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True Life: My Scalp is Too Bougie for Synthetic Hair

Avatar • Oct 8, 2013

by Crystal Powell  of Kinky Hair Affair 

I recently received a BOMB protective hairstyle in my hair, which I planned on keeping for two weeks. Everything was great! I didn’t have to style my hair. I just keep up with the normal daily maintenance (oiling scalp and spritzing with a moisturizer). I also received so many compliments on my hairstyle. I was just feeling it all around. Then, about six days after getting the style, my scalp started itching like CRAZY, and this was at bedtime too. My instant thought was “Oh no! Not again!”

Marley hair is no good for me

Let me back track to about a year ago. When I first big chopped, I freaked out and went to get some Senegalese Twists installed in my hair. I purchased my own Kanekalon hair, which couldn’t be no more than $2.50 a pack. The twists were a little tight, but after the third day, they loosened up. About three days later, I began experiencing a crazy itching sensation. It really came from no where. The itching was accompanied with little white bumps on my scalp. I immediately figured I had an allergic reaction to the cheap Kanekalon hair, but after sitting for 10 hours to get the twists installed, taking them out was NOT an option.

I began googling “allergic reactions to kanekalon hair” and discovered that there is an alkaline base coated on synthetic hair which leads to allergic reactions in most people.
I then discovered that the hair needed to be pre-treated with diluted ACV to remove the alkaline base. This is done by soaking the synthetic hair in the ACV mixture for about 15 minutes, rinsing it with water, and letting it air dry. My thought at that moment was “Why didn’t anyone tell me this!”. Talk about being pissed.

I decided to go home and simply spray my Senegalese Twists with diluted ACV, let it sit for 15 minutes, and rinse the mixture (and hopefully the harmful chemicals) from my hair. Guess what? That process worked. I had no more allergic reactions after that, and kept the twists in for another five weeks!

Redness from my allergic reaction to Marley Hair. SMH

Now, fast forward to last week. When I was getting my hair done in the flat twist updo and my stylist said she was adding Marley braiding hair to hold the style in place, I did think about my allergic reaction to the Kanekalon hair. However, I didn’t worry too much about it. Let me tell you why. For one thing, I remember reading that all synthetic hair is not created the same. Since this was a different fiber of synthetic hair, I wasn’t sure if I would have an allergic reaction or not. I figured I’d just try it out. And boom, six days later, my scalp was telling me to take that hair out. I developed dry flaky patches on my scalp, and I believe it was from the Marley hair.

Late night removal of flat twists. SMH

I only took out the flat twists closest to both of my ears because those areas were definitely infected. I didn’t take the rest of the Marley hair out until this morning (two days later) because the itching wasn’t that bad. Plus, I didn’t feel like doing my hair. Bad. I know, but it’s out now, and I have no hair loss. =)

Welcome back Kinky! She’s growing =)

I have now come to the conclusion that any synthetic hair does not like me or my scalp. I don’t know that for sure, but I certainly will not try another fiber of synthetic hair to find out. I am not about this “itchy scalp during my bedtime” life! So, I’m thinking that I’m just going to stick to the yarn twists and keep it moving. Nothing else.

Crystal Powell is the writer and editor of the natural hair blog Kinky Hair Affair. Her blog focuses on her own natural hair journey,experimentation with hairstyles and hair products along with spotlights on influential people in the natural hair movement and other naturals sharing their stories. Keep up with Crystal on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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loverlyone
loverlyone
7 years ago

I can completely understand what you went through with synthetic hair. I had the same thing happen to me when I had braids installed. I washed my hair constantly, and nothing seemed to help. After a few weeks, I took them out, and have never used synthetic hair again.

alisonzunguze
alisonzunguze
7 years ago

i just had the same experience,well, nearly the same, with the same type of extension hair. The only difference is that the itching started right after crochet braids were installed. I had to take them out after a day and some hours or else i was going to ripe them out. The itching was that bad.

Mel
Mel
7 years ago

Unfortunately, I also have had a bad reaction to synthetic hair. Protective styles with extra hair all together don’t work for me. I experience breakage because my hair is too fine to hold all that extra hair… I experienced breakage I am still dealing with MONTHS later because of a style I put in the spring. When it comes to protective styling, its best to keep it simple with buns and flat twits (get funky with them. Thatch what works best in my experience.

Kay
Kay
7 years ago

Happens to me too. This is actually very common. Regular vinegar works fine also.

TWA4now
TWA4now
7 years ago

YESSSSSS, I had this happen to me too! I loved the compliments but by day three, it felt like someone crushed fiber glass in my hair:(! I had ONE choice and that was to take it all out because I could NOT take another day of the itching, burning, bumps, and crushed glass feeling! I even tried human braiding hair thinking I will raise the bar and buy more expensive hair but there were some side effects …not as much though! Yes, I have heard that soaking the braiding hair in ACV for 15 mins then rinse and let it… Read more »

linda
linda
7 years ago

Am sorry about what happened to you and what I experienced from synthetic hair is itchy scalp and dandruff. Now because I am a hard core protective styler I decided to experiment and find a way around it. Basically what I do is wash the hair with a sulfate or clarifying shampoo ( any cheapie works very well)by letting it sit for 15 minutes in warm soapy water then condition it and soak it in ACV for at least 6 hours (that’s what works for my scalp), Rinse it out and do the last rinse with ACV again and let… Read more »

Amma Mama
7 years ago

OUCH to that second picture. I am glad she didn’t lose any hair and that she now knows for sure synthetic hair doesn’t work for her. Her fro looks yummy in the last pic.
http://ammamama.wordpress.com/

alice
alice
7 years ago

OMG, I needed this article. I just got a protective style put in 2 weeks ago and its really itchy and am getting pimples and bumps that are painful. I had no idea what was going on. I thought because it is a new style its probably something to do with that. But now that Ive read this article I am convinced am allergic to this hair… Definitely taking it off as soon as possible

dionne
dionne
7 years ago

I think that a lot of black women experience the same thing with these foreign hair in their heads,you see the weave head slappers lol and the braid itchers..something with the chemical used to clean the hair I suppose.

Lioness
Lioness
7 years ago

I’ve also had such bad experiences in the past!!! I have fine hair and find that synthenic hair kills my hairline and nape, not to mention the breakage on the rest of my head. The synthetic hair weighs on my hair strands, so I prefer not to use any additional ‘hair’ for protective styling. Cornrows plaited with synthetic hair are the worst for me!

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago

Yeah, this happened to me too. I put synthetic braids in so I could do a sew in and I had to take it down after about 7 days. I was pissed because it took so much work to do the braids and the sew-in myself. Anyway, all was not lost. I just bought a wig cap and made a u‑part wig and that’s what I rock now. No more braids for me.

wadadlicat
wadadlicat
7 years ago

I have that same problem as well. I am so allergic to synthetic hair. I can rock kanekalon or tokolon (I doubt I spelled those correctly) but for some reason I can’t rock synthetic hair with out breaking out in a huge itching frenzy as well as literally becoming sick.

linda
linda
7 years ago
Reply to  wadadlicat

Toyokalon and kanekalon are synthetic hair. You are probably allergic to some other chemicals used in other synthetic hair but not in kanekalon and toyokalon.

Starr
Starr
7 years ago

I have had the same thing happen to me over the years using human hair extensions. It happened consistently no matter what brand/type. It has to be the chemical used to process these hairs and over time consistent use will thin your hair out.

T
T
7 years ago

OMG thank you for this! When I used to get weaves and microbraids back in the day I always used human hair. It wasn’t until my recent bout with patra braids and that kanekalon that my scalp went ape shit! The same has happened with this marley hair. I’m redoing my hair in a couple weeks and I will pretreat with acv and see how it goes.

erigirl
erigirl
7 years ago

I experienced this about two years ago as I well. I found a youtube tutorial that mixed shampoo with baking soda and a little water, applied to to my scalp row-by-row, washed it out, and finally got relief!

Sandra
7 years ago

I’m experiencing this NOW! I have marley twists on (got them exactly a week ago) and my scalp is very sore with white painful bumps.… been applying castor oil and coconut oil every morning and evening.… I think I’ll try out erigirl’s regimen… *sigh*

http://swajero.wordpress.com/

Nature Girl
Nature Girl
7 years ago

Been there done that.

I’ve been natural for awhile and had 3 set backs. First there was the drying hair dye, Second the itchy dry weave, than the tex lax & excessive heat styling which all made me have to big chop and start from the beginning. This time I left my hair alone and applied natural products and learned to style my own hair. I am now BSL and I just can’t go backwards, because like you my hair is way too bougie for that.

lablooplah
lablooplah
7 years ago

That’s my experience with weaves. in fact whenever the hair touches my skin, i break out so even my own face breaks out. When i used to wear weaves, my whole forehead would be full of pimples. smh. BTW how do people keep havanna twists in for long? I’m currently in uni and i wanted to have a style that would at least last for a month but i’m two weeks in and my twists are already unraveling at the roots. IDK how people can wear braid extensions for so long.

Jo-Ann
Jo-Ann
7 years ago

Wow! I had exactly the same problem!!
So that’s when I decided that God gave me hair of my own, so if chemical stuf doesn’t work for me, if weaves and synthetic hair don’t work for me, the answer is easy! Go with the FRO! 😀 And loving it!

Neldis
Neldis
7 years ago

It’s normal to have an allergic reaction to weave. She probably didn’t clean it before putting it in her hair. Always soak your weave in apple cider vinegar and water mix before putting weave in your hair! No one has a “bougie” scalp.

Caramel
Caramel
7 years ago
Reply to  Neldis

Not being American, I had no idea what the word meant and what was going on.…..I soon figured out.

Elle
Elle
7 years ago

I know you’re using the slang of the French word “bourgeois”, and it probably doesn’t have an official spelling, but the “r” is pretty important to the sound, and the “e” is what gives the original word that ‘zzh’ pronunciation.

Perhaps “bourgie” or “bourgeie”?

Jenny
Jenny
7 years ago
Reply to  Elle

For real?

Elle
Elle
7 years ago
Reply to  Jenny

No…for fake. It was a comment about spelling on a hair site — not allowed?

Maybe I should go on ad nauseam about who does or doesn’t know their correct hair type and proceed to berate them for having the audacity to submit their photos to BGLH. Real enough?

Tori
Tori
7 years ago
Reply to  Elle

You clearly have never heard the term bougie. And when you think about it, slang never employs accurate spelling, now does it?

Elle
Elle
7 years ago
Reply to  Tori

I have heard the term, so your assumption is “clearly” wrong. Slang varies, as I’m sure you know, and it was a suggestion about spelling, that’s all.

Sand(WO)man
Sand(WO)man
7 years ago
Reply to  Elle

Elle exit stage left and take several seats, because your boughetto is showing.

OHR
OHR
6 years ago
Reply to  Sand(WO)man

^ Whyyy did this comment make me giggle?

Ange
Ange
7 years ago

I have had this same reaction! I think I have been in denial for the longest because let’s face it the best and cutest protective styles involve synthetic hair…so it’s hard to stop using it. The only difference with my allergic reaction is that it doesn’t always cause me to breakout or give me a flaky, itchy scalp right away. Usually I will have the style in for a few weeks and then all of a sudden my scalp will become super irritated and my face will start to breakout. I think more black women should be aware of this.

Phyllia
Phyllia
7 years ago
Reply to  Ange

The water quality in China and other third world countries has a lot of microbes and bacteria that can cause break outs. Sure the hair looks clean in the packs but fill the sink with water and add a little laundry detergent and you can see scum and dye float out of the hair. Some companies are cleaner than other. To be on the safe side always shampoo the hair first.

Becca
Becca
7 years ago
Reply to  Ange

This is 100% my life. But it’s even bad with weaves too! Like 4 days in and I’m taking it out. So I’ve decided to just stick with weaves. I’m so used to wearing my natural hair that when I ever try any artificial protective styles my scalp freaks out. Maybe i’ll try this acv method! Would save me TONS of money

dionne
dionne
7 years ago

The best solution is that women should stop wearing these products,why go through this just to wear somebodys hair on your head inheriting this crap,when you can just deal with the minor issues of your own hair that God gave you.
Boycott the wigs/weaves and anything else that is not benefiting you and use the money to buy products for your own head instead,its completely common sense.
I personally dont have any problems wearing the braids but if I do,wont be wearing it again.

Tati
Tati
7 years ago
Reply to  dionne

Some women use extensions for convenience and protective styling, especially in cold weather. It doesn’t mean they don’t care for their hair or are ashamed of it. I wear an afro and have been natural for 12 years but I always had problems with severe breakage and dryness during the winter because I live in a high elevation, arid environment (hello Nevada desert). Trying to take care of it in the winter was too much work and my efforts yielded poor results. Last year I started wearing havana twists in the winter to protect my hair and by spring when… Read more »

Ms LiLi
Ms LiLi
6 years ago
Reply to  Tati

Amen dionne,
We women will defend the hell out of why we wear other folks hair.

guurl
guurl
7 years ago
Reply to  dionne

,why go through this just to wear somebody’s hair on your head inheriting this crap”
Synthetic hair is not human hair, that’s the whole point of this article. Her scalp does not react well to it. She obviously only wears it as a protective style otherwise she wouldn’t keep it on for so long in the first place. Just sayin’.

Tati
Tati
7 years ago

You don’t have to give up extensions forever! This is a really common allergy. My scalp is the same way, so before I install my winter protective style, havana twists, I soak the hair in 1:1 ACV and water, rinse it in warm water for a few minutes, and let it air dry on some towels for a few days. Always wash synthetic hair before it touches your skin. Hope that helps 🙂

Toni
Toni
7 years ago
Reply to  Tati

Agreed. I made the mistake of not washing the hair before putting it in my head some years back and that resulted in irritation AND breakage. The chemicals in the synthetic hair dried my own hair out. I went extension free for 6 months and am just starting to use synthetics again. However, I plan to use them only once this year and for no longer than two weeks.

anastasia
anastasia
7 years ago
Reply to  Tati

This is a really common allergy. My scalp is the same way, so before I install my winter protective style,I soak the hair in 1:1 ACV and water, rinse it in warm water for a few minutes, and let it air dry on some towels for a few days. Always wash synthetic hair before it touches your skin. Hope that helps 🙂

This is an advice gem ladies…worth repeating. It works =) Thanks Tati.

cacey
cacey
7 years ago

same happened with me last time i tried to use synthetic hair about a yr ago. haven’t tried since, and even then i ended up taking out hours worth of work after about an hour or two b/c my scalp started itching almost immediately. it was that marley variety but kanekalon has the exact same effect

MizzLizz
MizzLizz
7 years ago

Beverly Johnson sells a human hair version of twist hair. just an fyi

the MANE CAPTAIN
7 years ago

this is the first time im hearing about the ACV treatment. I usually have the same reaction with weavesmostly because my scalp feels suffocated. I too have put synthetic hair on hold. and I plan to completely eliminate weaves all together. I might continue to use braided extensions, but i’ll defintiely treat it with ACV to kill all those harmful chemicals
themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

Alwina
Alwina
7 years ago

After watching your video earlier this year on Marley twists, I learned there can be an allergic reaction to the hair. I think I have experienced something similar. Thank you for sharing!

naturallydre
7 years ago

I had the same exact thing happen to me. The itch that came over was terrific! Strange thing is I do not remember experiencing this as a young child. Thanks for the info & educating us.

Follow me on instagram @naturallydre 🙂
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/IMG_20131014_140418.jpg[/img]

Robin
Robin
7 years ago

I had Senegalese twists installed and on the third night, at bedtime my head was on fire! I itched for two weeks straight and only at bedtime, but after paying $250, I was not about to take them out. I had to take sleeping pills for those two weeks in order to get to sleep. I’ve had them in the past without this reaction and the only thing I can figure out that was different this time is the quality of the hair that was used. My regular African braider was out of town so I used a different one.… Read more »

Gibbz
6 years ago

Girrrrllll I almost did church dip for this post! This always happens to me and I (recently) started to think I had a condition. I’d see people with braids for more than a month and mine would be through at best TWO WEEKS!

I have tried ACV rinses when the braids are in and putting the ACV water mix before putting them in. They haven’t worked for me. Anyone that has other solutions, post them up thanks!

denise
denise
6 years ago

So glad I happened upon this post! As I type this my ears are literally leaking puss, burning and swollen. Never had this happen when I have gotten zillions or kinky twists but this is the second time I have had Senegalese twists and I always go to the same braider and this is the second time my ears have been like this. finally put 2&2 together. I didn’t know what it was before but I definitely know now!!

Dana Danagivinhimsomethinhecan
Dana Danagivinhimsomethinhecan
5 years ago

same problem where my scalp was on fire I woke up in the middle of the night and start washing and and shampooing my hair i oiled my scalp with shea butter every single night I did this and it still didn’t help so I eventually took my braids out. I also read that the chemical on there can be removed also by using apple vinegar soak the hair in apple vinegar in till the white stuff floats to the top of bowl abou twenty minutes rinse it out and then dry it and then braid your hair

shonna mccarty
shonna mccarty
5 years ago

I used to get braids in high school and nothing — have got braids twice in the last 2 month and boom my scalp is on fire and red and itchy and tried 2 types of hair and same result ugh its frustrating because of what i spent on it

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