Ask CurlyNikki: Help! Why is My Hair Falling Out?

curlynikki LEAD

Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by emailing them to BeautyEditors@essence.com.

READER QUESTION: I've noticed recently that whenever I comb or finger detangle my hair, I get SO MUCH hair on the floor! I've lost a bit of length because of this. I'm usually in protective styles about five days out of the week. When I'm not in a protective style, I braid my hair every night. I moisturize my hair and deep condition weekly; however, once I touch my hair, I have hair all over the floor and on my shirt. I'm so tired of this. What should I do? —Samantha

CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE: Samantha, I'm sorry to hear that you're going through this and I want to help you. Losing hair can be very unnerving and made worse by the fact that you don't know why. As I don't have all of the pieces to the puzzle, it's difficult for me to advise you. For instance, from your description, I can't discern if the hair on the floor is shed or broken. When you get a moment, inspect the hairs that you see around the sink. Are they mostly full-length strands with bulbs on the end? If so, they are hairs that have shed, which is perfectly normal. Or, are they strands of varying lengths with jagged or torn ends?  This is very important, as it will inform you (and me) on what your next step should be.  

In order to get to the bottom of this, I need you to play hair detective and objectively review your current routine and habits. Here are a few questions I recommend you ask yourself:

  • How long have you noticed the fallen hairs?
  • Did the hair fall increase after you started a new styling practice?
  • After you started using a new product?
  • Taking a certain medication?
  • Are you stressed?
  • Do you use direct heat often?
  • Do you color your hair?
  • Have you had major surgery in the last year?
  • Have you given birth in the last year?
  • Are you a finger detangler/styler or do you reach for combs and brushes?  
  • Do your combs have seams?  


These are a lot of questions, I know, but the answers will help us help you. Finally, as I always recommend, if the fallen hair is really causing you anxiety, make an appointment with your dermatologist or general practitioner pronto!  

In the meantime, here's what I want you to do:

1. Assess your protective style of choice to make sure it's not stressing your edges or any one part of your hair. Also be sure that you don't leave it in too long and that you continue to moisturize your hair even while it's protected. I agree with low manipulation, but everyone's hair doesn't thrive in protective styles.

2. Speaking of low manipulation, you may also want to take a break from the nightly braiding. I'd try to experiment with a different, less stressful nighttime routine that doesn't involve finger detangling or too much fuss. Try a bonnet, satin pillow case, pineapple or multi-pineapple.

3. Take a look at your products. How long have you been using them? What are the active ingredients in your staples?  

Samantha, feel free to leave your responses below in the comments section and I'll pop in and help you figure this thang out!

Best,
Nik

Nikki Walton, founder of CurlyNikki.com, is a successful psychotherapist and creator of the most credible online source about natural hair care, maintenance and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. She's the author of the book Better Than Good Hair.