Having short hair is a dream for low-maintenance girls. You don’t have to brush your hair to detangle it every day or worry about too much frizz and poofiness. You simply wake up, wash your hair, perhaps use a bit of hair serum, and you’re done!
But at some point, a lot of women with short hair will start thinking about wearing their hair long again, whether it’s for a big event coming up or because they regret getting their hair cut short. Unfortunately, it takes months (or even years) to grow your hair super long again.
Thankfully, there’s a way to add more hair to your natural locks to lengthen them: extensions. Extensions are a godsend for anyone who wants longer hair pronto. In a few hours, you can go from shoulder-length hair to flaunting a long, luscious, flowy mane.
But extensions can be overwhelming for first-timers. There are so many types of extensions out there—how do you even tell the difference between them all? To help, we’ve come up with a list of the eight most popular types of hair extensions and how they’re installed.
Types of Hair Extensions:
Let’s start with something that isn’t so overwhelming and that we are all familiar with. Yes, wigs are indeed extensions too—just not the type you have to install. Instead, you simply put them over your scalp to give you a full head of hair. It’s perfect for anyone suffering from hair loss or balding.
Wearing a wig is quite straightforward. Just put your hair in a low, sleek bun and put a nude-colored wig cap over it. The cap must match your skin tone so that your real hair doesn’t show through if your wig slips a little.
Then, carefully put on your wig starting from the front and moving to the back area. Adjust its position to your liking and use some bobby pins to secure it in place when you’re done.
Clip-ins are pieces of hair extensions that have small clips attached on top of a fabric or silicone base. All you have to do is open up those clips, position the extensions on your head, and snap them closed. It’s incredibly easy to use—you don’t even need a professional to attach it to your hair for you. It takes just 5-10 minutes to do yourself.
Wigs and clip-ins are the least damaging types of hair extensions. They don’t need to be sealed to your natural strands with heat or other hair-damaging chemicals.
Clip-ins are also the most affordable type of hair extensions. That’s because they usually come in wefts, unlike wigs which are more expensive. After all, they are a full piece that covers your whole head.
Tape-In Hair Extensions
These extensions are wefts that are pre-taped together and then attached to your real hair with the help of a professional. The stylist will align the extensions to your roots and use a heating tool to “melt” the adhesive, creating a medical-grade glue to help stick the strands to your hair.
It takes about 1-2 hours to install tape-in extensions. You also need to come back to the salon to have them removed, since it takes a special type of glue remover to get the extensions out.
Because glue holds your natural strands and the extensions together, make sure not to use heat stylers while wearing these. The glue can melt and damage your locks.
Sew-In Extensions (Weave)
Sew-ins—also known as a “weave”—are extensions that are literally sewn into your hair. Your stylist will first braid your hair into cornrows and then use a thread and needle to attach the extensions. It can take hours for your hairdresser to apply sew-ins because of how technical the installment process is.
A weave can cause quite the strain on your scalp from either the tightness of the cornrows or the heaviness of the extensions—maybe even both. So, it’s advisable to get sew-ins only if you have thick, sturdy, healthy hair. Avoid sew-ins at all costs if you have fine, thin hair.
These extensions are similar to tape-ins, but instead of heating up an adhesive to make the extensions stick to your hair, your stylist will use tiny silicone beads to lock the extensions in place. They use a special tool to tighten that bead, keeping it locked to your hair until you have them removed.
When the beads are tightened too much, they could end up tugging at your roots, which can lead to hair loss or breakage. So, make sure you hire a seasoned professional to get this extension type done on your hair. It takes about 3-4 hours to get it installed.
I-tips are quite similar to microlinks in that they use silicone beads to bind to your hair. But instead of having big wefts of hair extensions attached to your hair, I-tips come in thin, cylindrical pieces. These pieces of hair are then looped around your hair strands to attach them properly.
Since I-tips are individual pieces of thin locks, they’re awesome if you want to add light streaks to your hair but don’t want to bleach it. They create amazing dimension and depth for your hair color!
Halo Hair Extensions
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of having extensions attached to your hair, or are worried about the damage those types can incur, you might enjoy a halo extension.
A halo is worn on using an invisible wire, never attached to your actual hair. It’s great at blending into your natural hair, giving your locks a seamless look.
All you have to do is lift up half of your hair, wear the halo extension, and put your hair down. Brush your strands to blend the locks together, and you’ll look like you have an ultra-thick and long mane.
Hot Fusion or Keratin-Bonded Extensions
Lastly, we have fusion extensions, also known as keratin-bonded extensions. In this method, a stylist will attach individual strands of hair to your natural locks by “fusing” them together with keratin.
When you get hot fusion with keratin, your extensions will basically be undetectable. You can wear your hair in high ponytails, braids, or whatever intricate hairstyle you want.
Because of all these benefits, it’s no surprise that keratin-bonded extensions are the most expensive type on this list. They start at around $2,000 for a single three- to six-hour installation.
What’s cool about this method is that because human hair is already made of keratin, you can just care for your hair the same way you did before. You can use the same shampoos and conditioners, and you never have to worry about damaging your locks when you heat-style.
Tips to extend the lifespan of your extensions
Much like moisturizing your real hair and treating it to the weekly protein mask, there are some things you need to do to pamper your extensions and keep them nice and fresh-looking for longer. Here are a few of our top tips to care for your extensions the right way.
- Don’t shampoo your hair every day if you have extensions that you can’t just take out at the end of the day. Extensions shouldn’t get wet that often. And when they do, make sure to blot them dry gently with a microfiber towel or dry them right away with a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting.
- Take time to detangle your extensions when they’re looking a bit frizzy. Use a wide-tooth comb or brush. Start detangling at the ends first and slowly work your way up. That way, you can prevent breakage and damage to the hair pieces.
- Avoid exposing your extensions to chlorine and salt water. If you wear clip-ins or wigs, take them off before taking a dip in the pool or beach. If you have more long-term extensions, avoid submerging your head under the water when you’re on vacation.