Save The Scalps Is On A Mission To Prevent Traction Alopecia In Young Girls

April 19, 2016  |  



There’s no shortage of memes about Black women’s struggle to protect their edges, but the reality of traction alopecia is far more serious than any Internet trope may let on. Despite all of the knowledge on healthy hair care that’s now available online, many young girls still fall prey to unhealthy hair practices passed down from older women in their families who don’t know any better, and D.C.-based organization Save The Scalps is on a mission to prevent this generational hair curse throughout our nation’s capital.

“Save the Scalps has set out to not only reverse this thinking for young girls not yet privy to the information, but also for older women with no clue about how to manage their natural hair,” wrote founder Kealah Abdul-Barr in an email.

So far the group has given hair presentations at numerous colleges and businesses as well as middle and high schools throughout the DC area, introducing girls to the negative effects of unhealthy hair practices and then providing natural hair alternatives. In a recent presentation at Kennedy Recreation Center, group members noticed 100 percent of girls ages 12 and up in attendance suffered from stunted hair growth or excessive heat damage.

“The older girls see perms and flat irons as a ‘rite of passage’ in a sense,” Abdul-Barr said. “When they want to look more ‘mature’ or ‘adult,’ they begin to perm and heat their hair. This inevitably leads to damage.

This [cycle of poor hair care] sprung from the idea that natural is isn’t ‘professional’ or beautiful and has been taught to us for generations. Many feel like its harsh and unfair to tell a girl that the way the hair grows out of her scalp isn’t fit for society and she thus has to change herself to mold to society’s standards of what beauty is. This also leaves us with the notion that Black hair is not what beauty is.”

Thanks to Abdul-Barr and her organization, by the end of every presentation the girls have come to see that natural hair is beautiful and often go on to do more research online to learn how to care for and style their hair without harsh chemicals. As the group builds to extend its reach across America, its also looking to expand the takeaways girls get from the program. One such hope is to be able to provide girls with a natural hair starter kit that will aid them in their transition as well as a how-to guide for management. A far more ambitious feat is to host a Natural Hair Beauty Pageant at the Washington D.C. Howard Theater so young women can see the wonders of natural hair proudly on display. Of course, funding is required to accomplish these goals and Save the Scalps is currently accepting donations of money and time to realize these efforts and continue “Giving [girls] the light and new-found confidence in their natural beauty that many naturalistas rave about.”

To donate or get involved with Save the Scalps, visit their website at


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