Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why are My Hair Extensions Shedding So Much

What are the culprits that cause hair extensions to shed?

Hair extensions are not all the same. I have 30 years experience and have seen a lot of different kinds of hair extensions. I thought that plastic was plastic and that the bonding material was pretty much all the same stuff, until I noticed hair extensions that held better than mine did; the ones I used a long time ago. I used to have clients come in for maintenance so I could fill their hair back up after it sheds. Now, I never have to do this. The extensions I do now have the strongest bond of all and my extensions don't shed. So, the number one reason that hair extensions shed is because of the bonding material that is used on your extensions. It's most likely a low grade resin.

What are the differences between hair extension bonding materials?

I did a study on the Material Science of Polymers for Engineers. A new world opened up. I realized that keratin is the base for most plastics. Some companies call their bonding for their hair extensions "keratin". Not "glue." Okay, whatever. Glue is just a general term for a substance that attaches things together. The correct term for most of the bonding material would be a "thermoplastic polymer." Hair Dreams call is "Thermoplast." Either way, companies want you to believe they have the market on something special.

There are many, many different kinds of polymers that are used as the bonding material for hair extensions, all with different chemical make up, different formulas, colors additives. A low grade polymer may be made with a lot of fillers and additives that weaken the bond. Even color is a filler that can compromise the bond.

What hold the structure of the bond over time through shampooing is the purity of the thermoplastic polymer. It can be semi-crystaline(aligned molecules) or amorphious(multi-directional). The keratin in the thermoplastic is where the long chain molecules come from that is responsible for it's solid structure. Tightly packed, long chain molecules is preferred for the strength of a good, long lasting bond that doesn't shed. This kind of polymer will usually be found on premium hair extensions, like the ones I use, of course.

But I paid a fortune for my extensions. I use Great Lengths.

Agreed, Great Lengths uses a high grade bonding material. However, some hairdressers just say they use Great Lengths to get you in the door. They may actually think that what they do is the same. For the most part, it is exactly the same; hair with bonding material. It doesn't really seem different, except that is cost a whole lot less. Maybe you were secretly switched out. The hairdresser doesn't know the difference. Why should you? I'm not saying your hairdresser was dishonest. I just know it happens. Cheaper hair is not the same.

But remember, price is relative. Maybe what you pay seems like a lot, but the price of extensions can run as much as $5,000.00 in some cases.

What if it's not the product, but some other reason that makes my hair extensions shed?

Micro Links will shed. If you have the metal clips, or micro rings, those can bend and slip very easily. They are easy for hairdressers because they go in and come out easy.

The hair must be clean and oil free before installation. Oil is a chemical that with break down the polymer. They will shed from the slip of the oil, not allowing the polymer to completely fuse to the hair, or from the breaking down your bond. Don't allow your hair extensions to be oily or dirty.

Poor installation can be a culprit. If the polymer doesn't form a complete melt, it will not absorb into your hair. If you soften the polymer just enough to attach itself around the hair, it may slip right out. This could be a reason for slipping or shedding.

The products you put on your hair.

You should only used approved shampoos and conditioners. The most successful one I have my clients use is Pureology. It does not have animal proteins or sulfates in it. Proteins can bind with the extensions and soften them, causing them to shed. Oils can do this too.

Dirty, Sweaty, or Oily

A person's own body chemistry can play a part in the life of your hair extensions. More active people will see the bonds break down faster.

One final reason, but this one is rare.

A few people have the silkiest hair of all. It's like glass with a very tight cuticle, and naturally oily. I've only encountered two in the last ten years and I've done thousands of hair extension sets, literally. The hair resists the fusion. My first one, I feel, allowed her hair to be too oily. They second is doing well. I've mastered this problem I think. I keep a special polymer that I allow to age. It becomes stronger and cures as it gets older. I use that. But with other products that are lower grade, I know it would slip right out.

What should I do now to stop it?

Keep it clean and oil free using approved shampoos. Try to get your stylist to fill your hair back in. Don't go back to that same stylist. Find a new stylist and see if they can reinforce your extensions. A good reinforcement is adding shrink tubes around your current extensions. This is a small plastic tube that shrinks when you apply heat. It's good to protect the bonds that you have left and hold them in tighter.

If you don't live in the Seattle area, you can fly in to see me and I'll make you don't suffer like this again.

Learn more about hair extensions and me at