Cultural Traditions: Do Some Cause Hair Loss?

Stress, age, hormones, diet, health problems – there are a huge number of factors out there which can trigger hair loss. Yet there are a few hair loss causes which you may not have considered... 

Some hairstyles, usually associated with different cultural and geographical communities, can put a lot of stress on the hair, causing it to thin and shed. From dreadlocks to weaves, tight, heavy hairstyles favoured by communities from West Africa to the Caribbean can have a really detrimental effect on hair follicles. Meanwhile, in places like North America and Europe, hair straightening and glue-in hair extensions take their toll on hair growth. Today we'll be taking a closer look at the negative impact cultural traditions can have on your hair as well as offering a few solutions.



Traction alopecia is the name of the game as far as dreadlocks are concerned. This is the term used when a hairstyle pulls tightly on the hair, damaging the follicle and causing hair loss. Dreadlocks are created by tightly twisting the hair, which pulls at the follicles and can cause hair loss in both men and women. Dreadlocks can become very heavy as they get longer, which adds to the potentially damaging pull on each follicle.

This is a popular hairstyle all over the world. Now most commonly associated with Rastafarian culture in the West Indies, dreads can be traced back to ancient Maasai men and are even worn by sacred Hindu holy men (sadhus) and were taken up by Western hippies in the 60s!

If you feel that your dreadlocks are becoming attached less firmly at the roots, or even find they are falling out, it's time to get rid of them. In some cases, simply alleviating the pull they cause is enough to help hair regrow. In more serious cases, hair loss treatments including hair thickening fibres such as KeraFiber or wigs may be required to conceal areas affected by traction alopecia. 


Just like dreadlocks, cornrows exert a lot of force on hair follicles. This tightly woven hairstyle pulls at the hair, weakening the follicles themselves and leading to hair thinness and even hair loss, again thanks to traction alopecia.

A traditional African style, these tight braids can be worn in conventional straight lines or more decorative patterns. Whatever their arrangement, they can prove very harmful to the health of the hair, follicles and scalp and should never be worn for more than month. Not only can they become fuzzy and messy in this time, it is also damaging to have a tight braid in for longer than this period.

If you are a repeat wearer of tight cornrows, look out for any sensitivity of the scalp or any noticeable hair loss when you undo your rows. If you hair starts to come out more easily or you notice any hair loss, stop braiding and leave your hair alone to allow it to recover. In extreme cases, serious hair loss can result which can be temporary or permanent. In these cases you may need to turn to thickening products to conceal any baldness while your hair has a chance to regrow.

Extensions and Weaves

Hair extension and weave

Many women long for thicker, fuller hair. Extensions and weaves are common across the world, from gluing, bonding and micro-rings to full head weaves, the type of extensions used usually depend on your natural hair type.

Many women with afro hair make use of weaves, which involve sewing extensions in to tightly braided hair. Women with straighter Western hair types often use gluing to add length and volume to their hair. All of these styles can be very harmful, especially when overused as they can cause significant pull and damage the hair. Hot glue, tight weaves and additional “tug” from the weight of extensions are prime causes of traction alopecia which can result in temporary and even permanent hair loss.

Hair Straightening

hair straightening

Culturally, this is a popular Western style which became particularly common in the late 90s following the invention of ceramic straighteners and the poker-straight look popularised by Jennifer Aniston.

Unfortunately, excessive straightening can do real damage to your hair, causing it to become brittle and very breakable. However, it is unlikely to affect the follicles themselves. Instead, chemical straightening, which uses chemical relaxers to remove the natural curl of your hair permanently, can result in chemical burns and hair loss when used too often or used incorrectly.

If you've experienced hair thinning or hair loss as the result of a popular cultural or generational style, it's time to cut back on styling and let your hair recover. Often the results of these styles are temporary, so you simply need to leave your locks alone while they grow back.

For many suffering from the after-effects of these looks, stopping styling and going au natural is very scary as people are usually nervous about revealing their hair loss. Often the desire to hide thinning hair can result in even more harmful styling.

A smart way to disguise hair loss while your follicles recover is to utilise a hair thickening spray like KeraFiber which naturally and harmlessly bonds with your existing follicles, creating the appearance of thicker, fuller hair and giving you the cover you need to recover in confidence.