The thought of tucking our hair away in a cute style that offers protection and the ability to be free with our time is appealing. Who doesn’t want to do something beneficial to both our hair and time? However that isn’t always the case. Box braids, cornrows, or tight ponytails can be damaging to your hair follicles and scalp when installed incorrectly. They can lead to Traction Alopecia.

While there a numerous medical conditions that cause Alopecia (or the loss of hair), Traction Alopecia is directly related to the manipulative wearing of certain hairstyles. WebMD defines Traction Alopecia as “alopecia that is caused by repeated trauma to hair follicles or from pulling your hair back into tight hairstyles.”

Symptoms of Traction Alopecia include: 

redness, folliculitis and/or postules (the little white bumps that form around the hair follicles), itching, severe breakage, thinning or even hair loss.

Many of the hairstyles that we flock to because they promise the possibility of weeks free of styling qualms are sometimes not beneficial to our hair. Certain styles by unskilled stylists can cause additional stress many times resulting in hair loss.

Before you install braids or your cornrows, have a cosmetologist (licensed) assess the condition of your hair and scalp. If your hair is damaged or scalp shows signs of irritation, then you should avoid any type of hairstyle that would cause tension or adversely impact the health of your hair. 

Be sure to get a good trim and treatment in prior to installation to ensure your hair will be able to sustain the style. When having your hair styled, make sure to use pre-washed hair to ensure less irritation. The coating on synthetic braiding hair can irritate the scalp causing portions of the scalp to react adversely. 

Another great tip is to leave your edges out. 

Do not place braids on or incorporate your edges into a braid. Less stress is ideal. When doing a tension style such as braids, be sure the stylist is using as less stress as possible. Do not hesitate to inform the stylist if they are pulling your hair too tightly. When doing a sew-in, please be aware that it is unnecessary to have incredibly tight braids in your foundation. When sewing the hair in, the thread adds additional tension therefore you do not need extremely tight braids for your foundation. 

After leaving your stylist, if you notice that your scalp is red, itching or even have the tiny white bumps forming, it would be in your best interest to immediately take down the hairstyle. If you are having second thoughts on immediately taking down a style you’ve just paid for, Design Essentials has a scalp oil specifically created to release the tension certain hairstyles can cause.