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How Hair Extensions Can Cause Damage

Just How Bad Are Extensions For Your Hair?

We're excited to present this hair-raising story from Allure:

This week a hair loss expert at the London Centre of Trichology came out and said that in the last two years, he's seen a 15 percent increase in women seeking treatment after damaging their hair with glue extensions — which he now believes should be straight-up banned before they scalp more women. The trichologist told the BBC that the extension-related hair loss is traction alopecia, which is a condition caused when too much tension is regularly placed on the hair roots, pulling out the hairs, and damaging the follicles permanently. Yikes! We asked New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, who specializes in hair loss, if hair extensions are going to give us hair reductions in the long run. See her advice when you keep reading.

What's your take on this news linking an increase in hair damage to extensions? "It doesn't surprise me. It's true — but it's true for a variety of reasons. It's not the hair extensions per se that are bad. It's like anything — if you get artificial nails done or eyelash extensions — it's about whether the person who is doing it and you, the person who is getting them, knows how to maintain them. I don't think extensions should be banned; they should be done properly."

Is there a way to have extensions and not have hair damage or loss? "Yes; go to a pro who really knows how to do extensions. Professionals should have undergone training; this is not something you want to have done at your local nail salon. And you should go back to your stylist for maintenance at least once a month. The stylist will make sure that the extensions are on properly, and if one is pulling at the hair, they'll remove it and reapply it the proper way. They can also rotate the areas that they put the hair extensions on so it's not the same group of hairs under stress every time. Rotating means less damage to the hair follicles. And [at home], you shouldn't pull at [extensions] too much when styling."


Say I've noticed some hair loss. . . "If you're starting to experience hair loss, address it right away. This will eventually damage the hair follicle and the hair loss will be permanent. So if you're seeing [some loss] now, eventually the follicle will be scarred and you won't get that hair back."

The BBC story specifically mentions glue extensions. Are sewn-in extensions less harmful than glue extensions? "No; sewn-in are more damaging than glue-in, which in America are called individual keratin extensions. The cornrowing [involved in the sewn-in process] is stressful on the hair and the hair follicles. There's more weight on the surface area with sewn-in extensions than individual keratin strands. Individual keratin strands are better."

So in summary: glue-in > sewn-in. If you notice an extension is pulling on your hair, see your stylist about having it removed and reapplied. If you're already experiencing hair loss due to your extensions, have the extensions removed and see a doctor. And in the meantime, check out these hairstyling tips for thinning hair from New York City hairstylist Garren.

More stories from Allure:
The secrets of melt-proof summer makeup
Is there a dry eye in the house?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
Emilybelladonna1104 Emilybelladonna1104 5 years
I totally get why people want hair extensions, but "permanent" ones sound so invasive...especially since there are so many clip in ones available. I recently did a review on my favorites :)
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 6 years
I don't think anything that only causes hair loss should be banned. Hair loss, while sad for your vanity, is hardly tragic.
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
I beg to differ on glue-in being better than sew-ins. Granted I only wore a sew-in weave once in my life but I don't see myself getting it on the regular. I have seen so many young girls and women with bald edges from both the glue and the sew-ins. When I got mine done, I made the stylist know that I don't like tight braids and I informed her when she was braiding it too tight. I left mine in for about a month and a half. The wefts I purchased were thin because the hair was super curly so there was no need for the bulky wefts of hair. Plus some of the bulkier wefts of straight tracks can be split, so you don't have to have heavy wefts weighing down on your hair. Now with the glue, you have to be careful because they are a b!tch and a half to remove. You have to get some bonder remover. After applying that, to get rid of the residue, you can saturate your hair with hair oil and leave it in for about 30 minutes and then use a clarifying shampoo to strip the hair of everything. Then follow up with a moisturizing conditioner, preferably the deep treatment kind. But even with the glue, that stuff leaves your hair extra fragile. So on that not, I rather deal with sew ins for the cold winter months and I always inform the person braiding down the hair please do not braid it so tight because once she sews in the tracks, the tension increasing exponentially. Just my two cents.
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