The New York Times recently reported on Razor Chic, an Atlanta hair salon owned by stylist Jasmine Collins that specializes in hairstyles to camouflage hair loss. This is good news for wig- and weave-dependent African-American women who suffer from thinning hair or baldness.
Commonly, hair loss can occur as a result of hormonal changes due to childbirth and menopause. Another cause of hair loss is traction alopecia from years of braiding hair too tightly against the scalp, which, over a prolonged period, can cause hair follicles to scar over and cease production of hair. A sure sign of hair follicle destruction: the small red bumps tender to the touch that can appear along the hairline when braids are put in with maximum tension. This is how people typically lose their edges and weaken already distressed areas of hair on the scalp to the point of disaster—which would be permanent hair loss.
Razor Chic salon owner Jasmine Collins typically cuts, then lifts the hair color with dye to reduce the contrast between the scalp and the hair itself. She then chemically straightens the hair to create volume and movement. Collins’ technique, as seen in YouTube videos, produces some of the most clever comb-overs I’ve ever seen.
While most would agree that natural hair is the way forward for healthy, thick hair, manipulating curly hair to cover thinning or bald patches is very difficult. New clients spend around $500 for services and any maintenance products Collins recommends.
Collins told the Times: “I am not anti-weave or wig. I’m just trying to spread the word about an issue.”
Many women wear wigs and weaves as a timesaving method for styling their hair, but they also wear them, unfortunately, because natural hair is not universally viewed by employers as acceptable or appropriate for work. Wigs and weaves, if done properly, avoid putting too much tension on the braids and involve giving the hair a rest between wearings, such as removing wigs for sleeping or substituting a wig in place of sewn-in extensions to remove the weight and tension of added hair.
Curly, kinky hair is delicate by nature. Crystal Williams, author of the New York Times article, wrote: “Because of bends in the hair, sebum from the scalp, a natural protectant, can’t travel down the length of the shaft. The bends themselves also make curly hair prone to breakage.”
Being able to walk out in the street with the confidence to wear your own hair is the holy grail for any woman with noticeably thinning hair. Hair transplants to reverse permanent hair loss, typically around the crown or the edges, can run anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of the area and the technique used by the surgeon. Other less invasive methods for restoring hair are currently in practice among dermatologists and plastic surgeons alike.
PRP, or platelet-rich plasma therapy, is a technique popularly known because of the “vampire facial.” Through the process, vials of the patient’s own blood are extracted and spun in a centrifuge to yield a serum rich in healing properties due to the high-count platelets—cells dedicated to healing the body’s wounds and fighting off infection—and then injected into the site to stimulate healing and new growth.
Dermatologist Michelle Henry, who was also quoted in the Times article, focuses on hair loss in her practice and offers PRP as a step in the treatment of hair restoration. PRP for hair loss can run anywhere from $400 for a single treatment to $2,500 for a series of three treatments. Costs vary by region as well as the degree of complication involved in the procedure.
Side effects of PRP can include tenderness and swelling at the injection site, and the results require patience: It usually takes three to five weeks before the initial changes appear, and a minimum of three months before the final results of hair restoration begin to show.
The path of least resistance—not to mention the least capital investment—may be to simply cut and color the hair to produce the illusion of fullness and volume for thinning and balding women. Dickie Anthony, founder of Hair Rules, a New York City multitexture salon, says of Razor Chic’s proclaimed specialty: “The point of knowing how to cut hair is to make any head of hair look great. It’s a smart niche marketing.”
That may be so; nonetheless, it’s an idea whose time has come, as women abandon wigs and weaves in favor of embracing their own hair. For those looking to decide for themselves, Razor Chic offers hilariously titled Edge-U-Cation classes on its website starting at $99 via livestreaming. No matter how we reclaim our natural beauty, it’s more than worth it—not only for ourselves but also for the future of our girls.