Are Hair Extensions Bad for Your Hair? Myths and Facts

are hair extensions bad for your hair

If you’re in the habit of wearing hair extensions, you may have some concerns about the toll it takes on your natural tresses. But are hair extensions bad for your hair? As with most things in life, the answer is more complicated than you might think.

Consistent improper application of some types of extensions may indeed cause some tension at the root of your hair. If you don’t care for your hair and scalp properly, that tension may result in some hair loss. Even so, there are easy ways to prevent that from happening.

What Are Hair Extensions?

Hair Extension

Unlike wigs, hair extensions are artificial hair integrations that are supposed to enhance your natural hair, rather than cover it up. They come in a wide array of colors, textures, and application styles. The most notable difference you’ll find once you start looking into different extensions is in the quality of the hair itself.

Generally, people tend to prefer human hair extensions because they are the easiest to blend. After all, they behave just like your hair — you can bleach them and shape them to your liking. Most importantly, they don’t have the annoying plastic sheen some synthetic extensions have.

Of course, even within the category of synthetic hair extensions, the quality of the fiber can vary wildly. On the one hand, you have fully plastic extensions like the ones you might see attached to kids’ hair clips or bands. Those usually can’t withstand heat, so it’s almost impossible to alter their appearance. So if you wanted to curl or straighten such low-quality extensions, you couldn’t use hot tools to do it.

On the other hand, you now have extensions that are made of higher-quality synthetic fibers. For example, Futura extensions can withstand heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. In addition to being incredibly durable, they also have the natural sheen of human hair. There’s just one downside — you won’t be able to alter the color of synthetic extensions.

Different Types of Hair Extensions

If you’re about to get extensions for the first time, you should understand the difference between various application methods. You wouldn’t want to get a sew-in weave when you were really looking for clip-ins! Hopefully, this guide will help you make heads or tails of the world of artificial hair integrations.

  • Sew-In Extensions


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Women with naturally curly hair often use sew-in extensions to experiment with different hairstyles while their hair sits in a protective style. To apply these kinds of extensions, you’d first need to braid your hair into cornrows. That step alone can take several hours to complete since the braiding pattern will determine the final look.

Once your hair is in its protective style, the hairdresser will move on to sewing the extension wefts to your braids. After the application, you’ll just need to make sure your scalp remains healthy until you’re ready to take the sew-in extensions out.

Theoretically, weaves have a pretty long lifespan, so you won’t need to take them out for two or three months. The longer you go between salon visits, the more your hair’s growth will affect the look of your weave.

  • Bonding Extensions


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Fusion extensions are applied by gluing hair inserts to tiny strands of your hair. Since the installation takes about three or four hours, these kinds of extensions need to be applied by a professional. Nowadays, most stylists would advise against using this method, though, because it uses heat clamps to melt the glue into your hair.

Between the glue and the hot tools involved in the application, you can experience some breakage and even scalp irritation. However, this technique was pretty popular because of its durability. Namely, you could wear bonding extensions for about three months before having to reapply them.

  • Micro-Link Extensions


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On the surface, micro-link extensions look pretty similar to the previous type we have mentioned. Both kinds of hair inserts last about three or four months. On top of that, they’re both applied to tiny individual strands of hair, rather than larger strips.

Yet unlike bonding extensions, this method of installation doesn’t use heat or glue. Instead, a hairstylist would pull your hair through the link at the end of the extension, position the weft near the root of your hair, and tighten the link around it. The link has a silicone lining which should prevent it from slipping from your hair.

  • Tape-In Extensions


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Tape-in extensions are adhesive-based hair inserts that attach to the root of your hair. Most tape-in extensions have a peel-off layer of adhesive on one end. A stylist would attach one extension on the top side of your hair strand, then flip it over to add another strip of hair to the bottom side, effectively sandwiching your hair in between.

Once the extensions are in place, they’ll either use clamps or heat to press the adhesive together. The whole application process takes about an hour from start to finish.

Notably, tape-in extensions can last for about a month or two before you need to move them up the hair shaft. During that time, you’ll wash your hair as usual. But most people find that harsh shampoos and products with a lot of slip can make the adhesive wear off on its own.

  • Clip-In Extensions


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Last but not least, clip-in extensions are the most common kind on the market. The hair is attached to a fabric or silicone base, which is, in turn, fitted with clips that can grip onto the root of your natural hair. If you have particularly silky or straight hair, you might want to tease the roots a bit before application.

But even with that extra step, installing these kinds of extensions should take no more than 5–10 minutes. Similarly, these extensions are easy to remove, which makes them the most convenient option for people who just like using hair inserts on special occasions.

If you care for your set of clip-in extensions properly, you’ll be able to keep using them for a year if not longer. That depends on the quality of their construction and the kind of hair that was used.

Do Hair Extensions Damage Your Hair?


Finally, we get to the question of the day. Are hair extensions bad for your hair? The answer is more complicated than you might have thought.

On the one hand, weave extensions seem to be designed to protect your hair. So unless you make the braids underneath too tight for comfort, those shouldn’t damage your hair follicles. The trouble happens when you examine the effects of fusion, micro-link, and glue-in extensions.

Because these methods use adhesives, heat, or tension to grip your hair, they may indeed cause some issues. But if the stylist you’re working with is careful, even those kinds of extensions can be safe.

Lastly, clip-ins are widely considered the safest and most fool-proof kinds of extensions you can get. That’s why women have been applying them for decades already. In the past, cheap clip-ins used to have poorly designed clips which may have caused breakage near the roots. However, if you get extensions from a trustworthy brand, your follicles should be safe.

Ultimately, most hair extensions shouldn’t cause issues as long as they’re made of quality materials and applied competently. So where are all these misconceptions coming from?

Well, the concerns might have something to do with the fact that everyone thinks their hair is thinner after they take out their extensions. But the reason behind that sensation is clear. Their hair only seems thin because they’re used to having the extra volume that comes from extensions.

Common Misconceptions about Hair Extensions


Having answered your most pressing question about hair extensions, we might as well continue going through the list. With that in mind, let’s see if we can shed some light on some of the most common misconceptions people have about extensions.

  • Extensions Cause Headaches

Perhaps the most common belief about hair extensions is that the extra weight they put on your scalp causes headaches. And, to be fair, that has happened before in extreme cases.

Famously, Ariana Grande’s voluminous ponytail extensions have left her in quite a bit of pain. But that’s what happens when you consistently put several pounds of extra hair on already-weakened follicles. Even simple ponytails can cause migraines if you wear them too often. So as long as you don’t misuse your extensions, you’ll be headache-free.

  • The Tracks Are Noticeable

Many people shy away from extensions because they’re afraid the tracks will be too noticeable. But that’s another matter of application. If you can see the tracks of your extensions through the top layer of your hair, it means you’ve placed them too high up on your scalp. When that happens, the best thing you can do is note where the limit is for future reference.

Additionally, you should be more purposeful about your placement. First, consider the hairstyle you want to wear on that particular day, then apply the extensions. If nothing else, that will prevent you from having to deal with any awkward bumps if you decide you want to wear your hair up.

  • There’s No Way To Fully Blend Hair Extensions

Sometimes, hair extensions can look much too noticeable. It can even happen to celebs, as we have seen from Angelina Jolie’s recent red carpet look.

It almost makes it worse that this problem has such an easy fix. All you need is a good haircut. On the one hand, your natural hair shouldn’t be too bluntly cut if you want it to look nice with extensions. On the other, you’ll need to ask your hairdresser to blend the extensions themselves.

A professional should be able to cut, color, and style your new hairpieces in a way that will make them indistinguishable from your natural hair. Of course, if you want synthetic extensions, you’ll just have to make sure they’re already close to your current color.

  • Extensions Are Impossible to Comb

Naturally thick and long hair is prone to tangles and matting. So most people think that extensions just make your hair impossible to comb through. Moreover, they believe hair inserts become unmanageable the first time you try to wash them.

If you’ve ever had that much trouble combing through your extensions, you were probably working with a low-quality product. Most of the quality extensions you’ll find on the market right now are advertised as being tangle-free in the first place. And when it comes to human hair extensions, the best way to make sure they’re easy to comb through is to simply apply some conditioner.

Benefits of Hair Extensions


Even with all these misconceptions about hair extensions, people have still worn them for decades. In fact, women have worn hair inserts for as long as they have been styling their hair.

After all, using extensions is a great way to make sure you have enough hair to achieve the hairstyle you want. On the one hand, extensions can simply lengthen your hair. That makes them the perfect solution to cover up a botched haircut.

Even if you like your haircut the way it is, extensions can be used to add dimension or movement. If you get ones that are slightly darker or lighter than your hair, you can essentially experiment with highlights or lowlights. Alternatively, you can use extensions to try fun colors without committing to the look.

On the other hand, extensions can also add volume in specific areas. Let’s say you want to wear half-up space buns. That means that you’ll split the front portion of your hair, which is already thinner than the hair you have in the back of your head. In that case, using a weft or two of clip-in extensions on either side of your head can help you make those buns thicker.

How to Care for Your Hair Extensions

Care for

Getting high-quality extensions and adjusting them to blend perfectly with your hair only makes sense if you plan on keeping them for a long time. With that in mind, you should learn how to take care of your hair inserts.

If you want to get semi-permanent extensions, you’ll need to adjust your usual hair care routine. That may involve switching to gentler products or avoiding heat styling near your roots if you have glue-in extensions. You could also make an effort to protect your hair while you sleep by keeping it in a silk scarf or bonnet.

On the other hand, if you have a set of natural hair clip-in extensions, you’d probably use the same hair care products you do on your own head. Depending on how often you wear them, you may be able to only wash them every month or two. Then, you’d apply shampoo and conditioner as usual before letting the hair dry.

If you tend to wear your hair in loose waves, you could even dry your extensions in pin curls. Alternatively, you can air-dry them and style them with hot tools later.

Are Hair Extensions Right for You?

Right for You

If you often find yourself wishing you had longer or thicker hair for any reason at all, you should get hair extensions. The only question is: what kind would be the best for your hair. Generally, people with thin or brittle hair might want to avoid styles that require adhesive or heat to apply.

In fact, if your hair is too thin or silky, even clips might not be a good idea. So just have your stylist talk you through the options based on your hair needs.

You’ll also want to consider how often you find yourself wanting longer or thicker hair. If you don’t like the thought of having long hair all the time, clip-ins may be just what you need. If nothing else, you’d get to take them off at the end of the day.

Also Read: Q&A: What Happens If You Leave Conditioner in Your Hair?

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