Hair Extensions

What You Need To Know

Thinking of getting hair extensions?

You've probably already realized that all extensions are not created equal.

This article covers the different types of products available and application processes.

It'll give you a good foundation of knowledge to make the best choice for YOU.


Types of Extensions
Application Methods
Care & Maintenance
Removal

 

Types of Hair Extensions

Girl with dramatic blonde hair extension pieces.

The type of extensions you choose will depend on both your needs and your budget. In general, there are 4 major factors to consider when choosing your product...

  • Price
  • Purpose
  • Appearance
  • Longevity & Maintenance

Here's a bit of detail on each type...

SYNTHETIC

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Synthetic hair extensions are the least expensive. As a trade-off, they don't look as "high-end" as the those made with real hair.

However, they can be a good starting point if you don't have a huge budget or if you're just after some temporary length and won't be keeping the extensions in long-term.

NATURAL

Hair extensions made with human hair are more expensive. They will last a long time and should be considered an investment. Natural hair extensions are made from a few different types of hair...

  • Asian hair can be hard to style and does not receive coloring well. If you're looking for a very straight dark look, then extensions made from Asian hair may be right for you.

  • European hair is generally grown in Italy or Spain and it's very dark and thick to begin with. The hair is dyed with harsh chemicals so that the extensions come in many different colors.

    These extensions shouldn't be colored once they are attached to your hair. The chemical processes they've undergone makes them very sensitive to breakage. Make sure to find a good color match before having them applied.

VIRGIN HAIR

Going High End?
Before investing a load of money into hair extensions, try out an inexpensive version to get an idea of whether you enjoy the process.

Many people can't stand having extensions in their hair and remove them right away. Best to know whether you're in it for the long haul before shelling out the big bucks!

The best type of hair extensions are made with virgin hair. These are all natural - the colors are natural and the hairs receive minimal, if any, chemical treatment. Because of this, the hair is still strong and in good condition.

Virgin hair is the most expensive. However, if you plan to wear them for a long time, these are the choice for you since they generally last for several years. Natural hair extensions are also hard to come by, so you'll have to look around to get them.

BLENDS

For an economical but durable option, consider extensions made with a blend of human and synthetic hair. It's a 'middle of the road' approach that will give you a more natural look without the huge expense.

Hair Texture

Hair extensions come in a wide variety of textures (particularly the synthetic varieties). You can get everything from poker straight to a jheri curl. Matching the texture to your existing hair is critical for having your extentions look natural.

 

Application Methods

CLIP-IN

Temporary strips of hair are clipped onto the base of your natural hair for a quick, often dramatic boost in both length and thickness. These hair extensions can be easily applied at home.

They're generally used for one-time purposes like an occasional night out, or a special event like a wedding. HairDo by Jessica Simpson & Ken Paves is a good option for a clip-in extension. They're offered in a few lengths/textures and a range of colors to match most everyone. Click the link to see this line and read reviews at Folica.com.

WEFTS

Thin curtains of hair are sewn onto "tracks" (tiny corn-row braids across the back/underneath sections of your hair). After the wefts are attached, the top hair completely covers the handiwork underneath.

Wefts can either be machine-made or hand-made. Hand-made is, of course, more expensive, but it's the better option as your extensions will last longer and look more natural. Your extension artist may even be able to create the wefts for you.

The hair used for wefts can be either human or synthetic. This will also play a role in price. Make sure to do some research before you buy and be sure of what you're getting.

BONDED

Stylist preparing to attach the next hair extension piece.

Small bunches of hair are attached near the root of your natural hair by some sort of adhesive bonding technique (most often by heat fusing with either glue or wax).

The intense heat and chemicals used in bonding can cause weakening of your natural hair strands.

As your hair grows, the bonds or wefts move down and the extensions must be removed and re-attached by your stylist. So you're looking at maintenance every 2-4 months.

Find a method that is suitable for your hair texture. Some products/methods are more suited to thicker hair, while some are recommended for fine hair (Invisible brand).

 

Care and Maintenance of Hair Extensions

CARE

Think of your new extensions as your own hair. They should be washed and conditioned every two to three days. Deep condition them occasionally as well, to keep them shiny.

Before wetting your hair, make sure that you brush out any knots using a paddle brush. When washing a weft, make sure to wash the tracks too. Use a gentle shampoo and cooler water than usual, especially if your extentions have synthetic fibres.

MAINTENANCE

Return to the salon for some maintenance every 2 to 4 months, once your hair has grown about 2 inches. Since the tracks have also grown, they must be redone and the extensions re-attached.

Getting hair extensions is a process that will require some upkeeping. Although buying the extensions may be expensive, opt for the best ones you will find since they will last you for a long time. Make sure that your extension artist is experienced - you will want your hair to look natural.

Chemical and heat (i.e., flat irons, bleaching) processes on synthetic hair extensions are NOT a good idea. If you're unsure of the material yours are made of, snip off a few strands and do a test to ensure they can withstand what you have planned.

 

Removing Hair Extensions

Hair wefts need to be trimmed out by snipping the threads by which they're sewn in. I recall a particularly bad case where a woman had left her weft in WAY too long and it had formed huge mats. It was impossible to remove without taking out some of her hair and she ended up with a big empty space through the back of her hair.

Bonded hair extensions should be removed by the artist who applied them. S/he'll have a special adhesive remover for the specific product used to bond them.

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