Types of hair extensions
Things to know about Various Types of Hair Extensions
If you are new to the idea of using hair extensions, there are many terms used in this field like clip-ins, pre-bonded, tape-ins, micro-link, weaves, fusion, etc., which you need to be familiar with if you want to select a hair extension that perfectly suits your hair. Described below are some of the important types of hair extensions available in the market, which will help you to make the best choice for your hair.
Synthetic Hair Extensions vs. Real Human Hair Extensions
Hair extensions can be broadly classified into two. They are synthetic hair extensions and human hair extensions. Let us see how these two differ from each other.
As the name suggests, human hair extensions are made from real human hair collected from donors. This means that the outer layer of the hair, namely cuticle will be intact in human hair extensions which ensures the hair extension will have very few tangles and will remain silky and smooth for their entire lifetime. On the other hand, synthetic hair is made out of different synthetic, blended fibers, and has no human hair. They are fine plastic fibers used to mimic real human hair.
How they differ in look and feel?
Both synthetic and real hair extensions come in numerous colours, styles, and various forms of application. As far as quality is concerned, synthetic hair won’t be as good as natural hair because they are generally stiff and often don't move naturally and this makes the blending of synthetic hair extensions to the existing hair a bit tough. Not only that, but synthetic hair extensions may also have a coarse feel when we touch them. On the other hand, natural hair extensions blend more naturally with your hair.
How they differ in colouring and styling?
The main advantage of using human hair extensions is that they can be treated exactly like your natural hair. You are free to style them as you shape your natural hair. For example, you can curl, straighten, color, blow-dry, and apply various hair products on them as you wish. On the other hand, if you are using synthetic hair, it will not be possible for you to colour them because most hair dyes contain bleach or ammonia, which would tear down the synthetic hair. When it comes to styling also, synthetic hair has some limitations as compared to natural hair. For example, synthetic hair cannot withstand hot tools like straighteners, curling irons, and blow dryers as these may cause the synthetic hair to melt or they may get severely damaged. In addition to these, certain other factors such as friction, sun, or harsh hair products are also found to spoil synthetic hair extensions.
How they differ in cost and durability?
If you consider the cost factor, synthetic hair is a lot cheaper when compared to real hair. But, synthetic have less durability than natural hair as they are made of synthetic fibers which make them vulnerable to sun, heat, etc. Usually, synthetic hair extensions can only survive for a few months. On the other hand, if properly taken care of, human hair extensions have found to last more than one year.
In a nutshell, when we compare human hair extensions with synthetic hair extensions, the better option is human hair extensions because human hair extensions can be styled and treated just like your natural hair and it will also look and feel more natural. Not only that, human hair extensions will blend more easily with your hair and are much durable when compared to synthetic hair. Although synthetic hair extensions are cheaper, they do not give a natural look and do not last as long as human hair extensions. Not only that, but it is not possible to style them with heating tools also.
Various types of hair extensions and how to apply them
- Clip-in Hair Extensions
These extensions are one of the most common hair extension types in the market. They usually come as strands of contoured pieces, connected at the bottom with either silicone or fabric and come in a ready to use form. All you have to do is to clip them to your natural hair. Keep in mind that, there will be more than one clip in a hair extension, and you have to open and close each clip individually.
These extensions are usually very temporary because they are easily removable whenever they are not needed. You can also put them back if the need arises. It usually takes only 5 to 15 minutes for applying this type of hair extension. Not only that, but clip-in hair extensions are also found to be very durable because they have a straightforward application method which does not need any heating or pressure and even no chemicals are required for applying them on your hair. The clipping procedure is so easy and fast that it ensures zero damage to your real hair.
As far as maintenance of clip-in hair extensions is concerned, it will largely depend upon whether you bought a human or synthetic hair extension. Human hair extensions are the easiest to maintain among the two. They only need a wash after around every 15 to 20 wears or if they become unmanageably dirty. You can treat these extensions as your natural hair and can brush, shampoo, and condition them. Not only that, but they can also be styled in a way similar to your natural hair. You can curl, straighten, and color them without any worries. However, make sure to use a lower heat setting if you want to heat style them. Also, use a heat protectant before heat styling.
The durability of the clip-in hair extension will depend upon how you take care of them and what products you use on them and how often they are used. An average lifetime for these extensions are observed to be around 3 to 6 months. Sometimes they can even last for more than one year if cared well.
- Tape-In Hair Extensions
These extensions are usually pre-taped, and they are glued or taped together on each side of your natural hair. Typically, the application of tape-ins requires you to align them with the roots of your hair which is usually done with a hot tool which helps to heat up the glue. Moreover, to remove them, you will need a glue remover. Keep in mind that, there is a chance of causing damage to your hair when heat or some adhesive product is applied to your hair roots. In addition to this, applying tape-in extensions are time-consuming too. Generally, it will take 40 minutes up to 1 hour for applying them successfully.
You have to be extremely careful while using conditioners and other hair products on tape-in extensions because this can lead to the tape to become loose or slip off from your hair which is a common issue with tape-ins. Due to this, you have to use only recommended hair products with these type of extensions so that the glue remains on place and hold the hair securely. Also, be careful while styling them too.
Tape-ins are generally considered as semi-permanent. Normally, they last around 4 to 8 weeks and then you will have to remove them and re-apply. Like previously said, durability will largely depend upon how you take care of them.
- Sew-In Hair Extensions/Weave
To apply sew-in hair extensions, first, you must braid your natural hair into cornrows. After that, using a thread and needle sew the weave into the cornrow or braid. These hair extensions are mostly used for people who have thick hair. Keep in mind that applying a weave is a time-consuming activity which can take several hours. Because of the tight way they are applied, these hair extensions often put pressure on your scalp and can be uncomfortable and cumbersome at times. Due to this, sew-in hair extensions are not preferred for people with thin hair.
As the application of the weave is difficult and requires excellent skills, always make sure to hire a professional hairdresser with good experience for the job. Nowadays, sew-in hair extensions also come in the form of a wig, which can be sewn into cornrows in a similar way as explained above. However, in such cases, the hair usually comes as a single piece and not as separate wefts. Sew-in hair extensions are the most permanent type of hair extension as here the hair is literally sewn into your cornrows or braids and so they won't fall off easily.
The most important thing to remember while using this type of extension is to moisturize your scalp and edges of your hair surely on a weekly basis. Also, make sure to use deep conditioning products. As sew-in hair extensions can cause damage and weakness to your natural hair due to the pressure it applies on the scalp, it is recommended to use special protein products to wash your hair. Usually, weaves are made of real hair because of their permanent nature, and so you can style it as you style your natural hair.
Having a full weave in your hair for a duration longer than four months will negatively affect the growth of your natural hair. Therefore, for better health of your natural hair, you should remove the sew-in hair extension every 6 to 8 weeks.
- Fusion or Pre-Bonded Hair Extensions
As the name implies, fusion hair extensions are applied by fusing them with your natural hair. You can use different adhesives for this fusing purpose. Applying these hair extensions can take around 3 to 4 hours, and you will need a professional hairdresser for the job. To use pre-bonded hair extensions, usually, a hot glue gun is required which will glue the hair extension to your natural hair strands. Sometimes, a heat clamp is also used for melting the glue into the natural hair. Some hairdressers advice against this type of hair extensions because this type of application can prove to be very harmful to your natural hair.
Fusion hair extensions are usually managed the same way as you treat your real hair. You are free to use any hair products you would generally use for your natural hair. However, these extensions would need re-positioning once in every 2 to 3 months. Also keep in mind that due to various chemicals used to make the glue, this application can cause breakage, hair loss, and scalp irritation.
Fusion hair extensions are regarded as a semi-permanent hair extension type as they can stay up to 4 months in your hair depending on your hair type and hair growth.
5. Microlink/Microbead/Microloop Hair Extensions
Microlink hair extensions are applied by fastening tiny wefts of hair to different small sections of your natural hair with the help of a small silicone-lined bead. After that, using a special tool, these beads are secured and tightened to the hair so as to hold the extension in place. Keep in mind that microlink extensions can also damage your hair if not installed correctly under the guidance of a professional even though this method does not make use of glue or heat because sometimes the beads may be tightened too much, and this can cause pulling and pressure at your natural hair roots. Not only that, but there are also chances of hair loss if these extensions are not removed properly. Generally, this hair extension application takes around 2 to 4 hours.
You are free to use microlink hair extensions the same way you use your natural hair. You can wash them as you wash your normal hair and also use normal styling products on them. Microlink hair extensions also require re-positioning once in every 2 to 3 months as your natural hair grows as in the case of fusion hair extensions because as your natural hair grow the microbeads will move away from the scalp.
These extensions are semi-permanent and generally survive up to four months.
6. Wigs & Hair Pieces
Wigs and hairpieces are hair extensions which are applied topically to your hair and act as an artificial replacement for your natural hair and are generally made to cover your entire head and so they can be thought of as "head coverings." Wigs can be helpful to cover up different conditions such as balding, hair loss, etc. They can also help you to change the way you look.
Hairpieces are different from wigs. They usually come in the form of a ponytail, a bun, or a hair tie. All you have to do is place it over your natural hair. Hairpieces are found to be useful when a particular area of your scalp is experiencing hair thinning, and you need to cover up this area. They are also helpful when you want to create an entirely new hairstyle, for example, you can have a super long, ponytail with just one hairpiece.
The main challenge in maintaining wigs and hairpieces are their washing procedure. Depending on the type of hair they are made from, you have to be very careful while washing them. Hairpieces are usually attached to plastic materials which make the washing even more difficult.
As with all other hair extension types, the durability of wigs and hairpieces also depend upon how you take care of them and whether they are synthetic or real. Typically, if properly taken care of, real full wigs made of human hair can last up to 1 year. On the other hand, most hairpieces are made of synthetic material and will not last more than a month.