Extensions are the equivalent of hair wizardry. They can summon volume and length, where there was none before. Magic.
But, extensions can be tricky to look after, especially if you decide to go DIY. If you’re considering taking your hair from bob length to boob length, we’ve put together a guide on the different types of extensions to choose from. We’ve even thrown in tips of how to make them look more natural and how to maintain them so that they last as long as possible…
The different kinds of hair extensions
Typically these come in packages of different sized wefts in various lengths and colours. The strands are fastened at the top with a silicone or fabric strip that clips into the roots of your hair.
Good for: being affordable. They’re best if you like to change your hairstyle often
These are “taped” or glued to either side of your strands and are a more permanent option than clip-ins. They’re applied with a heated glue that then needs to be professionally removed with a glue remover.
Good for: sitting flat against the head and cost effective
Sew-Ins (or weaves)
These are applied by first braiding hair and then sewing the strands into the braids. They’re better for thicker hair as fine hair is not strong enough.
Good for: long-lasting strands that won’t budge.
Also known as micro-link, it’s named micro since much smaller sections of hair are bonded onto your own natural strand using a metal bead that’s then clamped into place with pliers.
Good for: Quick application
How to select your hair extensions
When purchasing hair extensions you want to get as close to your natural colour as possible and the best quality of hair you can.
When selecting the colour, make sure you go shopping or to the salon during the day. Comparing hair colour in the natural light is the only way to ensure you get the best possible match.
Ideally, always select real human hair extensions as they will last a lot longer and look a lot more natural. Just make sure you do your research and ensure that they’ve been sourced ethically. Sian Quinn, an Art Team stylist at Headmasters, says “the quality in human hair is much better and makes styling really easy”. However, this type of extension is pricier and, actually, there are a lot of false extensions available now that look pretty damn close to the real thing, so don’t fret if money doesn’t allow it.
Instagram’s hair extension queen, Amber Fillerup, also says to look for extensions that are “thick from top to bottom”. “There will always be natural thinning towards the bottom but even then, it should still have a good amount. You would be surprised how many hair extension wefts get way too thin at the bottom”, she says.
Once you’ve found the right fit, take your new extensions to your hairdresser and ask them to trim your hair with them in. That way, they’ll sit better against your head. If you colour your hair and have selected real hair, your stylist will be able to colour the extensions too, sadly synthetic doesn’t take to dye.
How to wear your hair extensions
Once you’ve colour matched your extensions and had them trimmed to work with your style, wash them like you would natural hair (making sure you’ve checked which shampoos you can and can’t use on the hair or synthetic).
If they’re removable, take them out to wash them and leave them out to dry, flat.
Next, section your hair into layers. Extensions are always clipped in to the bottom layer first, working up. Take these steps for each section:
- Take a brush and gently backcomb the root sections of hair that you’ll clip the extensions into, finishing with a light misting of hairspray. By texurising the hair, you’re giving the extensions more to clip on to.
- Next, clip in the extension in at a slightly uneven, slanted angle. If you clip them in totally straight, they won’t blend into the hair as naturally.
- Once clipped in, brush your hair so that the extensions fall into your natural layers. Take a straightener and straighten the layer (check if stylers are compatible with your extensions), again, for blending purposes.
Once you’ve done each section of the hair, brush the full head and then either leave it straight or style as you naturally would using a tong or product (if you use synthetic hair, make sure they are heat-friendly). Comb your fingers through your hair and add some texturising product to the top roots for added volume.
How to care for your hair extensions
It’s not difficult to keep your hair extensions in good tack, but it does take care and maintenance. Here are the golden rules:
- Always brush your extensions with a soft bristle brush and never brush them if they’re wet.
- Wash your extensions no more than three times a week. You want to keep them clean so oil doesn’t make them slip but you don’t want to overload them with product.
- Always use a sulphate free shampoo. Sulphate strips hair of natural oils, as there is no direct supply of nutrients from your scalp into the extension strands, it’s vital that you avoid drying the hair out.
- Adding 2-3 drops of dry oil, such as coconut or almond, once a week will help to boost the shine of your extensions.
From Glamour UK