By Audrey Siva­sothy, author of The Sci­ence of Black Hair: A Com­pre­hen­sive Guide to Tex­tured Hair Care

When the rest of your hair is grow­ing on cue, it can be real­ly frus­trat­ing to deal with a stag­nant crown area. Although nat­ur­al hair tends to mask crown area break­age bet­ter than relaxed and tran­si­tion­ing hair, crown area break­age can affect any­one. Crown area break­age is a chron­ic break­age prob­lem that results in hair that is notice­ably thin­ner or just stands or sticks up right in the cen­ter of the head. When the hair is straight­ened, it usu­al­ly falls in a W-shaped pat­tern along the back, rather than falling in a stan­dard U or V-shaped hem­line. Luck­i­ly for us, most crown area prob­lems can be addressed by iden­ti­fy­ing the phys­i­cal concerns/practices that con­tribute to the issue.

1. Texture & Curl Pattern Differentials

It’s not uncom­mon to have a slight­ly dif­fer­ent tex­ture or curl pat­tern in the crown area of the head. Often, this area will nat­u­ral­ly have dif­fer­ent mois­ture and han­dling require­ments to ensure that it thrives. If your crown area is fin­er, coili­er or kinki­er than the sur­round­ing strands, cus­tomize your hair care to this area by giv­ing it extra mois­tur­iz­ing and con­di­tion­ing time.

Texture/curl pat­tern changes can also occur along the same fiber for those with with relaxed or tran­si­tion­ing hair. If your hair is relaxed or tran­si­tion­ing, your tex­ture con­trast between the chem­i­cal­ly straight­ened length and the new growth will cre­ate demar­ca­tion issues that you’ll need to be aware of. The demar­ca­tion line will like­ly be more pro­nounced and any major shift in curl pat­tern will be a prime area for break­age. You are essen­tial­ly work­ing with a fiber shape that looks like: ~~~~——– rather than ~~~~~~~~~~. Both types are vul­ner­a­ble to crown area break­age, but the first exam­ple is more so. Han­dle your hair with care!

Many peo­ple also notice that their crown area is well … itchy. I find this to be true for me when I’ve allowed my scalp to get dry and tight– which usu­al­ly hap­pens just before it’s wash time. Avoid scratch­ing the crown area reck­less­ly into obliv­ion as this can break the hair and lead to a ten­der scalp. If you’re itchy, care­ful­ly mas­sage the area with the pads of your fin­gers and get some mois­ture to the area ASAP.

2. Physical Trauma

Phys­i­cal trau­ma cul­prits for crown area break­age include styling stres­sors like:

sew ins, braids and oth­er weaves done too tight­ly
pick­ing out and fluff­ing the hair with hair tools (combs/picks)
pin­ning hair in the center/crown repet­i­tive­ly (or putting weight on the crown area w/ pony­tails, etc)
wrap­ping the hair (espe­cial­ly if you are con­tend­ing with roots (pressed, revert­ing roots, or stan­dard relax­er new growth)
over­lap­ping dur­ing 4-quad­rant chem­i­cal ser­vices (relax­ing, tex­tur­iz­ing or col­or­ing.)
high pres­sure show­er water
Free form styles like braid­outs, twistouts, twists and roller­sets (pro­vid­ed tan­gling is kept to a min­i­mum) are good for main­tain­ing and grow­ing out a crown. Puffs can also work, but they may stress the edges and hair­line if not drawn prop­er­ly.

Our trusty friend the hood­ed dry­er has also been well regard­ed in the healthy hair com­mu­ni­ty for its deliv­ery of indi­rect, safer heat. But we also have to be care­ful with hood­ed dry­er heat because the del­i­cate crown area can receive a lot of heat atten­tion under this type of dry­er. The crown area is often the very first sec­tion to dry. Make sure that your dry­er mod­el cir­cu­lates heat well and that you are able to adjust your heat set­tings as need­ed. Check your crown area reg­u­lar­ly if you’re set­ting your hair. If your crown area dries first, light­ly mist the crown area to allow the oth­er areas of hair to catch up and dry. To reduce heat to the crown area, use the hood­ed dry­er to dry your hair to 80–90%, and allow the sur­round­ing air to dry your hair to com­ple­tion.

Dis­con­tin­u­ing these stress­ful phys­i­cal prac­tices will turn your crown area around in sev­er­al weeks.

3. Improper/Insufficient Conditioning

Lack of prop­er con­di­tion­ing is anoth­er cause of crown area fail­ure. Because the crown area is the most exposed area of the head to the envi­ron­ment and ele­ments (and may often be the coiliest/kinkiest)- it can real­ly take a mois­ture beat­ing if it is not sin­gled out and giv­en spe­cif­ic atten­tion dur­ing reg­u­lar mois­tur­iz­ing and con­di­tion­ing. You real­ly want to focus your con­di­tion­ing and mois­tur­iz­ing efforts in the mid­dle! It’s very easy to miss the crown dur­ing mois­tur­iz­ing and con­di­tion­ing because many of us tend to graze over the top and sides of the hair with­out real­ly dig­ging in deep to get the under­lay­ers of crown hair. You’d be sur­prised at the num­ber of peo­ple who sim­ply coat the edges, bare­ly scrunch through the mid­dle, and slather the ends with con­di­tion­er or mois­tur­iz­ing prod­uct. You have to get in there good and make sure the crown area gets some love!

When all else fails, attack­ing crown area break­age from the con­di­tion­ing angle almost always works. Iso­late the area and give it some extra TLC.

Ladies, do you have break­age in your crown? What are the caus­es and how do you deal with it?

Audrey Siva­sothy is a Hous­ton-based free­lance writer, health sci­en­tist and author of The Sci­ence of Black Hair: A Com­pre­hen­sive Guide to Tex­tured Hair Care (avail­able on & Barnes&

For more insight from The Sci­ence of Black Hair— relaxed, nat­ur­al or in between, vis­it us on the web and on face­book & twit­ter.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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29 Comments on "Top 3 Reasons You Have Crown Area Breakage"

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Today while get­ting ready to bun I real­ized the hair in my crown is bro­ken. This is set­back num­ber 2. I had edge break­age due to mass shed­ding after preg­nan­cy. Ladies be warned tight hair pin­ning is of the dev­il. I have been pin­ning the top of my hair into half up styles and now the area is sore and bro­ken. Thank heav­ens I saw this ear­ly or I would have con­tin­ued. This is my go to style when I mini twist my 16 month nat­ur­al hair. It looks good but the hair­pins too tight to secure it and make… Read more »

Hi! Just try­ing to fig­ure out what hair type I am as a way to have a base­line for what prod­ucts to use, and I’m won­der­ing if any­one can help me out. Both pics are of my hair when it’s wet, but not soak­ing. I think I’ve fig­ured out that I have low poros­i­ty hair, but I’m not sure whether it’s fine or coarse. Thanks!
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Roselynn Banks

You have curls the size of straws and a bit small­er. That is 3c/4a accord­ing to nat­u­ral­ly curly.


i would say a 4a to 4b beu­ti­ful curl pat­tern


Not 4b . 4b is zig zag. She is 3c4a

Mar­sha, what’s the name of your blog? i would love to fol­low. I had the same prob­lem before (along with the urge to itch/pull my scalp to relive the tight/sore scalp sen­sa­tion. It grew back when I braid­ed for a year. But now it’s hap­pened again & I only twist out. I’ve read up and it seems lack of iron and biotin(B vit) might be part of the prob­lem. I’m going to increase mine before I head to the doc­tor. Also friends rec­om­mend jojo­ba oil, plus amla oil which is a tra­di­tion­al Indi­an Ayurve­da oil. Also just checked my… Read more »
Tina Faye

I have fine, wavy hair that tends toward dry­ness and frizzi­ness. I use about a dime-sized amount of the Shielo Antiox­i­dant Leave in Pro­tec­tant on wet hair and then air-dry. I end up with shiny, wavy, frizz-free hair, which is amaz­ing since I’ve tried pret­ty much every frizz-fight­er around. Also, after a month I noticed my hair is break­ing a lot less and over­all look­ing health­i­er. Plus, the smell is amaz­ing. Great prod­uct!


This is so time­ly for me. My crown is start­ing to come back. I’ve found that wear­ing my hair straighter has allowed me to keep a bet­ter eye on my crown. It is real­ly help­ing me. My hair is fine but gets so tan­gled at the crown. I used to scratch a lot too but stopped and that has helped. 2 strand twist­ing has helped too. I do feel like I have to keep trim­ming it more than oth­er areas. Thanks for the infor­ma­tion.


I total­ly expe­ri­ence this, my crown has a coars­er tex­ture and it gets so dry. I try to mois­tur­ize it as much as I can, but I def­i­nite­ly haven’t giv­en it extra TLC as sug­gest­ed. Next wash I’m gonna sec­tion my crown sep­a­rate­ly (I usu­al­ly split the area with hair around my nape) and give mucho atten­tion. Thanks for this!!

I have always had break­age in my crown area even when I was relaxed. A few months ago I had a major set­back when my crown was left hair­less, so to cor­rect this I start­ed giv­ing my crown the TLC that it need­ed and saw imme­di­ate improve­ments. My crown hair now has a patch of hair that’s prob­a­bly about a lit­tle over an inch in growth. I start­ed using and mas­sag­ing in Rose­wa­ter mixed with a lit­tle pep­per­mint essen­tial oil which I spray on my crown twice a day then seal­ing with jojo­ba oil and or a light hair but­ter.… Read more »

[…] the crown is also short­er, which con­tributes to the appear­ance of the perime­ter (recent­ly read this post on BGLH that indi­cates short­er hair in the crown caus­es this “W” shape). But, the […]


The crown of my head has just start­ed grow­ing back and catch­ing up with the length of the rest of the hair on my head. The top mid­dle part of my head would get so dry that I would scratch my scalp until it chaffed and bled. Even­tu­al­ly I blamed it on the relax­er and final­ly went nat­ur­al think­ing that it would ulti­mate­ly solve the prob­lem. Wrong! Three years lat­er and I’ve final­ly learned that I must mois­tur­iz­er and retain that mois­ture at the crown of my head. And clean too! No more break­age for me.

Laila N
I thought I was the only one…My crown area is the rea­son I can’t wear 2 strand twists. My hair grows love­ly every­where else but the middle…i get most of my length from the sides and back, my bang area comes to my chin and that is fine because i wear my bang area kin­da of layered…If my mid­dle would grow and be as full as the rest, my full­ness would be ide­al. The mid­dle is also the kinki­est part, the curl pat­tern there is unbelieveable…Part of it is my fault though because i hard mois­tur­ize it out­side of wash… Read more »
My crown is def­i­nite­ly short­er but so is my nape. I have been try­ing more mois­ture and it is longer but still hasn’t caught up. Seems like I have hit a plateau. My hair def­i­nite­ly breaks more in the crown dur­ing detan­gling. I thought it was just because of the extra kink­i­ness and thought noth­ing could be done. All I can do is add more mois­ture since I don’t real­ly do any of the oth­er things. I’ll be more gen­tle. I have even tried only using fin­gers to detan­gle but the hair is too hard and kinky. I have to… Read more »

I have this same prob­lem in the bang area. I just don’t know what to do with my bang area. I just twist it out of the way, because it is so dis­con­nect­ed. I just want longer bang area. Any sug­ges­tions ladies?


I think twist­ing it away and keep­ing it moist will work. Keep it in a pro­tec­tive style and try not to pull on it too much to put in buns etc. My bangs were so bad I used to wear a weave for a 2–3 inch bang. They now are on my chin (thank good­ness). Good luck!


:( The crown is where my hair is the short­est. 7 inch­es there, while 9 inch­es every­where else. It’s so annoy­ing. I think I might have to cut a good inch or so off too, to get rid of the dry, split ends, and give it a good shot at grow­ing out more healthy, and not let­ting the splits get any worse… I real­ly don’t want to cut it though because then I would have to trim the rest of my hair so it wouldn’t look goofy and super uneven… agh… I’m still pro­cras­ti­nat­ing.


I real­ly hope that by me pay­ing more atten­tion to my crown area, ie, sec­tion­ing it off in small parts to comb, mois­tur­iz­ing it with water and oth­er hair oils, less dry­ing under the hair dry­er, etc, I will final­ly see the fruits of my hair labor. That sec­tion has always giv­en me trou­ble. It got to the point where I start­ed accept­ing it because it gave me the illu­sion of lay­ers!


This is soooo time­ly for me! I have just noticed break­age in my crown, some­thing that plagued my relaxed hair and I was sur­prised to notice in my nat­ur­al hair. I shall def­i­nite­ly be giv­ing it more mois­ture and NOT scratch­ing.

Thanks ladies!

Anna Renee

Dont ever respond to the trolls. Dont engage them, that what they want. They always derail con­ver­sa­tion, and when you switch up and respond to them, you join them in derail­ing the con­ver­sa­tion


I also strug­gle with break­age in the crown area. Last year it broke off some­thing ter­ri­ble and since then has remained short­er than the rest of my hair. It is a sore spot in my eyes and don’t know what to do :( I don’t over manip­u­late my hair as it is a twa and I do give it a good amount of mois­ture w/ but­ters and oils.. but maybe it’s not enough. I feel like it’s nev­er gonna grow :(


This is what my nape is like. The hair at my nape breaks very quick­ly and is also very hard to take care of because the strands are very fine. 

My crown area is doing quite well and is over­tak­ing my nape in length. If my nape were to be like my crown I’d be graz­ing APL. But it is what it is.


i have locks and my crown area is always the prob­lem area talk about brak­age there is always loose hair around the strand any sug­ges­tions for me

Tiffany W

I have been hav­ing growth issues with my crown area for almost two years. The rest of my hair flour­ish­es but the grown refus­es to grow no mat­ter what I do. I have had this prob­lem even when I was relaxed. I mas­sage my scalp, I’ve tried herbal treat­ments, I twist some­times, sleep with a bon­net, and add extra mois­ture, but the low­er crown region will not grow. Has any expe­ri­enced this prob­lem? If so, how are you cop­ing?


Real­ly good arti­cle. I have been hav­ing this prob­lem with my crown and I have doing some othe things sug­gest­ed and have been see­ing some pos­i­tive result. Thanks for the time­ly infor­ma­tion.


I couldn’t agree more. This web­site is a place for respect, learn­ing and pos­i­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion. Trolls move on.


That’s not brave! That’s child­ish and imma­ture!

Anna Renee

My nat­ur­al hair is thick and kinky and fin­er along my neck­line and above my ears. My crown is about 1/2 inch short­er than my hair­line and neck at all times. My neck is the longest. I just accept the dif­fer­ent lengths.


Um. How about yo take your mess start­ing tac­tics back to youtube. Lol