Traction alopecia and Hair Extensions


There are certain buzzwords that can send hair extension technicians into a frenzy.  If you sit in the chair and ask for BIG hair you may get the look you want, but you may be left shaking at the hair loss you are likely to experience after your hair extensions or hair weave is removed.  When clients ask me for BIG hair they’ll get a friendly reassuring hand on the shoulder and a big FAT reality check!  If you’re thinking about hair extensions you possibly don’t have a lot of hair to begin with.  You will have to agree that adding a load of fake hair to naturally fine hair is probably going to something you will live to regret.  Losing your hair whilst using hair extensions is a very real possibility.  Alopecia is a term used to describe hair loss, traction alopecia is caused by repeated pulling of the hair and can also occur when hair styles like tight ponytails pull on the hair.


Traction Alopecia is a biphasic form of hair loss, initially the hair loss is temporary, hair growth occurs and the condition acts like a non-scarring form of alopecia.  Traction alopecia is caused by constant pulling of the hair and is commonly seen in Black women, mostly around the hairline, this type of hair loss is often associated with hair extensions and hair weaves.  The reason hair loss is normally seen around the hairline is that this is a very sensitive area of the scalp.  There are many muscles under the skin and when we make expressions they contract, if movement is  restricted the fine hairs will be pulled, this is usually extremely painful and results in hair loss in this area.

Around the hairline the dermal papilla is very close to the scalp, hairline hair’s have a much shorter life span so it is more easily damaged.  The pain is caused because hair that is still in the Anagen phase (hair attached to a blood supply and still growing) if this happens repeatedly the hair follicle will stop reproducing hair.  For this reason I will never apply your hair extensions or hair weave near the hairline or the nape of the neck.  When I apply hair weaves or hair extensions, close attention is paid to the tension and placement of the actual attachment.


I measure hair density by feel and use that measurement to select the amount of extension hair to be applied to that particular area.  Your natural hair density is different over the area of your scalp so the extension hair added must be appropriate for the are of scalp being worked on.  For this reason I choose not to use pre – bonded hair extensions or any extension method where the hair extension connection is already measured out for the technician.  Although having extension hair already measured out will result in a quicker hair extension service it can cause problems in the long run.

Although you may envisage STUPENDOUSLY MASSIVE hair, adding 100% of your hair density is usually more than sufficient for an eye popping brown or blonde hair extension makeover.


The effect of correctly applied hair weaves and hair Extensions on your hair and scalp is the equivalent of wearing your hair in a relatively tight ponytail for 36 hours. After this there is no continued pressure or trauma on the hair or scalp so there is no risk of permanent hair loss.  For traction alopecia to become potentially permanent, trauma must be inflicted continually over a period of 2 or more years.  To further ensure against hair loss whilst wearing hair extensions or hair weaves I recommend my clients supplement their diet with MSM.

“In reality, little damage is generally done to follicles as a result of pulling.  A hair shaft grows from the papilla, and as long as the papilla has not been seriously damaged or destroyed (e.g. burned / scarred), hair will continue to grow.  Some people mistakenly believe that when they pull the hair shaft with the bulb attached to the end, that they have pulled out the root.  This is not the root.  Since the papilla lies deep within the skin the chances of it being pulled out or damaged are very small.”
The Hair Pulling Problem- Fred Penzel