Extensions are great protective styles when done properly and maintained well. However, when it comes to children’s hair, we have to be wise in our decision as to when it’s appropriate to install extensions in their hair. I’ve seen a lot of young kids with extensions and sometimes i’m surprised at how young some of these kids are. These shocking concerns are what led me to write this blog post.
When is the right age to install?
A few months ago, I saw a child who was about a year old with a head full of tiny extensions. I had to do a double take because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Needless to say, this child didn’t have any hair around her edges and I couldn’t even wrap my head around how heavy those extensions must have been. Personally for me, the first time I installed extensions on my daughter’s hair was when she was 8 years old, as I felt that she was old enough to handle it.
It’s important for parents to learn how to work with their children’s hair from the start without having to use any additions such as extensions, relaxers or blow outs. The reason for this is that the physical bodies of young children are still developing and so any tension or stress on any parts of the body can have adverse effects on their overall physical maturity. Extensions are typically heavier than one’s natural hair, so when introduced at a young age, they can add excess tension on the scalp which can result in hair loss or retarded growth in that area of the scalp, due to ruptured hair follicles.
I know many parents choose to install extensions on their children’s hair for style longevity and they really mean no harm, but whatever the reason may be, please ensure that your child’s own natural hair isn’t compromised.
If you must install extensions on your child’s hair for one reason or the other, then I will suggest the following tips.
1. Wait till they’re old enough: It’s best to wait until your child is close to ten years old because she would have been more physically developed by this age.
2. Watch that weight: Try to use lightweight extensions such as Marley hair and please don’t use more than one pack on her hair. She shouldn’t have to feel the extra weight adults usually feel after installing extension.
3. Go BIG or go home: when installing extensions on your child’s hair, please make sure that you portion the size of the braids to be chunky. Your child shouldn’t have more than 60-70 braids on her head. This will not only save you time installing and taking them down, it will also speed up detangling because the roots won’t as matted as that of mini braids.
4. Don’t keep them in for too long: Extensions shouldn’t be kept in for so long, the maximum length of time your child has extensions or any hair style on her head shouldn’t be more than 3 weeks. Anything beyond this can be damaging on her hair, because the buildup and tangles can be a nightmare to remove.
5. Be mindful of those baby hair aka “The Edges”: There’s a reason why the edges of the hair is very fragile and are more prone to breakage and balding. Babies are fragile and sensitive beings, as are the edges which are so weak and sensitive to balding. Bald edges on kids are very frightening and not cute and I bet the uneasiness of tight hairstyles are not cool either.
6. Nice to meet you Rapunzel: To prevent distractions and hair envy, it’s best to keep the extensions to be as close enough to your child’s real length as possible, though you can allow for extra 2-3 inches to help protect the ends during take down. There’s no need for your child to have her braids down her waist or tailbone when her real hair length is only at eyebrow length. Children should be encouraged to love their real self. Keeping the extensions at your child’s natural hair length will also minimize any excess weight.
7. Out of sight is NOT out of mind: It ‘s important to continue to take care of your child’s hair while she has extensions in her hair. The best way to moisturize braided hair is by diluting your favorite leave in with some oils, aloe vera juice and rose water for added moisture.You can also substitute the aloe vera juice and rose water with filtered water if you don’t have them handy. For a tutorial on how to moisturize braids, please take a look at the video below by Breanna Rutter, founder of www.howtoblackhair.com. You can also check out this other post (by Adeola – The Mane Captain) on how to moisturize your hair while its in braids. weaves, or cornrows.
For more tips on maximizing hair growth with extensions, please check out this highly popular post on “10 ways protective styling can be damaging”
At what age do you think a child should start wearing extensions? How old were you when you first got hair extensions? How old was your child? How do you and your child maintain your hair while it’s in extensions? Got any horror or success story to share? Let’s hear it 🙂