What’s nape hair?
It’s the section of your head so infamous in the black community we have labeled as the kitchen. A bit of a weird one that, I’ve never understood why since everyone loves the kitchen. Well, in all accuracy we usually love what comes out of it: yummy cookies, cakes, stews, you know; sustenance.
Why then have we named one of the most challenging areas of our hair after one of the most beloved rooms in our homes? Serious question, if you know why that is then leave it in the comments below.
Usually when someone refers to their nape as the kitchen it’s to complain about how hard it is to tame what grows there. It usually doesn’t seem to want to co-operate with the rest of the hair on your head. Those little rolled up curls or the short broken off strands or fuzz that refuses to stay slicked down when you do your top knot.
The simple truth is that the nape area is often either last in line or entirely forgotten during the wash and conditioning part of the regimen but is then the first in line during the styling phase as we try and wrestle those strands into formation. In the end, something’s got to give and without getting the TLC the little area needs, the strands break off in protest.
Be honest with yourself. That little section is all the way down in the back where hardly anyone can see it unless you style your hair in an up-do. So, how much time and effort are you really putting in to properly maintaining it?
The nape area being the most fragile, tangles very easily often creating those wretched little fairy knots almost in the middle of your strands. If your hair is fine you know that fragility goes up times ten so breakage is inevitable if extra attention is not given to that section to prevent those single strand knots and inevitably, the breakage that goes along with it.
You will already have a hate hate relationship with single strand knots if you are natural but even if your hair is relaxed, you will know that any chemical damage is most often experienced and more pronouced at the nape.
If you have a broken nape, and you want to find ways to nurse it back to health we have a few suggestions for you that might just do the trick.
1. Separate your nape hair from the rest of your hair
When you are working on portions of your hair, it is better to separate it from the rest so that you can focus on it, handle it in a gentler fashion than the rest of your hair and assess your progress. Quite often we just lump it along with everything else, not giving thought to the adage that suggests that one size does not fit all.
It can be easy to forget that some areas need specialized attention by virtue of location. Chances are when your hair is not in a protective style you automatically swoop it into a bun or ponytail of some sort, pulling on the delicate areas to get the bomb slicked down look. Isolating the nape area allows you to remember that you need to be gentler in handling hair in that area.
2. Massage the damaged area with castor oil
Castor oil or Jamaican black castor oil is probably the most popular and recommended oil for any sort of mild alopecia or as a general aid for hair growth. Massaging your scalp is known to get your blood flowing and the follicles jump-started.
When you do the massage, focus on the areas that need the most help like the nape making sure the scalp and strands are well coated.
3. If you relax your hair, save the nape area for last
Typically you will notice that relaxers are usually applied from the nape forwards. However, if you are having problems with your nape area we would suggest processing that area last along with the edges so that the chemical is not sitting on there for the longest amount of time.
If you process these areas first, then your nape and edges will always be weaker and more vulnerable than the rest of your strands. Bottom line, if you want to avoid an impoverished looking nape, then leave the perimeter for last if you are relaxing.
4. Do not include the nape in any protective styles involving extensions
If you are sporting a braided protective style, do not add hair to the nape area. This way the nape has no additional weight added to it and remains protected and un-tampered with for the duration of the style.
Even if you are not into extensions*, your styling options can affect your nape hair. Buns have already been mentioned but other go to styles that force you to consistently place tension on your nape hair do apply.
5. Protect, Protect, Protect!
Keep your nape section braided either in single individual braids with no extensions* or in a single cornrow braided across for majority of the time. You can take the braids or cornrows down temporarily to moisturize and seal your hair but when you are done re-braid the section.
When you are wearing your hair down, the cornrow will be nicely hidden away but your nape will remain protected and be less likely to break. You can carry on with this technique of leaving that nape alone until you are satisfied with your growth progress.
6. Don’t use combs or brushes on the nape
In styling and detangling we commonly to use combs or brushes to help us manipulate the hair and train it in the direction we want it to go for the purpose of the style. My suggestion is to avoid taking a comb, brush or any styling tools or accessories to the hair at the nape that you are trying to grow out.
It is best that you use finger detangling only and avoid using anything that may cause further breakage in this sensitive area. Perhaps that bobby pin for the updo is not such a great idea after all. Aside from creating friction that can break off the hair while combing, you may risk causing breakage while removing pins or hair clips. That’s it! Hopefully these tips will help you tidy up your kitchen!
Check the video from KinkyStyles1980 below and see how she protects her nape.
Updated by Marsha Buchannan