By Kate on 12 June 2009
Once a celebrity secret, hair extensions have become a fashion accessory available to everyone, and are capable of adding thickness, length and color, all within a matter of hours.
What Are They?
Hair extensions are pieces of hair (either real or synthetic) that are added to a persons' real hair. Human hair is the best type to use to extend length or add thickness, while synthetic hair is great for color, braids and dreadlocks.
While there are only two types of extensions, there are a number of different application methods, with each giving a different result.
Thermal application is the most common application and uses polymer matter to thermally attach a section of around 20-30 strands of hair to your own hair. These strands are placed in selected sections around your head and are usually not damaging to your natural hair strands. The only drawback with the thermal application method is that the polymer matter can be easily seen when the hair is pulled back. The method can also be very expensive so make sure to shop around.
Although not as common as the thermal application, track extensions shouldn't be ruled out as an option and can be virtually damage free to your natural hair. To apply track or weft extensions, your natural hair is styled into a firm braid across your head and then the extensions are sewn into the braid to act as a curtain of hair. The only drawback to this method is that the process is not suitable for all hair types.
Clip-ons are very similar to track extensions as they too look like a curtain of hair. Clip-ons, however, are applied semi-permanently by being attached with clips rather than being sewn into the hair. Clip-ons can also be re-used, but do need to be cared for if they are constantly being pulled out.
While you'll know that any extensions are fake, no one else needs to. Avoid tell tale signs by making sure that the color is as close to your natural shade as it can be and that the ends in particular are not obviously different. A difference in texture can also give an uneven and fake look, as can the quality of the extension.
Make sure that you know where the hair of your extensions is coming from and what type of hair is it. For example, if you order Asian hair and you are Caucasian, the texture of the hair is going to be very different and therefore, very fake looking. For Caucasian buyers, it's best to ask for European hair. It may be a little more expensive but will give you a more natural result.
Pre Extension Consultation
- Your current hair type.
- Your lifestyle.
- What you expect to achieve from the extensions - such as the color, length, volume, etc.
- The total cost.
Post Extension Consultation
- How to care for you extensions.
- If you need any special shampoos or styling products.
- If you'll need to change your hair brush.
- If it's safe to use certain heated appliances like straighteners and hair-dryers.