16 Common Habits You Didn’t Know Damage Your Natural Hair Under Hair Extensions
Updated: Jan 27
How often have you heard that hair extensions ruin your natural locks? You may have even personally experienced hair damage which you have probably attributed to the extension installation.
But the harsh truth is that oftentimes, it is our own habits that are to blame for untimely shedding, strand breakage or weakened roots. Today I’d like to examine several common habits that are the most likely culprit behind your hair trouble if you’ve got extensions. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
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HABIT #1: MASSAGING YOUR SCALP TOO HARD
Those of you who like giving your scalp an intense rubdown during a shower should keep in mind that this practice may be harmful to your mane. Hasty, jerky movements, unnecessary pulling or tugging at the roots in the bond area may lead to excessive shedding of your natural hair.
Be gentle when washing hair extensions. Massage your head delicately, in tender, circular motions. Take your time. If you feel that shampoo hasn’t been lathered enough to be evenly spread throughout your scalp, add more water. Have the strand tips tangled while you were taking care of the root area, causing unwanted pulling? You may apply some conditioner to tame them (didn’t know you could do that? Well, now you do!).
HABIT #2: MAKING TOWEL ‘TURBANS’
“But I’ve been doing that my whole life,” you may be wondering. “Where’s the harm in this?”
The thing is, whenever you raise your soaking locks, you are creating improper, harmful tension in the hair extension bond region. On top of that, the root area is more predisposed to shedding when wet. Add all of this together, and you’ve got a recipe for traumatized hair and excessive strand loss.
But how should you dry your hair without wrapping it into a ‘turban’? Simply place the towel head-scarf style over your head, and drape it around your wet mane at the back. It may seem like an unusual drying method, but it will be the most delicate on your hair.
HABIT #3: VIGOROUSLY TOWEL-DRYING YOUR ROOTS
Ah, it feels so great to give your roots a thorough rubbing after a shower, doesn’t it! But remember what I mentioned above, about wet hair being more prone to shedding? That’s right, vigorous towel-drying is yet another harmful habit that will inevitably result in straining and pulling on your hair extensions. And this will lead to, you guessed it, excessive hair loss.
To avoid this issue, dry your strands gently, blotting them with the towel as a sort of ‘sponge’ to soak up the moisture.
HABIT #4: COMBING WET HAIR AND DRYING IT ON THE BRUSH
What’s another way to exert strong pressure on your root area that your hair extensions will certainly not be thanking you for? Brushing them while they’re wet.
For that reason, if you need to untangle moist strands or distribute a hair extension care product throughout their lengths, you should be using special detangler combs or “wet” brushes. These tools are much gentler on the hair than the regular kind.
I would also advise against utilizing a round brush when you are just about to begin the drying procedure. Ensure that your hair is 70-80% dry before applying the round brush. This will also help reduce the pressure on your roots.
HABIT #5: SLEEPING WITH WET HAIR
This habit may cause extreme tangling of your natural hair near the roots, and lead to its breakage during your maintenance appointment. To keep your locks healthy and your hair extensions intact, I highly recommend that you give yourself enough time to fully dry your mane before bed. For hair’s sake, please do not underestimate the importance of this tip! Make sure that you go to bed only when your hair is 100% dry.
HABIT #6: NEGLECTING THERMAL PROTECTION WHEN USING HOT TOOLS
Whether you are drying, curling or straightening your locks, thermal protectant products are vital in keeping your hair and extensions from overdrying. Using a heat protectant will greatly reduce breakage and those nasty split ends. I suggest keeping such a product on your shelf even if you utilize hot tools very sparingly. In that rare event that you’ll need to make use of them, you will not need to worry about damaging your hair.
HABIT #7: STRAIGHTENING OR CURLING YOUR HAIR WHILE IT IS WET
To be absolutely honest, I consider this a crime. Heating moist or wet hair to a temperature that’s above the boiling point of water will have the same effect as broiling your locks alive. If you think you can get away with doing this “just one time”, don’t count on it. Your hair will be permanently damaged, and no regenerating products or procedures will save it.
Whether you have natural locks or hair extensions, always make sure you allow enough time for the washing and styling. Let your locks dry fully. Even if you’ve used a hairdryer, give your mane about half an hour or so afterwards, for the remaining moisture to evaporate. Only after this can you pick up those hot tools and begin to style.
HABIT #8: USING A REGULAR BRUSH ON THE ROOT AREA
Regular massage brushes are unsuitable for hair extensions. Their bristles may get stuck in the bonds, yank at your hair, and pull entire strands out as a result. And I’m sure that’s not quite the result you were hoping for.
Luckily, there is a wide variety of brushes that have been designed specifically for work with hair extensions. If you’re curious to learn more and figure out which kind would suit your needs best, you may check out this article, where I delve deeper into this topic.
HABIT #9: NOT HOLDING YOUR HAIR EXTENSIONS AT THE BOND AREA WHEN COMBING THEM
You may be under the impression that starting the combing procedure of your extensions at the root area will save you some time. Yet what you’ll really achieve by doing this, is severely harm your own hair.
If you try brushing the entire length of your hair from the very roots to the tips in one go, the bristles may encounter a tangle on their way, and you’ll end up tearing strands out.
I cover the correct brushing procedures in my basic hair extension care guide. But to summarize, you need to start out by gently detangling the tips. After this, brush your lengths in short sections with downward motions. “Climb” higher and higher up the length of your tresses, all the while holding on to the strand section being brushed at the extension bond area.
This procedure may not seem like a time-saver, but trust me, it will certainly be a beauty-saver, and a money-saver as a result.
HABIT #10: MAKING A PONYTAIL OR BRAID THAT’S TOO TIGHT
An overly-tight ponytail or braid will exert excessive tension on your hair. This will not only prove to be a headache-inducing ordeal, but may result in unwanted shedding as well.
Wear your hair extensions loose. Alternatively, you may fasten them into a low, “relaxed” ponytail or braid.
HABIT #11: MAKING A TOP KNOT BUN TOO OFTEN
It’s fine to pamper your inner fashionista with a stylish top knot bun every once in a while. But making this elevated coiffure a daily staple is highly inadvisable for those of you with hair extensions.
Similarly to the scenario described above, this will create undue tension and eventually become the cause of hair loss. Make sure you wear a top knot bun no more often than once a week.
HABIT #12: FIDDLING WITH EXTENSION BONDS
By fiddling with extension bonds, I mean constantly touching, tugging or twisting them.
The true danger of this habit lies in the fact that it is something you may be doing subconsciously. You might be lost deep in thought when your fingers automatically reach for your hair; or perhaps this is your way of calming yourself in a nerve-wracking situation.
But while twiddling with the bonds may help you relieve inner stress, the effect this has on your hair extensions is exactly the opposite. Relentless pulling of the strands only serves to traumatize your hair. So “playing” with it constantly may not play out well for you in the end, as it will almost certainly result in you plucking out your natural strands together with the extensions. Continue this practice for a long period of time, and bald spots are guaranteed.
The somewhat good news is that your natural locks will eventually regenerate... if left alone. So if you catch yourself fiddling with your hair extension bonds every so often, please do your best to combat this highly harmful habit. Remember to keep your hands under control, and as far away from your mane as possible.
HABIT #13: STICKING FINGERS INTO THE STRAND SUPPORTING THE HAIR EXTENSION, AND PULLING NATURAL HAIR OUT OF IT
I hope it’s unnecessary for me to explain how doing this will result in hair breakage. Please don’t do this. If you find that two strands have interwoven, simply take a hold of each one and separate them by gently drawing them into different directions. They should disentangle with ease.
HABIT #14: LETTING SOMEONE PULL YOUR HAIR
While our hair extensions are designed to match your natural mane so well that those around you may forget they’re there, I advise you to always keep in mind that extensions may behave and feel very differently from your own hair in certain situations.
So if your husband or child playfully pulls on them, I guarantee that you won’t like the result. Not only will it hurt, but they may end up yanking out a strand or two of your natural locks. I wouldn’t recommend letting it slide. Try to gently explain to your loved ones that touching your hair isn’t a great idea.
HABIT #15: DYEING OR BLEACHING THE ROOT AREA WITH HAIR EXTENSIONS IN
I get it, nobody likes grown-out roots. I perfectly understand the urge to run to your nearest convenience store for the hair dye as soon as that drastically-different natural shade begins to show. Nevertheless, I would strongly suggest you hold off on touching up the root area while wearing hair extensions.
If bleach or dyes make their way into hair extension bonds, it will be next to impossible to rinse that particular section of your hair clean. This will lead to the overprocessing of your natural strands in the bond area. Allowing harsh chemicals contained in dyes to sit in your locks for too long will weaken your strands, making breakage an inescapable outcome of your next maintenance appointment when extensions are removed.
To avoid this issue, make sure that any colour correction is done while your hair extensions are safely off and being re-tipped. And if you simply cannot wait until your scheduled maintenance, the next best practice would be to only touch up the very crown of your head, where there are no extensions.
HABIT #16: PERMING OR RELAXING HAIR WITH EXTENSIONS IN
As I mentioned above, chemicals that filter into your extension bonds won’t wash off properly, and your hair will end up being overprocessed. Make sure to have your hair extensions removed prior to perming or relaxing your natural locks.
As you may have already guessed, without a proper hair extension care routine being followed, natural hair damage can only be expected. A beautician’s work makes up only half of your mane’s success story. The other half is in your hands, and your hands alone.
To ensure you’re following the safest practices, I suggest refreshing my basic hair extension care article in your memory. The procedures discussed are suitable for all kinds of extensions: fusion, tape-in, nano and micro-link. Of course, each type has its own specific needs (for example, bio and tape-in extension care varies slightly from that required by fusion). I discuss these in detail in my blog as well.
Now, were there any habits that you realized you need to stop doing ASAP? 😉
I sincerely wish you all a healthy and beautiful mane. If you found this article useful, please share it with your family, friends, subscribers on your favourite social media, or anyone else who may need it.