Almost everyone I know has tried hair extensions at some point.
As a novice to hair extensions and beauty in general, as of a few years ago, I was astounded to find out that most of my friends used false hair pieces. This seemed so weird to me. I get home and remove my stockings and makeup the way they remove their hair at night. Odd as it may have seemed, I was intrigued. How high maintenance are these lustrous locks and how much does one pay to have a full mane? This was just the beginning; I had lots of questions. I researched the different types of hair extensions and eventually gave them a try myself.
Here’s what I found:
Hair Extension Facts
- Hair extensions can be applied if your hair is as little as three inches long.
- You should choose hair extensions based on how they are applied/removed, hair type, weight, synthetic vs. real human hair, budget, and maintenance.
- Extensions can be used to add length and or volume.
- There are options that grow with hair and have to be removed and replaced after a few months or longer, as well as clip in options that are removable after a single use.
Fusion Hair Extensions
Cold and Hot Fusion techniques use a Karatin Polymer at the root of each individual extension to bond to the client’s hair. Cold fusion bonds when an ultrasound wave is applied to the karatin causing the polymer to crystallize and form a strong bond. Hot fusion bonds are created when heat is applied, melting the polymer to the client’s hair. Since there is no heat involved with the application of hot fusion extensions, cold fusion extensions can be applied closer to the scalp and are less damaging to the hair. Both types are removed by dissolving the bond with a solution and last from 4-6 months.
After the first 48 hours of no washing (to allow the bonds to set), hair can be washed and styled with normal products, although it is advised to avoid products containing sulfates (which should be done for natural hair as well). During the first week, you may lose a few extensions due to weak bonds, save them and have them reapplied. Brushing should be done gently with a soft bristle brush or a looper brush like this one from Sally’s, $6.99.
Using the right brush will prevent the brush from catching on the extension where it is bonded and potentially pull the extension and attached hair out of the scalp. That said, brushing and attacking tangles should be done with care, starting from the bottom and working up toward the roots. The looper brush also helps prevent hair from becoming twisted and matted around the extension. Matting can also cause the extension to come out prematurely. Sleeping on a satin pillowcase with braided hair also prevents matting. Be sure to always go to bed with dry hair, for wet hair will increase matting. Hair should be washed gently and not scrubbed with it mounted on top of the scalp; try to avoid tangling the hair while washing.
Micro Link/Loop Hair Extensions
Application/Removal: Micro link/Loop extensions are applied by pulling a small amount of hair through the loop at the end of the extension and clamping them in place with pliers. They are removed after about 4-6 months with special pliers made for the job.
Maintenance: Micro Link extensions are best suitable for stronger thicker hair. Care is similar to that of cold/hot fusion, although there is no down time for the first 48 hours. The extensions can be a little painful at first if placed too close to the scalp and sleeping on the metal beads will be an adjustment. Washing, styling and dying can be done with usual products since there are no chemical bonds in place. The same precautions need to be used to avoid damaging your hair and matting of the extensions (gentle washing, silk pillow, soft bristle brush, no sleeping on wet hair).
Cost: $150-$300 Keep in mind that there is a range depending on quality of hair, length, real vs synthetic and on top of the cost of the extensions, there will be a labor charge from your stylist. These are time consuming to place and labor can run up to $1000.
Sewn In Extensions
Application/Removal: Natural hair is braided into a track and the weft is sewn to the track created.
Maintenance: It can be difficult to brush the hair at the root, so the same issues arise with tangling and matting. You can expect to get about 6-8 weeks between touch up appointments. If the braids are done too tightly, they may be painful. Tugging on the hair extensions through brushing and styling can cause breakage and thinning of natural hair, as with the other types of extensions.
Cost: These are on the lower end depending on the number of tracks needed. Around $150-250 + labor.
Tape-in Hair Extensions
Application/Removal: Tape extensions are applied by sandwiching a piece of hair between two sticky extensions. A straightener is used to activate the glue. The extensions are removed with hair extension removal spray and it takes about 20 minutes to remove a full head of extensions with no damage. I tried these and this was not at all my experience. It’s worth noting that I have many friends who use these and they remove them with no trouble. Read my full review next week.
Maintenance: Avoid applying oil products like conditioner to the tape because the glue will dissolve and they will fall out. There is no special brush needed, but you do have to be gentle around the scalp. They cannot be redirected to a ponytail as easily as the individual strand extensions, think about trying to turn the pieces of tape shown above to redirect it. You will be able to do loose styles and a low pony, but no french braids are in your future. I used a satin pillow case and I slept with my hair in a cap to prevent matting. These extensions grow with the hair are generally removed and replaced (they are reusable) after a few months or about 1.5-2 inches of hair growth.
Cost: $200-$450 + labor
Clip In Hair Extensions
Clip in hair extensions are by far the least damaging and benign of the bunch. If you’re thinking of extensions, but you aren’t sure, I’ll be happy to answer any questions, but clip-ins might be the best bet for a trial period. There are lots of options, and price ranges for these babies. My bestie just tried the Halo Extension to give her hair a break from tape-ins and I’m so intrigued. I think I may have to give it a try.
Tune in next week for my full review and personal notes about my experience with extensions. As always, drop me a line if you have questions, I love hearing from you.