Weaves and hair extensions are very popular and used regularly by celebrities and non-celebrities alike, across all races and even crossing some gender lines. Millions of women enhance their look by using weaves and hair extensions, but there is a real danger when it comes to the health of your hair underneath. The two biggest causes of damage to the hair and scalp include too much tension/traction (when the hair is braided, when the extensions are applied, or when they are taken out) and lack of moisture (dryness makes the hair much more prone to breakage). It’s very important to remember to take care of your own hair first, remember to make your hair the #1 priority even when wearing weaves, extensions, or wigs.
Below is an excerpt from ConsumerReports.org published February 2013 from the perspective of Dr. Orly Avitzur:
“A 46-year-old social worker came to my office complaining of excruciating head pain. She had already had a several-thousand dollar work-up that included an MRI of her brain and cerebral arteries. The MRI ruled out several serious causes of head pain.
As I examined the scalp over her left temple, the region she described as most tender, she winced in pain. My fingers had discovered several rows of tightly braided hair extensions that had been placed two weeks earlier, about the time that her symptoms had begun.
This was not the first time I had seen a patient with headaches caused by a hairstyle: tightly pulled ponytails, braids, and chignons can cause them as well. While those styles are easily undone to give the scalp a rest from the pressure, my patient was reluctant to have her extensions removed. That’s because she had invested eight hours in a salon chair having them installed, and decided to bear the pain.
…The process can cause what is called traction alopecia—hair loss and balding from the pulling and excess weight. The hair loss is believed to be caused by loosening of the hair shaft from the follicle, as well as by chronic inflammation. Extensions can cause hair tangling, matting and loss of shine, itchiness, and yes, pain, like my patient experienced. They can also cause contact dermatitis and, in rare cases, life-threatening allergic reactions from sensitization to glues, rubbers, or other chemicals used for extension application and removal.”
There have been wide-spread reports of women experiencing damage to their hair and scalp because of improper techniques and poor maintenance of their own hair.
The Good News: The majority of damage caused by weaves and extensions is COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE!
When getting a weave installed, make sure the braids or weaving is not too tight and remember to take care of your own hair underneath by giving it the moisture and conditioning it needs. Also be sure to give your scalp periods of rest without being weaved up. If you don’t over-do it and you take care of your own scalp and hair, weaves and extensions are harmless and can actually improve the health of your hair when used as a protective style.
(The full article referenced above can be found at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/hairextensions.htm)