All right, here it is… My number one, most asked question ever. Extensions! As a professional hairstylist I have a behind the scenes knowledge on what works and doesn’t work along with all the little tips and tricks that you learn over time. I’m going to give you the low down on all the different types of extensions, my favorite brands, maintenance, cost, how to style and more. I hope I’m not ruining someone’s day by telling you that, yes, I DO have extensions. And I’m not going to lie, I’m a HUGE fan and I think that anyone who really wants them should totally get them. Fair warning! So buckle in, here we go.
-ARE THEY RIGHT FOR YOU?-
Do you need a confidence booster? Do you want longer, fuller hair? Are you in the process of growing out a not so great haircut? Or do you want to play with your color without damaging your own hair? If your answer is yes to any of these questions then extensions are for you! There are so many different reasons to get extensions but you definitely want it to be a personal decision. You can dive into the world of extensions so quickly since they have become pretty accessible, but you should go in knowing the right extensions for you and the things that you need to avoid. Quality hair and quality talent to apply them are super important in order to have a good experience; you get what you pay for. Extensions can be damaging if they’re not applied correctly or if you don’t take care of them, so be careful!
-TYPES AND THEIR MAINTENCE-
- Clip-ins/Halo: These are the easiest to use and the easiest to get. Great for weddings, events, just for a little confidence if your hair is getting thin. You can flat iron or curl them and the trick to putting them in is to make clean sections and to lightly tease your hair first at the base (don’t go crazy with the teasing because you can cause a lot of damage if you get aggressive). Downside to them is you have to put them in and remove them everyday, I wouldn’t recommend sleeping with them in. Something slightly different from the clip-ins are the halo method. It’s a fall of hair on something similar to clear fishing line and it slips over your head and you blend it in with your natural hair. Great if you have medium-long hair and just want thickness but I think it’s hard to make a bob look natural against the much longer extension hair. Application time: 10 mins. Preferred brands: Laced Hair, Hidden Crown.
- Tape-ins: These are moderately priced and relatively quick to apply, sometimes they’re also called skin wefts. These are also perfect for people who think the sides of their hair are thin but are ok with the back, they’re very easy to “spot” apply. Basically thin sections of your hair are sandwiched between the extensions using double sided tape. You can also reuse the hair 3-4 times before you need to replace it. Downside is that they need to be taken out and moved back up on your head every 6-8 weeks depending on your hair growth. If you let them go too long you can definitely damage your own hair because it starts twisting and breaking. Application time: 30 mins-1 hour. Preferred brands: Locks and Bonds, Hot Heads
- Wefts: So with wefts you can either do the sewn-in method where you have a very tight braid and a huge “fall” of hair is sewn onto that braid or you can do beaded rows where a weft of hair will have several “beads” holding it to your own hair. You want to go with “hand-tied” wefts over machine tied because they look more natural and lay closer to your scalp. Plus side to wefts is that you see a huge difference without adding many rows and they can be taken out and changed easily. Downside is that it can be a little heavy and you can’t reach your scalp in the spots where it’s sewn in. These will last you about 6-8 weeks before you’ll need some maintenance done, you can also reuse the hair a few times before replacing. Application time: 3-4 hours. Preferred brands: Hidden Crown, Laced Hair.
- I-tip: Also called the cold fusion method. These can be applied using silicone, metal or plastic beads. Personally, I like to stay away from the metal beads because I think the metal rubs your hair and causes breakage. Middle of the road on time per application and price. They can last 3-6 months depending on hair growth and a plus side is the hair can be reused if there is no heat involved. Application time- 4-6 hours. Preferred brands: Laced Hair, Locks and Bonds
- Keratin: Also called the fusion method, this method is for sure the most time consuming but they last the longest by far. Heat is applied to a piece of your own hair and the extension and “fused” together. You’ll have to have them professionally removed and then reapplied every 3-6 months depending on hair growth. Downside is the time involved, the cost and that you can’t reuse the hair. Application time: 6-8 hours. Preferred brands: Great Lengths, Laced Hair
- What type do I use??? So I actually buy I-tip extensions but I use plastic “shrink wrap type” tubes and seal them with heat. They last great for me, anywhere from 3-6 months depending on how fast my hair is growing. I’ve done this method for over 3 years with almost no time off and I don’t have any damage at all. I love them and this would be my most recommended type for natural looking hair. Most people don’t even know that I have extensions!
-HUMAN vs. SYNTHETIC-
FIY, extensions are not made the same everywhere and with every brand. So always, always go with real hair to start! This is one area where you totally get what you pay for. You also cannot color or use heat on synthetic hair and it generally looks fake.
- Remember, this is the hair cost plus the application cost in a salon. Some brands have better quality hair and are therefore more expensive. Also, the more experience the salon professional has the more she/he will charge to put the extensions in.
- Clip-ins are generally the most reasonable and attainable type of extensions, a decent set will cost around $250 and I recommend getting them cut in a salon for the most natural, blended look possible.
- Tape-ins are the next step up in price. A full set will cost around $500-600 and up depending on location. There will be another fee every 6-8 weeks to remove them and reapply.
- Sew-ins and wefts are fairly reasonable as well. A full head will start around $500-600 depending on your area and there will be another charge when you need them moved up.
- Keratin and I-tip are usually pretty comparable in price. Full sets start around $800-900 and go up from there depending on location. They are generally the most expensive and the most time intensive but they last the longest as well. You’ll need to take them out and reapply every 3-6 months depending on your hair growth.
-STYLING AND CARE-
Step 1. Be gentle! You have got to treat your extensions like your own hair, in some cases better haha. To make them last the longest time possible try not to wash them too often, watch the heat that you apply and try not to coat them in a ton of product (this causes buildup and tangles). Use quality products, shampoos and conditioners. You don’t want to shell out a ton of money to get your hair done and then try to maintain it with cheap drugstore products. Also, make sure that there is little to no alcohol in your products, it’s super drying and leads to knots and tangles galore. You can use a little oil or detangling sprays but try to keep them towards the ends of your hair and keep them away from where the extensions bond to your hair because this can cause slippage. When you’re brushing start at the bottom, work your way up and no dragging through the snags that may be there. And buy THIS brush, it’s a must have!
Styling wise, the goal is for the extensions to look like your own hair. You don’t want people seeing them! If you have a super blunt cut you’re way more likely to notice the extensions so try and go for a natural layered cut with some texture. I love using a razor on the ends because it makes your cut and extensions look lived in and real. Curling your hair is also a great way to make everything blend together. The bigger the gap between the length of your hair and the extension hair the harder it is to make them blend together. Also, be prepared to spend a little more time than you’re used to on your hair. Extensions seem to take a little longer to dry than your own hair and you want to make sure that they’re 100% dry before using a flat iron or curling iron on them. Another tip that I live by is to either sleep with your hair in a loose braid or a loose bun to prevent the sleepy time tangles when you wake up in the morning.
-QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HAIRSTYLIST-
- What type of extensions do you prefer to use? The answer should always be 100% human hair but the brands can differ.
- Where does the hair come from? Indian hair is thicker but can have a slight wave, it also is usually highly processed in the lighter shades because it begins as dark hair. European hair tends to be finer and straighter so can be good for blondes.
- Pictures of past work? If they’re proud of their work they’ll have pictures, I promise!
-MUST HAVE PRODUCTS FOR WHEN YOU HAVE EXTENSIONS-
- Wet Brush
- Pureology shampoo and conditioner
- Unite Luxury Argan Oil or ORIBE Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil
- Strengthening Control Hairspray or Oribe Hair Spray
- This ORIBE Hair Care Cote d’Azur Hair Refresher will make your hair smell AMAZING on the days that you don’t feel like washing and this ORIBE Gold Lust Dry Shampoo works great for your roots.
- Make sure you invest in a good blowdryer like this BaBylissPRO Full-Size Dryer, it’s very similar to the one I use in the salon and also good heat tools like this Hot Tools Professional Curling Iron and this BaBylissPRO Straightening Iron.
All Photos by Topher DeLancy Photography
If you have any further questions about extensions or are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and want a referral, hit me up. I hope this post helps you make your decision on whether or not you’re going to dive into the world of extensions. If you do decide to get them please send me your before and after pictures, I love seeing them!
-LINKS TO MY FAVORITE EXTENSION BRANDS-