approximately 8-10 inches long. Do you recommend getting sister locks when you are already balding?


    • So Happy,
      What a wonderful name! We have a number of clients who decided to get Sister Locks after seeing that their hair was thinning and it has not made it worse. In most cases the clients are very happy with the results. One thing we believe in and promote is healthy hair. Therefore, we don’t participate in practices that cause traction alopecia. When re-tightening the new growth, we make certain not to put any stress on the scalp. However, the best way for me to determine your situation is for you to come in for an in-person consultation. Please fill out our Consultation Questionnaire and we can go forward from there.


      • Posted by sohappy on March 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm

        Thank you very much for your timely reply. I didn’t realize until I checked your response that you are in New York. I’m in Maryland (Washington Metropolitan Area). What do you look for when selecting a loctician?


        • First check out the salon or Stylist by scheduling a consultation with them and from there you should be able to determine based on information provided, images of work done by them and their overall presence whether or not this is the place or person for you. And nothing beats a great referral by someone you trust or whose hair you admire.


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