I have to confess, before we go any further, that I have never had hair extensions in my life. I’ve seen some good ones and a lot of bad ones lets face it, thus why I was never swayed to have someone else’s hair in my head. Nothing wrong about it, if you like it and they’re well done, but that was never what I witness as I grew up, therefore, it never caught my interest.
However, since I began my transition to natural hair my knowledge of hair extensions as changed and, although I don’t contemplate having them in the foreseeable future (I too much in love my hair right now), I no longer see them as Friend or Foe. I understand that things are not so cut clear. If you’re considering wearing hair extensions while transitioning to natural hair there are a few things you need to factor in before you simply take a side.
The Truth About Hair Extensions
I’m not gonna beat around the bush and I’m going to tell you straight up that hair extensions can seriously damage your dreams of having healthy and beautiful natural hair. Simply put, they can leave your hair dry and brittle and send you off to the “Land of Hair Breakage” and hinder your length retention plans. And this might sound like a minor nuisance when I tell you that you can get traction alopecia.
This is a hair loss condition that happens when too much tension is applied on the roots of the hair damaging the follicles. Essentially you will start noticing a receding hairline or even bald patches on your head. This can be traumatizing to many, and some people never recover from it once its reaches a scarring stage. The pictures below can give you a clear view of what this condition, traction alopecia, can look like.
The Other Side Of The Truth
After my introduction on the subject you must be thinking, Really!? Is there anything good to say after that? Yes, there is. Didn’t you ever hear that there are always two sides to every story? Things are never white and black and with hair extensions, the same thing applies. Just as they can “scar” your natural hair journey they can also work out be good associates. Many resort to hair extensions to aid them in protecting and growing their hair. Here are some of the direct advantages you can get for your hair’s health:
- Protection from the environment (sun, wind, cold weather)
- Protection from frequent styling
- Protection from heat
- having a break from chemical processing (dying, relaxing)
And here are some aesthetic advantages:
- Add instant length and volume/fullness
- Try latest hair trends without risking own hair
- Cover hair issues such as hair thinning, hair loss and even cancer (wigs)
- Can save time styling
- Fewer bad hair days
The Game Changer
So you now know the good, the bad and the ugly about hair extensions and you may be indecisive on which side to stand for. The reality is, you can make hair extensions work for you! If you’re transitioning to natural hair and you find it difficult to deal with the two textures or you can’t be bothered to do protective styles they might just work perfectly for you. However, and this is what I want you to pay close attention to, you can’t just put them on your head and expect things to work out wonderfully!
The difference in having your hair extensions as a friend or a foe is the role You play in that “relationship”! What do I mean by this? Well, what I mean is that it is your decision to:
- Choose the best quality hair extensions – I know that any decision here is many times dependent on the price tag. You have synthetic and natural (human) hair extensions, and you can probably guess that the latter is more expensive. Nevertheless, if you made your decision to go natural and to have the best possible hair, should you be cutting corners now? Synthetic hair can cause allergic reactions, it is more difficult to blend with your natural hair and is more prone to tangling and shedding. Natural hair, on the other hand, will need more care but they do offer a more natural look and more versatility when styling.
- Choose an experienced professional – It is very important to take your time and search for someone who is knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to applying your hair extensions. This person will be able to advise you in accordance with your expectations, goals, amount of hair to apply, lifestyle, required maintenance, application and more.
- Application method – extensions can be placed in many different ways. There are bonding, clip-in, sew-in, net weave, fusion or u-part extensions. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Some can use an adhesive or glue and you need to be conscious of possible allergic reactions and hair pulling when removing them. With others, you need to braid your hair first and extensions will be sewn in, but you need to make sure they’re not too tight. This is when traction alopecia can creeps in if you don’t pay attention.
- Hair maintenance – You need to care not only for your hair extensions but also for your natural hair that is underneath it. The maintenance for your extensions will vary in whether they’re synthetic or natural. This will extend their life, make them look better on you and save you money in the long run. As for your hair, don’t think that this is your opportunity to be carefree and your hair will just grow and be healthy without much care. Honestly, this is not a fairytale. Wake u from your dream! You still need to clean and moisturise your hair or it will get dry and brittle which will cause breakage! Oh, and you can also get some bacteria lurking in there if you don’t clean your hair regularly and properly.
- When to make application – Don’t be in a rush to flaunt your new hair length or style, or to leave behind the complexities of transitioning hair. You need to make sure that your hair is not weak or it will get even weaker, and you know where this will lead you – breakage. Take care of your transitioning hair before applying your hair extensions, trim and deep condition. It can make a big difference!
So you see, hair extensions can be either friend or foe. You hold much of the deciding power when it comes to how things will work out for you. If this is something you have been considering, or are considering after reading this post, please do your research, weigh in all the factors and assess your commitment when it comes to your role in this equation.
Are you considering having hair extensions? Have you had them before? What was your experience and what is your take on them?
Wow this is very thorough, I knew nothing about hair extensions (or maybe some little cons) but with these information I feel like an expert on this now, changed my point of view, thanks for sharing your knowledge!
You’re welcome Vera, I knew very little as well. It’s always good to know, it is never wrong when we make an informed decision.
I like how you present both sides of the issue. I will be sharing this info with my step daughter, thanks for taking the time to share this information, very helpful.
Thank you Vic! 🙂
Before, I though that hair extensions are just for aesthetic purposes. I didn’t know there are other benefits 🙂 thanks for the very informative article 🙂
You’re welcome Keye. Yes,there are a few advantages to wearing hair extensions.
I have to say that is a really well written post on Hair Extensions Friend or Foe. You write really well and I love the 2 sides to the story part. I’ve always thought about having luxurious long hair and hair extensions have always played on my mind. It was a bit of a shock to see how badly it can damage your hair so I may have to look into this a bit further. Good advice for quality hair extensions. Great post. Sophie
Thank you Sophie, I try to give you information in the clearest way possible. I’m glad you liked it! With hair extensions there are two sides of the story, and you need to consider them. Don’t make a rush decision and also access your commitment if you opt for having them.
I would like to buy some extensions, any good vendors recommended, I am in New York.
I’m sorry, but I don’t have any recommendations for you. Here on this blog, I focus on helping people transition to natural hair based on my experience and the knowledge I acquired and because I have never used extensions I wouldn’t be able to advise you on where to get some.