The Down Side of Single Extension Styles

Single Braids and Twist styles with extensions have been popular since they hit the scene over twenty years ago.  And there’s no wonder why.  First, they look stunning but secondly, they are both versatile and carefree.  You can wear single braids in so many different ways.  For instance depending on the texture of the hair you could wear it foxy like The Miko, or very modern like with Freeze Braids.  Then there’s the Classical single braids or the exotic Baby Curl Twist style which are all very fabulous!

But here’s the down side of wearing singles.  Because of both their beauty and their versatility clients find it difficult to switch it up and find that type of styling addictive.  There can be a cost for that addiction because the down side is that singles are attached to small and some times tiny sections of hair that can become weak from not only the weight of the extension, but also the inadvertent tugging on the new growth exacerbates this thinning of the hair at the roots; which is traction alopecia.

This condition can easily be avoid by switching up your style from single extensions to styles that support the hair at the scalp like cornrows, weaves (which cause hair to grow and thicken because your own hair is resting in a cornrow style) or choosing styles that don’t require extensions at all. You can lead a horse to water…  Often times clients are encouraged by their Stylist to switch up and their response is often, “next time”.  The problem is that the next time gets put off and put off until the next thing you know, the damage has occurred.  This can especially true for clients who have naturally thin or fine hair or who may have weakened their hair from years of chemical processing.  Also woman going through menopause will find that their hair will not bounce back from abuse the way it once did.

You  know what they say, “Crazy is doing the same thing, expecting different results”.  So heed this advice and don’t wait until it’s too late.  No single extension style should be worn over and over again without switching it up.    Otherwise, you’re headed (excuse the pun) for the kind of damage that may not be able to be reversed.

~More Hair!

26 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Michelle on September 4, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Though you didn’t mention damage occurring from non extension styles, I noticed that when I took out my cornrows this summer my hairline appeared to have some damage. Right now I’m wearing my hear without braids at all for a couple of months so that the hairline can grow back. I think when I have twists with my own hair the hairline is the first to begin to loc and when I take out the twists I end up pulling on that fragile part of my scalp.


  2. Posted by Debra on September 4, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I am currently wearing micros. I make a point of using a good quality protein gel or moisturing product around the edges every other day. They were broken, but are growing back now. I also use a leave in conditioner on the braids. They were done over two months ago and still look nice. When I take these out, I’m going to try cornrow tree braids for three months. You have to switch up to keep your hair heallthy and using good quality products at home is a must.


  3. Posted by Celestine on September 4, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Thanks so much for writing this. I experienced this myself when I had the baby curl twists for 3 yrs in a row. When I finally took them out, I had very thin hair. I had to cut it all off and start over. It’s thickened up quite a bit but I wasted three years. I was trying to grow it out natural all along…


  4. Hi Michelle,

    You are absolutely correct, damage can also occur from cornrows, especially if it’s put in too tight and or if it’s left in too long. In the instance of being put in too tight, any time you feel that your hair is being done too tight, you should speak up immediately. In terms of leaving it in too long, this really depends on a number of variables. We rarely see damage from cornrows and the damage from singles are rising at an alarming rate.


  5. Posted by Venita on September 4, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I’m at a loss as to what to do with my hair. I’ve worn singles for years. I wear the two strand twists with extensions, but they are a bit larger than the micros or typical singles. I have had hair damage with perms and thinning with the press and curl. So, I just keep the singles. I’ll have to research other options. Not sure I want something as permanent at locks. Thanks for the information.


  6. Hi Debra,

    It seems you are going out of your hair to protect and nourish your hair and hairline. Keep up the good work and spread the word.


  7. Dear Venita,

    There are other options like cornrows, styles without extensions like Two Strand Twists, Rod or Straw Sets, and weave styles. You certainly don’t have to a big commit as Locs. Please feel free to call us for a consultation. Check out our Consultation page.


  8. Posted by Venita on September 5, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the information. I live in California and could probably do a phone consultation.


  9. Posted by Jocelyn on October 5, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for your post. I live in England and am agonising about to do with my hair which is quite fine and about 7 inches long. I had it in micro braids for about 2.5 months over the summer and this improved its thickness however because I am so busy and also live in an area with no salons for black hair I need a hassle free style. Cornrows don’t seem to last as long as single plaits. Is there any downside to doing two-strand kinky twists and keeping it in for about 2 months?


  10. Jocelyn,

    Two strand kinky twist should be fine just as long as your hair is healthy enough to support the style. And two months is an appropriate and [healthy] amount of time to keep it in.


  11. Posted by Renee on October 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I’ve been considering the style two-strand twist (baby curls) style. I would like to know what kind of hair can be used to achieve this style other than what you have listed on your site. How would the style differ using human hair vs. synthetic.

    Thank you,


  12. Dear Renee,

    I am not sure of any other hair that would give you the same look. You would need to test that by purchasing different textures and trying them out. The Baby Curl hair is by far some of thee best human hair we have ever used. I say this because the texture feels like real hair, hold its moisture and is so well manufactured that it can be used more than once. We do sell another texture that gives that look but is less expensive and that is the Gypsy Curl hair. You may want to consider this texture as an alternative.


  13. I am in the beginning stages of trying to come out of a relaxer due to very thinning hair. My hair is about 7 – 8 inches long and I had my last relaxer 6 weeks ago. I used to wear singles and cornrows many years ago. I would like to try singles again before I reach my goal of wearing twists without extensions. I am afraid that the singles will put weight on my already thinning hair and I’ll be worst off than now with the relaxer. Do you have any suggestions for me? Maybe I can use good hair products while my extensions are in. Please help


  14. Dear Karen,

    I don’t know of a product would protect your hair from the weight of singles braid extensions. Of course I can’t give a thorough assessment without first seeing your hair. But off the top of my head, I wouldn’t suggest singles if your hair is already thinning. I would definitely go with cornrows or a weave (in which your hair is in cornrows).


  15. Posted by Denise Martinez on December 8, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I have been going natural for about a year now and i have about 4 1/2inches of hair, but i am not really feeling the afro look. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what kind of style can I wear? Also are medium micro braids good for your hair? What kind of braids cause the least amount of damage? Any help would be much appreciated.


  16. Dear Denise,

    There are a number of options a number of which I mentioned in the above article. Perhaps you’d be interested in an one on one consultation? Call us and make an appointment for a private consultation.


  17. Posted by locs4life on January 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Great post! Good advice on how to care for the hair as well as posters and product usage. I just took my 2strand twists out after 6 weeks when I notices the hair line looked weak. The final straw was when I started to take down the extension, it broke off! I will never get extensions again. After cutting off my 4 year old locs, in a couple of months when my hairline is healthier, I will put locs in.


  18. Posted by Princess on June 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

    My hair is a little past my shoulders. I want to get the gypsy curl hair for two strand twists. is my hair too long for the gypsy curl hair?


  19. Posted by Just a chica on November 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I’m sorry to hear so many people have had bad experiences. I’ve actually managed to never have any thinning of my hair line. I hear that people have had a lot of damage to their hair from braids, but I’ve been braiding since I was a kid ( and 20 + years later), and here’s what I suggest:

    1 – Go with human hair. It weighs less than synthetic hair – and I’ve always found that I have damage with human vs synthetic.

    2 – Respect your hairline. I braid my own hair. Before i used to go to salons, but hair stylists who pulled my hair so tight I got an instant face lift chased me off. If you let someone braid your hair, they shouldn’t be trying to get every single hair.

    3 – Find a good scalp moisturizer. I like spraying Oyin’s greg juice or Oyin’s juices and berries.

    4 – Don’t braid relaxed hair. About 2 – 3 years ago I went natural and it’s the best thing I ever did. Your hair is so much stronger when it’s natural.

    5 – Don’t be afraid of some hair loss when you take your braids out – unless it’s falling in clumps. You naturally lose about 100 hairs a day. Now imagine if you have your hair in braids – those hairs have nowhere to go for 2 – 3 months. There will be some loss from tension, but if your hair looks thin after you take your braids out – you’ve lost too much hair.

    6 – Avoid pony tails. I almost never wear my braids in pony tails. All it does is add tension to my hairline.

    7 – Never use rubber bands – they simply provide additional tension to your hair.

    8- Finally – listen to your scalp. You know if you’re tearing hairs trying to whip that head of braids into a pony tail. You know if the itching on your head is unbearable. In fact – excessive itching is the first sign that your braids are too tight! Don’t feel obligated to keep your hair in because you spent over 100 bucks getting it done. Baldness isn’t worth the 100 bucks you might be salvaging.

    Good luck with your hair ladies!


  20. Posted by soyini on June 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you for the 8 tips on braids. I too find that my hairline is thinning from the single extensions which I have worn for year. I have always used human hair. I am going to take your advice and switch to corn rows for a while.

    Is the Curly Sue hair good for corn rows?


    • Dear Soyini,
      Just make certain that your Stylist knows your concerns about your hair line and takes measures not to braid your hair to tightly even with the cornrows.


  21. Posted by soyini on June 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    And is the Curly Sue hair good for corn rows?


  22. Posted by soyini on June 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I like curly hair so that the ends which extend beyond my natural hair curl up and stay secure.

    What do you recommend as the best human hair to use for corn rows?


    • I would recommend synthetic extensions on your scalp and then as the braid comes off the scalp the Curly Sue hair can be added. It takes a real skilled Stylist to make this look seamless.


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