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Hair Extensions, once seen only on high fashion runways and amongst the Hollywood elite, are now a popular style accessory among everyday women. Hair extensions can be applied to natural hair to add length and volume to short thin or damaged hair. There’s no denying that these extensions will give you a glamorous, full head of gorgeous hair that could rival celebrity locks...but at what cost?
Initially, due to the popularity of hair extensions, most women don't think twice about the possible dangers of using them. It is not until the damage does occur, some of which is irreversible, that women realize hair extensions may cause more harm than good. Ultimately, after experiencing or learning about the dangers of hair extensions, many women make the decision to have them removed.
Types of Extensions
There are different types of hair extension systems. There are several types of application techniques, as well as different types of hair. Hair can be synthetic or natural, lightweight or heavy, thin or thick, open or solid. In general, the heavier the hair and the thicker it is, the more damage it can cause due to the weight and constant pressure it causes. Hair extensions that are lighter and have a more transparent application process tend to be the safest, but even these pose a risk to the natural hair and scalp.
Of the several ways that hair extensions can be attached, the bonding technique is the most common. With bonding, a heavy glue is used to bond the extensions to the real hair shaft near the root. The glue that is on the hair extension starts out hard and softens when it is heated up. While the glue is soft, it fuses the extension to the hair and as it dries, the glue becomes hard again. This is what bonds the extension onto the hair shaft.
Bonding sometimes goes by other names such as fusion or sealer. Most of the glue used in bonds contain harsh chemicals that damage the hair. Additionally, the removal process requires the use of acetone, which creates further damage to the hair. Both the chemicals in the glue and the acetone can also cause damage to the scalp such as irritation, rashes or burns.
Bonding is the most popular application technique because, when applied properly, it is very effective. Unfortunately, this method is also one of the most dangerous. Almost all bonded extensions will result in breakage and damage to natural hair. In many cases, it can even cause the hair to permanently fall out in patches, due to constant pressure being applied to the hair follicle.
Sewn-in hair extensions are also popular. This technique involves sewing the extensions onto the natural hair shaft. The same damage that occurs with bonding can occur with this technique. Also somewhat common are micro-links, which are metal attachments that are crushed and linked onto the natural hair shaft. This technique often results in broken and pinched hair that can lead to hair loss.