By Liz Frye
It seems that among women in Las Vegas; long, luxurious locks are the norm. Whether brown, blonde or blazing red; hair that bounces and swings is a hot commodity among the lovely ladies of Sin City.
However, not all that hair you see is real. Once a secret topic of discussion among women and their hair stylists, weaves and extensions are as commonplace as artificial nails or breast implants.
Not long ago, it seems the talk about whether someone’s hair was au naturel was a forbidden topic, said Joyce Dye, a cosmetologist and barber with over 20 years of experience.
“I remember when it was hush-hush to talk about whether someone’s hair was real or not. I would have clients who would want to come see me late at night because they didn’t want anyone to see that I was putting extensions in—I’m not joking. In fact, I used to travel to the houses of some of my wealthier clients.”
Now, according to Dye, with the popularity of music videos, reality shows and movies such as the Chris Rock documentary “Good Hair,” women will talk openly about it—even their mishaps. And mishaps do happen.
Susan Wood already has thick, medium length hair, but wanted a more glamorous boost to her hair when she decided to get a sew- in weave, a process of natural hair braided into cornrows and wefts of hair sewn into the real hair. Soon after the weave was completed, she knew something was wrong.
“I had an excruciating headache, and this tugging sensation. It was so painful. A friend came over and she thought I was exaggerating as to how bad my head hurt.” Wood and her friend went to see stylist Jessica Dukes who unearthed the issue—the wefts were sewed in too tightly, causing welts and pressure on Wood’s scalp.
“As soon as Susan told me how she felt, I knew what was wrong. I lifted up her hair and saw the problem,” Dukes said. Wood had to have her wefts removed and replaced by Dukes.
Dye said that sort of problem can happen with inexperienced stylists. “Younger stylists, and sometimes the clients, think that the tighter the weave, the better, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes that can happen.” A too tight weave can cause traction alopecia, a form of hair loss due to the hair being pulled too tight.
Another key to maintaining a weave without any problems is to treat it like you would your own hair. “Wash it, condition it, blow dry it and wrap your hair up at night when you go to bed, either in a loose ponytail or braid,” Dukes said. “You’ve spent all that money so you want to keep it from getting tangled. Use a brush made especially for extensions.”
Also remember to professionally have your extensions removed after about three months to give your hair and scalp time to breathe and regenerate.
“I’ve dealt with women who keep their weaves for six to eight months at a time. That’s gross and unsanitary. If you don’t have the means to keep with the upkeep, don’t do it,” Dye said.
Finally, if all the trouble of sewing, brushing and conditioning is too much too handle, try an easier way with clip on extensions.
“I like clip-ons. They are so much easier,” said Shannon Simon, who uses them to give her long hair more fullness on special nights out. “I pop them in and then take them back out. You can’t get much easier than that.”