In early 2013, I had just taken down my fake dreads. One of the best hairstyles I have ever done, but one that also came with the cost of lost hair. To be fair to the fake dreads, it was more the micro cornrows I had done a few months before that had wreaked havoc with my hair line, but I decided to take immediate action and ban extensions for a period of one year. This was to allow my hairline to recover, but an unrealised but pleasant side effect is that it forced me to spend quality time with my own hair and learn how to style it in different ways in order to stave off boredom. I wasn’t really focused on protective styling or length retention, so I cannot say how much my hair has grown or not.
Being unable to braid my hair with extensions was a real challenge. I had no choice but to think of new and more interesting ways to style my hair without getting bored. It challenged my creativity to the limit, causing me to pore over pictures and videos. My internet bill shot up because of the amount of time I spent watching YouTube tutorials. I also discovered the wonderful world of Pinterest.
A protective style such as braiding extensions is an excellent way to aid length retention, but for most people it becomes counterproductive because they braid in order to forget about their hair. For many, the objective of extensions is to have a break from their own hair. This is fine if you are busy and if you want to reduce manipulation, but extensions often cause people to stop moisturising and some even stop cleansing their hair altogether. They also style their hair in a way that stresses the hairline. It is not just braiding too tightly or using small parts that leads to hair loss and eventually traction alopecia. In addition, many people don’t bother to protect their hair at night, leading to dryness as moisture is absorbed from their hair and yet extensions are known for promoting dryness, so this is when moisturising and sealing is so important. Not forgetting leaving them in for too long.
I am not saying that using extensions is bad or wrong, but if you are prone to the habits above, you should rethink your use of extensions. This is because combined, all these habits lead to dryness and brittleness and eventually breakage and thinning of the hairline. So instead of making the most use of protective styling through extensions, you end up with breakage and a disappearing hairline.
Many people braid regularly and weave their hair, but their hair only gets healthier and their hairline is intact. This is because of how they install the extensions and how they look after their own hair.
My braid extensions regimen outlines how I manage my hair when in extensions. Weekly cleansing and moisturising are key, as are protecting it from the elements and from friction and losing moisture during the night.
The bottom line is that my own hair is my priority. I can never allow any extension to take priority over my own hair. I treat my hair well and I think it has responded accordingly and with gratitude. I love my hair!