11 Causes of Nape Area Breakage

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For some people the nape hair grows just fine. For others, the nape area suffers constant breakage, stunted growth, and is the most fragile section of the scalp.

Before 2007, my nape hair never surpassed two to three inches (except for during my childhood years). It was severely damaged from overprocessing and dryness and would seem to break the instant it was touched.

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In 2007, I began to seriously address my nape breakage by stretching the period between chemical relaxers and paying extra attention to the area as I conditioned and moisturized (i.e., extra TLC). With these changes and more, my nape hair was gradually restored to good health. Nowadays, it has reached a length I never imagined it could. (In 2008, I officially went natural, but that isn’t to say that one needs to do so to have a healthy growing nape.)

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Do you have nape growth issues? If so, any of the following could be the source of the problem. Eliminate that source and your nape hair will be restored to good health and growth.

Causes of stunted/slow growth of nape hair:
1. Poor internal health
2. Dryness
3. Under conditioned
4. Breakage from tight headbands, scarves, etc.
5. Over-brushing
6. Over-processing (raise your hand if you relax that section first)
7. Friction from shirt, scarf, coat, couch
8. Too much tension (e.g., braiding nape hair too tightly)
9. Inadequate neutralization after relaxing
10. Heat damage from trying to get that nape hair straight
11. Sleeping on the back of head

Ladies have you struggled with nape breakage? What was the reason for it and how did you remedy it?

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30 thoughts on “11 Causes of Nape Area Breakage

  1. I have fine, low-porosity, loose curls on my nape. That area is strong, it just doesn’t need extras – extra moisture, product, styling, combing.

    Perms and heat used to melt the hair off that area (no regard was paid to the different texture) and even the lightest, gentlest twist extension would slip off or break the hair in that area. I can’t leave my own braids or twists in overnight either.

    I learned that leaving it out and adding a little oil a few days a week and maybe some finger coils leaves my nape healthy, strong and growing like a weed.

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  2. One thing people overlook is the texture of the nape. Often it’s a different texture to the majority of the hair and has different needs but because it’s such a small area I think sometimes it can be hard to remember to treat it differently. If you have fine hair like me, it can often be the most fragile part of the hair that needs the most tlc, gentle handling, moisture and protein more often than the rest of your hair. While I do moisturise my nape, I don’t do protein as often as it probably needs because the rest of my hair needs less.

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    • Great point, my nape area is definitely one of the weakest areas on my head so I have learned, the hard way unfortunately, to be extra gentle with that area and it has begun growning again nicely.

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    • I love all of those hairstyles. I do the twist a lot bcaeuse it is super easy and if needed I can pull it together at a stop light. I like to have all of my stuff layed the night before so if I do happen to be running behind in the morning I don’t have to feel to panicked.

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  3. I find it hard to understand that someone’s nape could be the part that doesn’t grow! for me, my nape has always been my healthiest, nicest section of hair. in fact, most of my hair is 3b, my crown is 4b, and my nape is 2c! I always wondered, when I did go for relaxers, why they always started with the nape, when that hair really didn’t ever need any retexturizing. I wish my whole head was as strong and silky and easy to manage as my nape… now my temples and crown– whole other story!…

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    • Nothing you’ve said makes sense. And I’ve got to see what 4b, 3c and 2c hair all in one looks like. Very extreme leaps. Goodbye.

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  4. agree with #1 esp…our diet is SO important, the inside counts…but #11? should one sleep on the side? on the stomach?

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  5. ECZEMA can also cause hair breakage at the nape..SAD TALE .I had never braided ,permed or used relaxer but my nape hairline kept receding. A Visit to the skin doctor and he confirmed eczema at the nape

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    • YES! I always felt like I was the only one who has suffered with eczema at the nape because everyone else’s always seemed so thick and healthy. I have never seen anyone else with nape ezcema so it’s good to see I am not alone! I used to be SOOO sad to see everyone’s pretty baby hairs and mine was looking like ground meat, lol :/. I used to want to do top knots, updos and ponytails SOOOO BADLY but couldn’t because my nape area was soooo awful looking – short, extra course stubby hair, with raised skin flakes (sorry I know that’s gross), red dry cracked skin, and constantly itching back there…agggh! Do you know how frustrating it us to want to just put your hair up and go but you can’t because your kitchens are jacked??? Soooo, I said enough is enough and starting PRAYING (Hey, by Jesus’ stripes I am healed, right?!) and braiding up my hair back there and leaving it braided for extended periods of time and putting NO product back there. It took about a year or so and I am thrilled to report that my nape area is growing in very nicely! I still have a ways to go (as the rest of my hair is BSL) but at least I can brush that area up and put my hair in a bun now without having to find a huge head band or scarf to cover it up! And if you are in the Houston area – look up doctor Seymour Weaver. He is a Black dermatologist and has been serving the Houston area for 30 years or so. He is excellent and will understand and know what to do to help you!

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  6. In my early 20s when I still got relaxers (I’m 30 now).. I used to go to this “upscale” salon in Maryland… and the Mexican lady they had in their rinsing out people’s perms never used to rinse my nape area well. I was so introverted back then that I never used to say anything to her. Now there’s definitely a patch in that area that has trouble growing and sometimes randomly itches. It’s taken sometime and now it’s a bit thicker, but never as long as the rest of my head. I’ve recently started using castor oil for that area specifically.

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  7. Also, amazing growth in your nape area!!

    Can you go into more detail of what TLC you’ve been giving has had such beautiful results in your nape?

    Thanks!

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  8. My daughters hair is fine with high porosity 3c, 3b. Her nape and crown is very fragile.
    To proctect the crown and nape of her hair I heavily seal them and put them in individual braids. This prevents them from breaking when she is playing and rubbing against stuff. Protien has also added strength to her hair. I use Shea moisture yucca and baobab anti-breakage mask on her hair every 2 weeks. It has really helped strengthen her hair.

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  9. I would add one more to this list. For those who get or have gotten relaxers, sometimes the stylist would leave the same towel around your neck for the entire service. If any relaxer got on the towel, it would get transferred back onto the nape area, which of course, could lead to breakage. Also, any relaxer residue left on the neck rest of the shampoo bowl should be cleaned off once the relaxer is rinsed from the hair, in order to avoid the same problem.

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  10. Omg I was thought it was just me that was bald in the nape area! For years I was never able to grow hair there and then in early 2012 I noticed after having braids for about 2 1/2 months I had some growth. This actually inspired me to start transition, I had thought about it in the past, but was intimidated by going natural. However onec I did I noticed I had growth back there! When I relaxed I always started in the back too. But now with being fully natural I finally noticed how fine the hair in that area is, it’s the only place where I have a totally different texture, so I have to give it extra care and be very gentle, but the hair there is now the longest part of my hair!

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  11. A few months ago my nape hair was the nicest section of my hair, but too tight scarves KILLED my nape hair, it use to curl now it’s all prickly, dry, and puffy.. so i’m just cutting it whenever it gets on my nerves now because I can’t deal with the snags. Bonnets over scarves ladies.

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  12. My nape always broke off when I was relaxed. When I went natural I was surprised by how easily my nape hair grew. I did not treat it differently compared to the rest of my hair, yet it was not breaking off. I am a little wary now that the weather is getting cooler and my hair is long enough to brush against my clothing.

    My front edges are another story. =\

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  13. MY NAPE USED TO LOOK LIKE THAT PIC WHEN I WAS GETTING RELAXERS. COME TO FIND OUT IT’S A VERY LOOSE TEXTURE BACK THERE FOR ME. NOW THAT I’VE BEEN NATURAL 2YRS I HAVE NO ISSUES AND IT’S THE LONGER PART OF MY HAIR ALL OVER. MY NAPE HAS ONLY BEEN AND ISSUE WHEN I WAS RELAXED. IN A 5YR SPAN PART OF IT FELL OUT TWICE NEVER AGAIN SMH

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  14. What I consider the nape of my hair is farther down than the author’s in the photo. It’s at the very, very base of my neck. I get only about, maybe, and inch of hair growth there. It’s never long enough to get pulled up with the rest of the hair, it’s a completely different texture (more rough) and rarely respond to any type of gel or product. I’ve been trimming the area because my hairline is uneven in the back and I don’t like the way it looks. I’ve cut it, it grows back, but I still have the same problems.

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    • Exactly the nape of her hair is underneath the section of hair we all can see in the picture…nowI personally relax my own hair at home using only lye relaxers & I also relax my nape last because it takes the least amount of time to get straight & my nape has always grown fine

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  15. What you describe at the nape is exactly what I have at the *front* of my hair, particularly above my left eye. (I don’t part it there.) The curl pattern there is tighter. I am obviously doing something quite wrong and I’ve no idea what it is. It seems to recover if I give it a “rest” by flatironing for about a month, but that is lousy (and drying) for the rest of my hair, and I don’t want to. I ought to attempt a style that doesn’t pull it back, but hair in my face gives me acne (with scarring) in about three seconds, and has done all my life. So I try to keep it smooth by sleeping in a satin scarf instead of brushing.

    My nape (which nobody sees!) is doing great. =\ Dang variable hair.

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    • (Maybe harsh skin soaps contribute to breakage, front and nape, if inadequately rinsed? There is a lot of harsh skin soap in my life.)

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  16. For the longest while, my nape just refused to go.It was a combination of eczema, split ends and ignorance. I would get disheartened and add extensions to it. It would literally split and disintegrate it.
    What changed the game for me was finger detangling it every few days to remove lint, which would get trapped from my collars or scarfs. after, spraying it with a protein spritz before heavy sealing with vaseline and keeping it in small plaits. I never left it loose and would always leave it in the plaits for washing , twist-outs. If i wanted to add hair i would add it to the minibraids. Now my nape is the healthiest part of my hair. I’m working on my corner edges.

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  17. Pingback: 11 Causes of Nape Area Breakage - UrbSocietyMagazine

  18. My hair is totally natural now. It ringlets naturally (baby ringlets), but even when I left off texturizers and went totally chemical free, the nape of my neck was an embarrassing disaster. However, I did remember a time when that part of my hair had grown quite long, broken off, then never seemed to recover. I eventually realized, overall, that my hair and skin are super hypersensitive, and my body was having an extreme reaction to carageenan, guar gum, and other thickeners and fillers found in the foods I ate (I’ve been veggie for 21 years, and turns out most non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, etc. contain these ingredients; many non-veggie products do, too). I also used to make things worse by trying to camouflage the broken-off nape area with the upturned collar of a cotton coat, causing more damage and friction. Once I completely eliminated carageenan and guar gum from my diet, the area totally grew back in. Another problem was that while I style the rest of my hair by leaving in a light amount of my normal conditioner, followed by gel, and a spray-on moisturizer, putting those ingredients on the nape was like putting a brick on a butterfly–too much product for that area! Now I use a totally different product, only one product, diluted with water, and it’s fine. Bottom line: Observe and listen to your hair and body very carefully–they will tell you all you need to know.

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  19. Hi,I have been natural for 2 1/2 yrs. Kept it washed,braided and oiled.I wore wigs while growing it out . Now my nape is damaged assuming from the wigs because the cap was always riding up. Now I just got my hair straightened and want to wear it out. I need some suggestions on how to get my nape healthy again . Thanks

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  20. Right now, my hair looks exactly like the top photo. I haven’t had a relaxer since last September (so I have about 2 in. of new growth), but after that last relaxer, LITERALLY half of my hair fell out. All of my relaxed ends in the back of my hair broke off, so it’s all natural back there…well, all two inches of natural. The front, however, is business as usual, so up there I have about 2 in. of new growth and maybe 6-8 in. of relaxed hair. I have no clue as to how to style my hair. I refuse to cut it all off because I can’t pull off hair that short. What should I do?

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