Earlier this year, I noticed that my hair was visibly thinning around my crown. Cue the horror movie scream.
It all started when I saw a picture of myself. In the photo, I was sitting down, holding my new godson, and his father had taken the picture from above. My hair was down, and my part looked wider than usual. My alarm bells started ringing, and I asked my boyfriend if he saw anything different—and of course, he said he didn’t really see anything. But that nagging feeling stayed behind.
And then one day, I was putting my hair up in my go-to hair style, a very tight bun at the top of my head, when I noticed that 100%, for sure, my hair was visibly thinning at the crown. To triple check, I took a picture, and compared it to a photo from six months prior, and sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed. In the previous photo, you could not see my scalp at all; the recent photo, little peeks of my scalp were definitely showing through.
Being the anxiety-prone person that I am, I immediately panicked and started searching for answers. Turns out, my daily habit of tying my hair back into an ultra tight bun did a number on my already fine, delicate hair strands. I have traction alopecia, also known as hair loss that’s caused by repeated tugging and pulling at the scalp and hairline.
Traction alopecia, hair loss that’s caused by repeated pulling at the scalp and hairline, can eventually lead to permanent hair loss in that area.
Traction alopecia, according to Healthline.com, may start out by looking like tiny little bumps or pimples along your hairline. As you continue to use tight braids, buns, or ponytails, you’ll start to notice the hair around the sides and front of your scalp thinning out. This constant pulling of your hair loosens your hair shaft in its follicle, which can eventually lead to permanent hair loss in that area. No thanks!
After I discovered this, I went into crisis-planning mode and made a plan to try to restore my hair to its pre-ponytail glory. Here’s what I’m doing to make sure my hair grows back healthier and stronger than ever.
Ditch the Ponytail & Embrace the Messy Bun
The main treatment for traction alopecia is to ditch the tight braids, ponytails, and buns, and wear your hair down as much as possible. Because my hair is fine and curly, I only need to wash it once a week—any more than that and my hair is incredibly dry and brittle. I can wear my hair down for about three days after washing it, and then it’s a bit unruly and needs to be put up and out of my face.
I decided that I can still put my hair up, but instead of slicking it back and tying it tight, I started to use a scrunchie to loosely tie it up. And when I work out, I use the scrunchie, and a few small bobby pins to keep the stray hairs in place. As someone who’s always loved the slick back look, I am really embracing the #messybun life.
Start Lovin’ on My Scalp
Scalp care is another piece of the pie that I invested in. Since I don’t wash my hair frequently, I need to be sure that when I do, my scalp is free of excess product, sweat build-up, and bacteria. So, when I do wash my hair, I wash it with a clarifying and strengthening shampoo like the Kérastase Genesis Anti Hair-Fall shampoo, designed to get rid of excess oil, pollution, and product build-up from your scalp. A combination of edelweiss native cells and ginger root work to strengthen your hair fibers.
I used to apply heavy creams and gels to my hair nearly every day, and since I’m not slicking back my hair anymore, I don’t have a ton of excess product at the end of the week. I’ve noticed that my hair looks fuller and more bouncy, so that’s a win in my book!
Sippin’ Collagen and Chewing Biotin
In addition to ditching the tight bun, I’ve started to embrace supplements to help aid my hair regrowth. I’ve been using collagen powder in my daily protein smoothies for a while, but I started to add biotin gummy vitamins to my regimen too.
Biotin is an essential vitamin that our bodies need to function properly. It’s long been touted as a supplement to grow hair and nails, but according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there isn’t enough concrete evidence to show that biotin helps treat hair loss. However, it is known that hair loss is a symptom of biotin deficiency in the body, so if you have a biotin deficiency and start taking it, then you’ll more than likely see results. Considering my quarantine diet has consisted of cereal, coffee, and wine, I figured adding in some biotin couldn’t hurt.
It can take anywhere from three to nine months to see new hair growth from traction alopecia, so I’m crossing my fingers, taking progress photos, and marking the calendar. In the meantime, no more tight ponytails or buns for me ever, ever again!