Forget everything you think you know about hair extensions. For many, this is a very exciting new fashion trend. For some, the name itself elicits negative images of fake hair, tangles galore and messy glues. This is due, largely in part to the early years of hair extensions, by which lengths of hair were added by braiding or 'tracking' the locks into the natural hair. Not only was this process painful, yet it also caused long term alopecia and was unable to thoroughly clean. Forget the 'technology' of yesteryear - or lack thereof, and see why hair extensions are now again enjoying some time in the spotlight.
Innovative new technological improvements have completely changed the look and feel of hair extensions, providing easier and safer methods of hair lengthening. Revolutionizing the standards of beauty, professional hair extensions are now more popular than ever, offering limitless hair design options from haircolor transformations, added new textures and added fullness. Today, hair extensions are known for much more than length. For years, most people have thought that extensions will only damage their hair and this negativity is still associated with original methods. There are perfectly safe methods of hair attachment. Hair extensions not only add length, but add volume, texture and color.
Hair extensions are lengths of either real or synthetic hair that can be affixed close to the scalp through a number of systems. When well matched in color and texture, and professionally applied by a competent extensionist, hair extensions mix in and move naturally with your own hair, making it difficult to tell you are wearing them. Some extensions can be worn continuously for up to 3 months before requiring maintenance.
Natural or human hair extensions are more expensive because they can be colored, set, curled or treated. Synthetic hair will melt if exposed to the high temperatures of a curling iron or a hot blow dryer; it is used as purchased, and is generally not recommended. Synthetic extenders are available widely at department stores. Human hair extensions are generally purchased through salons that provide extensionist services. Most extension manufacturers use only real human hair which looks, acts and feels completely natural. Extensions are offered in a variety of colors and textures, ensuring a perfect match. The variety makes the possibilities endless. It also provides an opportunity for the less adventuresome to try something new without the permanence, as hair extensions don't expose your hair to harmful chemicals like regular hair color does.
Hair Extension Techniques
This method is arguably the best, though the type of adhesive used is critical. Wax-based adhesives have a low melting point so a professional grade adhesive is a must. These adhesives can withstand both heat and chemical treatments. The adhesive remover that is used to remove the hair extensions dries the bonding agent to a powdery substance (rather than dissolving it through messy oil and heat).
The cold fusion procedure
is a new technology that utilizes ultrasound waves rather than heat to bond each extension to existing hair.
The absence of heat allows us to bond extensions closer to the scalp, which creates a more invisible bond. Cold Fusion is also the preferred method when bonding extensions to colored or chemically treated hair, because it is so gentle. More on Cold Fusion...
- Braids, Cornrows, Twists, Locks
Integrates extensions in a visible way in that the braided attachment is seen but blends into the hairstyle.
Tiny braids hold hair extensions against the scalp, like cornrows, except these braids are hidden. A concern with this method is that it applies tension and uneven weight to the natural hair where attached, especially when washing the hair or when wet from swimming or other activities. This can not only loosen the weave but it can tug on your natural hair and break it. It can also be difficult to dry the hair beneath the braids and some people will avoid washing their hair as often. Irritant reactions and folliculitis may result. More on Hair Weaves...
The extensions used for this method have a latex plug meant to be glued to your own hair for short terms use. Because this method is fast it's also inexpensive. However, to remove extensions, oil and heat must be used to dissolve the bonding agent, which messy and time consuming. If not removed with care the latex can pull your own hair out.
Uses a metal tube clamped over the real hair to attach extension hair. In some cases it can break off real hair, can be difficult to pry open later, and adds additional weight to hair. Experts don't recommend this method for fine hair.
This method won't harm natural hair but doesn't have a lot of adhesive for holding power needed for extended wear. After a few washings, the tubes can loosen, releasing strands, which then allows even more extension hair to fall out.
Hair Extension Removal
Another common misconception related to hair extensions involves removal, which beforehand had to be cut out, leaving stubbles of hair. Nearly all modern bonding methods crystallizes and dissolves easily in combination with a specially formulated solvent, which allows for convenient, safe and painless removal.
Hair Extension Cost, Prices
The decision to get hair extensions represents a substantial financial commitment of up to $2,000 initially, depending on how many extensions, what type and method, etc. However affordability is becoming more reasonable. Pricing is usually based on several factors; the quality of the salon, quality of their products, the geographic location and the length of hair. The best quality salon and products would probably run between $6 and $12 per extension. Volume is based on each client's personal requirements. Thus, the total cost will inevitably vary depending upon the desired hairstyle. A full head, short to long application usually requires between 150 to 200 extensions. Adding hair extensions for length usually costs between $1500 to $2500, depending on the length and number of extensions needed.
Hair Extension Maintenance
To maintain your striking new tresses proper home care is essential. Following simple guidelines will ensure long lasting beauty and a natural look and feel, between salon visits. After the extensions have been attached it is important to follow up with a maintenance consultation. Your extension specialist will professionally advise you on special maintenance instructions. Use only products recommended by your extension specialist. When caring for your tresses, gentleness is key. It is important not to excessively scrub your hair. Avoid tangles by drying your hair thoroughly before going to bed and comb with a wide tooth comb or pick, gently from ends to the scalp. Never color, perm or use any other types of chemicals without consulting with your professional salon hair extension specialist to prevent damage to your extensions. As extensions are real human hair, use common sense when caring for them as you would your natural hair like immediately washing out chlorine water and following up with a good conditioner. Taking special care of your new hair will ensure longevity and beauty.
Choosing a Hair Extension Specialist
Extensionists should be licensed cosmetologists. Since there are many methods of applying hair extensions (and many types of hair extensions) it's to your advantage to find a professional who has experience in several different methods, and not just one. Extensionists generally work off commission so they will naturally want to sell you on a method they know. If they only know one method it may not be the best one for your hair. Also, the extensionist should be able to show you certificates received from classes taken for each different method. Ask for a portfolio and see if you can't meet with a few clients who have extensions of the type and method recommended to you. How many people he or she has done with this method? Experts say a good answer is somewhere near thirty.
If interested in hair extensions speak to 2 or 3 professionals about your specific needs and concerns and get a written estimate of what they would do and how much it would cost. New methods will no doubt come to light and it's always wise to get more than one opinion before committing to something that will represent a substantial investment of time and money.
See also eyelash extensions...