Once you’ve decided that you’d like to try hair extensions, the next question you have to ask yourself is, “What kind of extensions do I want?”
There are a wide range of options available, many of which require little maintenance and will not damage your hair—as long as you follow the guidelines for their use. Determine what type of extensions is best for your hair and your budget by reading about the five popular methods below.
This is often considered the “classic” method and has been widely used for more than 25 years. Extensions are attached at the top using keratin protein bonds that are melted and fused with strands of your own hair, giving you a natural look. These extensions will last for four months and can more or less be treated like your own hair, as long as you don’t use a curling or flat iron. It’s a good choice for most hair types (unless your hair is overly processed or damaged), but it’s also the most expensive option.
The name of this method comes from the small beads, or micro links, that are used to attach strands of extension hair to your own hair. Many people like this option because it lasts for four months, requires relatively little maintenance, and doesn’t require any glues or chemicals. However, the beads don’t always stay in place if you have slick hair, and you’ll need to keep oils and other slick hair products away from your scalp to prevent slippage.
A relatively new technique, braidless sew-in extensions use your own hair as the base and attach wefts of hair with thread. These extensions should last about four months and can be reused, making them a more cost-effective choice. They work for just about any hair type and are a popular choice for lengthening already-thick hair.
Sometimes called tape-in extensions, this method uses wefts with thin polyurethane strips that can be taped between strands of your own hair. This type of extensions only lasts for 6 to 8 weeks, and you’ll need to stay away from oily products while they’re in, but the good news is that they can be reused. This isn’t the best choice if you’re looking for a full-head application, but it is good if you want to add slight length or volume to your hair.
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Clip-In or Clip-On
Easily the most “user-friendly” and least expensive method of extensions, clip-ins involve clipping wefts of hair to your own hair. They require little maintenance because you can put them in and take them out yourself, and you can even use a curler or flat iron on them. However, if you use clip-in extensions too often, their weight can damage your hair. They’re best suited to occasional use and special events.
To learn even more about your hair extension options, talk to your stylist and check out “The Long and Short of Hair Extensions” infographic from Philip James.