We take pride in meticulously guiding our hair on the path to continued growth and health, similar to the other paths we lead in our lives. But often, we forget to account for the unexpected changes our hair undergoes as we move through life’s different phases - phases like pregnancy, aging, or the stress of living through a global pandemic. If you spend much of your time giving your tresses the TLC they deserve with extensive wash days and swoop sessions with your 3-in-1 Edge Styler®, discovering changes in your hairline feels like a major cause for concern.
The lines between shedding and breaking blur and the question of whether to shield or slick our edges remains. How do we protect those delicate hairs without sacrificing the hairstyles we spend hours in the mirror perfecting? Experiencing thinning only affirms how dynamic, versatile, and multifaceted our hair truly is. No textures, lengths, or patterns are off-limits when it comes to what our hair can do, but our beloved baby hairs are especially at risk for breakage and hair loss because of their highly exposed placement on our faces.
But quite simply, all it may take are some slight changes in your beauty ritual and a bit of research to bring your hair back to life. So, we turned to Brooklyn-based trichologist and hairstylist Mickiela to ask some of your most pressing questions on breakage and hair loss. In addition to her decades of experience in the beauty industry, Mickiela is also the founder of MMSMITH.CO, a digital platform which uses a wellness-consciousness approach to emphasizing the importance of using the right tools for textured hair.
What are some common misconceptions or myths about hair loss that you can debunk for us?
Washing frequently does not cause hair loss and can actually help to avoid it with the right product guidance.
What are the best methods of styling edges while still protecting them? Are there any edge control ingredients that should be avoided?
Most hair on the hairline can be referred to as vellus hair, typically having a finer density, lower moisture property, and less strength than your terminal hair (Terminal Hair, for those unfamiliar, is the mature hairs that are thick, coarse, and pigmented. They grow from our scalp and body). Fatty acid alcohol ingredients are beneficial because they act as an emollient/lubricant for the hair, protecting your vellus strands (i.e. baby hairs & edges) and providing moisture. Scalp care, hairline masking, hairline cut framing, low tension [styles], proper cleansing, and breathable headwear are also good habits to form to protect edges.
What role do protective styles play in contributing to breakage and hair loss?
It’s not the cultural and ancient styles [like cornrows and braids] that cause hair breakage but the way we now approach it in an effort to maintain the longevity of the style that can cause compromising results.
In terms of relieving tension around the edges, what methods do you recommend for people who constantly wear protective styles such as braids, wigs, and updos?
When high tension is applied during styling, you are more susceptible to traction/traumatic hair loss. Please speak with your hairstylist on the proper preparation before styling, and always invest in proper hair maintenance between styling. Some of the tips I give my clients are:
- When hair-masking, don't forget your hairline.
- Wear breathable headwear/bandanas or adjustable hair bands.
- Avoid overprocessing with chemicals.
- Constant braid retouching can result in severe breakage. You can schedule your braiding appointments sequentially to avoid over exhausting your scalp/hair.
Are genetics a key factor in how hair loss and edge breakage is experienced?
Our hormones play a great part in our hair’s condition. Our hair growth patterns are mainly determined by medical conditions, which contribute to the specific, individual hair growth patterns passed down through genetics. For example, androgenic alopecia is a genetic form of hair loss in both men and women that is caused by hormones.
How can edge breakage be explained for people who don’t have tension around the hairline?
The possibilities are different for hairline breakage that's not caused by tension, such as medications, dryness, over-styling, friction, etc. Some of the tips I give my clients is to:
- Sculpt/style your baby hairs with lightweight yet strong hold products to keep the look throughout the day without constant touch-ups.
- Remove all products from your hairline at night.
- Use your discretion if you're styling your edges often
What are the key signs that you’re experiencing breakage versus shedding?
Shedding is natural and releases the hair straight from the follicle. With excessive shedding, you may see a dramatic change in density, just as you may with breakage. But with breakage, you will more likely to have shorter, blunt lengths of hair next to healthier, longer strands.
People often associate receding hairlines with older men, but this is common among women as well. What are some recommendations for coping with this change?
Take one step and day at a time, consult with a professional and keep positive thoughts as this can affect your results and experience!
Are there any hairstyles that have proven to be effective while people repair and restore their damaged or broken hair?
This is specific to every client! However, I'll say if you're aesthetically ok with leaving your hair in its natural state, untied styling can be helpful and freeing for the hair and scalp.
How do you think the stress of the pandemic can contribute to hair loss?
When you are extremely stressed for some time, your body will be more focused on protecting you and not saving your hair! Hair is nonessential to our survival, and the body prioritizes our vital organs. With Stress, your hair and overall health becomes compromised.