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Hair extensions – Is it worth the risk?

Most women spare no expense to have everything nipped, tapped and tucked. If mother nature did not bless you with long hair, or if you have lost hair for any reason, you can get the hair of your dreams through hair extensions. For the typical Nigerian woman, she is stylish and does everything to make herself look good. Be it on the continent of Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania to Latin America, the latest crave for hair weaves or extensions are a common feature among women.

 “There is nothing wrong in wearing wig or hair extensions. It is all part of beauty process. I wear wigs and human hair extensions a lot; it doesn’t mean I am not proud of my natural hair. All is part of beauty enhancement and what defines us as women. Even the oyibo people wear hair extensions and wigs too. It is hot and attractive”. Anita Samuel an undergraduate, said.

Anita is not the only one who is a fan of hair extensions, her friend Bimbo, wears hair extensions too. With every hair and beauty treatment there are always two sides to the coin. She said “Some people say that hair extensions are expensive and that it takes several hours to sew in. So they don’t like it. I think it is a matter of individual choice. I wear hair extensions because my natural hair is bad. What would have happened, if there were no hair extensions? She asked.

Hair extensions - Is it worth the risk?While it is true that extensions are good for women for a number of reasons, there is also a long history of utilising hair extensions. But experts say that the beauty of your hair goes hand in hand with your health. To them the health hazards far outweigh the rewards.

Findings have revealed that having extensions may cause hair to break off, and even worse, leave you with blinding headaches, to bleeding scalps and even permanent baldness sometimes. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2015 reported that extensions could lead to permanent baldness and that the problem might be more common than reported. A kind of baldness called traction alopecia, caused by the pulling and weight of the extension.

There is also some concern over the glue that is used to attach hair extensions; which for some with latex allergy, you might develop systemic anaphylaxis after being repeatedly exposed to hair bonding glue.

Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist of Terrytown, N.Y, spoke of the hazards of hair extensions when he examined a female patient who was referred to him.

“When I went to examine her and simply touched her scalp, she pulled away and winced when my fingertips touched her quite gently. I took a closer look and noticed something unusual. She had hundreds of these tightly braided hair braids.

Adding further he said “It turns out the woman was suffering not from a neurological condition, but from a side effect of her new hair extensions. She had gotten the popular beauty treatment a few weeks earlier, right at the time the headaches began. It was pretty clear to me that she did not need a work-up, “but that she needed to remove her extensions.”

For Chioma Azubuike (not real names), her hair was damaged from years of wearing extensions. “Some hair extensions are heavy and are attached too tightly, that when they are removed it takes your natural hair along with them. This is the case with me and I had to seek medical attention”.

It is often said that a hairstyle can make or break your looks .The key is to always evaluate the various risk factors and then moving forward or not moving forward with a crystal clear vision of all the options. However, if you are interested in considering having extensions; these are some important questions to ask:

  • What are the extensions made from? Are they synthetic or 100%-natural human hair? (Human hair is more expensive than their synthetic counterparts)
  • How will the extensions be applied and removed?
  • Can you choose from a variety of weights?
  • Age of the person getting the hair extensions
  • Type and thickness of the hair that will have extensions added
  • Current health of the scalp where extensions will be attached
  • Type of hair extension methods utilised such as temporary or semi-permanent
    (weaves, fusion, beads, tape or other methods)
  • How long the extensions will be continuously worn
  • Expertise of the hair extension technician
  • History of scalp problems
  • Genetic predisposition towards hair thinning or loss
  • Overall health of the hair extension clients
Gabriel Ifinnwa

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