Hair extensions come in different colors, textures and lengths allowing women all over the world to transform the way they look. Extensions are commonly referred to as weaves and are used mainly to modify the length, colour, texture and body of natural hair. If you wear hair extensions regularly or are thinking about having hair extensions fitted, be warned that overuse can result in a form of hair loss called Traction Alopecia or Tension Alopecia.
The hair extensions pull the hair follicle due to the extra weight it forces the follicle to carry. Doing this repeatedly slowly pulls the hair out of it’s follicle. This can occur all over the scalp, wherever a hair extension is repeatedly attached.
You may be asking yourself if certain ways of attaching hair extensions might spare your poor follicles from being traumatised. The simple answer is no. Whether you wear clip on extensions, tracks, or strand by strand extensions (brazilian knots, fusion methods included), you are still at risk of causing damage to your hair follicles. Damaged or traumatised hair follicles are incapable of producing healthy hairs. As further damage is caused, the follicle may remain in its dormant phase for longer than it should. As more follicles remain in the dormant phase, hair loss becomes noticeable. Traction alopecia is a result of the way we treat our hair.
Fortunately this sort of damage can easily be reversed by looking after your scalp and giving your hair a break from extensions. Like everything else in life, when done or in this case worn in moderation, hair extensions should not cause any damage to your follicles or natural hair.
So how do we define moderation? Well think of it this way. Everytime you wear hair extensions, especially for periods such as weeks at a time, you should allow your scalp time to recover and for your follicles to relax, burden free for at least three months when you take the hair extensions out. Allowing this gap will give your damaged hair follicles and scalp time to recuperate from it’s last ordeal.
This means you really shouldn’t wear hair extensions more than four times a year. The damage they can cause to your scalp is comparable to the damage caused by chemical processing such as relaxers and colorants.
Apart from leaving suitable breaks between applications, here are a few other things you could do to prevent traction alopecia:
- Avoid attaching the hair extension to the same spot. This is expecially important if you wear track or clip on hair extensions.
- If you’ve got weak thinning hair then completely avoid wearing extensions all together. They will make things worse and cause further hair loss to weak damaged hair.
- Avoid putting your hair in ponytails, chignons or any tight hairstyle that might add more tension to your scalp.
If you already have traction alopecia you’ve got a good chance of growing your hair back if you stop wearing hair extensions and focus on healing your follicles then stimulating them to grow health new hair.