Unless you are born with the hair of a Victoria’s Secret Model (*cough cough Gigi Hadid*), it’s safe to say that most of us have considered getting hair extensions at some time in our lives. Hair extensions can add incredible volume and length, but they often have a bad reputation for looking “too fake” or permanently damaging hair.
The truth is, purchasing the wrong type of extensions for your hair type can result in hair breakage, obvious lines, and a damaged scalp. However, don’t let this scare you away! The key to success is identifying your specific hair needs to determine which extensions are the best fit for you. Once this step is completed, the natural-looking, gorgeous hair of your dreams is only a hair appointment away.
What are they? When people think of hair extensions, the first thing that typically comes to mind is sew-ins, also known as a weave. To begin, hair is tightly braided in rows close to the scalp. Several wefts of hair are then attached to the base of the braids using thread and a needle to create the finished look.
Best for: Thick, curly, or coarse hair that does not break easily and can withstand the weight of extensions; everyday wear
Maintenance required: It should take your stylist between three and four hours to properly fit and attach the extensions to you hair. Once completed, hair can be dyed, washed, and styled normally. Regular visits to the salon should also be scheduled every six to eight weeks to remove and reattach the extensions as hair grows out from the scalp.
What are they? Forget everything you thought you knew about clip-ins – this extension type has come a long way over the past few years! Salon quality clip-ins generally come in packages of five to ten wefts that range in width and hair length. Each weft is tightly secured with clips around the head to create fuller, longer hair. Directions detailing weft placement are also provided.
Best for: Occasional or temporary use; adding volume; medium to thick hair type
Maintenance required: Applying clip-ins can be time consuming, especially at first, since this type of extension cannot be worn while sleeping or showering. Each weft should be washed by hand every two to five wears with a salon-quality shampoo and conditioner, then air dried. Given this care, clip-ins can last anywhere between six months up to a year. Although it is possible to order clip-ins online, an initial appointment should be made with your hairdresser to ensure that your natural hair blends well with the extensions.
What are they? Tape-in extensions are fast and flawless. A relatively new technique, the extensions are attached using strong strips of single or double-sided tape that clamp onto the front and back sides of natural hair. The removal process is relatively fast and damage-free as well. After soaking your hair in a loosening solvent, your stylist will simply wiggle the extensions off and shampoo your hair to remove any excess solution.
Best for: All hair types; added thickness and length
Maintenance required: Tape-ins can be costly due to their newness and natural appearance. However, once applied, you can wash, style, and dry your extensions as you would your normal hair. Also note that you will need to see your stylist every six to eight weeks to remove and reattach the extensions as your hair grows out, a process that takes about one to two hours per visit.
What are they? Halos are undeniably the best alternative for those concerned with hair damage. Extensions are not directly applied to natural hair, but rather attached to a transparent wire that is customized to fit securely over the top of one’s head. This ensures that the weight of the extensions is entirely on the piece rather than the client’s hair. Once the halo is properly fitted to the head, natural hair is then pulled out from the halo using a comb and styled to fully cover the wire.
Best for: Fine, weak, and brittle hair; occasional or everyday use
Maintenance required: A halo cannot be worn in the shower or while sleeping. Because of this, it can take more time to style hair or get ready each day. However, with proper care, these extensions can last up to a year with few to no additional salon visits. Upkeep involves washing your halo by hand with shampoo and a deep cleansing conditioner every two to three weeks.