If you are thinking about getting hair extensions, or have already been wearing extensions for a period of time, you're probably wondering if they can damage your natural hair. The simple answer to the question is yes, extensions can damage your hair.

The damage caused by extensions is normally due to the way they are attached to your hair. There are several different methods of attachment with the most popular being the track weave, clip on extensions and strand by strand gluing methods.

The track weave involves platting the natural hair tightly and closely to the scalp to form “tracks”, before sewing in wefts (extensions) to the tracks. In order to create a track strong enough to bear the weight of the hair extension, the track has to be firm. To make the track firm, the hair has to be carefully braided, which can lead to scalp infection and welts.

Clip on extensions are wefts of hair that special clips have been attached to. These have grown in popularity over the last few years because of how easy they are to attach. They can be applied by yourself and do not require constant visits to a hairdresser or salon. Their main appeal is the ease with which they can be put in and removed. This means they can be worn infrequently on nights out or special occasions. They are great for adding body, color or highlights to hair.

Strand by strand gluing methods involve using specifically made keratin based adhesives to attach extensions to natural hair a few strands at a time. Compared to the two previously described methods, strand by strand extensions are designed to be worn for long periods at a time, and they usually last between two and four months at a time.

The cost of the attachment method and the quality of the hair used usually dictates the price of fitting extensions. The best quality of hair available is virgin human hair. This is hair that has not been permed, straightened or treated by any other chemical process. At the other end of the quality spectrum is synthetic extensions which are man-made from synthetic fibers.

Both types of hair are used in track weaves and clip on hair extensions. Strand by strand methods though usually use only human hair. This makes them very expensive and therefore less affordable.

All extensions can cause damage when worn excessively, regardless of what type of hair they are made of. Wearing them regularly despite having your hair rolled regularly which is very stressful for the scalp and hair follicles. Apart from the physical pulling, hair follicles are forced to carry the extra weight of the extension further stressing your hair follicles. People who wear hair extensions frequently tend to suffer from thinning hair and a form of hair loss called Traction Alopecia . Although traction alopecia can be successfully treated, it can take a long time, depending on how damaged the hair follicles are.

Hair extensions should only ever be worn occasionally. And when they are, suitable rest periods between applications is vital to allow hair follicles to repair themselves from any damage caused during application. Extensions should never be applied to weak and thinning hair because they will cause hair loss as the weak heels struggle to carry the additional weight imposed on them.

If damage has already been caused by repeated use of extensions, then use hair shampoos and tonics that are designed to increase scalp circulation, nourish follicles and stimulate new hair growth.

Although there are hair products that stimulate new growth, they can not be used on their own to achieve thinking results. Regrowing damaged hair will require making a few hair care regime changes and using products that complement each other in encouraging new healthy hair growth.