Oh no! I’m allergic to my extensions!

About two days after I got my Marley Twists, I started to feel a little tingle along my hair line in the morning.

“Ah, it’s just the tension of the hair, nothing to worry about,” I thought to myself.

However, slowly the sensation began to intensify throughout the day. By 2pm I looked crazed as I attempted to gently scratch my freshly-braided and therefore sensitive scalp and wound up pressing the skin with the tips of my fingers instead of my nails. By nightfall, little white pimples had erupted along my edges.

“Guess, I need to lay off the chocolate! This breakout is horrible!!,” I continued to naively think.

Throughout the night, I kept waking up due to the intensity of itching. By the morning, I had convinced myself that it was an intense allergy attack due to dust…or pollen…or something?

My eyes started to swell. My whole body started to feel like ants were crawling beneath my skin. My ears broke out in a rash. My chin was irritated. I. Was. Miserable. I decided to take a Claritin just to see what would happen…and all of the symptoms miraculously stopped. 12 hours later [presumably when the meds wore off] it was all back.

Solving My Kanekalon Sensitivity

After 6 hours of twisting and investing in the 13 bags of hair for the style, I really did NOT want to take my twists down. All I wanted to do was douse my head in water to purify it and give myself some relief. I decided to do a detoxing Apple Cider Vinegar rinse to clarify my scalp of what ever allergen was attacking it. In a spray bottle, I mixed 2 tablespoons of ACV and tepid water then thoroughly sprayed my scalp and along the twists. I really saturated the hair and my skin and immediately I felt relief! I let the ACV solution sit for about 30 minutes and then rinsed out in the shower.

Within a matter of hours my symptoms had started to clear up and within a day the itching had subsided. It was official: I have an allergy to synthetic hair!

The Cause of the Allergy

I wound up in a fascinating Twitter conversation with The Natural Haven, the UK natural who knows the science behind all things hair. She did some research and explained that it’s not actually the plastic hair fibers that cause the allergy, but instead the anti-static coating they are covered in to keep the strands from sticking together. (If you want the full deets read all about those patents here and here)

It was nice to know that this allergy is a real thing and that there are things you can do to stop it! Protective styles with synthetic hair are great, but nobody needs to live alone with the serious amounts of irritation that this brings.

Have you ever experienced this allergy? How did you deal with it?

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  1. When I was midway reading this, I was also thinking maybe it was pollen/dust on the hair from packaging, shipping, etc. Liv is super sensitive and allergic to a lot of things and I always need to wash anything (clothes, hairbands, etc) first before letting her wear it.

  2. I got cornrows with extensions for the very first time as a teenager and they ITCHED! I took them out after a week. My mother was not pleased! But my scalp was!

  3. Oh my gosh! That’s terrible. But I am glad you shared. Not that I plan on getting braids again, for I love my curly do, but it’s good to know

  4. Quick thinking of you to find a solution that fast! Personally, I never wanted those synthetic hair extensions but I may try some one day.

  5. I am so happy I found this… I love box braids but they don’t love me. The last time I got some with Kanekalon it broke my scalp out with small white bumps and made my neck peel. I itched in every place the hair touched. I also tried to add marley hair to my natural updo. Again my scalp broke out and I itched like CRAZY. I really need a break from doing my hair so I am going to try treating the synthetic hair and then braid with it. I really hope this works!

  6. My daughter and I went to get our hair done,we wanted to try the dread style where they wrap the hair. It was horrible after sitting for hours the hair was so stiff we couldn’t even hold our heads down. Then to top it off she enjoy d ups taking hers out the next day because of the hair being so tight and the itching. As for me it was my birthday weekend and I had to wait until I got back home by that time my scalp was so red and hurt so much from the rubbing and scratching I had to get it out of my hair. It’s been almost two days and the itching continues what can I do to stop this madness..

    • Oh no!!!!! Try taking a Claritin and do an ACV rinse to neutralize your pH. Hopefully it’s cleared up!!!!

  7. I used the marly hair for kinky twists recently and when I felt the synthetic hair I knew it was not going to work, it was entirely too prickly and rough. Went with it any way and once my hair was complete the itching began. It was a vicious, prickly itch! Day 2 I was taking Benadryl, Day 3 braid spray, Benadryl and rubbing my neck with Hydrocortisone cream, Day 4 I had thick greenish scabs but still treating everything like the previous day, Day 5, at work, at my desk I started taking it out and began feeling the relief, by that night my scalp was on fire but the relief was coming because the hair was OUT!!!

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