I get a lot of searchers on the blog looking for information on braided extensions. While I’m not opposed to the occasional wig, weave, or braid extensions, I think there’s a strong case for wearing protective styles with your natural hair only. If you’re on the fence and can’t decide whether to go with mini braids or braided extensions, here’s my 2 cents.
The Case For Extensions:
- Styling is very versatile.
- The look is very nice.
- The instant length is appealing for most people.
- Hair appears thicker. Extensions are a good option for people with low density hair.
- It is difficult to keep real hair moisturized because it’s braided into the extension hair.
- It’s more difficult to properly cleanse the hair and scalp.
- After cleansing, hair may become tangled, frizzy, or the extensions may loosen…making the style not last as long.
- Dirt and shed hair builds up at the base of the extension braid which can cause a lot of problems for someone not experienced in detangling protective styles.
- For me- the ends of my hair stick out of the extension braids and are frayed and damaged. I don’t see much growth because of breakage on my ends.
- The added hair is heavy, especially when wet. This can put some strain on the neck and the hair can take some time to get used to. It also puts tension on the scalp and hair, especially around the edges. If too tight or cared for improperly, hair loss may occur.
- Synthetic hair can dry out real hair and lead to damage. Some people are also allergic to the plastic or chemicals used in processing sythetic hair.
The Case For Mini Braids
- Hair is protected and fully accessible while braided.
- There is no tension from added hair.
- The ends of the hair can be tucked away in buns or other updos…with extensions, the ends can stick out of the braids and get damaged.
- You can moisturize and seal the hair daily. Washing is easier and more thorough as well.
- Products, dirt, and shed hair are less likely to build up at the base of the braids.
- Breakage from the roots at the edges is less likely to occur.
- You get to feel your real hair every day and access what it needs- moisture, protein, etc…
- Mini braids can look neat for long periods of time if done correctly. The new growth does not look thin compared to the braid so it’s easier to disguise and old hairdo.
- There’s no fear of embarrassment from loosing a braid while swimming, etc…lol.
- The length may not be as appealing as extensions.
- Those who have thin hair may have braids that appear scalpy.
- While there are many styling options, mini braids on real hair is not as versatile as extensions…mostly due to the length.
I’ve worn both styles. As long as the hair is properly cared, there’s no reason why either can’t be an option. It’s my opinion, however, that long term use of extensions does more harm than good. If you choose to go the route of extensions make sure your braider cares about the health of your hair and not just the look of it. Mini braids are a better option for long term protective styling.
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