Are you wanting your mane to look thicker and longer with more vibrancy? Look no further than hair extensions, an excellent way to turn locks from drab to super-fabulous. Navigating the hair-extension terrain might be a little overwhelming, though, so here's a simple breakdown of everything you need to about what to consider, types and methods.
So what exactly are hair extensions? Lengths of human hair or synthetic hair that can be affixed close to the scalp to add length, volume, texture and color to women's natural hair.
There is a science to hair extensions, so consult with a certified and trained stylist to find the right fit. This includes Salon 2121 and Salon Dyeversity, which are the 2012 Little Rock Beauty Black Book Best Extensions Winners.
Here is a rundown of extensions, courtesy of allhairnetwork.com:
- Adhesive-based fusion: Considered by many the best method, this requires professional grade wax-based adhesives to bond extensions. The adhesives can withstand both chemical and heat treatments.
- Cold fusion: This new technology that uses ultrasound waves, instead of heat, to bond each extension to your hair. It is a preferred method when bonding extensions to colored or chemically treated hair, because it's so gentle.
- Braids, cornrows, twists, locks: Integrates extensions through braids, cornrows, twists or locks in a visible way, but blends into hairstyle.
- Weaves: Small braids hold extensions close to scalp, like cornrows, but they are hidden. It can be difficult to dry the hair beneath the braids, so some women avoid washing hair as often.
- Bonding: Extensions have a latex plug that are glued to hair for short-term use. Because this method is super-fast, it's also inexpensive. However, to remove extensions, heat and oil must be used to dissolve the bonding agent-- a messy and time-consuming task.
- Metal tubing: This uses a metal tube that clamps over hair to attach extensions. Sometimes, it can break off natural hair, can be difficult to pry open later and adds a little weight.
- Heat-shrink tubing: It doesn't harm natural hair, but because it doesn't have adhesive needed for holding power. After a few washes, the tubes can loosen and extension hair can fall out.
*Some of these methods may not be available at local salons. Check with the salon to see if it's available and what's right for your needs.
- Clip-in: These extensions can be easily used and removed at any time without the help of a specialist. High-quality, heat-friendly synthetic extensions can also be styled on low-heat settings.
- Human hair: The ultimate solution for fine, thinning or short hair, human hair can come from many different sources. Quality human hair will last the longest and holds up to heat, styling and mistreatment.
- Remy: These are among the highest grade of human hair extensions available. The term “Remy” means that the hair cuticle is still intact and not stripped like lower quality extensions. Remy extensions blend well and have the same brilliance and shine as natural hair.
- Fusion: Although they tend to be the most time-consuming to apply, fusion hair extensions tend to be some of the most discreet and natural-looking extensions. Fusion refers to a method of applying extensions where 100 percent "Remy" human hair is attached strand-by-strand to the natural hair at its very roots. The keratin tips are fused to the natural hair using a melting connector.
Pricing is based on various factors, including the method, quality of extensions and length of hair. The going rate for extensions runs between $6 and $12 per extension. A full head with short to long application usually typically requires between 150 to 200 extensions. Consult with your extension specialist to get an approximate cost of hair extensions that will be best suited for you.
When caring for your new 'do, gentleness is key.
"Keep in mind that after the placement of extensions, regular maintenance is very important to ensure that your own hair stays strong and healthy, along with coming back and having them properly removed," said Jessica Smith, a stylist and cutting specialist at Salon Scarlet.
It is a good idea to treat hair extensions like natural hair, so avoid aggressively scrubbing your hair and use only products recommended by your extension specialist. Avoid tangles by drying your hair thoroughly before going to bed and combing with a wide-tooth comb or pick gently from ends to the scalp. Smith recommends sleeping in a low, loose ponytail.
Do not color, perm or use any other types of chemicals without consulting with your professional hair extension specialist beforehand.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding to get hair extensions:
How much am I willing to spend to start the process of getting hair extensions?
What should my hair extension length be?
Am I ready for the maintenance that comes along with having extensions?
Is my hair in the right condition?