Why Your Hair Feels Thin After Braids and Is Thinning Normal

A cute young urban female with thin hair after wearing tight braids covering her whole head with extensions.

Though hair care trends come and go, braids have become a staple protective style. They’re gorgeous, last for months, and can help you achieve your hair length goals!

But as you’re taking them out after a couple of months, you might be surprised by how much hair you lose. If the pile of shed hair looks way bigger than you think it should, read this article!

We’re going to examine the reasons why your hair feels thinner after taking out braids and give you plenty of tips on preventing braid-related hair loss.

Here’s Why Your Hair Feels Thin After Braids

The day you take out your protective style (e.g., box braids) is usually filled with excitement. The feeling of your loose hair is refreshing, and who doesn’t love seeing all their new growth?

Unfortunately, nothing ruins this feeling faster than realizing your hair feels significantly thinner than before. We’ll look at some of the reasons why this happens below. 

African American female that normally wears protective styles just washed her hair with a clarifying shampoo.

You Left Your Braids in Too Long

One of the most common causes of braid-related hair loss is leaving your braids in too long. When you wear the same hairstyle for weeks on end, the shed hairs, leftover product, and scalp residues build up and become caked in your hair.

As you try to remove this buildup, the tension it causes can rip out your healthy strands. Leaving your braids in for too long means you’ll have more buildup to get through and are more likely to suffer from hair loss

Your Braids Were Installed Too Tightly

Another common cause of hair loss is getting your hair braided too tightly. While many people think that tightly braiding their hair creates a neater, longer-lasting hairstyle, it actually puts a ton of tension on your strands. This can lead to traction alopecia, which is a form of tension-related hair loss. 

Female with long braids has a simple hair care routine - pre-poo weekly and mist hair to moisturize with water and oils.

Although traction alopecia is usually most noticeable around the hairline, where your strands are weakest, your hair can start to thin in any area. While braids can be slightly uncomfortable at first, getting your hair braided should never be painful.

If it is, ask your stylist to loosen the finished braids and be gentler going forward. Remember, the health of your hair is way more important than a temporary hairstyle. 

You’re Not Used to Your Natural Hair

Depending on how much hair you had added to the style, your braids may have been significantly heavier than your natural hair on its own. So when you take the extra hair out, it can feel like there is hair missing.

The sudden weight change is even more dramatic since you’re losing all the shed hairs from the previous weeks at once. The good news is that this feeling will go away once you get used to your hair’s new weight and thickness. 

A young black female with thick, dark black roots in a braided protective style moisturized with a rehydrating mist.

You Didn’t Take Care of Your Natural Hair

Have you ever heard the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”? Unfortunately, when some people get a protective style, they forget to care for their hair.

Even though your hair is safely tucked away in the braids, it still needs to be cared for. You’ll have to clean it regularly, ensure it’s properly hydrated, and keep an eye out for product buildup. 

How to Take Braids Out Without Losing Hair

Some shedding is normal when taking out braids, but a haphazard takedown will drastically increase the amount of hair you’ll lose. By doing things the right way, you can cut down on breakage and hair loss and keep your hair in excellent shape.

How To Take Down Braids Without Losing Hair

Here’s how to take down braids the right way: 

Unravel Your Braids

The first and most crucial step in taking your hair out is to unravel your braids and remove the extensions. Luckily, this process is pretty straightforward.

Simply start at the ends and work your way up. You can also cut a few inches off the ends of the braids to reduce the amount of hair you have to unbraid. Just be careful not to cut your own hair accidentally. 

A fine young woman with beautiful olive skin and flower shoulder tattoo wearing her black hair in rope braid hairstyle.

Loosen Your Hair

Once all the braids are out, saturate your hair with water and apply a generous amount of conditioner. Make sure the conditioner that you use gives you plenty of slip.

That’ll help you cut through knots and tangles and reduce the amount of breakage you experience. You may also want to apply oil to your strands. It’ll make them even more slippery and make detangling your hair a breeze. 

Detangle Your Hair

Now that your hair is primed, it’s time to work on getting through the tangles and removing the shed hair. Although finger detangling is gentle on your strands, a wide tooth comb can help speed things up.

You can also try a detangling brush, which is specially designed to break through tangles without damaging your strands.

Regardless of which method, or combination of methods, you choose, make sure you detangle your hair from the ends and work your way up.

Once you finish detangling a section, put it in a twist or braid so it doesn’t get tangled as you work through the rest of your hair. 

A black woman with type 3 natural hair wearing box braids on thin hair that's experiencing hair loss and breakage.

Give Your Strands Some TLC

Because your hair has been essentially trapped in braids for the past few weeks, you should take this opportunity to pamper your strands. You’ll want to shampoo your hair thoroughly, so you remove all the residual product.

It’ll also help get rid of some of the more stubborn shed hairs. After shampooing your hair once or twice, apply a nourishing hair treatment and rinse with cool water. Then, all that’s left to do is dry and style your hair like usual! 

How Much Hair Do You Lose After Braids?

No matter how well you take care of your hair, some hair loss is natural. On average, a healthy person loses around 100 hairs per day. Since the loose strands get caught in the braids, you won’t really notice it until you take your braids out.

So, you should lose 100 hairs times the number of days you kept your braids in. 

While seeing a big pile of shed hair can be initially alarming, it’s completely normal. Instead of paying attention to the amount of hair you lost, focus on how your hair feels.

Is it noticeably thinner? Do you see any thinning spots? If your hair feels and looks normal, the amount of hair you see is probably within a healthy range. 

How Much Hair Did I Lose? These 4 Tips that STOP EXCESSIVE Shedding When You Take Down Braids

How Long Should You Wait Between Braids?

One of the best things you can do to keep your hair healthy is to take breaks between braids. Although braids are a protective style, they cause a lot of tension.

This constant pressure can cause scalp issues and weaken your strands. So, give your hair a minimum of one to two weeks between braiding sessions. 

However, the ideal length of time to wait in between braids is two to five weeks.

That’ll give your hair a chance to breathe and recover from the braiding stress. It’ll also give you plenty of time to fortify your strands before you braid them again. While you’re waiting, use a variety of hydrating and reparative products on your scalp and strands. 

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So, there you have it – even if your hair is thinner after your braids, there are steps you can take to nurse it back to health.

But the easiest way to avoid hair loss is to prevent it from happening in the first place. And we hope that the information we’ve gone over in this article helps you do just that!

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