Study: Black women at risk of permanent hair loss from weaves, braids

A recent study of middle aged black women reveals that nearly 30% have sustained permanent scalp and hair damage, possibly due to taxing hairstyling practices.

Tight braids and the use of weaves have been cited as possible causes of the early hair loss, although it was added that the study “doesn’t prove” these practices are necessarily linked to permanent loss of hair. Strong chemicals to relax hair were also cited as a possible contributing factor, and dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic and study lead author Dr. Angela Kyei cautioned women:

“You have to stop and think about what you’re doing with your hair, and you have to look at your children’s hair,” Kyei said. “African Americans begin putting relaxers and chemicals in their children’s hair early. You have to start thinking about what might happen later on.”

University of British Columbia dermatologist Dr. Jerry Shapiro “pointed to many women who use relaxers who don’t have this problem,” but Dr. Kyei says of the hair loss studied:

“Once you get it, it’s permanent,” Kyei said, and the hair doesn’t come back. “That’s why a lot of African Americans wear wigs or put something on their scalp to hide their hair.”

The study was published April 11 in the journal Archives of Dermatology, and “examined the hair” of 327 black women in and around Cleveland.