An Instagram video of a young woman is going viral after she bravely revealed the devastating side effects of overstyling. The 23-year-old, who has been wearing her strands in sew-ins, braids, and quick weaves for the past five years, showed that her hairline is practically nonexistent and that she is suffering hair loss on nearly two-thirds of her scalp.
Sadly, hair loss like this is not uncommon. It's known as traction alopecia, or hair loss caused over time by cosmetic hair stress. This is most commonly found in women who consistently wear their strands in taut styles, including braids, locs, cornrows, and weaves. According to WebMD, if the symptoms (including inflammation, breakage, and gradual thinning) are caught early enough, then long-term damage can be avoided.
However, the best way to evade this devastating ailment is to treat your hair and scalp more gently. Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care, suggests on Black Girl Long Hair that women focus on looser styles. Braid your hair less tightly and vary the direction in which you plait to cause less stress on your hair, and skip weave tracks that tug aggressively on your hair underneath.
"Keep in mind that once the hair and scalp have had too much, the hair follicle permanently shrinks, scars, and dies – never to produce hair again," writes Davis-Sivasothy.
The Instagram video was posted by stylist Jasmine Collins, aka Razor Chic of Atlanta. She explains that she is not antiweave but also doesn't think it's a style anyone should wear every day. "Clients are chasing styles and stylists are chasing the dollar and ain't nobody listening to the hair," she writes.
By exposing this scary reality, Collins is informing, educating, and warning women of the damaging effects of traction alopecia — possibly before it's too late. She's also helping to start the conversation about this disorder. Many women are too ashamed to talk about hair loss, but many suffer from it, and it's only by discussing the issue that we can find solutions.
Collins has her own solution: styling. After working her magic on this client, she shared the finished look and the results are mind-blowing.