The complete guide to all hair extensions
Let's break it down. Here is everything there is to possibly know about hair extensions.
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Let's be honest. We've all had that moment where we've tossed up the idea of hair extensions, but the reality of them can feel a little overwhelming. There are so many types and steps to aftercare to consider, and in all fairness good ones definitely don't come cheap.
As someone who has previously gone down the hair extension route and is seriously contemplating the splurge again, it was time to investigate everything there really is to know about hair extensions.
What are hair extensions?
An actual definition for hair extensions is fairly loose. Hair extensions come in a range of types, sizes and colours that to clearly define them is fairly difficult.
Hair extensions are separate pieces of hair that you blend into your own. Generally, these tend to be longer than your own hair, but sometimes it's just to enhance the thickness of your hair rather than gain a lot of length.
In summary, hair extensions add length and/or fullness to human hair by incorporating human or synthetic hair pieces that are usually clipped, glued or sewn into place.
Types of hair extensions
Weaves, clip-ins, tape-ins, halos, ponytails, oh my! It's all so overwhelming.
Figuring out whether or not you want extensions all comes down to your personal preferences. There are varying factors to consider when getting extensions. Each extension format possesses different pros and cons that you need to weigh up.
Don't feel swamped by all the options because we've done the digging and we've got the dirt on the types of hair extensions you'll want to know about.
Best for: Medium-density hair
Clip-in extensions are definitely one of the more well-known hair extension types. These come in strands of different lengths with clips that are sewn to the strand.
These are a super popular option as you can quite easily apply the extensions yourself. You can have a hairdresser put them in your hair to blend them, and even show you how to apply them properly.
Obviously, these are the least permanent form of hair extension, but this can be a positive feature. It allows you to choose whether you want short hair or long hair for the day or night by removing and putting them back in whenever you want. These generally take 5-15 minutes and they cause the least damage as they don't use any adhesive or glue to stick in your hair.
Clip-ins are fairly low maintenance and only need to be washed every 15-20 wears or if there is a fair amount of product on them. Essentially, they're the same as your own hair and you can even style them, dye them and cut them to your own preference.
These tend to last around six months to a year depending on the care, what products you use and how frequently you wear them.
If you're looking to purchase clip ins you can get real human hair extensions from .
Best for: Fine or thin hair
Tape-in hair extensions look similar to what they sound like. The piece is pre-taped and then taped or glued together on either side of your own hair. These need to be applied by a professional as they need to be placed close to the root of your hair for the most seamless look.
The benefits of tape-in extension is that once they're in, they're in. There's no fuss of taking them out or putting them back in and you can go about your day with long luscious locks.
The only drawback to these in day-to-day life is that they can be tricky to conceal. Obviously, you don't want people to be able to see the tops of the extensions so braiding your hair or putting it in a high ponytail can be challenging.
Additionally, you also need to get these touched up. Typically, they last four to eight weeks before you need to remove and re-apply them as your hair grows out.
You will need a hairdresser to remove the extensions (with glue remover) and then re-apply them higher up as long as they're in good condition. If they haven't been maintained well, you might need to purchase another set of extensions.
Finding good quality tape in extensions can be hard to come by, but offer a range of styles in incredibly good quality.
Best for: Coarse, curly or thick hair
Weaves are very much the big deal of hair extensions. The process can take several hours and it can cost a shiny dollar. Weaves work by narrowly braiding your natural hair and the extensions are attached to the cornrows with a needle and thread, sewing them into place.
This technique is frequently used for people with significantly thicker hair as they require more hair to mask. After their initial application, which is a timely process, the extensions can feel a little uncomfortable. Don't worry, this is normal.
Again, a professional needs to apply and remove these types of extensions for obvious reasons. While these can be the most painful form of extensions they are also one of the most popular because they're permanent and seamless as they're quite literally sewn into your head, so they aren't going anywhere.
When you have a weave you need to make sure you moisturise the scalp, nape and edges of your hair at least once a week and make sure you're using deep conditioning products.
Fusion and pre-bonded hair extensions
Best for: Medium to thick hair types
Fusion extensions (a.k.a pre-bonded extensions) are fused to the hair using different adhesives such as glue. The application process for these types of hair extensions is around three to four hours and must be applied by a hair care professional.
In my personal opinion, fusion extensions create my favourite type of look, but only select people can have them. If your hair is already fairly damaged you may not be an ideal candidate, as pre-bonded extensions are fairly damaging to your natural hair. Due to the numerous chemicals in the glue, this method can cause hair loss, breakage and scalp irritation.
There's very little maintenance when it comes to fusion extensions and can be treated the same as your real hair. The only thing is that they will need to be re-positioned every three to four months based on your hair type and growth rate. This style is also one of the easiest to style long hair, which is another perk.
Best for: Medium and thick hair types
Halo extensions are a modern design that just recently hit the Australian market. What makes these extensions so damn amazing is that they don't require ANY clips, beads, tapes, glues or weaves to be worn! Say what?
It's a somewhat similar style to a headband that you weave and blend into your hair. I know your first thought is that it's going to fall straight off because it's not actually attached to anything. However, halo hair extensions are designed to be fitted to your head so it sits at the perfect angle – and the angle is key.
According to the extension description that retailer Sitting Pretty offers, the extension "sits underneath the top-half of your hair. It's sitting around your head and tucked under the occipital bone [the bone that rounds out at the back of your head and is the base of the skull]. Don't worry! The Sitting Pretty Halo goes totally undetected because the hair that’s on top will be pulled over which makes the clear wire at the front invisible."
This design presents multiple benefits. The main plus is it eliminates the chance of damaging your hair since it's not attached to anything. They also don't need adjusting after a few weeks or months and they have a longer life, lasting around 8-12 months with the proper care. Their easy application and removal offers the same appeal that clip-ins give you – options to have a break from your extensions from time to time.
How much do hair extensions cost?
The cost of hair extensions depends mostly on the type of extensions you want to buy. Always keep in mind that the more extension, typically the higher the price.
Clip-ins. The average cost of clip-in extensions is around $200. However, a lot of factors affect the price such as thickness and length. Major retailer Zala Hair Extensions prices start at $99.95 for 12 inches of hair all the way up to $489.99 for 30 inches of hair in nine clips.
Tape-ins. The average price you can expect to see for tape-in extensions is around $500. Always keep in mind that salons will have their own prices for application processes which can bump this price up.
Fusion/Pro-bonds. These are easily the most expensive types of hair extension as they can cost anywhere between $800 and $1,400 because stylists add between 80 and 150 pieces of tiny human hair strands throughout the hair.
Hair Halo. These depend on how thick your hair is. The more hair you have, the more expensive its going to be. For fine hair it's $199, medium hair is $329 and thick hair is $429.
What hair extensions are best for your hair?
The extensions that are best for your actual hair are either clip-ins or the halo extensions. This is due to the fact the extensions aren't applied to your hair with any adhesive, glue, chemicals or heat, so they cause little to no damage to your natural hair.
The halo extensions provide a new standard when it comes to extensions and hair health. While clip-ins don't have any glue or heat involved, in order to place these in your hair you need to tease your roots and clip them in.
This isn't always the most comfortable feeling and can cause pulling on your hair, and minimal hair loss. In saying that, when clip-ins are applied properly, hair loss or pain is very rare.
How to put in hair extensions
This is highly dependent upon the type of extensions you are using. Weave, fusion and tape-in extensions all need be to applied by a professional hair stylist and definitely not by an amateur or by yourself at home. If you're choosing any of these hair extensions ensure you do your research on the most experienced salon for the job.
When applying clip-in extensions you'll need to break your hair up into sections.
Most clip-ins will consist of five separate pieces. In most cases, you'll receive a large piece, medium piece and two small pieces.
The medium piece goes at the base of your head, closer to your neck. The larger piece goes in the middle of the back of your head. Lastly, the two small pieces go up the top sides of your head.
You must apply these pieces as closely to the root as possible in each section. It can be good to tease the root lightly before you slip in the extensions as this ensures they stay in securely.
To apply the hair halo, place the wire an inch or two back from your front hairline, and approximately two inches above your ear. Apply pressure and position the halo so it's placed under your occipital bone (the bone that rounds out at the back of your head). If it’s the right fit, the corners of the halo should be sitting just above your ears.
It should feel secure but comfortable, and don't panic if it looks a bit funny initially. With a tail comb, draw a line around your head following the wire, neatly pulling your own hair out and over the wire all the way around. It's important to ensure you only pull the hair above the hair halo wire and not below.
How to take care of hair extensions
Taking care of hair extensions isn't as difficult or time-consuming as you think it could be. Obviously, you need to wash them and keep them untangled. Follow the steps below to keep your extensions in tip-top shape:
- Brush them lightly (don't hack at them) with a detangling brush until there are completely free from knots.
- Place the extensions flat in a sink or bathtub and wet them slightly.
- Apply conditioner to the extensions first.
- Apply shampoo over the conditioner and wash gently.
- Rinse extensions with warm water.
If you have permanent hair extensions, consult with the hair stylist on what shampoo and conditioner they recommend as each process is different. Overall, try to avoid any shampoo or conditioner that have extra moisturisers in them, as your hair can become too slippery for the extensions to adhere.
Additionally, make sure your hair is totally dry when you go to bed. If you really want your extensions to last, try braiding or putting your hair in pig-tails.
Do hair extensions ruin your hair?
In the grand scheme of things, hair extensions do have the potential to harm your hair.
First of all, you definitely want to avoid hair extensions that are heavier than your real hair. The weight will cause your actual hair to break and can be painful and cause headaches. This damage can also happen if extensions are attached too tightly.
This combination of weight and strain on your hair can result in hair falling out, which is also known as traction alopecia. When hair experiences frequent tension, which can happen from tight or heavy extensions, the hair around the hairline begins to recede and can cause permanent hair damage.
In order to prevent this, you do need to visit the hair salon regularly if your extensions are permanent. Allow them to take them out and replace them properly.
Moreover, it's good to give your hair a break from time to time and actually go without extensions for a while. Most importantly, if you do see the extensions have caused damage to your hair, take them out immediately.
Do hair extensions hurt?
Depending on the type of extensions some discomfort is normal. If you're completely new to hair extensions, the extra weight can result in headaches until you get used to them. Most describe the sensation as having a really tight ponytail for a day. This is normal and should subside after a few days or a week.
Particularly with permanent hair extensions, they can cause more discomfort than non-permanent ones. When tape, fusion, or weave extensions are positioned so close to the scalp, you may need time to adjust to the feeling, and for your hair to begin growing out any tightness.
However, you should never experience intense pain when it comes to hair extensions. If you do, remove them or have them taken out immediately. This could mean you're allergic to the glue or chemicals or that your scalp is just too sensitive.
While these are all possible reactions, they are fairly rare and most people experience minimal discomfort, if any.
Are hair extensions worth it?
All in all, if you struggle with growing your hair or just want long hair fast, these are a worthy investment. However, you need to make sure you choose the best ones for you personally in order to make them worthwhile!
If you want minimal fuss and versatility, I'd suggest the clip-in hair extensions or a hair halo. If you're after a more permanent option that still looks fairly natural then I'd go for the fusion bonds, just be prepared to have them touched up every couple of months!
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