We know pixies are all the rage right now, but in our eyes, they don’t hold a candle to long, loose waves. And you don’t have to be genetically blessed to get them. Many of the most sought-after heads of hair get help from extensions. To learn more about the often-daunting array of fantasy-hair options, we have put together all of the facts to demystify the methods, the maintenance, and more. Welcome to Hair Extensions 101.
THE TOP METHODS
Fusion (or Bonded) Hair Extensions
Individual keratin-tipped strands are fused to your natural hair using heat.
Tape-in Hair Extensions
Wefts of hair are attached to small sections of your natural hair using double-sided tape.
Weave (or Sew-in) Hair Extensions
Your natural hair is braided in rows from ear to ear and wefts of hair are woven (with thread) onto the braids.
Finding the right extension method will depend on budget, preference, and hair type. While fusion and tape-in extensions can be used on just about any hair texture, weaves are best suited for curly, kinky hair. Fusion extensions tend to be the most expensive ($500 to $4,000) and have the most time-consuming application process (up to three hours); they also last the longest (three to four months). The tape-in application process is much faster (about an hour) and more affordable ($300 to $2,000) but requires more frequent maintenance (every six to eight weeks). The same tape-in extensions can be removed and reapplied, though, you don’t have to purchase new hair each time. The same goes for weave-in extensions, which last about three months, can be applied in an hour or two, and are the most affordable option of the bunch ($100 to $1,000). (Fusion extensions are a one-shot deal; once removed, you can’t use them again.)
Human Versus Synthetic Hair
When it comes to purchasing hair, you get what you pay for. Price will vary greatly based on quality of the hair, as well as the desired quantity (for thickness) and length. Virgin (never-before-processed) Remy human hair is the highest quality and runs upwards of several hundred dollars per bunch (and some heads may require more than one). The hair cuticle is preserved, instead of stripped, and all the hairs run in the same direction, maintaining that natural soft, silky texture. Synthetic hair is much cheaper ($50 to $100) but won’t blend or style the way human hair does. It can’t always withstand heat styling and tangles easily. It can be a great way to try out extra length or bangs without a big commitment, though.
What to Look For
It’s important to match the color and texture of the hair extensions with that of your natural hair. Touch the hair first. If it feels dry, it’s going to tangle more easily. And avoid hair with excessive shine: Shiny hair is coated with silicone, which will wear off quickly and lead to tangles and dulling. As for your stylist, experience is a must. Improper application or removal is when damage can occur. We also recommend looking for someone with a colorist background: If the color match is off, your extensions will be very obvious.
Shopping Online VS In-Store
When shopping online, especially for expensive products, we always recommend to paying attention to the quality of the website. It is important to be able to read about the product before making a purchase. Always research all the information provided on the website. Also, check if there is an option to easily contact the team in case you have any urgent questions.
If you decide to buy your hair extensions in-store, make sure you find a good assistant. Ask questions about the company and the quality of the hair they use. When choosing a color, try to use the natural light if possible. This will help you to choose the perfect shade. Not getting the right color is a common mistake when buying hair extensions. Most extension companies offer a wide range of colors that make it easier for women to find the right shade.
We suggest doing your homework online before going to the store. It is better to inform yourself prior the purchase. Don’t rely too much on a shopping assistant in this case. Sometimes they just push whatever needs to be sold or don’t have much experience in the product themselves.
How Much Do You Get in The Set?
One of the aspects to consider when choosing the hair extensions is how much actual hair and how many wefts you get for your money. Even though some brands are slightly more expensive than the others, we believe it is better to invest slightly more initially than have to buy a new set in a year’s time. When buying a high-quality product, you are paying for the hair you can wear confidently for a long time.
If you see less expensive hair online, make sure it is genuine Remy human hair, so it lasts. Remy Hair is considered to be the finest quality of human hair because the cuticles are kept intact and not stripped, like in most other non-Remy hair extensions. Preserving the hair cuticles and aligning them in a unidirectional fashion creates extensions that are completely natural in appearance. Remy hair is also considered to be the healthiest because it is picked one strand at a time.
How to Cut and Style
Good extensions should be entirely undetectable—blending your natural hair with the extension is critical. The best way to do this? A great cut. After the extensions are in, your hair should be cut dry, with layers that blend the two hair types. You can color extensions darker (no bleaching!), but it’s best to choose a shade close to your natural color to avoid over processing. Or you can mix and match various shades for a more natural-looking blend. As for at-home styling, extensions should allow you to wash and wear.
Extension hair should be cared for just like your natural hair: gently. Be extra careful with wet hair, dry hair completely with your fingers before using a brush to style. Avoid tugging or yanking at the extensions while brushing. Instead, hold hair at the root, and begin detangling starting at the ends. You can use all of your favorite hair products but keep oils away from the roots in order to prevent the bond, tape, or weave from slipping. At bedtime, put your hair in a loose braid so it doesn’t get matted or tangled while you sleep.
The weight of extensions can put additional stress on the roots, so it’s important to match hair density to avoid unnecessary tension on natural hair. In other words, if you have fine hair, your extensions should be a lighter density; those who have thicker, more coarse strands should look for hair with medium density. Placement is also essential. Extensions should be placed where hair is strongest. Avoid areas along the hairline or the back of the neck, where hair is the most fragile.