Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nape Damage and Recovery

I am one of the many relaxed women who have suffered damage to my nape or the "kitchen" as some call it.  It had always been a little bit of an issue for me.  It was always the shortest part of my hair as it is for many women.  My nape issue, however, seemed to get worse during my college years and a little bit after.  I kept wondering "Is it something that I'm doing?" And it may very well have been.  I have later come to realize that the stylists I had been going to may have contributed to this issue as well. 

One of my key goals during my journey is to baby my nape to get it healthy and eventually the same length as the rest of my hair.  I wasn't too excited to post this pic, but this is my journey and I wanted to share everything...even the not so pretty.  :(  When I get to my goal I'm sure I'll be glad that I posted this pic just to remember where I started and feel good about my ultimate progress.

Current condition of my nape
Smooth edges by tying with silk scarf
The last stylist I was seeing would always point out my hair getting thinner and breaking back there.  She would always tell me that my hair looked better and thicker short, pretty much encouraging me to cut it.  She knew that my goal was long hair, but she just kept giving me excuse afte excuse instead of helping me get the length I wanted.  "You're getting older and your hair is changing so it won't grow like it used to" or "Your nape won't grow because the texture is different than the rest of your hair" (I won't tell you what she compared it to...OMG!)  I would get it cut in a bob or some short style and eventually the damage and thinness of my hair would become noticeable again.  Finally one day while waiting for her to call me to the chair, I was flipping through a hair magazine and saw a photo of Terri Vaughn featuring a really cute short cut that was shaved/tapered in the back.  I had never liked having scissors anywhere near my hair even for a trim but imagine her taking some electric clippers to my head! Yikes!  But I was ready.  I thought maybe I just need to start fresh. So I did it. I freaked out, but I did it! Lol!  The shortest cut I had ever had. I kept some length in the front, but my hair in the back was "gone".  I never did get any good pics of the back.

Hair cut in Spring 2011

I didn't care to maintain the style afterward.  I just wanted my hair to grow back which was always my ultimate goal; and it was growing. But when I really started to get some length again, so came the thinning and breakage in the same area.  I was that person that never questioned the stylist; the licensed professional.  But sometimes having a license doesn't mean much if they don't practice the right techniques. It wasn't until starting my HHJ and doing some research that I came across some of the many causes of damage to the nape including mistakes of the stylist. 

Causes of Nape Damage
1.  Scarfs, jackets, or other clothing rubbing the hair and causing friction and thus breakage. I've always been a cold natured person so I wear jackets and sweaters a lot especially at work.
2.  Overprocessing when relaxing. Many people apply the relaxer to this area first because they think that it is the most resistant.  The result is overprocessed, dry, crunchy hair which equals breakage.
3.  Poorly neutralizing the nape after relaxer.  The stylist may not rinse that area as thoroughly since it is not visible.
4.  Not wiping down the neck area of the sink after rinsing and neutralizing.  The stylist may have rinsed off the relaxer back there, but if she hasn't wiped down the bowl very well and places your head right back on the bowl, you just got more relaxer on your hair which again causes over processing and damage. I'm pretty short and have a hard time getting my head all the way back into the bowl, so my nape is sitting where my neck should be a lot of the time. I think this was my major cause of nape damage.
silky hair wrap scarf

Recovery
1.  Try to prevent your hair rubbing against your clothing.  Lately I've been using a long hair wrap scarf that I purchased at walmart to tie around my neck.  Rather have my hair rubbing against a satin scarf than a cotton scarf, sweater, jacket, etc. Not to mention they're pretty stylish. :)
2.  When relaxing, apply relaxer to this area last to avoid overprocessing.
3.  If you go to a stylist for your relaxers, speak up and ask him/her to make sure the hair is thoroughly rinsed and neutralized back there.  Maybe spend a little extra time rinsing that area.
4.  Ask your stylist to make sure the bowl is wiped thoroughly before setting your head back down after rinsing.
5. Make sure to moisturize this part of the hair as often as possible.  This section will need extra care and attention.
6.  Apply castor oil to the hair and scalp.  Castor oil is known to nourish hair and stimulate hair growth.

I am now a self relaxer and have incorporated all of the above Recovery techniques into my regimen.  I am making good progress so far, and though it seems to be slow(ya'll know I'm just impatient...lol) I am sure I will see continued progress.

Is anyone else having nape issues?  What things have you found to have caused the problem and what techniques have you used to fix your issue?  Did this work for you?

Please share and thanks for reading!

Andrea

Update 12/2/15
Please see this post here for an update on my nape progress as of December 2014.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for being open and honest about ALL aspects of a HHJ. Most people have issues with their nape area. For the longest, I just thought it was normal, until I realized that with the proper techniques, that area can grow just as long as the rest of my hair. One tip I got from Ms.Kibibi is: If you wear your hair down, you can do a horizontal braid to your nape only which will protect it from being rubbed against your clothes.
    Other tips that helped my nape are
    1. MnS that area HEAVILY and I make sure it gets some love when DCing.
    2. Texlax that area every other relaxer. I realized that my nape didn't really need to be relaxed everytime.
    3. When tying my hair down, I made sure that my nape was covered AND I tied my scarf toward the front of my head instead of the back. I realized that the knot was rubbing against my nape, causing breakage.
    Great post sis!

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    1. I used to wonder if it was the way I was tying my scarf and I did used to always tie it in the back. That was probably another cause of my breakage. The braid sounds like a great idea as well. Thanks for the great tips!

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  2. Thanks for this post Andrea very informative and educative. I would never have guessed in a million years that the sink, scarfs and jackets could contribute to nape damage. I always pinned it down to buns held too tight. Thankfully mine is not too bad thanks in part to castor oil which I have been using consistently for a while now. I am one of the "back first" self relaxers will definitely be switching to front first from now on. Really good post!

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    1. Thanks, Lydz. Those are just some of the causes that I've found, but tight buns could very well be another contributor.
      I've started trying to incorporate castor oil into my regimen also especially at my nape.
      HHG!!!

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  3. I am currently having the same issue with my nape. My problem however, stemmed from excessive moisture due to my showers. I have started to incorporate the braided method when possible. I'm hoping I will begin to see improvements.

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    1. That's a good point, since hair is weakest when it's wet. Maybe letting it dry completely before tying it, etc. With the right techniques and proper care we should both start to see progress in no time. Good luck and thanks for sharing! :)

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  4. Awesome post! *Bookmarked!*

    www.savingourstrands.blogspot.com

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  5. What helps me with my nape area is -like AGE mentioned above- relaxing this area only every other relaxer and extra tlc while deep conditioning

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    1. I think I will try the every other relaxer technique as well. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. That's a good point Age in ALT said about braiding the back of your nape when wearing your hair down, never thought of that. When I'm DC under my heat cap i always press the back of the heat cap on my nape to make sure i can feel the heat penetrating. I m&s that area more that other areas on my hair.

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    1. I try to do that as well and when I'm DCing with my steamer I will sit backwards to make sure the steam hits my nape. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Same thing happens to me. It grows out for a while and then it's like nah lady I don't think so. It hasn't caused damage to other areas like normal so I'm happy about that but it's a pain. My old hairdresser used to say that's where I was holding my stress in my hair and it would break more when I was more stressed so maybe she was right.

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    1. Yes it is a pain! And stress could very well be a factor too. Do you have any techniques that you've tried to get your nape back in good shape?

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    2. Just trying growth aids right now and trying to be mindful of styles that ease pressure off that area. It comes and goes so we'll see.

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  8. Before my journey started my nape was also my trouble area.That and my crown. They're the same texture, which is slightly more coily and kinky than the rest of my hair. I'm also very short and the comment you made about the stylist's bowl not being wiped properly after the relaxer rinse off MAKES SO MUCH SENSE! I've been self relaxing since the start of my journey, meaning that I rinse and neutralize like a person obsessed bent over the edge of a bath.(In fact I haven't visited a salon for any reason inn almost a YEAR) My nape is longer and stronger than ever before in my life! I also tie my scarves in the front and not the back and I baby my nape in general because even with all the progress so far, it is still the weakest section of my head. All the best of luck Andrea!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks you! I'm learning my nape is definitely my weak area. I self relax now, and neutralize probably WAY more than I need to. LOL. I've started tying my scarf toward the front as well. I also want to start relaxing that area at every other relaxer like some of the other ladies mentioned above. I'm learning that my nape grows at a much slower rate than the rest of my hair so it should not need to be relaxed as often. I can't wait until I get it to grow long and strong so I can prove to my old stylist that it can grow just like the rest of my hair! :)

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  9. I uses doctor miracles temple and nape balm for my daughter along with sulfur 8 coconut and castor oil and her hair is sprouting on out especially in the nape area

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    1. i had used doctors miracles a long time ago pre-hhj, but I don't remember how I liked it. I do remember it making my scalp tingly. That maybe something for me to revisit. I don't know if i could get past the sulfur 8 smell though.

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Thoughts and suggestions are welcome. :)

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