What Are the Pros & Cons of Hair Extensions?

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Hair extensions have become increasing popular, and most major metropolitan areas have salons that offer hair extensions as part of their services. Some extensions are glued or clipped into the natural hair. In other instances, the natural hair is braided to the scalp and the extensions are sewn into the scalp. As popular as extensions are, it is important to know the pros & cons when getting extensions for yourself.

Pro: Instant Gratification

The most obvious advantage of hair extensions is that you don’t have to wait for months for your hair to grow out. You can go from GI-Jane on Monday, to Glamazon on Tuesday--and back again--with no regrets.

Con: Hair and Scalp Damage

The scalp is very resilient and can support a lot of hair. But normally it takes several months for that hair to grow, so the scalp has time to adjust to the added weight. When you suddenly add a lot of hair at once, it pulls on the scalp, causing damage and irritation. Extensions can also damage the hair, depending on how they are attached. Tight braids can cause breakage at the roots, and glue can burn the scalp or weaken the hair shaft. You may also experience problems with dandruff and other scalp irritations if natural hair oils and soap get trapped beneath the braids.

Pro: Versatility

Hair extensions come in a variety of colors, lengths and textures. People with straight hair can try curly hair (or vice versa). People with short hair can get extensions and style them in up-dos for special occasions. You can try all manner of color and texture combinations with no commitment and without having to process your natural hair.

Con: Cost

Good hair extensions are not cheap. If you want the most natural-looking extensions and the least amount of damage, you need to go to a professional stylist and use high-quality hair. Extensions can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the method of attachment, how much hair you use and the market in your area.

Pro: Low Maintenance

Good hair extensions can last up to three months, and you can style natural hair extensions just as you would your own hair. In some ways, the extensions may be easier to style than your own hair--especially if your natural hair has a difficult texture.

Con: Time

It can take hours to apply extensions, depending on the length and number of extensions, as well as the method of application. It is not unusual for someone to spend eight hours or more sitting in the salon, holding the head in awkward positions while the hair is applied.