Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action 

Over one-fourth of 326 black women to participate in a study on hair loss were found to have lost hair on the top of their scalp. Additionally, 59 percent of the study’s participants showed signs of central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, otherwise known as CCCA. CCCA is a form of baldness that starts at the crown of the head and causes scarring.

For years, many people thought that alopecia was caused by hot combs. Actually, it is caused by braids, weaves and other hairstyles. According to the study, it was determined that having these hairstyles for long periods of time leads to the creation of pus-filled bumps. According to Angela Kyei, M.D., the lead researcher in the study, the bumps can “develop bacteria,” causing scarring.

Women who are already balding tend to favor these hairstyles, since they are the best for hiding balding. The problem is that these hairstyles worsen the problem. They recommend that young children should not have these hairstyles and that women who are experiencing balding should get evaluated immediately.

There is almost nothing more important than a black woman’s hair.  Many women spend money they don’t have and run back and forth to the hair salon as if their lives depended on it.   The obsession with hair is interesting and traditional, but perhaps deserves a bit of rethinking.  Given that the black hair care industry is 98% controlled by people who are not African American, we may need to find better uses for our money anyway.


Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.



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40 responses to “Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women

  1. Pingback: Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women « Black Gossip for Black America, Black Celebrities included

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  6. chrystal

    I am a cosmetic chemist. I work and formulate the “recipes” for hair care and skin care products. Most of the folks in this industry are Asian and White. These people normally have the very strong misconceptions about ethnic hair and don’t care to find out the truth. I constantly have to remind these people about ethnic care products and what materials would be good for natural hair.

    It amazes me how we as black women purchase more hair care products and spend more money on hair but less than 60% of hair care and skin care products are even made with us in mind.

  7. Pingback: Study: Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women « Black Politics for Black Americans

  8. Pingback: Study: Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women « Black Politics in Black America

  9. Pingback: Research Study: Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women – YoungBlackScholars.com

  10. Pollard

    Head or Dread…

  11. Pingback: Research Study: Weaves, Braids Cause Baldness in Black Women | africanamericanscholars.com

  12. Shahid Raki

    I am an African American male and I have watched over the years how African American and native African women have transformed their hair to look more like white women and many white women are wearing locks longer than some black women. The one thing I would be most concerned with the braids/locks would be the tightness of them. I once wore braids and can attest that sometimes they were too tight. I wonder why so many women take the risk of the various hair treatments to try and make themselves look what they consider to be “pretty hair”. When white women’s hair gets wet, it’s just wet. When a black woman who has “fixed/processed hair” and it gets wet, it goes home, back to it’s natural state or at least it did back in my day. I’ve read where there are so many things that black women have to be really concerned with their hair care. I guess it seems worth the risk to try and look “beautiful”. I wouldn’t take the risk of burning my scalp to try and make my hair look like some other race of people. There is one name mentioned in the study group, but I could not find any information on who conducted this study. One often has to find out who has conducted a survey to see if it might be an organization that has slanted the results to suit their objectives.

  13. Thanks, for posting this. I am a black woman and unfortunately, I have to agree that yes, our money could be better spent but it’s a little more complex than that. We have to start loving ourselves first and then we can take the next step which is realizing that we don’t have to spend unbelievable amounts of money to make our hair look like women of other races.

  14. NotAllBlackHair

    My hair has actually grown longer and thicker since I’ve been getting braids. When I take my hair down you can see how much thicker and healthier the hair is that was braided versus the hair that’s been permed. And I don’t get those white pus bumps on the edge because the lady that braids it doesn’t do it so tight to where that happens. I’m in the process of growing (through having it braided) before I cut the perm out. Then no more perm for me!!

  15. You are absolutely correct . African American women spend a lot her our hair. The probably is we don’t spend money on maintaining the look by going to the salon often. If you get a sew-in-weave you should get it done every 6-8 weeks. That is not saying you never come back until then. Most can’t afford to come regular after getting a weave. Lace is hot right now. We are seeing lace fronts very often now. stars are wearing lace front, clue, or sew-in- weaves, but the difference they have a stylist on hand anytime and the money is plenty. The aveage person will try to maintain their look at home which is a bad thing. weaves are not a bad thing , the problem is maintaining the weave. I wonder Why everything a woman need to do their own hair is on The market without a cosmotoglist lic. That’s the problem also. I bet if they take colors, and other hair products off the public market a lot of women would not have a lot of hair loss. They will have to go get it done by a perfessional. I know for sure their will never been a man hair cut on a public self. Women are getting their hair by family members and friends without the proper lic. Or any lic at all. The hair industry is suffering in some areas. There is a raise on women going to barber school. Women will let a non – perfessional do their hair , but a man is another story . His linning has to be tight and right or his boys will talk about him. We all have freedom of speech . I am saying .

  16. chrystal



  17. My web site has not be launched, but it will be soon. There is no reason why we as black women cannot have beautiful hair our whole lives. The secret is to focus on healthy hair. Healthy hair is beautiful hair. Most black girls start off with virgin hair; thick, long and beautiful. But we soon begin to try and glamourize ourselves and by the time we reach young womanhood our hair structure has deterioriated because we force our hair into “hollywood styles” by using the most abusive mean possibe. Hair growth is simple – 1) all hair grows & 2) hair that don’t break off will grow to its full potential, if we don’t do anything to disrupt its natural process. Black hair will grow at an average of 6″ per year with proper care. Start and stay with natural hair products; minimize heat applications and be kind to your hair. “..if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her…” 1 Cor 11:15

  18. claudia

    Thank you, I wish I always have wore my own hair. For years I wore all types of braids in my head and I also kept chemicals of color on my hair. One day I went and got my hair braided. The braids sometimes would be so tight that bumps would form so bad on my scalp that I had to take them out the next day even after paying over a $100. for them. As I got older I was combing my hair and my hair was coming out by the handful. I started to cry because my hair has always been long and thick. Now I suffer baldness at the top of my head. It is really embarrassing to me. No one in my family has this problem of baldness but me so I know it was from me wearing braids too tight on my head. Now I wear my hair just natural and I keep it cut kinda low. I recieve compliments even from white people about how nice my hair look. Its thick enough now again to cover most of the bald spots. Sometimes I think back of how long and beautiful my hair use to be and wishes. But I also appreciate the beauty of the my natural hair. I would advise anyone to be careful of tight braids and over processed chemicals. I just could not get into hair weaves they itches my scalp and I hate fake false hair hanging down my back. Love my natural afro now.

  19. Hi there: I wanted to ask a question? We have an associate who is White and wears her hair in Blonde braids. We mentioned to here that, braiding, weaving and the like, cause baldness and scarring in Black Women. Her response was that she has never lost any hair due to braiding or developed any scarring. Is braiding detrimental to just Black women or women of any culture?

  20. Soul Sistah For My Folks

    Chrystal, I wish we could sky write that message everyday so that our Sistahs could see it enough times to believe it. Just another layer of trying to look and be white without realizing that’s what we’re doing. What message do we send our children when we start straightening their hair, either with a hot comb or by chemicals. This is part of the Willie Lynch theory, they’ll do it to themselves.

  21. Andrea S

    I have found that if braids are done too tight or are too heavy they will cause damage. If you tell your braider to decrease the tension and to use kinky twists or only your own hair, you should not experience baldness, pain, scalp bumps, pus, etc. The same will happen if your locks are tightened too much or too close to the scalp.

  22. chrystal

    Much love to you sistah,

    I made the change 6 years ago and don’t regret it. Right now in Los Angeles I am starting to see more females wearing their hair natural which I think is fantastic. But I remind folks that I have been do this for several years now when it was not a fad.

    We should more proud of our heritage and cultural roots to encourage more women to go back natural. It is about time we start to embrace ourselves and stop accepting what everybody else tells us how we are suppose to look.

  23. chrystal

    the reason why she may not experience any hair loss is that with natural afro hair or with relaxed hair this is a slight curl pattern or a kinky that helps locks the hair into place.

    Most people that braid have problems braiding Caucasian or Asian hair because it is so silky slick to where it will not hold the actually plat tightly for a very long time. This is the same reason why these same people have problems dreading their hair. It can be done but it will take a longer time period to knot up.

    I am sure if this woman had the same amount of pulling as a black female she would experience the effects it too. She is probably only doing it to get attention. We braid our hair as a style and apart of our culture. How long does she keep the braids in her hair. I have kept braids in for 3-5 months. I don’t she doesn’t do that.

  24. chrystal

    Much love to you,

    I believe in every word you wrote. I remember when I thought my afro was the ugliest thing. I remember when we would laugh at people that wore Afros. Now that I am much older. I know realize that wearing an afro is about have confidence in who you are from your cultural roots to how you carry yourself in life. I am tired of living the facade that I can only beautiful with straight hair.

    What is sad is the message we are sending to our young black men. Because if they can’t get a white woman they will certain get a spanish woman looking for that straight hair. I have hear this from the horses mouth.

  25. I agree with you 100%. I have worn weave, braids and wigs for the past 20 years, just recently deciding to work to repair my natural hair. I started out wearing braids, when the braids took out my edges, I moved to weaves, when I had little hair to weave, I moved to the wigs. For me, it was not a matter of “trying to be white” I just wanted longer and fuller hair. But what I failed to realize is that I could have the hair I wanted, if I took care of what I had. We (African American) CAN have long thick hair, if we search out regiments hair products and hair treatments for US. 95% of all hair product marketing is not designed for black hair, although we are the biggest hair care consumers. All hair is NOT the same and can’t be taken care of in the same manner. I’m very grateful for the website ultrablackhir.com as it gives very good tips on how to handle black hair. I have been following the tips for 4 weeks now and for the first time in 20 years, I feel comfortable without my wigs. I am so excited over the growth I can see thus far. After I received my desire results I will never return to braids, weave or wigs or perms! NEVER!!

  26. Very well said. We need more websites like ultrablackhair.com that educate us on black hair care…that works!

  27. I’m now working to repair my hair so that I can wear my natural hair. I really love what I see so far. But I don’t think I will be wearing an afro, there is nothing wrong with them, I just don’t care for that particular style. I’m convinced that we can do much much more with our hair.

  28. chrystal

    We need more black chemists in the industry!!! And fight against the “ASIAN BLOCKADE.” These are the nice folks our folks get hair products and weave stuff from. They do not respect the few Blacks in the industry trying to sell their own stuff for our own people. They will happily sell stuff that came from a white own company though big or small.

  29. chrystal

    Do what you feel is best for you… People have asked me to dread my hair and I tell them know because I am not feeling it. However putting some color or lighting hair can add a dimension that was never there before!!!

  30. Toutou

    I actually agree, i’m 11 years old, and my auntie perms my hair, so it could be more natural becuz I have very thickish african hair, and I get it permed usually 6-8 weeks, and i’ve had my hair natural like this sort for 5 months straight, without no braids in it. I have extensions in my hair right now, just to keep my hair back on track with the braiding process. Because my hair started breaking loose. With these extensions, I’m keeping my hair healthy, and clean. I’m not used to it that much, because I barely get weave/extensions. But i’m loving my hair so far, and with the extensions I hope it grows more. Just trying to keep my hair healthy!! (:

  31. Dani

    I agree, honestly, it’s good to keep your hair in braids sometimes. My mom has a very natural hair but she admits that sometimes she wants to keep her hair in braids again. Braids, can be tight, but that’s just how braids are done. Your braids should averagly be iight, after 1 weeks or under. But if ur hair has been killin yu for more then 2 weeks, then there is something up. If u are discovering white spots in ur hair then u should perhaps take em off becuz it was damage ur hair and really irritate ur scalp. Wen, I left my hair natural for like a couple months, it started to break because I wasnt taking care of it, and I was like like literally letting things go in my hair. But with braids, it keeps ur hair stronger and its easier to control without having to brush every single morning. Other then that, keeping ur hair natural is a great thing!! And the same for braids. ~!

  32. Toutou

    and alot of it started falling off because there was nothin that culd keep it strong . Perming helps, definetly, but after ur limit of the perm ur having in ur hair, which is 8 weeks or more, then ur hair definetly starts 2 break more then usual. If u use the heat in ur hair like daily, or alot, then ur hair will easily fall off like that.. It’s not the best choice to wake up at 5 in the morning on daily basis and straighten ur hair just to make it nice and look natural, looks are important, but ur hairs health is important 2. I keep care of my hair, sometimes I take a braid break which means I stop braiding my hair 4 a while and step into the naturals. But once my hair starts breaking, and u cant stand it, suggest u braid it!! My friend doesnt have afircan hair like me, its rlly natural. And her scalp is SENSITIVE. She cant stand cornrolls. She takes her braids right away because it hurts. I understand, shes not used 2 it. Perming hair, isn’t BAD for u, if u want to keep ur hair our and natural, like instead of havin a affro, and u want straighten hair without it having to b straightned every morning, a perm can do the work.

  33. chrystal

    All these hair enhancement cause black women to have an inferiority complex. Why they are too busy trying to look like white/hispanic women. Now black me expect us to look like everybody else but ourselves in order to even be around us.

  34. A Gullah Girl

    I teach in an urban school in NJ and it breaks my heart to see little girls with braids and extensions that are clearly not cared for. Many come to school with hair so dirty that you can scrape the scalp build up off with your nail or braids in so long they loc and fall off from the scalp. The unattractive result does little for the child’s self esteem and makes them the product of ridicule.
    As a mother, I understand the amount of time involved in hair care I braided my daughters hair until she entered high school. We used hair braiding time to practice reading and went as far as to have hair reading books.

  35. c-woo

    It really breaks my heart to notice the new phenomenon of children getting weaves. The only way I can justify this is because the parents have little experience with natural hair or they are too busy to comb difficult hair. In either case, the parents should be trying more to deal with hair than to find a temporary fix so they can dedicate time to smoking cigarettes.

  36. Wilhemina Reuer

    A braid (also called plait) is a complex structure or pattern formed by intertwining three or more strands of flexible material such as textile fibres, wire, or human hair. Compared to the process of weaving a wide sheet of cloth from two separate, perpendicular groups of strands (warp and weft), a braid is usually long and narrow, with each component strand functionally equivalent in zigzagging forward through the overlapping mass of the others.`

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