Hidden dangers of hair weaves, extensions revealed

Costly hairstyles can have negative effects

JACKSON, Miss. —Celebrities spare no expense to have everything nipped, taped and tucked -- and don’t forget the hair. It’s dyed, tied or laid to the side. But is it natural?

Some celebrities are coming clean and admitting that they bought their beautiful locks. Women from Hollywood to Jackson are adding hair weaves or extensions.

Julie Skipper, a lawyer, and Latrecia Brown, a nurse, both wear weaves or extensions, but haven’t had the same results.

“It’s a chance to play a little bit,” Skipper said. “My own hair is a different color than my extensions. Every six or eight months, if I feel like playing around, I can change color and it’s not damaging my own hair.”

Brown said she had to cut most of her hair after one treatment.

“My sides were thinning,” Brown said. “You know, I had good hair. It was full and thick. It was thinning out. Some parts were short and some parts were long.”

Brown is not the only one in her family who has had weave woes. Her sister’s hair is damaged from years of wearing extensions.

“She’s gotten to the point now where she’s embarrassed,” Brown said. “Her hair is damaged so bad that she has to wear weave.”

Stylists 16 WAPT’s Ryan Houston spoke to said the danger is caused by how the extensions are installed, the treatment of the hair and how they’re removed.

“In some situations, we have to send (clients) to a doctor. They have to seek medical attention,” weaveologist Shante Lewis said.

Lewis owns Celebrity Hair Designs, which specializes in bonding, sew-ins and infusions. The weaves can take several hours to put in and cost up to $500.

“The weaving techniques that we use are protective styles,” Lewis said. “We have products that will protect the hair from any invasive product.”

Justin McPherson, one of the owners of William Wallace Salon, specializes in bonded extensions that cost between $400 and $1,000 and take four hours to install.

“There have been a few cases where I’ve seen someone who has had them braided in too tightly,” McPherson said. “They also have had extensions put too close to the scalp. That will cause scalp irritation and hair loss.”

“The term is traction alopecia,” Dr. Timothy Quinn said. “It’s a condition that’s caused by the hair being pulled too tight during the installation technique. The follicles are damaged and that person can have long-term hair loss.”

“The old saying, ‘You get what you pay for,’ rings true with extensions,” McPherson said. “There are a lot of stylists that will put them in for almost nothing, (but) you always run the risk of not knowing what products they’re using.”

Experts say there is nothing to worry about if your stylist puts in and removes extensions properly.

Traction alopecia affects thousands of women and may or may not be reversible, doctors say.

Instapoll 16: Has your hair been damaged by weaves or extensions? Call or text 601-980-4416 and enter “1” for yes or “2” for no.


Ryan Houston