Improving the State of My Nape

Oh, the nape, the hair right above the back of our necks - what a problem area this is for many black women. Some women have no problem whatsoever with their napes, however, for many of us, it may seem like an area that just is not meant to grow very long. This has been the case with my nape for as long as I can remember. It's always the first area to break off if I am experiencing breakage and its length retention has been virtually non-existent. It is, sadly, also the target of my hand-in-hair syndrome. Sigh. When my hands subconsciously venture into my hair, here is where they rest, rub and probably wreak havoc. If I am extremely stressed, this is where my hair thins first. You get it, right? You name it, here is the place it has happened.

I wish I had thought to take a picture of the state of my nape when I began all of this because I'm positive it was a lot worse off than it is now. That said, pictured to the left is the current state of my nape. I think it is about shoulder length, a kind of thin shoulder length. I think that both relaxing my hair less often and leaving this area for last (to process the least amount of time), have contributed to allowing my nape to progress more than it has in the past. Still, it is not as healthy as I know it could be or even as healthy as the hair directly above it (see pic below). I want to be more intentional about changing that. 

There are numerous factors that are known to play a role in nape breakage and/or thinness. The hair at the nape can often be finer, less dense, softer, or a completely different texture from other areas of your hair which causes it to be more prone to breakage. For example, the hair at my nape (and in the back of my head overall) is much more kinky and coarse than the rest of my hair. This makes it more tangle prone and harder to keep moisturized in comparison. Combined with this are a list of things that can keep this area damaged such as: too much manipulation (with your fingers, combs and/or brushes), too much tension (from too tight buns, braids and other styles), overprocessing with harsh chemicals, friction (from headbands, clothing, scarves and/or coats), and heat damage.

To me, the hair at the back of my head is seemingly less thick than the rest of my hair. I haven't completely figured out why that is yet. Even with that, the hair at my nape is noticeably shorter and thinner than the hair directly over it. So, I need to step up my game of taking care of my nape. I already relax it last and it is now the most textured part of my hair due to that. That's about where my extra care stops.

Left: from middle of my ears down, Right: from top of my ears & down
Right now, I just want to make a few changes to see if they make a difference. My first goal is to try to make a conscious effort to keep my hands out of it. Extra moisturizing and sealing is next on the list. I want to start paying special attention here like I do the ends of my hair. I need to cut down on styles that cause me to put too much tension on my nape. Or perhaps just embracing messy hair a little more would help, too. Lastly, I will be more mindful, during this winter season, of my turtlenecks, scarves and coats contact with my hair. I also have a go-to headband that ties in the back which could be contributing to the problem. The thought of giving that up is just sad. Hopefully, this will be a good start to improving the current state of my nape.

Anyone else have any trouble with their hair at the nape?


  1. Great post, Melanie! I too feel like the middle back area of my hair is thinner than the rest. The left and right sides seem so thick, but I am not as happy with the back. Somehow I want to blame it on claw clips causing tension in the back of my head. I used to wear them all the time pre-HHJ and even a little in the beginning. Now I try avoid anything that could cause any kind of tension anywhere on my little head. LOL
    I also need to take your tip on keeping my fingers away from my nape. I just subconsciously rubbed my fingers back there before typing this sentence. lol

    1. Thanks Andrea! It's such a conundrum, right?! Lol! I'm not sure what to blame it on, but it's very frustrating to me.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one whose fingers always end up in their nape! I've caught it happening SO many times just since writing this post. That change is going to take some work.

  2. I have nape issues. Luckily, my hair is long enough to hide it. However, my hemline isn't as thick and lush as a result.

    Divachyk@Relaxed Thairapy

    1. Same here! I think my hair and hemline would look so much fuller and thicker if my nape would get with the program.


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