Metal Allergies

When considering micro ring hair extensions, an important factor to be considered is any allergies or sensitivity to metals.   For the purpose of this article, the term micro ring will be used to describe all techniques that use a metal fitting, such as copper tubes, nano rings, and clip in hair extensions.

Generally speaking, micro ring hair extensions are made using a variety of different metal types including alloys.  One of the most commonly used materials is copper, however this often contains alloys such as nickel, to create a material known as Cupronickel.

Although items may be listed as “copper” as an example, alloys are commonly used in the production of these types of materials.  Nickel is the alloy we will be focusing on in this article, as it is the most commonly used alloy, however to view a comprehensive list of alloys and metals please click here.

Metal Allergies

Metal allergies are usually very mild, and do not cause significant discomfort to those affected.  Symptoms usually pass relatively quickly, especially once the item has moved away from the skin, e.g. with hair extensions once the bond has grown down even by 1mm.

About Contact Allergic Dermatitis

Contact allergic dermatitis is an skin condition caused by an allergic reaction to an allergen (material) that has come into contact with the skin.  One common cause of this type of reaction is costume jewellery, where an allergic reaction will appear on the ear lobes (earrings), wrist (bracelets), neck (necklaces) and fingers (rings).  Nickel is commonly used in the production of inexpensive jewellery, and can be used as a base metal which is then plated with gold or silver.  Many people who believe they are allergic to gold or silver jewellery are in fact allergic to nickel, which can be found as a trace element.  Nickel can also be found in items such as metal zips, bra hooks, hair pins, pens, lipstick holders, the list is endless.

Symptoms

Reactions to these types of metals are often mild, and typically manifest within 12-48 hours however this can vary between individuals.  The reaction can include itchiness, red rashes, and/or blisters, and is most likely to affect the area that is touched directly by the metal.

Allergic contact dermatitis can develop at any age and may come and go, or persist throughout the duration of an individual’s life.

How to spot nickel

It is very difficult to tell if a metal contains nickel by looking at it, however one should assume that unless the item is listed as stainless surgical steel, sterling silver, pure platinum, or 18/24 carat gold, that it will contain some amount of nickel.

Treatment

If you believe that you may be suffering from an allergic reaction to your hair extensions due to the micro ring fitting, the only way to stop the symptoms is to remove the item.  The symptoms will ease once the metal is no longer in contact with your skin, however if it persists you should seek advice from a medical professional.

“Normal” itching

It is important to note that when having hair extensions fitted, there is a “normal” settling in period of around 1-2 weeks where the head can feel sensitive and itch due to the addition of the hair extensions.  For a typical full head fitting, around 100g of extra hair is attached which can make the head hot, and cause sensitivity and itching.  Itchiness may also be caused by product build up, therefore be sure to spend some extra time rinsing shampoo and conditioner from your hair to eliminate the possibility that this could be causing you some discomfort.

Itching from hair extensions should not be excessive or unbearable, and should pass once your scalp has adjusted to the extensions which can take around 1-2 weeks, however each individual will be different.  Initial itching does not necessary mean you have an allergy to the hair extensions, however if the problem persists, it may be that you do have an allergy to the metal within the micro ring, copper tubes, etc and therefore will need to have the extensions removed.

I have a metal allergy, what extensions will be suitable for me?

If you have a known metal allergy, or suspect you might have one, you will need to avoid micro ring hair extensions and clip in hair extensions, as these will all be attached using some form of metal.  You would be better suited to either a prebonded glue method, or a sewn in method such as a weave.