Africans love their braids, it’s our signature look anyway!
A typical secondary or primary school in the African continent often requires their female students to braid their hairs. It is mandatory and you could be punished if you disobey. Some schools, like the one I attended, had a prescribed braid style that everyone was required to make, you couldn’t stand out.
But then, of course, there are some schools who practically make the girls cut out their hair completely. Their justification for this?
- It’ll stop the boys from chasing them, hence, no dating. No dating, more focused student!
- and also there is the justification that having no hair to take care of would save the parents valuable money that could otherwise be spent on their up bringing or education, and it’ll also reduce the female child’s obsession with vanity. or so they think…
Growing up I was forced to braid a lot, as people saw it as a beauty standard and I was also required to do so by my school. I hated it, sometimes Id get headaches as a result, sometimes my hair would literally pull out of the roots along with the attachments when I take it off. I also dread the long hours spent in the stylist chair, some of whom could be quite horrible with kids.
There are a lot of long term hair concerns with braiding, because of this, I haven’t braided my hair for the past year now. From the gruesome experience I’ve had with braids, I was inspired to write a post on common problems caused by braids and how to either avoid or manage them so as to not damage your hair completely in the long run.
Problems associated with hair braids
Certain hairstyles such as braids and weaves may increase the risk of a irreversible type of baldness called Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) that starts at the central part of the scalp and spreads out toward the edge of the hairline.
Traction alopecia (baldness) is caused by chronic traction (pulling) on the hair follicle and is seen most commonly in African-American females associated with tight braiding or cornrow hairstyles. It is generally present along the hairline. Men who attach hair pieces to their existing hair can experience this type of permanent hair loss if the hairpiece is attached in the same location over a long period of time.
According to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, “Any style that causes too much tension and traction on the hair can possibly lead to scarring hair loss.”
The risk of an infection
Braids are expensive to do, so because of this most women are tempted to keep it on for an extended period of time which in turn adds to the risk of infection. while those hairstyles may be glorious and quite beautiful, most professionals dealing with hair loss for women especially adamantly advise against this, especially when you plan on keeping it on for an extended period of time. braiding for a special event may be okay, but make sure you release them after a few days and let your hair rest.
though there are amazing pros to braiding the hair like to protect the hair against damage during harsh seasons, The greatest con practically to braiding is the possibility of developing folliculitis which is an inflammation of the hair follicles.
So what can you do about it?
How to prevent hair damage
while African hair requires specific care and maintenance, care should be taken when performing activities like combing, plaiting and braiding to avoid negative hair implications
the african hair has a lot of fibre which makes it thick and curly, so with an african hair the first things to maintain is the curliness. a lot of the hairloss experienced by african women is caused primarily by braiding.
The best thing to do mostly before and when you do get braids, therefore is
- Make sure your hair has been properly taken care of before hand, shampoo, moisturize, do some hair treatments or mask days or the day before hand.
- visit a good stylist who knows how to handle hair properly, because some of them can be rather rough! make sure the braids are as lose as possible. avoid tugging by all means.
- i have noticed that larger cut braids are actually more safer than smaller cut ones. novertheless, do not keep a braid on for an extended period of time, ever!