What do ex-Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding, troubled child star Amanda Bynes and new mother and Saturdays member Frankie Sandford have in common? They've all been papped out lately with hair extensions, and it is not a good look.
The problem is, that when hair extensions are used to make hair appear thicker or longer, they often end up drawing more attention based on the fact that they're being used by the celeb, rather than for the effect that they have on the hair. Tabloid papers often gleefully report on the usage of extensions by stars, and they are often far from complementary.
This hasn't stopped thousands of women using extensions themselves, though, and this worrying trend will be doing more harm than good to many of those who have paid hundreds of pounds at the hair salon to have extensions attached to their natural hair. Not only do these type of extensions often end up being revealed by a toss of the hair or a gust of wind, making for a very bad hair day, they can cause long term damage to your real hair via hair loss.
The reason that hair extensions cause such problems is down to the pressure they put on your hair follicles due to their added weight. Over time, this pressure can result in hair loss due to a condition called traction alopecia. The follicles will often begin to produce weaker, wispy hair to which extensions could not be attached, meaning that those who refuse to give their hair a break and instead continue to use remaining healthy hair to attach their extensions will begin a vicious circle of damaging follicles further and further back on the head. Supermodel Naomi Campbell is an example of the devastating effect that this can cause to the hair.
So, if you're using hair extensions, you should be giving your hair regular breaks, which is far more easily achieved by using clip in extensions as supposed to the more expensive option of having a hair stylist attach small strands of hair (natural or otherwise) onto your locks. If you're already noticing hair thinning where your extensions are attached, it may or may not be able to recover by itself. For those who are still noticing thinner hair within months of ceasing to use extensions, an extra-strength minoxidil cream can help to stimulate hair regrowth.
So, I call on celebrities to set a good example to young girls who may not know the risk of such practices on their natural hair, and bin the extensions for good. Ensuring that you're eating a balanced diet and using gentle hair care products can be enough in itself to improve the look of your existing hair, and clever styling techniques are always more preferable in those with thinning hair than attaching extensions: you may just find you're creating more problems for yourself.