Letting your hair down: Everything you need to know about hair extensions

17 October 2014
 Categories: , Blog

When you're ready for a dramatic change, hair extensions are a fantastic way to create the look of long, full tresses without the wait. The huge variety of products and options available is excellent in terms of choice but can also be confusing for the uninitiated. Here is a basic breakdown of things to look for when considering hair extensions.

How do they work?

There are several ways of attaching hair extensions, which vary in cost, maintenance and durability.

  • Clip-ins – these are small sections of hair attached to clips. They are quick to put in and take out but are only intended as a temporary accessory.
  • Weft extensions – strands of hair are connected to a small strip, which can be taped or sewn into existing hair. This process can take 1-3 hours, depending on the method chosen, and the extensions can last 1-3 months before requiring maintenance or replacement.
  • Micro-rings – this is another variation on wefts, where the strands of hair are attached to tiny loops or beads. Strands of your existing hair are pulled through the ring, which is then tightened to hold the extension in place. These can take a little longer to apply than wefts but may also last longer.
  • Individual – this is the most expensive and time-consuming method, where very small segments of hair are bonded to your existing hair, taking 2-4 hours. However, this style of hair extension is almost undetectable and will last around 3-6 months.

Real or synthetic?

Hair extensions can be made from human hair or from a range of synthetic materials. Human hair  can be treated just like your own hair–-it can be coloured, permed and straightened. The term "remy" is often used to indicate superior quality, which just means that the hair in the extensions is aligned the way hair would grow on your head, with all the shafts in the same direction. This gives it a smooth, natural appearance. Synthetic hair is cheaper but will not absorb colour and cannot be permed or straightened (it may melt).

What colour?

If you want a natural look, choose a colour to match the middle to end sections of your existing hair, since the hair nearest your scalp tends to be slightly darker. But extensions also give you the opportunity to create a gently contrasting look with your own hair, such as the fashionable ombre style or even something eye-catchingly different.

What texture?

Hair extensions may be straight, wavy or curly, and you can get a natural look by choosing a texture that most closely matches your own hair. However, you can also add body to your hair by choosing extensions slightly wavier than your own, or if you normally straighten your hair, you can enhance the effect by adding straighter extensions.

What weight?

Hair extensions come in a variety of weights, which are intended to complement the thickness of your own hair. If you just wanted to lengthen thin hair, or add a little volume, 80 grams might be enough. Around 120 grams is average, going up to 160 grams for thick hair. Even heavier weights are possible to create a very full, dramatic look, but the heavier the extension, the greater the stress on the existing hair.

Enjoy your new look, and remember that careful washing, drying and brushing afterwards will ensure that your hair extensions stay looking great for as long as possible. Consult a professional, like Afro Trends, for more information.