Your Complete Guide to Hair Extensions
Hair extensions are a great way to enhance natural hair. With hair extensions you can make short hair longer, add fullness, and create wild styles that require extra volume. Hair extensions come in natural and synthetic varieties. They can also be categorized by texture of the hair, color of the hair, and how the hair is packaged (either bulk or weft).
Natural Hair Extensions
Natural hair is real human hair and it is more expensive than synthetic hair extensions because human hair grows slowly. Most natural hair extensions come from India, China or Eastern Europe. "Virgin" hair, which means hair that has never been chemically processed in any way, is the most expensive hair extension of all. Natural hair extensions are sold in "grades" related to the quality of the hair, with AAAA+ being the highest quality. "Remi" or "remy" hair means a 100% human hair extension where all of the hair is going in the same direction. Since the hair cuticle has a natural direction, hair extensions where the direction is paid attention to look better, are shinier and are less prone to tangle.
Synthetic Hair extensions
Synthetic hair extensions are made from a variety of fibers. They are organized by color (0 for pure black, and then the higher the number the lighter the hair is), texture (from stick straight to loose waves to spiral curls), and quality (how closely they mimic natural hair).
Hair extensions come in bulk hair, which is loose hair that is attached with a single point bonding (attaching small clumps of hair with wax or glue). Bulk hair can be used to create loose hair extensions, braids or dreadlocks.
How Extension is Attached to your Hairstyle?
Wefts, or tracks, of hair extensions are strips of hair sewn to a thin ribbon or looped back onto itself. Wefts can be made of human or synthetic hair and are used in hair weaves, in which the hair extensions are attached by sewing them into small cornrows of the subject’s own hair.
Hair extensions last from one to five months depending on the quality of the hair and how they have been attached. Human hair extensions applied by an expert stylist will cost approximately $2,500. You can get synthetic hair extensions for much less than that but they don’t last as long and don't look as natural.
Caring Tips for Hair Extensions
To care for hair extensions, keep the following in mind: hair should be brushed from bottom to top rather than the usual way, which may pull on and strain the attachments. For synthetic hair extensions, you need to purchase special shampooing products intended especially for synthetic hair. If you have human hair extensions, any shampoo or conditioner that is gentle will work well. Consider one intended for color-treated hair as you won’t be able to be sure if the color is natural or not.
Styling hair extensions at home with heated tools such as curling irons, hot rollers, blow dryers or straightening irons is not recommended. If you need such styling you are better off going to the hair stylist who attached them in order to find out what the extensions can take.