Monday, October 15, 2012

How Young Is Too Young For Hair Extensions?

by Melissa L. White
Licensed Hair Stylist

Like all hot trends, it seems like all different age groups want to jump into the fray once the trend becomes popular. Hair extensions is one that, primarily because of price, hasn't been drawn into the controversy much. But, what would you do if your 15 year old asked for hair extensions? Your 12 year old? Your 10 year old! It does happen.

Seems like every generation complains that the youth of today are growing up much too fast for their own good, and even at my age I can see it. The girls going through junior high and high school are growing up quite different than just 10-20 years ago. I thought that we were pretty fashion conscious, but it pales to what today's teens are demanding. Hair extensions are one of those "luxuries", along with cosmetic surgery and fancy cars, that we didn't expect in generations before.

So, what IS an age where hair extensions would be appropriate? Unfortunately, I don't think there is a set answer to the question. In my experience, some 14 year olds are more mature and grounded than some 20 year olds, and vice-versa. I think it is a matter of needing to assess, along with the parent, whether the teen is a good candidate.

There are many considerations that would go into this decision. How mature is she, how responsible? Are there any behavioral issues? Does she regularly demonstrate the ability to take care of her clothes, her room, as well as other people's things? How much time does she have in her schedule? How does she manage her time?  Can she articulate why she wants hair extensions? Is there a special reason for wanting the hair extensions? Are there other personal considerations? This isn't Hollywood, and getting hair extensions simply because "everyone is getting them," just doesn't cut it with me.

Sure, hair extensions can sound like a whole lot of "fun" to a teenager, but let's look at why these things might be important. For one thing, hair extensions do require more attention then usual. Along with changes in the way one washes their hair, styling is different as well. It can be more time consuming, especially in the beginning when you are getting used to the added fullness, weight of the hair, added drying time, changes in styling, use of products, etc. You must routinely brush through your hair as instructed in order to prevent the hair from wrapping around itself and causing mats. It's best to return to your salon for upkeep visits in order to remove hair that is naturally shed from your head but is bound by the extensions. These are some important considerations, and for most young girls, they're probably not ready for the challenges that this may present in their relatively carefree lives!

But, there are also a variety of choices that might make them work well for a teenager. Sometimes there are compelling reasons why hair extensions might actually be a very benefiical thing for a young girl who perhaps is rebounding from an illness which has left her with short, sparse or thinned hair which makes her feel awkward and an outcast with her peers. Teens can be very sensitive to how they're treated by their peers.

I know first hand what it's like. I've tried just about every type of hair extension, wig, clip-on, weave, thread, and fall that's been done, even including hair used on ethnic black women because I made the decision long ago that this was going to be my specialty. I know there is nothing like first hand experience to help guide others to the best solution for their needs and wishes. And this is why, for now, I like to assess a teen's readiness by meeting with both her and her parent so I can give my recommendation. I will not put hair extensions on a teenager without meeting with at least one of her parents, as I feel this is a very important part of assessing whether she's ready for this investment.

Melissa White is an experienced, licensed hair extension artist and stylist whose passion is to bring out the natural beauty in everyone by enhancing their own individual features with the use of exquisite hair extensions. Melissa has over 10 years of extensive training with the industries top hair extension companies in the newest techniques. Originally from Boston, Melissa has been in San Antonio for the past 8 years. She believes that everyone should be able to access and afford the hair of their dreams . . . thus the creation of Extensions of Yourself, San Antonio's first salon which specializes exclusively in quality hair extensions.