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By Geniece of Beautifully Made

One winter during high school a strange thing began to happen to my hair. My hair was relaxed at the time and up until that point gave me little to no problems. I rarely used direct heat because my mother would roller set my hair and I regularly washed and oiled it (didn’t know what sealing was back then). Aside from lacking the thickness that only my natural texture could provide I was fine with my hair, especially because in the 1990s girls my age with natural hair were an unusual sight. However, this particular winter the hair along my nape began to break. I actually didn’t realize it until the hair went from about bra strap length to about four inches within a matter of weeks. Upon inspection it appeared as if someone had taken scissor to my nape and cut the hair clean off.  As my mother began to contemplate what might be the cause she realized that the wool scarf I had been wearing that winter was likely the culprit. Indeed it was and to this day I will NEVER wear a wool scarf. Avoiding wool scarves, especially if you wear your hair down, is perhaps the easiest way to avoid breakage along the nape. There are other helpful tips you might consider as well.

I find that because the hair along my nape will have the most contact with whatever I’m wearing, the hair in that area is prone to lose moisture. Even if the hair is not in contact with an abrasive fabric like wool the constant loss of moisture can make the hair drier and thus more prone to breakage.  So what can you do to protect your nape hair?

1. If you wear a wool coat and your hair is shoulder length or longer try clipping your hair up when wearing your coat. Using a claw clip, flexi-8 or even placing it into a loose ponytail should allow you to maintain the style while keeping your hair off your shoulders.

2. If you like wearing stylish wool hats consider finding one lined with satin. If you cannot find such a hat, you may consider wearing a satin bonnet underneath hat. I’ve done this with cotton hats and find that not only does my hair not lose moisture but my style doesn’t suffer from frizz. You’ll have to remember to visit the rest room and quickly remove the hat and bonnet. Forgetting that you’re wearing the bonnet may result in awkward glances from colleagues and friends.

3. Regularly assess the health of the hair along your nape. Often this part of the hair is forgotten because breakage doesn’t necessarily impact the appearance of your styling. It’s only when you decide to wear a high ponytail or bun that your realize the hair along the nape is far too short.

4. Moisturize and seal the hair along your nape at least every other day. Even if other sections of your hair feel moisturized remember that this section is possibly drier.

5. If you have suffered breakage along the nape, consider flat twisting the hair horizontally even while you wear a twist out or braid out. If your hair is at least neck length the flat twist won’t be visible and protecting the hair this way gives it much needed rest. By the way, this is how my mother successfully got my broken nape hair to regain length after my wool scarf incident.

How do you keep your nape protected when it gets cold?

Gen

Island girl raised in the most royal of NYC's boroughs. Proud nerd, social scientist, educator and recovering awkward black girl. When not listening to NPR, trying to grow spiritually, or detangling my fro, I'm searching for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

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18 Comments on "Protecting Your Nape During the Winter Months"

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Tessa
This article is the truth!!! I wore cotton and wool scarfs everyday last winter and in March/April 2014 I noticed large missing chunks in the entire back of my hair that extended from my nape up. I’m still recovering but I am making progress. This faux pas will NEVER…I REPEAT NEVER happen again. I thought I was alone in this. Protective styles in the form of the flat braid or twist at the nape has been my SAVIOUR!! Great article and very informative. Ladies beware winter is coming…take care of those napes!! Hmmm….but what to do with all those fashionable… Read more »
Yetunde Lofstedt

I live in Canada and my hair always suffers in the winter so I used my talent to create satin lined beanies which I offer for sale in my etsy store https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/171441388/satin-lined-bobble-slouchy-beanie-for. This way, my hair retains moisture and I still look chic 😛

jessybabe

Good tips to remember. Right now my hair isn’t long enough to rub on anything too much. Can fabric cause ssks or lack of moisture?

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Isolina

Wow! That’s great! Check out Nutress Hair Stop Break Leave-in-Conditioner to reduce breakage.

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Tiffany

Every year I go throught this and I have abided by the rules and it happens no matter what. It’s so annoying and embarrassing.

Peace, Love and Chocolate,
Tiffany

Purpleicious Babe

Maybe try putting it in a protective weave styles. x

Michelle@Radiant Brown Beauty

Honestly I never pay much attention to my nape during the winter. I just treat it the same as I would the rest of the year. I also also my kitchen area several times a week all the time (to reduce SSKs) so I think that helps keep it from drying out too much.

Penelope

I love the flat twist idea! I’ll probably just cornrow since that holds better for me but that’s really useful. Thank you!

IAM

I always wear a satin bonnet under my wool hats. The white folks at work always look at me like I have three heads when I put it on, but I don’t care. I don’t want my hair breaking off.

Troy

I wear a much needed wool coat for these Ohio winters however I have silk scarves that I triangle across the neck of the coat. It’s stylish and protective.

Loreal

I just wear a silk scarf over my wool scarf.

Ugonna Wosu

I considered that, but the thought makes me feel suffocated. I like the idea of keeping a horizontal flat twist along the area. Just spray the area for moisture and take it down on wash days, and retwist.

Subhash

Michelle my best idea would be to join our forum and ask the question there. We don’t have a list on here of that nuarte yet. If you follow the Marketplace Monday posts, I will eventually get to that kind of information.

Petula
This happened to my mother. She had, and has, long fine hair that was prone to dryness. She was always wrapped up tight all winter with hats, scarves, high-colored coats and shirts… even turtlenecks. She discovered the breakage in much the same way as you did. She started folding down her collars and using silk or satin scarves, etc. My hair was relatively long and processed then (Jerri Curl! LOL) and I didn’t have that problem. Even years later living in Upstate New York and having a perm that didn’t happen. I never liked stuff up and around my neck… Read more »
PMS

I was always warned that wool can break your hair! Glad to see you we’re able to overcome!

Carmel Girl

I pin it up often and I moisturize with my homemade blend of raw shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil and almond oil. All the oils are organic and I whip them together with my hand mixer. My hair soaks this stuff up and I use it daily on my ends, nape and hair line especially.

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