Long, luscious locks are widely featured in hair commercials, magazine advertisements and salons’ Instagram pages, making us dream of having Rapunzel-like locks. Thankfully, different types of hair extensions now allow reaching our “long hair goals” and increase hair fullness without spending months to grow it. If you think you could give it a try, let us introduce you to all hair extension options, help you choose the kind of hair extensions that might work best for you, and give important maintenance tips so that you do not damage your hair while wearing the wefts.
What Hair Extension Types Are There?
There are three different factors to look at when describing hair extension types:
1. What hair extensions are made of
Depending on this factor, you will choose between synthetic and natural hair extensions. Needless to say, the second type looks and feels more natural and is easier to style; it is much more expensive too.
One big difference between these types is that you can straighten, curl and even color natural hair hair extension. Hot styling tools and bleach can damage synthetic materials and ruin your extension, so you need to choose the extension hair curl type from the very beginning and won’t have much room for changing hairstyles later.
2. How long hair extensions last
Depending on how long you can wear fake strands in your hair without having to remove them, extensions are divided into:
- permanent – stay in your hair for several months
- semi-permanent – remain in your locks for 6 to 8 weeks
- temporary – are clipped in for a day or a night out and removed right after you get back home
This basically takes us to the hair extensions application method, which is the third way to categorize extensions.
3. How extensions are attached
The application method gives names to clip-ins, tape-ins, fusions, micro links and other types of hair extensions that need to be explained in more detail further.
#1: Clip-In Extensions
Clip-ins are the safest hair extensions, which you can enjoy without a long-term commitment. The great benefit of clip-ins is that you can apply them on your own in just a few seconds: you just place the pieces attached to the base where you want to and press gently to make a sensitive clip snap on your hair.
Unlike other permanent extensions, clip-in extensions are applied with no chemicals or heat, which means they can not cause any damage to your hair. What is more, you do not have to wear them all the time and can just clip in extra volume for creating a voluminous ponytail or a messy bun.
#2: Sew-In Hair Extensions
The art of merging your natural hair with extensions for a long length can happen with sew-in extensions, generally recognized as weaves. This method includes creating a track out of your natural hair with tight braids – cornrows – and then weaving the extensions onto the braids with thread.
The results are always flawless and extremely secure, allowing you to sport some of the best sew-in hairstyles. Still, mind that the method that can take hours of sitting in a salon chair to complete. Also, you will need to remove the weave every 6-8 weeks and use deep conditioning products to keep your scalp healthy.
#3: Micro Link Extensions
Seen as the most natural technique in the weaving world of extensions, micro linking involves color matched cylinder-like attachments added to each strand of your hair. The extension is pinched shut into the attachment that should be tightened every 3-4 weeks to keep up with your hair growth and the natural appearance you wish to have.
It’s a cost effective way to enjoy weave hairstyles for a longer time, especially if you choose high-quality extensions that can last months.
#4: Adhesive Tape-In Extensions
Tape-in extensions include wefts of extensions taped closely to your scalp with an adhesive strip to create a bonded look that is seamless and easy to manage. This process doesn’t take as long as other methods: it takes just about an hour to get your extensions installed and then some time to have them removed the next time you visit your salon. However, it can be more damaging, as extensions are glued using heat.
You do want to be careful with these extensions when they are wet though as the adhesive can be sensitive at this point. Remember to not tug on your hair when it’s damp to not loosen the tape, and you’ll be set. Also, avoid applying conditioner to the roots not to make the tape slip down.
#5: Pre-Bonded Hair Extensions
Bonding is a technique in which hair extensions are fused close to your scalp with a heat iron (this is why this extension type is also called fusion). Fusion can be done using several adhesives; however, keratin tipped strands are most commonly used. During the procedure, a machine glues hair to individual strands of natural hair or a heat clamp melts the glue of pre-bonded hair extension, making them firmly attached to it.
These extensions can last longer than sew-ins, for 6 months or longer, depending on how well you care for them, but need to be repositioned every 2-3 months due to hair growth. The adverse side is that chemicals in the glue can cause hair loss, breakage and irritation of your scalp.
How to Choose the Right Type
Choosing hair extensions isn’t as tricky as it may seem. It simply comes down to quality, price and your natural hair type. We’ll be breaking down each aspect to help you purchase the perfect pieces.
Hair extension quality comes down to the decision of choosing either synthetic or human hair. Synthetic hair is on the lower end of the spectrum and the most affordable; however, keep in mind that heat cannot be used with this type and getting in the pool with these in is a definite no, no.
Human hair is the obvious higher end choice that lasts much longer with the right care, and looks the most natural when mixed with your own hair. Now with human hair the range can go from Indian to Chinese, but if you are looking for the best of the best, try Remy hair. Remy human hair is usually tangle-free, the healthiest of all types, and maintains the natural texture of hair.
The price of extensions varies and how much you pay is based on the quality that you wish to have and the technique used to apply. Clip-in extensions can vary in price from $100-$200, while bonded extensions with keratin can sometimes reach up to $1,400. Bonded extensions can definitely be the most expensive type as they do last the longest and the method can be tedious when fusing the extension with your natural hair.
Natural Hair Type
The color matching your natural hair is the next most important detail on your list when choosing an extension. If the color is off, it will be obvious that the longer pieces are not natural; of course, in reality they aren’t, but we want to make the illusion as real as possible.
Experts advise to decide on the color by referencing the hues that appear from midshaft to ends of your locks. By doing so you’ll be creating a natural blend that’ll make it seem as if your hair has grown overnight. If you have naturally straight hair, any of these extensions will easily work for you, especially the clip-ins. While if you have naturally wavy or curly hair, sew-in or bonded extensions are recommended as you can style these in different ways without them losing their oomph and texture quickly.
Note that if you have thinning hair and bald spots, attaching hair extensions won’t solve the problem; on the contrary, it can further damage your locks. Thus, consider getting hair toppers instead and consult with a trichologist about how to address the issue.
How to Take Care of Hair Extensions
Giving your extensions a lot of T.L.C is a definite must if you want them to last a long time and look utterly pristine. Check out our tips on how to maintain your extensions for as long as possible without running into tangles or tugs.
When using a shampoo and conditioner for your extensions, it is important to be as gentle as possible with them as tugging or pulling can cause them to become loose and decrease their grip. With clip-in extensions, you do not have to worry about this; you need to remove them for washing and should not make the metal part wet.
With the other extension types, you want to choose a moisturizing and mild shampoo and conditioner combo. Apply the shampoo at your roots and massage gently with warm water, while using conditioner on your ends to help keep them moisturized, which will extend the lifespan of your locks.
Style & Cut
A high-quality hair extension allows you to style and cut it as you normally would with your natural hair. It is beneficial to keep in mind though that the gentler you are with extensions, the longer they can last. Such as when it comes to brushing, you want to use a wide tooth comb that won’t yank on tangles, but instead smooth out your hair without causing any breakage.
Overheating your extensions is also something to avoid, so hot tools like curling irons and straighteners shouldn’t be used all the time. When using them, a heat protector can definitely go a long way to keep your extensions out of harm’s way.
Avoid Adding Too Much Weight
The addition of extensions to your natural hair can add some weight on your shoulders — literally. The more hair you have the heavier it can obviously be, so you want to make sure that you are going with extensions that aren’t that dense. If you do choose the ones that are or place extensions at the base of your neck, instead of on the stronger areas of your hair like the middle, then your natural hair will begin to pull, creating more fallout when styling or removing.
We hope we’ve helped you find the perfect match on your long hair journey. Share your styles with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love to see what you can create.