BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Weaves, braids and extensions are all popular hairstyles for women. Yet researchers at Johns Hopkins are warning against them and urging doctors to educate their patients on the risks, saying they can lead to permanent hair loss.
An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia, a form of gradual hair loss. They say certain scalp-pulling hairstyles can cause damage to the hair follicle from prolonged or repeated tension on the hair root.
"We see it literally every day," says Yasmine Young, who owns Diaspora Salon in Charles Village. "We are the only licensed natural hair salon in Baltimore."
"Usually traction alopecia occurs on the hairline. That's usually the most fragile," Young says. It can lead to bald spots and damage that is irreversible, but entirely preventable.
"It's usually from weaves or braids pulled too tight and someone has a bald spot. Then, they keep going back to the same style."
Young doesn't offer relaxers or weaves and says, "I wouldn't do anything that would compromise the integrity of someone's hair."
She explains her focus is on hair care, not just style.
Hopkins researchers are advising women against having tight weaves and braids. They recommend women don't keep braids in for longer than two to three months, have weaves or extensions removed every three to four weeks, and alternate styles allowing hair time to recover. For Young avoiding all those styles entirely isn't realistic, but making smart choices is.
"You can have hair extensions, but they don't have to be sewn in super tight. You can have braids, but those are not super tight."
Both researchers and Young agree natural is healthiest.
"I treat my hair like it's cashmere. I do little rinses and I rub it, and I say 'I love you,'" she laughs.