Types of Hair Extensions: Which Ones Are Best, Where To Find Them and More!
If you’ve ever spontaneously cut off multiple inches of your hair just to feel something, you’re not alone. In fact, emotional hair cutting is a pattern, and while most of the time it ends up looking fabulous, there are the off times when we instantly regret picking up the scissors.
If you’ve ever managed to give yourself a terrible bob haircut and wish you could turn back time, maybe you can. Save the tears and look up hair extensions!
Hair extensions have a bad rep, known for damaging your hair and causing hair loss, but that’s not always the case. Different types of extensions are better for certain hair types, and that’s half the battle. Knowing which extensions are best for your hair isn’t the only way to prevent damage.
Extensions need to be done by a professional, and they aren’t cheap, so if you get quoted a suspiciously low number, you should think twice about the quality of your extensions. Another way to avoid damage from extensions is to take care of them. Each type of hair extension has a particular way to be maintained, and following these instructions will ensure you get the most for your money.
Lastly, make sure that you get your extensions refreshed, retouched, and cared for post-salon date. You can do things at home to help your extensions last, but having them looked at and cared for by your stylist as recommended will ensure that your hair continues to thrive under the extensions.
There are many other important things to know about extensions, including the different types, what kind of hair to use, and more. We’re going to give you our guide to hair extensions so that you walk into your salon prepared.
Human Hair vs. Synthetic Hair
We need to address the type of hair you should ask for when asking for extensions. They can come in real human hair or synthetic hair.
Human hair is made out of, well, real human hair. And don’t worry, this type of hair typically comes from donations. Real human hair has many advantages: a smooth and silky texture, little to no tangling, and a more natural appearance.
Synthetic hair is manufactured to look like real human hair, but it’s actually made from synthetic fibers. These are very fine, plastic fibers which is one of its downfalls. Synthetic hair is cheaper, but they do not last as long as human hair does and can also be damaged by heat given that they’re made out of plastic.
Synthetic extensions may only last a few months, whereas human hair can last much longer, closer to a year. This begs the question of; if synthetic hair is cheaper but you have to change them more often, does that make human hair more worth it?
Human hair extensions can be treated as normal, meaning you can apply heat to straighten, curl, color, and more. Synthetic hair cannot be color-treated since the chemicals in dyes will break down the plastic fibers.
As we mentioned, you can’t apply direct or very much heat on synthetic hair extensions as the plastic fibers will melt or become damaged beyond repair. Heat also applies to the sun in this context.
So, which one is best?
If your extensions are a one-time-only experience for an event, we recommend going for the cheaper synthetic extensions. Although, if you plan on wearing extensions for a while, then human hair is definitely the better choice.
If you can afford to have the real thing, you’ll be thanking yourself that you splurged when you see just how natural and beautiful it looks.
Tape-In Hair Extensions
Tape-In hair extensions are straightforward. They are taped in sections and then taped together on the sides of your head, creating fullness and volume.
This type of extension can be hard to navigate as you need to be careful with the conditioning products that you use. Anything that creates a slippery texture can cause the tape to loosen and come off. If you opt for this type of extension, you may need to remove any oils and leave-in treatments from your hair care regimen to get your money’s worth.
Tape-In hair extensions will last up to eight weeks before you need to have them removed and reapplied. This has to be done at a salon as they need to be applied with a tool that will heat up the glue. This adhesive is the same reason they need to be professionally removed as well.
If you’ve taken good care of your extensions, they can be used again, which would save you the money of buying a new set of hair. The process of removing and re-installing can take about an hour in total.
Sew-In Hair Extensions
Sew-In extensions are also sometimes known as weaves. This method needs to be applied by a skilled hairdresser as the process is quite complicated.
First, the natural hair needs to be braided. Then, the hair extensions are sewn into the braid with a needle. The braids need to be quite tight to ensure the integrity of the extensions, which is why an experienced professional is needed for this.
It’s a very long process that can take hours in a chair. The more hours it takes, the more expensive it is, so we don’t have to tell you that sew-in extensions are pricey.
This type of extension works best on thicker hair. If your hair is too thin or you don’t have enough of it, the braiding process can put a strain on your scalp and become painful.
Even though we’re pointing out the cons of these types of extensions, there are many pros as well. These are the most natural-looking types of extensions are they are virtually seamless.
They’re also the most permanent since they’re sewn into your natural hair. It may be a long process to apply, but they can last a lot longer than most other types of extensions. Zala Hair has some awesome weave-in hair extensions to try out that are all 100% human hair!
This type of extension needs a lot of scalp care. Nourishing products that will keep your scalp and roots moisturized and healthy are vital. Since the braiding method pulls at your scalp more so than other kinds of extensions, it’s important to give that area a lot of attention.
Due to the possibility of scalp irritation from the application method, it’s recommended to change your weave every eight to ten weeks. You can keep them in for longer, but it’s at your own risk. The more time goes by, the bigger the chance of causing damage to your natural hair.
Clip In Hair Extensions
Clip-In hair extensions, or wefts, are probably the most common type of hair extensions. They come in several sections attached to a base that will be clipped into your hair. The clips are easy to apply and remove.
These are not permanent, making them an awesome temporary solution. The application process is the least damaging as it doesn’t use heat or chemicals, and this process can take as little as five minutes.
This type of extension is where we see the synthetic versus real hair debate comes in. If you’re using human hair, you can experience product build-up and heat damage, so style with caution. Although, synthetic hair shouldn’t be styled at all.
All of the tips from above on maintaining human hair and synthetic hair apply to clip-ins and can affect how long your extensions last.
Some of our favorite clip-in extensions are from Aqua Hair Extensions, Babe Hair Extensions, Bellami, Zala Hair, and Luxy Hair. These are all real human hair extensions and provide all of the styling options you desire!
Because you can apply and remove these easily, you can buy a set of extensions that will last for up to a year if taken care of properly. This means you’re spending less money on the actual hair and less money on the application.
Though they don’t usually look as natural, you have to style them carefully so that the fabric or silicone band doesn’t show.
Microlink Hair Extensions
Microlink extensions are very interesting. These extensions don’t use adhesives or heat; in fact, they are applied to your hair by attaching tiny wefts (a collection of hair strands attached to a cloth strip) with a small bead. This bead is then secured and tightened to hold in place. Think of it as a mini weave!
But, just because it doesn’t use glue, heat, or chemicals to apply doesn’t mean it can’t be damaging. This type of extension needs to be done by a professional who knows what they’re doing.
If the bead is tightened too much, it can pull at your roots and eventually pull out your hair in the removal process. Don’t let that scare you away from this type of extension because, in the long run, these look extremely natural and seamless.
The whole process can take up to five hours to complete and can be quite expensive. Although these extensions can last up to four months when cared for properly, it might be worth it if you have the budget. These only need to be reapplied depending on your hair growth.
Once the bead moves too far from the scalp, it’ll loosen and need to be redone. If you aren’t ready to commit to sew-ins or you’re scared about the sew-in process, you may want to check out microlinks!
Halo Hair Extensions
The last kind of hair extension we need to talk about is the easiest of the bunch. Halo hair extensions use a headband/string situation that will sit on the top of your head like a crown without slipping or falling. It’s attached to one large section of hair that will be blended into your natural hair to create a fuller looking style.
Halo extensions will not cause any damage whatsoever to your natural hair, and they can be applied and removed every day and night. They don’t attach to your natural strands at all, which makes these the best choice for short-term wear.
These are easy to apply and will look natural if you hide the halo-like band. This can take a few tries to get the hang of, but it can be a fuss-free way of getting luscious long locks once you perfect it. They’re comfortable and will stay in place all day.
The weight of your natural hair will ensure that the halo doesn’t move, that is, if you’re not planning on doing any crazy handstands and hair flips throughout your day.
The Luxy Hair halo hair extensions are our absolute favorites. They have an awesome array of color choices and are suited for all hair types. These will blend seamlessly with your natural hair.
The Goo Goo Wire Hair Extensions are also a great choice. These are human hair extensions that use the halo technique. They’re also quite affordable!