How To Choose The Right Hair Extensions For Your Style?

Everything you need to know about hair extensions
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Hair extensions are the integration of an extra piece (or pieces) of hair that are attached to your natural hair in order to add length, volume, or even introduce a new color without the use of any chemicals.

There are various types of extensions and ways to install them. How you select which type works for you will depend on your lifestyle, budget, and maintenance regimen that you can commit to.

Here is a list of the different types of hair extensions split into two separate categories: Temporary and Semi-Permanent hair extensions.

Temporary Hair Extensions

Temporary Hair Extensions refer to the type of extensions that you can put in and out without the need for a hair professional to install them and they are mostly used for special occasions or on and off wear. You aren't required to have a license to purchase them and they are available to the general public.

1. Clip-in hair extensions

Rows of color for clip-in hair extensions
Clip-in hair extensions. Source: The Hair Shop

The clip-ins are, as you can guess by the name, extensions that can be attached to your natural hair with the use of a clip. They allow for the most freedom as you can put them in and out on your own as you please, without the need to seek professional help. They are perfect for any special occasion where you want to add some length and volume on the go. They're also the most affordable option for hair extensions.

The downside to them is that the blending of the color and haircut might not be as precise.

2. Halo hair extensions

Halo extensions being held up by a hand
Halo Hair Extensions. Source: Zala Hair

From all the types of extensions out in the market, the halo extensions are the only type that isn't actually attached to your hair, instead, they are held onto your head with the use of an invisible wire. Similar to the clip-ins, you can put them on yourself, so you can go from a shag bob to long layers in a matter of minutes!

Being that the halo extensions aren't actually attached to your hair, they are the least damaging option as far as hair extensions go, and the best option for someone struggling with hair loss as they will cause no strain to your natural hair.

Semi-permanent Hair Extensions

Semi-permanent types of hair extensions can last in your hair anywhere between 1 to 6 months. On top of the upfront cost when you buy them, you have to also consider the installation and maintenance to your budget. These types vary in size and methods used for the application.

3. Tape-in Extensions

How tape-ins look when attached to your hair
Tape-in Hair Extensions. Source: Indiamart

The effect that tape-ins have on your natural hair is minimal, as the 4cm length of the tape reduces the possibilities of your hair being harmed from the root because the weight is evenly distributed throughout the tape. 

They are attached to your hair with the use of double-sided tape, in other words, the method of application is glue. I know, glue sounds like the last thing you want to come near your hair, but the technologies for the tape have come really far and they are, after all, specifically made to be attached to the hair.

Overall they are really easy to maintain and can last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks. The good news is that you don't have to purchase the hair all over again. A technician will use a tape-specific solvent to detach the grown-out extensions from your hair and then re-install them with fresh tape. 

Because of the width of the extensions, they are not the easiest to blend and they are more restrictive in regards to hairstyles. If putting your hair in a ponytail is pretty much an everyday look, tape-ins are probably not a good option for you. On the other hand, it will push you to style your hair on a regular basis.

4. Fusion (bonded) Extensions

Keratin Fusion Hair Extensions Attached
Fusion Hair Extensions. Source: Natural Hair

The pieces of hair come attached to an individual keratin bond, which is softened by a heat applicator and then molded into your natural hair. Remember, our hair is made out of keratin, so the keratin bonds settle better in your hair than glue.

Due to the pieces being so small (think less than a cm wide) it allows for a better blend of color and placement. The technician can be more strategic with the placement of the pieces and it allows for more liberty of hairstyles. You can easily wear your hair up and the extensions still go unnoticeable.

That freedom does come with a price, as these are on the higher-end type of hair extensions (if not the most expensive ones) because of how meticulous the application is. For a full head of extensions, the installation can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours! 

The good news is, with proper maintenance at home, these extensions can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months, so your money goes a long way. Once they're out, the hair can't be reused and you have to purchase a new bundle of hair in order to get them re-installed.

5. Sew-in (Weave) Extensions

Sew-in hair extensions being installed
Sew in or weave hair extensions. Source: Fotolog

This is considered the oldest technique of hair extensions. To attach the weft of hair, your natural hair has to be braided from ear to ear and then the weft is attached by a thread, which is where the name sew-in comes from. They are literally sewed into your hair. 

There is no glue or wax involved in this application, but if you suffer from a sensitive scalp, this application can cause a bit of pain and some discomfort for the days following the application. The braids are put in tightly in order for them to hold the weight of the weft, so it's not a good option for someone struggling with thin hair as they can pull the hair and make your thinning even worse. 

These types of extensions are best suited for someone with thick hair as it's easier to match the density with the weft and the strong natural hair can hold the extensions better.

The nice thing is that you don't have to worry about the chemicals in your hair products possibly damaging the glue or attachment of the extensions. How comfortably they last in your hair depends on how quickly your hair grows.

The application starts getting distorted as your hair grows out and that's when you know it's time to have them taken out and reinstalled. They are more noticeable than other types of extensions (especially when they grow out) because of the length of the pieces and how loosely they become attached to your hair.

6. Micro Link Extensions

Metal micro link attached
Nano-Micro Link Extensions. Source: Foxy Hair Extensions

These are pretty similar to the bonded extensions as far as size and look go. They can pretty much go unnoticed and there is no glue or heat involved in the application.

Just like with the fusion extensions, you match the density of your natural hair to the extension hair strand you want to attach and insert them inside a small copper or aluminum ring. With the help of pliers, you close the ring flat and your extension is installed!

The metal piece is not as friendly as the keratin bond and it adds some effort to your daily styling routine. You have to be super careful not to pull on them when you comb your hair.

These extensions can last in your hair anywhere from 2 to 3 months before you have to take them back for maintenance. Unlike fusion extensions, if you properly take care of them, you can re-use the same hair strand for your next application. The actual pieces of hair can actually last anywhere from 6 months to a year! Which is a pretty budget-friendly option for the blending that it allows.

Do some research before you choose your extension technician

Although some types of hair extensions allow for better blending than other types, a good stylist will always take into consideration your natural density, color, and length in order to provide the best blending for your hair. Simply put, if you can tell someone has hair extensions, it can make your hair look "cheap" and undone. The whole idea with extensions is that the additional hair blends seamlessly with your natural hair.

If you’re considering a color change, do it before purchasing your extensions. You should always match your extensions to your natural hair and not the other way around.

Can hair extensions thin out or damage your hair?

If not done properly, yes, hair extensions can cause more harm than good. This is why, unless you are choosing temporary hair extensions, you should always seek to get them professionally installed. An extension technician has undergone training to ensure that the application is done properly and does not cause any more stress on your natural hair.

Why get hair extensions?

For some, it's a luxury to play around with your hairstyles without the need to wait a couple of years for your hair to grow. For others that aren't blessed with naturally luscious hair, hair extensions can actually be life-changing and can be a huge boost in confidence!

Within the last 10 years, hair extensions have shifted from 'only a celebrity can wear them or afford them' to a regular service that can be done at your base salon. The techniques have come a long way and the quality of the hair and application methods just keeps getting better and better. 

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