*Warning claxon* your hairstyle of choice could lead to hair loss.
Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore have found that traction alopecia in women could be caused by some of the hairstyles we love.
Traction alopecia is gradual hair loss that occurs when there is damage to the hair follicles from prolonged or repeated tension on the hair root. Currently, it is the most common form of hair loss.
The researchers found that that there were strong links between traction alopecia and scalp pulling hairstyles such as tight ponytails, braids and extensions.
Dr. Crystal Aguh, an assistant professor of dermatology at Hopkins, said: ‘Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people but ironically, some hair styles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.’ Scary stuff.
The team categorised hair practises into low, moderate and high-risk styles, based on the degree to which follicles are exposed to tension, weight, heat and hair-altering chemicals.
The low risk styles included: loose buns, avoiding chemical exposure and wearing your hair down. These styles reduce friction on the hair and scalp meaning that there is little to no damage.
The moderate-risk styles category is similar to that of the high-risk category, however, the moderate risk styles were done on mainly unprocessed, natural hair, which means there was less chance of damage. The styles in this category included: permanent waves, thermal straightening, and using wigs. These styles are more likely to damage the hair than cause loss, however if traction is applied then hair loss could happen.
The high-risk category includes hairstyles such as dreadlocks, braids, weaves and extensions, which are especially risky when done on chemically straightened hair. These are even more dangerous on processed hair as the hair is more vulnerable to traction and pulling. Eep.
Our advice? Loosen those ponytails and the Kim K braids from time to time to give your hair a chance to breathe.
By Megan Wiseman