01 April 2011

Pros and Cons of Yarn Extensions

After all of this talk about putting in yarn extensions, maintaining them, styling them, etc., I think it's about time to talk about whether or not it's a good idea to be doing them at all. Obviously I like them because they work for us, but there are several things to consider before jumping in.

Adding Length to Hair
There are some advantages to growing hair out slowly. As a child's hair gets longer over time they learn to adjust to it. They learn not to roll over on it, dip it in their food, or how to keep it out of their face without pulling on it.

Adding extensions to hair that is significantly longer than what your child is used to can create new situations with which your child might not be ready to deal. The older the child, the more capable she will be with adjusting. Age (and maturity) might be something to take into account if you're considering yarn extensions for your little one.

Generally speaking, the main reason that I use yarn at this age is to add thickness to Boo's box twists. I like the longevity and versatility of box twists, but unless I'm going to microtwist her whole head her twists look really wimpy without the extra help of the added yarn. For yarn extensions I do not make them longer than 2 inches past the length of her hair. Very often I will just keep them the same length (as they are right now). Although she wore significantly longer hair when she was younger, now that she is in school and not in my constant supervision it is unreasonable for me to expect that her hair will be monitored as closely. I just don't want to take the risk of something happening to her hair. Which brings me to my next point:

Risk of Hair Being Pulled Out
As I have mentioned before when talking about extensions, there is also a significant risk of pulling out the plugs. The plugs are the "boxes of hair" that form each extension. If a twist/braid gets pulled on really hard it can actually pull the whole box of hair out at the root.

The risk is greatly increased the smaller the boxes are. So if it's your first time with yarn extensions, I highly recommend going with large boxes just to see how your little one is going to handle them. Although smaller boxes have less hair in them, meaning less hair to lose if they get pulled out, that also means that when the twist/braid is pulled on there is less hair to distribute the tension of the pull. So the likelihood of pulling a plug out is higher with smaller boxes, but the loss of hair if one is pulled out is less. *Shudders* I know know one wants to think about that, but I had to cover the possibility that it can happen, just so that everyone knows the risks.

Another issue is that if your child's hair breaks really, really easily, especially closer to the scalp, then yarn extensions are probably not a good idea. You don't want the hair to be pulled on if it's weak, and increased pulling is always a factor, especially with younger ones, when considering yarn extensions.

Looking Older than They Are
I really had this issue with Boo's extensions. It was hard to believe that she had just turned two when I tried those out. With as many compliments as she received, we were also met with shocked looks and surprised gasps when people found out how old she really was. Children only stay young for a little while, and it's not my intention to rush that process along. They were done merely for convenience sake at the time and I can guarantee that I will not be doing them again for a very long time to come. But at least I know that I will know how to do them when the time comes.

In the meantime she can have yarn extensions, age appropriate (in my eyes) and live with them.

So Why Do We Do Them?
In our case, Boo's hair is pretty strong from root to tip. It also has a nice amount of elasticity, which means that there's always a little "give" in the hair strands when slightly tugged on. So I know her hair is strong enough to handle yarn extensions.

Yarn extensions are an excellent protective style, which helps keep Boo's hair nicely moisturized. When I say "protective style," I mean something that will keep her hair from drying, detangling, or breaking. Yarn extensions are my go-to style for the beach, as it's much easier for me to remove sand out of that style than any other style she's worn. I learned that one the hard way.

They also offer the flexibility of styling them in many different ways throughout the week, without having to redo her whole head. She loves this part, although I was told yesterday that the two ponytails I put in her head for preschool where too "baby" and was asked to remove them. At three years old, two ponytails are not "too baby" so she was sulkingly sent of to school without a change. Just like the many other decisions that we parents make for our children, Mama does know best and sometimes they just have to live with it. And when it comes to knowing whether or not yarn extensions are "best," that's a decision each mama needs to make on her own, with all the information in hand.