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.


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.)

Picture 3

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?


Healthy hair care tips and more!

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36 Comments on "11 Causes of Nape Area Breakage"

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Natasha Witter

I really am struggling with this issue, It is so sickening now more than ever, since I have gone natural, I believe the causes stated above & then some cause this…ugh perms!!!! chemicals. I wanted to upload some pictures that’s how bad I need help please help!!!

Angel J

My hair breakage In the nape is mostly water damage, lack of moisture, and lots of split ends, so I recently just did the undercut even though my family disapproves, it’ll get it to grow back stronger ill give it that TLC its needing and be able to continue on my 3 year of my natural hair journey. Its really tangled and when I go to maintain it, its a mess constant breakage going towards the middle of my head but it’ll be better In no time.


I found that once I stopped relaxing the nape it stopped breaking. So only when I’m wearing it up do I use flat irons to straighten the area. Also, Shapelys MTG mad the breakage stop as well…it also grew with that too.

S Ranford

My hair is 4C, however my nape hair is totally different. It is very fine and straight and won’t stay put. Gel helps keep the nape hair in place only for a couple of hours but then the hair works it’s way loose. Any suggestions?

I became natural a little over a month ago. I don’t do relaxers, but I did flat iron my hair every 2 weeks before I transitioned. Since then I have noticed a lot of thinning around my edges and today when I left in a conditioner it was really thinning in my nape area. I have never ever had this happen before, it is pretty upsetting. Every night I do twist my hair and take it down in the morning and wear an updo. I think I may be pulling the hair too much or else it is something internal.… Read more »

I use to have issues with the growth of the nape of my hair back when I relaxed my hair. I had been getting relaxers since I was 3, but I went natural in 2011. Ever since then my hair has reached lengths that I imagined that it could, but doubted that it would. While most of my hair is super thick and kinky, I find it interesting that the nape of my hair is composed of fine, loose curls.

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… Read more »

How are you styling the front? I imagine you’re already rocking the TWA as the back half is really short. Maybe do a bantu knot out, twist out, or flexi-rod set and rock it like blogger Ariel Sansaricq (

Shenika Jones

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

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… Read more »

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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… Read more »
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… Read more »

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

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… Read more »

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




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. =\


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.

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… Read more »

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.


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.


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?





I haven’t had a relaxer or straightened my hair in over 6 years, clearly stopping the relaxers isn’t enough for some of us.

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… Read more »

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


So what did you do? I have a 10 yr old that had beautiful shoulder length hair that now barely touches her ears.

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… Read more »
Nappy 4C Rocks

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

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!…

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.

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… Read more »

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.


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.

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… Read more »