Hair Extensions - All You Need to Know

Written By Wilfredo Allen on Saturday, May 10, 2014 | 11:00 PM

Extensions are made of artificial or real hair that is seamlessly woven, glued, or clipped into your own hair. The concept has been around for a long time, but now, with new technologies, it's often impossible to tell.

Extensions come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets. Clip-ons are the easiest because you don't have to go back to the beauty parlor when your natural hair grows. Woven or glued extensions - which are done at the salon - last between 2 to 6 months.


Weaving is a two-part process. First, the stylist weaves a series of threads into your own hair, using underneath sections so the work won't show. She then uses that weave as a base upon which she will attach the hairpiece, or weft (a curtain of hair, attached at the top and free-flowing at the bottom).

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Non-glue extensions

Here's where the high-tech comes in. You can have hair strands attached to your own hair using micro-cylinders. Though time-consuming to apply, they will not cause damage. And when you want them out, your stylist can remove them quickly and easily.

Even more 22nd century, choosing Microchet extensions means you can have hair placed in spots that are thinning! It uses a patented threading technique that is considered gentle and painless.

If you don't mind a 3-7 day install, and you have a stylist you trust, you might want to go for a process called Invisible Strands. Application takes this long because they put the extension on just one strand at a time. But it can last much longer than the other techniques.

Glue-based extensions

Yep, some techniques glue the hair, strand by strand, directly to your scalp. Glue-based extensions are also used to attach new hair to your already existing hair, using a strong, protein-based bond. Your stylist will use a fairly low temperature and the process will not harm hair or scalp.

Before going in for extensions, ask the salon what type of materials they use. And ask about prices - they vary widely. Best to go to a salon you already know, or one that a friend has used successfully for her own extensions. Don't be afraid to ask questions before and during the process.

New Hair Care

Gentleness is the word. You can comb, brush, style, swim, ride around in a convertible - anything you'd do normally. But be patient when combing out tangles, and don't pull too tightly when styling. Also, experts do not recommend trying to color your extensions. The fabric or hair has already gone through a lot of chemical processes, and at-home coloring could damage it. If you feel the extension getting loose after a few weeks, that's normal - it just means your hair has grown enough that you need to go back to the stylist.

Washing your hair should be done at least every 2 to 3 days, using a gentle shampoo. Take the time to make sure your entire scalp gets washed. Then use a heavy-duty conditioner. Extensions don't receive the natural oil that your real hair gets.

Clip-on hair

The easiest and least expensive of all techniques, this is also the most tell-tale. Why? Because it's difficult to match your existing hair color. Some women experience lightening of their natural hair color in the summer. And if you have chemically colored hair, you may see it fade over the course of its 4 to 6 week life-span. So for clip-ons, having a wardrobe of 2 to 3 colors to choose from, is the wise way to go.

As with salon applied extensions, we recommend getting your clip-ons from a professional who can suggest matches to your color and your hair texture. Although - who knows - you might just want a pony tail or pink "streak" for fun. Your local pharmacy or beauty store will have them, and the cost is minimal.

Synthetic versus Human Hair

Experts recommend human hair as perhaps the most natural-looking and longer-lasting. But if your budget says no thanks, there's a lot of great synthetic hair on the market. Woven expertly into your own hair, it may be surprisingly natural-looking.

We're living in an age when you can literally choose your hair. If you've always wanted long, luscious tresses that bounce romantically when you run, you can have them. First timers have a tendency to go overboard, though. Take your lifestyle into account when choosing extensions: Do you have time to care for long hair? If it's short bed-head hair you want, can you wield a blow dryer to get that style after you leave the salon?

How to Thicken Your Hair Without Extensions

If you have thin hair and don't have the time or resources for extensions, there's still plenty you can do to get bigger hair. Some ideas are as easy as switching to a different kind of hairbrush, or making sure your diet is hair-friendly.

New brands, adhesives, and clip-on styles are coming out all the time. Synthetic hair or real hair comes in every style, color, and price. You can change your look to suit your mood. And best of all, the outer you can now truly reflect who you are inside.

Blog, Updated at: 11:00 PM

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