How to Avoid Traction Alopecia Hair Loss
Alopecia is a medical term used to describe of hair loss. There’s alopecia areata where hair falls out in a circle shape, and alopecia universalis, where all the hair falls out, your eyelashes, eyebrows and all. Both forms can be caused by an auto immune disorder and can be very traumatic for both women and men. Stress, loss, major life change can all trigger hair loss. The unfortunate thing is some women don’t even know they have it because they have never had symptoms then bam– they get a divorce at 38 and their hair falls out! In addition to the stressful event that triggered the alopecia, now they have to deal with the stress of whole hair loss too! Now there’s a new type of hair loss called, traction alopecia and its cause is from over
use of hair extensions. Hair extensions are fused into the hair by way of sew in, little locks, tubes or fused in by some type of adhesive. Overtime the friction, and tugging of the added weight at the scalp, can cause injury to the hair follicle and hair loss can occur. It’s most common around the hair line and in the nape. It can happen from any hair extension type, even the safest. Hair loss from extension wear can occur from poor application. With the rising popularity of hair extensions, there are many newbie hair stylists that are becoming “certified” in one day classes. This short day class gives the stylist a little certificate then they can start buying hair extensions to install on the clients. It can be a very profitable service so you can see why stylists are eager to do it. Companies that sell hair extensions also have considerable lowered fees for education, because they realize stylists are put off by high tuition fees. Their ultimate goal is to sell extensions so if they lower the tuition it’s a way to a means. Often lower tuition means shorter class, which mean less training, We have seen traction alopecia on clients from other salons where the stylist was clearly inexperienced in installing extensions and there were cross hair or poor application which caused breakage and hair loss.
The Extensions “Rabbit Hole”
Then there is hair loss from simply wearing extensions to long. Long term wear of extensions is the primary cause of traction hair loss. We have a term in the salon called “blonderexia”. Basically, we describe it as a client who has colored her hair blonde over time and she is practically platinum but always wants to go blonder. Obviously it’s not a real medical term but trust me- it’s a real. This also can be applied to hair extensions. Imagine having thin, fine hair your whole life, then in a matter of hours your hair is transformed into the luscious, thick hair you’ve always wanted. Would you really want to give that up? After 12 months your stylist informs you “time for you to go on a minimum 3 month extension break!” Generally the reaction is an adamant, “No! Please, I can’t go back to my wimpy hair!” Even though we tell clients at the initial consultation this will be necessary, this is still the reaction almost every time! What we explain to them is if you don’t put your real hair health first, eventually there will be no hair to attach the extensions to. Then we do the take down after a year or so, in some cases even 6 months, the general response is this “my hair seems thinner. Did the extensions make my hair thinner or break off?” If home care was followed, regular salon visits maintained, thinner hair is not the result. We can tell if hair loss is occurring during extension adjustment visits. If we notice it, we address it right away. In the case scenarios, we still often here this concern. Think about it. After having thick long hair for months, a client’s perception of their actual hair is often skewed. You have been touching thicker, longer hair for months and when you see your original hair it seems worse than before. Even when we know the hair has been maintained in a healthy manner and that isn’t the case! We call this the “rabbit hole” because though this isn’t reality, it doesn’t seem so.
If a stylist is truly a professional and cares about the long term health of your hair, they will strongly advise clients to take a break. We have a regimen that clients follow on their extension break to prevent hair loss. It is tried and true routine to recondition the scalp and promote healthy hair follicles. In some cases, clients simply refuse. This rarely happens but in these cases the client must sign a release stating they are not taking our professional advice. If you’re an extension wearer, don’t be one of these clients! Your hair is always our first priority and anyone can do a search of dozens of Hollywood actors who have hair loss due to long term extension use. Nobody wants a visible scalp or premature receding hair line.
Traction Alopecia Hair Loss from Ponytails
Some hairstyles can cause hair loss too. High tight ponytails and buns can cause hair loss around the hairline, specifically by the face and temples. Ballerinas who have to wear their hair in a tight bun have been struggling with this for decades. We even see this in young girls who play sports. Long practices or games where they are wearing tight headbands and ponytails often have a great deal of hair breakage. Young girls who have long hair, who want to keep their hair length but still “play” a lot outdoors or just don’t want to fool with styling their often wear those stretchy headbands that have grips on them. These are the worst. While they may keep hair in place and off their face, they also grip the hair so tightly that it can pull hair out of the scalp. I’m a big fan of a high bun for work. Since I spend the day working on others hair, I don’t want mine in my face and I love the classic look of a traditional bun. Some days after work, my scalp actually hurts. It’s actually sore from wearing my hair back to much. I try to massage my scalp at night and wear my hair down for awhile when I notice this. This is what I advise younger girls to do as well. If you wear your hair back frequently be mindful of the tension. Try not to pull it back too tight. Always alternate between wearing it up and down to. Don’t get stuck on one hairstyle. By changing the part or by NOT wearing it up or in a ponytail to often you may be saving yourself from premature hair loss.
If you wear hair extensions, don’t wear them forever! They should be a means of growing your hair out or for a temporary time in your life when you want longer hair. If you are a bun, headband or ponytail wearer, switch it up! Wear your hair down and give your scalp a little love by way of massage.
3 Tips for Preventing hair loss from Styling
Apply Castor oil
Cold pressed castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help stimulate blood flow at the scalp which in turn can promote hair growth. Put a small dime size in the palm of your hands and rub into finger tips so the oil is dispersed well. Massage at the temple and the nape of hair for a few minutes. This can help promote a healthy scalp. Do it on a night wear you plan to shampoo the next morning because it will make your hair a little oily.
Good brushing can do wonders
While a poor hair brushing technique can cause breakage, brushing correctly with the right brush can actually help your hair. Have you ever heard of “100 strokes a day?” We believe that is excessive but brushing hair from the bottom up while holding hair in the middle can help prevent tangles while sleeping. After you hair is detangled, brush the scalp using a 100% boar bristle brush. We sell the Bio Ionic Agave Boar bristle brush and I love it. This can massage the scalp and produce healthy oil production. Remember, there is no healthier oil than your own! All these popular oils on the hair product market are designed to do what your natural oil does best- condition the hair!
All those expensive vitamins on the market that are targeted for hair growth are a waste of money. ‘It Works’ makes a hair growth supplement that promises almost unbelievable results. I did a test on myself. Last year I took the supliment for 3 months and saw a small change in my hair. Then I took no hair supplements for 3 months to get it all out of my system. Then I took my good old fashioned Biotin that can purchase at any pharmacy for $15. I saw twice the results than the ‘It works’ pills and it’s a much better bargain than their $65 supplement. We have been recommending Biotin for years. When the ‘It Works’ came out and everyone went crazy for it, it blew my mind! The main ingredient is biotin! Of course check with your physician first. (If you have any concerns)
You want to keep your natural hair as healthy and protected as you can, no matter how old you are. When making the commitment to have extensions, you also should knowingly follow professional advise and make the commitment to take a break from them when advised.. Losing your hair over hair extensions is not worth it. Keep an eye on your daughter. Make sure she keeps her ponytail from being too tight. Have her try one of the messy braids that are all the rage. Hair loss, especially if it is preventable, should be your number one priority. It is ours!