Don’t worry, there are solutions.
Whether you like to lay them down or leave them fluffy, edges — otherwise known as baby hairs — are something Black girls take very seriously. And while many of us have been on this natural hair journey for around a decade, navigating our curls and figuring out what our specific texture needs to thrive can be a challenge at times, due to the centuries of trauma we've been up against when it comes to our hair.
As a result, almost 50% of Black women will experience hair loss over their lifetime with traction alopecia being a likely cause. But thankfully, there are a plethora of solutions available to anyone who is experiencing thinning around their edges — you just need to make sure you're seeking advice from the right professionals.
"If I'm engaging with a guest in my salon and I see something like telogen effluvium (stress-related hair loss) or any specific traumas on the scalp, my automatic go-to is to refer them to a dermatologist," says Olaplex ambassador, curl specialist, and professional colorist Christin Brown. "The reason is that both myself and the dermatologist can work together symbiotically to create a great at-home regimen for our client for the best results."
So if this is something you've been dealing with, just know there's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, and we're here to help.
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Whether you're noticing patches of thinning or your hairline is completely bald, the first thing you should always do is see a board-certified dermatologist who can assess your scalp, give you a proper diagnosis, and start an effective treatment plan.
"Thinning of the frontal hairline is complex and can have multiple causes," says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love, who also notes that in many areas of the country, making an appointment to see a specialist can take months. In the meantime, she suggests being mindful of the types of hairstyles you do — and Brown agrees.
"Many are unaware that wearing a bun day in and day out can be extremely damaging on the hairline," the hairstylist explains. "The first two to four inches around the hairline is the most fragile hair on the whole head, so you have to treat it delicately."
Before we get into it, it's important to note that you should follow the treatment plan from your dermatologist before figuring out which treatments to do at home. Going down your own path could potentially exacerbate the problem. Also, if you're having trouble with your haircare routine, tap a trained hairstylist to help you figure things out and create a healthy regimen.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, the good news is that many regrowth treatments don't need to be done in-office.
"Two of my most recommended at home hair growth treatments are topical 5% minoxidil and Nutrafol," says Dr. Love. "However, there are some types of hair loss that benefit or require in-office or prescription-grade topicals." Also, you may want to skip out on at-home microneedling rollers for now, as the dermatologist notes there's no data on their efficacy.
Brown adds that you'll want to be mindful of not putting any tension on the area as you're styling during your regrowth journey. But you'll still want to give your hairline a bit of extra love. "I'm a big believer in massaging those areas to promote more blood flow circulation to help stimulate the hair follicles that have experienced loss," she says.
Recovering from hair loss isn't something that's going to happen overnight. But a mixture of salon and in-office treatments done by a dermatologist can help resolve the issue overtime.
For Brown, this means adding effective treatments into your wash day routine. "I will always recommend doing an Olaplex Stand Alone Treatment for those strands that have seen better days," she says. "This in-salon professional treatment can dramatically improve the strength of the hair and repair the hair in one session with the brand's patented scientifically proven technology and even more over the course of time. It's honestly my ace in the pocket with stressed-out tresses."
As for what's available at your dermatologist's office, there are plenty of options, including hair transplants, if necessary.
"Intralesional cortisone injections are helpful to pause inflammatory causes of hair loss including alopecia areata, frontal fibrosing alopecia, traction alopecia, and central centrifugal ciccatricial alopecia," says Dr. Love. "Platelet rich plasma is effective for increasing hair growth in female and male pattern hair loss and may be helpful in the regrowth phase of other types of hair loss. But once the hair follicle has been scarred, the only way to achieve hair growth is with hair transplant. I typically recommend hair transplant when the amount of scarring is large enough that coverage can not be achieved with growth of the surrounding hair."
First things first, control what you can control. This means you've got to stop stretching, pulling, and slicking your hair into styles that don't make sense for your natural texture. "Traction alopecia is preventable, and is caused by high tension hairstyles that pull on the scalp, such as tight ponytails, heavy braids, and tight pigtails," Dr. Love explains. "However, there are genetic causes of hair thinning, such as female pattern hair loss and frontal fibrosing alopecia that can not be prevented. Instead, the goal is to identify these types of hair loss early and treat."
Also, work with what's working for your texture — not somebody else's. "I encourage my clients to begin to wear their hair more in a looser style, like a wash and go, because there is zero tension," says Brown.
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Don’t worry, there are solutions.