The hair world is split between those who extoll the use of hair extensions as a means of growing hair to super long lengths, and those who angrily swear that extensions are the very reason that they sport short and damaged hair in the first place. The thing is, both camps are right. Some women have grown their hair 6-10 inches in a year with the help of extensions, while others have ended up looking like they were sporting bald caps. Hair extensions and weaves can serve a very useful purpose, not only for style, but for hair growth as well.
Improperly installed and maintained hair extensions can lead to excessive hair loss and damage. Bad installs that are not properly maintained can leave you with dry, brittle, damaged, and thinning hair. Properly installed and maintained extensions allow you to try new hairstyles. You’re able to give you own hair a rest from excessive heat, pulling and combing, thereby preventing breakage at the ends of the hair, and allowing you to retain length. In short, what you do and don’t do before, during and after you get your extensions will determine the eventual outcome.
If you are interested in growing longer, healthier hair with extensions, here are the do’s:
- Do find an experienced stylist with a great rep. If you choose a new stylist, choose one who’s knowledgeable about properly installing extensions, and who understands the importance of keeping your hair healthy underneath the install. Don’t go for the cheapest person merely because they’re the cheapest. If you end up experiencing damage, it could end up being the most costly “cheap” hairstyle of your entire life.
- Do make sure that any braids used for the install are not too installed too tightly. With a braid weave, the stylist should make sure that the base is braided secure, but you should not feel any pain once it’s in place. With individual extensions, some braiders like to braid tightly starting from the scalp. This is the surest way of experiencing hair loss. The area where the extension first meets the scalp should be secure but should not be pulled taut. You could damage the follicles, and end up with traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is hair loss that’s associated with hairstyles that are too tightly pulled ripping your hair out from the roots and damaging the follicles. Traction alopecia can possibly be treated in time by halting use of the offending hairstyle and the application of topical hair growth aids as long as you cease using the hairstyle.
- Glue may seem like an attractive option due to its ability to allow you to place weave tracks close to your scalp, resulting in hair that looks like it’s growing from your scalp. The problem is that glue is one of the biggest culprits in hair loss for women. Glue can stick to your hair and scalp, and you could end up ripping out your own hair in addition to the hair extension. The chemicals in some glues have also been tied to hair and scalp damage. Glued-in extensions should only be used on an extremely short-term basis, like for a wedding or other special occasion. They should be applied and removed by an experienced stylist.
- Do take care of your own hair underneath the extensions no matter how tempting it is to just “let it go” because “it’s covered.” Without cleansing or moisturizing, the hair will become brittle and eventually break off entirely. Deep condition your hair prior to installation so that you hair is its strongest and healthiest. Moisturize your natural hair regularly with natural emollients and moisturizing conditioners while it’s weaved up. Make sure to protect your hair at night with silk scarves or bonnets.
- If your hair is weak and damaged, don’t install extensions until you can improve its condition. Don’t keep your hair extensions in for longer than three months, less if your hair grows fast or if it’s extremely thick. Keeping extensions in for too long results in matting, tangling and breakage.
- Use the best quality hair that you can afford. Cheap hair is often made of filler that can cause allergic reactions in those with sensitive skin.
Following these tips will help you grow your hair to new heights and lengths!