To diversify hair styles, women of all ethnicities have utilized hair extensions. Extensions add texture, color, and volume to hair that can radically change a person's appearance. In their most ancient form, extensions were worn by Egyptians as wigs. Both men and women would wear hair extensions to prevent lice, also it was not uncommon among men for them to shave their head completely and simply wear a wig.
During the 1800's, however, extensions were considered unfashionable so women were encouraged to keep their hair natural. Hair extensions slowly became fashionable again during the 20th century as women used them to create the pompadour; which was a hairstyle incorporating wearing the hair high upon the head and then decorating it with flowers, beads, jewels, or other accessories. During this time, the hair extensions were commonly attached through the use of bees wax.
These extensions were mostly made of authentic human hair and used by the rich who would actually afford them. Today, hair extensions are affordable and come in varieties that include real and synthetic human hair. Advances in technology have also helped improve methods of delivery and production through the years.
Some attachment methods used in modern days are micro braids, Brazilian knots, cold and hot fusion, weaves that are sewn in, bonded weaves, drawstring ponytails, or hair extensions that simply clip in. The increase in affordability and popularity means that risks of hair loss and traction alopecia have also increased.
Traction alopecia is described as a form of hair loss that is a direct result of applying too much pressure to the hair's follicle by either adding weight to the hair or pulling it too tightly. After the attachment method you use for hair extensions, the hair follicle must carry extra weight that with constant use can begin to damage hair follicles.
The hair has a natural growth cycle that makes room for a rest or telogen phase for your hair follicle. If the hair follicle has been damaged and abused, the hair follicle will remain dormant rather than entering into a growth phase. The more follicles that remain in a dormant stage, the more noticeable hair loss will become in the areas that have endured the most weight and tension from the extensions. This is large noticeable around the hairline where the roots of the hair are already more weaker than the rest of the head. In addition, the crown of the head is affected because drawstring ponytails or tight ponytails apply stress there.
Weave that is sewn in is the largest cause of traction alopecia because there are tight braids used to apply the extensions as they are sewn into the braided “tracks”. The braids are very tight in the hair so they create “tracks” that are firm enough to withstand weight from the added hair. Unique curved needles and thread hair have been made to sew the hair pieces in place without piercing the scalp. The fact here is that as new hair grows it is pulled by the hair extension of weight – actually resulting in traction alopecia.
Hair extensions that are bonded create Traction in another way. Used as the modern version of bees wax is bonding glue. This bonding glue is used when attaching the wefts to the scalp. This often results in a look that is much more natural than that of weaves that are sewn in. Special glue remover is made that helps loosen or break the glue's bond, so allowing the hair to be easily removed. The only problem is that some bonds are so strong that natural hair is taken away when the weft is washed. If not applied properly to each place, the glue remover can inadvertently lead to hair being rolled during the removal process.
Methods that focus on strand by strand cause traction alopecia because of all the extra weight added on by the attached hairs. Depending on how thick the desired final look is Brazilian knots are created when single hairs are attached to natural hair by use of thread or glue. These extensions are commonly applied as close to the scalp as possible which puts immense pressure on hair follicles as the hair grows.
Each hair extension application method can cause traction alopecia in people at slightly different rates when used repeatedly. You should use extensions only rarely and always allow your hair a recovery period of at least a couple months. In addition, if you use chemicals to color or relax your hair, you can even further weaken the hair root making the hair more certain to fall out under the added weight from the extensions.
Even after years of neglect traction alopecia can be treated. However, the treatment process will take dedication and patience. Only use hair transplant surgery as the very last option. Treatment of traction alopecia is only possible if the scalp is healthy enough to stimulate the hair follicles to begin producing new hair. If you transplant hair into a scalp that is not healthy, this will only result in failure because the scalp will not be able to sustain new growth and nourish the new hair.