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Tangled Hair Extensions

Q: I had 2 rows of human hair extensions sewn in almost 4 months ago before I started travelling. Since travelling it has become increasingly impossible to manage them (due to weather, beach, lack of time, etc) and now can I not only NOT tell the difference between MY hair and the extensions, but both have completely tangled up together leaving a huge buldge. I'm not due back at my hair dresser for another month (am travelling and don't trust non-English speaking hair dressers) but am sick with worry and stress that removing the extensions will also mean cutting and possibly losing a huge chunk of my hair. Is my situation unique? Are the extensions removable without losing half a head of hair? Also, what products should I take with me when my hair dresser removes them? (Note: This is not my usual hair dresser). What do I do in the meantime (the 1 month) in terms of washing, brushing, etc? I rarely wash my hair and when I do I've tried to only wash my scalp and I don't even bother brushing as I'm scared to rip MY hair out. I've also been tying my hair back all day and night long to prevent more tangle. PLEASE HELP, I'm SICK with worry.
 
A: Okay. Your situation is NOT unique. It is however, a sign that you need to see a hairdresser as soon as possible. Virtually every type of hair extension requires regular care and maintenance. Women who are used to wearing and caring for hair extensions can sometimes stretch the periods between care sessions, but the “stretches” should never exceed three weeks. In a “sewn in” extension, the extension is attached to a braided “track” on the scalp. Given the hair’s average growth rate of one-half inch per month, the braid to which the hair is sewn can quickly become loose.
 
      I also have to say that the level of matting and tangles indicates that you may have been given lower-quality extension hair, and that you haven’t been given proper care instruction. It is also possible and probable that both of these factors are responsible for your current predicament.
 
      Depending on how tangled and matted you describe your hair to be, I would strongly recommend that you find a salon/stylist and have them removed as soon as possible. I would not recommend waiting another month. The potential for irritation of the scalp and possible permanent damage increases the longer you wait. If necessary, enlist the aid of a concierge or other local resident where you are currently staying and find someone with a solid reputation.
 
      And be aware that you may have to sacrifice some of your natural hair in order to be rid of the mess that your extensions have become. A good stylist will be able to minimize the amount of hair that needs to be sacrificed, but depending on the actual condition of the hair and the extent of the matting, there may be some need to cut away portions that are not recoverable.
 
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