Use extensions with care, and they can be a hair healthy solution to your long hair envy.
It's true: right now we're having a major short hair obsession. First Beyonce's hair got a massive chop (AKA she took it off), then Rihanna's was short for all of a few minutes, Karlie Kloss, the current It Model, has enviously adorable short chops that she kept showing off at NYFW, and the list can go on. For the natural hair community, short hair is by no means a new thing. In fact, it's a part of the journey, the initiation, if you will.
But, as with most things in pop culture, this shorter 'do fad is just that: a very fleeting trend. How do we know, you ask? Well, because at NYFW extensions and wigs were all the rage. In fact, there was very little real hair to be seen on the runways of Mara Hoffman, Rodarte, Anna Sui and so many more. What does that mean? Well, it means that come spring, we're all going to be super long hair obsessed...we're talking floor length here.
The great thing about a trend that make it obvious you are wearing extensions is that everyone can do it (if you have at least 3 inches of hair) and that there will be little confusion as to the "realness" of it. In the end, it'll just be another trend that comes and goes and that we all remember five years from now and laugh about.
Well, that is if you don't seriously damage your hair in the process.
Extensions aren't known for necessarily being hair health friendly. Seriously, just Google extensions and health and you'll see a whole range of titles from the extreme story about a woman who suffered neurological conditions to the less-serious but just as frustrating cases of hair loss, breakage, and more.
And while these stories should certainly be taken into consideration, are extensions really that bad? After all, many women looking to move to a natural hair lifestyle transition with extensions and though conventional wisdom says this is absurd, it turns out that it might not be so bad after all.
Extensions can provide a protective layer for new growth helping to keep your natural hair as healthy as possible and away from external elements. Plus, if done correctly, extensions can help to promote growth and thickness of your natural hair given that you aren't apply product or over-manipulating, which can lead to breakage, split ends and thinning.
But for extensions to be good for your hair, you have to toe a very delicate line. One mistake, one misstep, any amount of improper braiding or maintenance, and you are edging in very dangerous anti-hair health territory. Here is what you need to get right.
Make sure that your stylist is not braiding your hair too tight when prepping your hair for a full sew-in. Tight braids do not mean that the sew-in will last longer. Read that again: tight braids do not mean that the sew-in will last longer. Very tight braids will be painful, cause the hair to break and can actually lead to some of that neurological stuff that the extension horror stories are made of.
Healthy natural hair is moisturized natural hair and even women who are full-blown natural and community experts can sometimes have problems keeping their textured hair hydrated. So for those of you transitioning with extensions, be sure to moisturize often (that means more than once a day!). Apply it to your hair using an eye dropper so that the oil can penetrate the hair underneath. Stylist Chandler Rollins recommends that you include "oils that both coat the hair shaft like Argan Oil, Moroccan Oil and Macadamia Oil and penetrate the hair shaft like Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Avocado Oil."
Per usual, stay away from sulfates
This is a natural hair know-all and you'll be living by this rule once you go natural anyway, so you might as well start now. Sulfates remove the oils that your scalp naturally produces. Those oils are the absolute best for your hair to keep it motorized. You want them. Don't shampoo them away.
Take Your Vitamins
Load up on biotin, vitamin A, folic acid and vitamin E. This will help your hair to grow healthy from the inside out and with nothing on the outside to stunt it, you'll remove those extensions to beautiful grow out.