Long hair is every woman’s dream. To have a thick mane that rises from your roots and brushes gently on your bosom and waist without blemish or bleakness. Who doesn’t covet that?
Beneath every extension is a balding head. This may not be 100% wrong.
Many women all over Africa put on wigs and weaves to hide the undesirable bald spots, thinning hair, brittle strands and the short reality of their mane.
A question that each woman should ask herself before putting on that extension is ‘ Why do I need this on my head?’ Is it for the following reasons:
- To look or feel beautiful.
- To grow my hair.
To my fearful and awesomely made readers, these should be on the tips of your finger tips before you put on that extension ;
- Alopecia and its causes
Tight installations and friction between the wig and hairline brings about alopecia. Other factors are also contributers to this state.
Alopecia is a condition where one loses hair from the head or other body parts. In accordance to hair, Alopecia can be permanent or temporary
- Traction Alopecia is caused by tension on the hair follicles due to tightness of the hairstyle. It’s characterised by inflammation, small bumps on the hair base, headache and pain in the affected area. Repeated installation of tight hair styles pulls out the root of the hair from the scalp, leaving you with thinning hairline and eventually a bald spot.
- Scarring Alopecia is a permanent form of the condition. Due to constant pulling and inflammation, the follicles become raw wounds which heal into scars . Scar formation indicates total hair root destruction therefore no more hair growth and this results into baldness.
- Alopecia areata also known as balding spots. This condition is majorly as a result autoimmune disorder where your own body attacks and destroy its own cells. In this case the body’s defense attacks the hair follicles at a particular area on the head leading to balding. It may be permanent and there is no cure for this condition yet.
- Androgenetic Alopecia or FPHL (Female Pattern Hair Loss). This refers hair thinning . It is common on the center and crown of the head. It is very similar to that of men when they begin to bald. This condition is characterised by thinning of hair, high frequency of shedding , receding frontal hairline,low hair volume and hair miniaturization. Hair miniaturization is when normal growth of 3-4 hair bundles stops and begins to be fewer in number eg 1-2 tufts of hair per area. The follicles in this case may never grow again. This state is due to genetic inheritance of this condition, Androgenetic and oestrogen hormone imbalance( research not clear on the influence of these two hormones in hair loss.)
2. Relaxers, perms, curly kit,dyes
Braiding or weaving chemically treated hair is a dangerous move with a high chance of breakage to the Afro hair. Chemically treated hair does not have the same integrity as untreated hair therefore it may not withstand the weight of extensions.
Treated hair needs constant moisture and retouch to keep the chemical effect on point and this is difficult to maintain under extensions such as braids or weaves.
Adding chemicals to your hair can change its protein structure since that is what they target. By breaking the protein architecture in the hair strands, Afro hair is made bone straight or wavy according to your desire. The same principle is true to texturizers. Relaxers are known to be very corrosive and may damage the follicles causing scarring Alopecia and boils. However, it is good to be moderate and careful in the frequency and method you use to apply these chemicals on Afro hair to avoid hair loss after installing extensions.
3. Hair Products
Different Afro hair textures have different product compatibility. One may cause severe dryness, another may just sit on the strands and some will leave the hair very oily or cause scalp irritation.
Using the wrong products before installation of extensions will result to a massive breakage beyond the history of your imagination.
4. Your hair stylist
Personally, I wouldn’t want my hair to be done by a stylist with no edges at all. They say presentation is everything. If you notice that your stylist has thinning hair or a receding hairline (and has no medical reason behind it) do not sit in that chair at all. There is a high chance when she is done with you, you will end up in the same state as her.
Another important point is the salon’s clientele. Do they have thinning hair or receding hairlines? If yes, get the hell outta there! You may end up joining the balding flock.
If your stylist does tight installations even after complaining about it, then it’s time to find another salon or pull your sleeves up and do your own hair.
5. Heat: blow-dry, curling tongs and flat irons
Straightening hair before installation is a good thing. It removes tangles and is effective in opening hair follicles to conditioning or moisturizing products.
The problem lies with very high heat. Ladies with 4c hair experience this type of problem where medium heat may not be enough to get the strands in shape.
Heat damage on hair is characterized by limp strands, frizzy ends and refusal of the strands to coil back. This is permanent and the only way to remove heat damage is to snip off the ends with scissors.
Healthy hair is grown using less or no heat.
Constant combing, brushing and pulling will eventually pluck out hair from its roots,cause increased shedding and breakage.
People wonder why dreadlocks grow so long and the reason is, locks experience minimal to no manipulation, giving it a good environment of no breakage.
Hair under extensions need this kind of treatment I call ‘leave it alone ‘. Try not to scratch or pull the hair when braided or weaved.
African hair despite its texture can grow to great lengths without locks or extensions.
What African women need is patience and good hair care practices to maintain length and health.
Commercials on growth serums,oils,lotions and capsules/tablets/lozenges etc are not entirely forthcoming with the truth. What makes your hair grow is positive attitude and good diet together with the influence of your genetic make up since everyone experiences varying hair growth cycles.