Boise Hair Salon – Why Should Anyone be Concerned about Traction Alopecia when choosing an Eyelash or Hair Extension Artist?

At Tease Boise Hair Salon, two of our most favorite and most frequently performed services are eyelash extensions and hair extensions.  We are obsessed with the transformative nature of these services and the joy we bring to our clients with our finished products.  We are proud of our skill set and our ability to effectively educate our clients on the details of these beauty treatments.  One topic of concern regarding hair and eyelash extensions is traction alopecia.

Traction alopecia also known as “cosmetic trauma alopecia” is a hair loss condition caused by external forces like tight braids, sleeping in rollers, yanking false eyelash strips off, and improperly placed and maintained hair and eyelash extensions. The condition develops when there is an overload of chronic tension placed on a hair follicle over a long period of time. The hair follicle, being under severe tension, reacts by converting from anageninto catagen followed by telogen. In lay terms, this means that the hair follicle gets too stressed out, stops growing the hair, and goes into its resting phase.  This is because traction causes hair to loosen from its follicular roots. If the tension continues, the constant pulling will cause baldness to the specific, affected area(s). Prolonged tension induces inflammatory changes involving immune cells that attempt to aid in correcting the trauma. If the condition is not corrected, the chronic immune response and subsequent inflammation causes fibrosis to set in. At this stage, known as Scarring Cicatricial Alopecia, the affected hair follicles are totally destroyed and hair will not re-grow in the area without a hair transplant. This is usually very devastating to clients when it happens and has a very negative effect on one’s self confidence.

Onset of traction alopecia is gradual and often takes 2 to 3 years to become apparent. In the initial stages, this hair loss is reversible.  In fact, here at Tease Hair and Lash Studio, we have put many clients through “Lash Rehab”.  We have serviced countless clients that come to us with severe lash loss.  This is caused by eyelash extensions that were improperly placed and maintained. Eyelash extensions do not cause  traction alopecia, however, poor eyelash extension work does.  We constantly see cases where the client has been getting classic eyelash extensions placed across the entire lash line.  At first, clients see this as a benefit because they think they are getting more lashes for their money.  However, classic eyelash extensions are not designed to be placed on all the lashes across the lash line.  Only about 50% of the lashes on the natural lash line are mature enough to hold the weight of classic lashes. If clients want fuller lashes, then lighter weight volume lashes should be used on the non-mature lashes. In addition, when lashes get glued together, this can also cause tension on the follicles.  As the lashes try to grow, the tension gets worse and worse and eventually yanks the lashes from their follicles during the hair’s growing phase. When this happens over, and over again, year, after year, eventually the lash follicles will be so traumatized that they stop producing hair. When you are going for waxing services where there is unwanted hair, this is a good thing.  However, when it happens to eyelash extension clients, most end up blaming the eyelash extension treatment for the loss of their eyelashes, when it is actually the untrained eyelash extension technician that is the cause of the problem.

In addition, hair extensions can also cause traction alopecia.  Beaded weft hair extensions are a wonderful option for hair extensions, but special precautions have to be undertaken to prevent traction alopecia.  Part of the benefit of beaded weft extensions is that the move-up/refresh is so fast.  However, clients must be advised that the extensions should be taken out periodically and completely reinstalled using different sections of the natural hair to relieve that chronic tension in the same spot on the scalp. This is even a concern with lighter weight hand-tied wefts. Tape-in hair extensions are great for spreading out the scalp tension, but many clients don’t like them due to the longer maintenance time.

At Tease Boise Hair Salon, we take great pride in our services and only want to put our name on work that is not only beautiful, but also not harmful or damaging to the client.  In the beginning stages, traction alopecia is reversible, so it is important that it be recognized early.  So, if you wear eyelash extensions and are noticing a diminished appearance in your natural lashes, (and there is no medical reason for it), you should consider getting a new eyelash extension technician. Also, if you have eyelash extensions that last a month or more, this is another red flag because it means that lashes are glued together and can not shed as normal. The lashes may look fine from afar, but this is an extremely un sanitary situation because effective cleansing can not occur, and upon close inspection, you will be able to see the swollen root bulbs of lashes that were yanked from their follicles in and amongst the glued mess.  At Tease Boise Hair Salon, our ‘Lash Rehab” involves removing poorly placed extensions, and replacing with quality work where lashes are not glued together, as well as going down in length, converting to volume lashes which are lighter in weight, or worst-case scenario, giving the lashes a break. If you wear hair extensions, it is worth extra maintenance costs from time-to-time to refresh using different sections of hair. If you have thin hair, make sure that your hair extensions are not an overload of tension.  This can be done by getting a professional consultation by a trained hair extension specialist who will choose the best application method for your hair. For example, you might need a single-sided tape-in extension rather than two pieces if your hair is very thin and fine.

The best way to avoid traction alopecia is prevention. Once fibrosis and scar tissue sets in, then permanent hair loss is the result.  At Tease Boise Hair Salon, we never want to bring the devastating effects upon our clients that result from poorly performed services.   We provide a careful assessment of your individual needs and strive to provide beauty, glamour, and confidence that can be enjoyed for years,