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 Amazon.com & Barnes&Noble.com).

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

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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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Mara
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 »
Natasha

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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sherrell

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

Jojo

Not 4b . 4b is zig zag. She is 3c4a

Roselynn Banks

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

Gigi
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. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/Amla-Oil.htm 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!

N T

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.

Kailyn

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!!

Marsha
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 »
trackback

[…] 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 […]

4BeeHair

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 »
Aisa
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 »
Lynn

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?

Aisa

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!

Inka

🙁 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.

ChakaKhanian

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!

Onia

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

layray

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 🙁

Sieta

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.

arsha

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?

Albeautiful

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.

Afrinaturality

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

Annika

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.

demoiselle

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

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