New research suggests certain scalp-pulling hairstyles may underlie gradual hair loss.
Hair can be a touchy subject. It’s considered an essential part of overall identity: especially for women, that’s why many of us try our best to care for and manage it. However, while most of us know that moisture and trimming split ends are essential for hair growth and strong, healthy hair, how we style our hair could also be detrimental to its health. A new research review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found a strong association between certain scalp-pulling hairstyles — many of which are common among black women — and gradual hair loss. Their research assigned a level of risk to a number of popular hairstyles, from straightening to tight ponytails.
Traction alopecia, a form of gradual hair loss caused by constant strain or tension, affects an estimated one-third of African-American women. Fortunately, unlike others, this form of alopecia can be easily stopped and reversed. Still, the current study’s researchers urge dermatologists to better educate themselves about hairstyles that can contribute to this condition, including tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns.
"Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people, but ironically, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage,” Dr. Crystal Aguh, assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.