The Complete Guide to Hair Extensions: Pros, Cons, Types and Cost

Once known as a hair solution only for the rich and famous, hair extensions have become more accessible in the last 10 or so years.

Whether wearers are looking for long fairytale hair, or added volume, extensions can add length and oomph!

Whatever the reason may be, hair extensions provide a lot of people with a good healthy dose of confidence and we love that about them.

Due to the popularity of them, there are many different types on the market catering for all different budgets. With that comes varying quality and varying bond types - so in this guide we break all that down for you and by the end you’ll be hair extension savvy.

 

The Different Types of Hair Used in Hair Extensions...

Confusingly, there’s different types of hair available to buy in hair extension form. But trust us, you’ll want to get clued up - buy wrong and you’ll know about it!

Remy

Remy hair extensions are considered to be the best quality - and for good reason. Remy hair is particularly special as it’s taken straight from the head with all the cuticles intact and in the same direction - leaving a silky smooth and tangle free, high quality finish.

The cuticle naturally coats each hair strand, keeping it healthy and shiny. However, the cuticle isn’t one smooth layer, it’s essentially like snake skin (or armour even), with overlapping ‘scales’ that all point downwards (psst…Remy hair still keeps true to this healthy hair feature).

remy hair
By Carlina Coiffure via Wikimedia Commons

Virgin

The definition of virgin hair is hair that has not be treated with chemicals (including hair dyes) EVER. It’s taken from the head as natural as it always has been.

Virgin hair doesn’t mean that it is still untreated when it’s sold in extension form, it only refers to the state of hair at the time of collection - meaning it then often goes through other processing to get desired colours and styles.

Non-Remy (or Human Hair)

This is least superior of all the human hair types. This hair is gathered from the floors of salons and temples. This means that the cuticles can be facing all different direction

If hair was left in this mismatched state it would get matted super easy which nobody wants. So instead, the hair is often acid washed which rids it of the chemicals (and yes it’s definitely as harsh on the hair as it sounds). To regain that shiny lustre, the hair is then coated in silicone.

However, it’s important to note that this silicone layer is only temporary. After a couple of weeks it will wash off and it will be obvious that the hair quality has significantly decreased. Once stripped of silicone the hair quality will have significantly decreased and will be very hard to work with.

 

Synthetic

This is hair that is not natural at all. Instead it is made of plastic!

It cannot be dyed or heat styled at all, making them very impractical. They are best kept for fancy dress or the very occasional ‘fun’ use as they are very poor quality.

 

The Variety of Hair Extensions…

Okay, once you’ve decided what type of hair you’re going for, it’s time to decide how you best want it applied to you hair. These days there’s many different bond types to suit different natural hair types and styling needs...

 

Clip-in Hair Extensions

Hair extension clip ins are wefts (pieces, essentially) of hair with clips attached to them across the top. This method is perfect for those who don’t want to make a long term commitment to extensions as they need to be removed daily.

 

Cold Fusion

Whether it’s micro or nano, these are applied with some sort of bead and NO heat - hence the name cold fusion. The hair comes in thin strands which have tips on the end. These tips along with a strand of natural hair are threaded through a bead which is clamped down to keep the extension in place.

This is a longer-term solution and the small strands allow for more precise application than other methods.

 

clip in extentions
Image: Pinterest

 

Weave

Thin cornrows are made in the hair and then wefts are sewn (weaved) into them. Cornrows are used as they act as a good anchor for the extensions in coarse hair types, and can be sewn into well.

Tape In Hair Extensions

This is newer type of way to place extensions in the hair. Each weft of hair has a strip of tape across the top.

Then a section of natural hair is separated and the extension is placed underneath that piece, witt another extension placed over the top. This ‘sandwiches’ the hair between two taped wefts, making this a quick, no heat method.

 

Hot Fusion

As the name suggests, heat is used to form the bond between the extension piece and the natural hair. Hot fusion extensions come in individual strands with pre-glued tips (sometimes this is keratin, other times not).

A small piece of natural hair is taken and the glue tip of the extension is wrapped around it near the root. Heat is then applied melting the glue onto the natural hair, creating that bond.

 

Hair Extension Prices…

The cost of hair extensions varies depending on hair quality and application. Remy hair is high quality so will cost more than non-remy - but it will last longer and will be much better quality.

Clip in and tape in (with a skilled hand) hair extensions can be applied at home, so no need for additional hairdressing costs.

The other methods definitely need the hands of a professional. As well as application cost, hot fusion, cold fusion and weaves require regular check-ups and adjustments.

Here’s a rough cost guide of a full head of remy hair for each bond type:

  • Clip-in hair extensions - from A$250+
  • Cold fusion - from A$600+
  • Weave - from A$600+
  • Tape-in hair extensions - from A$500+
  • Hot fusion - from A$550+

Remember, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!

 

Are Hair Extensions Damaging?

Hair damage can be the reason that people get extensions in the first place. Over bleaching and other constant chemical use can lead to breakage - hence the use of extensions.

However, many people often wonder whether extensions are also causing more damage...

The main point to remember is, if the extensions are heavier than your own hair, they are likely going to cause trouble. Let’s take a close look at the types of extensions we’ve covered:

 

  • Clip in Hair Extensions

As clip-in extensions are taken out daily, it eliminates that constant dragging of the hair. However, the clips are heavy and overuse can weaken and damage locks. Although, what’s great about clip-in extensions is that you can regularly give your natural hair a break!

 

  • Beaded Tips

Although considered one of the most secure, these bonds can damage hair and tug when brushed through. They can also get caught easily which is a painful experience!

 

  • Weave

Done right and a weave isn’t too damaging. Done wrong and the tight application can put a lot of strain on the scalp which is less than healthy for it. It’s also important to have a break between every few weaves, as long term your hair won’t be happy.

 

  • Tape in Hair extensions

One of the reasons these types of extensions are growing in popularity is due to the fact that they are one of the least damaging extension methods. The tape doesn’t pull on the scalp or the hair, so damage is very minimal.

 

  • Pre-Bonded

If the hair extensions are pre-bonded with keratin glue then the damage is limited (as keratin is natural). It’s other glue bonds to be wary of! However, if tugged too hard, any hot fusion extensions can drag on the natural hair and pull at the scalp - ouch!

 

Can Extensions Be Used On Short Or Thin Hair?

Let’s look at short hair first…

You need a good 3-5 inches before you can start thinking about getting extensions really. If the hair is too short then extensions will not look good - trust us. You’ll either be able to see the bonds or it’ll look like you have some very bizarre mullet!

Once your hair has reached the ideal length, it’s best to start with tape in extensions. As these offer the lowest amount of stress on the hair. It’s an ideal bond to go with without disrupting healthy hair growth.

Keep hair extension length modest too. It’s best not to go from 5 inch hair to 24 inch extensions. This will be hard to blend, so go for 8 to 10 inches and get a hairdresser to layer it in.

Now thin hair…

Extensions aren’t just about adding length, but volume too. If you have thin hair you might want to add extensions to get more oomph and that’s cool. Just remember, the wrong bond is only going to damage hair further.

Clip ins might be ideal if you’re up for leaving your hair au naturale some days - boosting volume when needed. If not, tapes in are a great option again, thanks to their minimal weight and tugging.

 

Hair Extensions Pros and Cons…

We’ve covered A LOT of information about hair extensions, so here’s the main pros and cons to take away from each bond type…

Clip-in Hair Extensions

Pros

  • No long term commitment
  • Ideal for occasional use
  • Can be applied at home

Cons

  • Need to be taken out and re-applied daily
  • Clips can be heavy on the hair so not suitable for everyday use
  • Clips can slip in thin hair

Cold Fusion

Pros

  • Long-term solution
  • Individual strands means more precise and natural looking placement
  • No risk of heat damage from application

Cons

  • Time consuming application
  • Can drag and pull on natural hair and scalp
  • Bonds can be seen if not placed correctly

Weave

Pros

  • Secure tight bond for coarse hair
  • No heat or glue required
  • Long-term solution

Cons

  • Time consuming application
  • High Maintenance
  • Hair loss can occur if braids are too tight

Tape-in Extensions

Pros

  • Minimal Damage
  • Suitable for thin hair
  • Easy and quick to apply - can be done at home

Cons

  • Can be hard to style the hair without the tape showing
  • Need to be careful not to use certain products which can disrupt the tape bond

Hot Fusion

Pros

  • Discreet bonds
  • Individual strands means more precise and natural looking placement
  • Keratin bonds are a more natural bond

Cons

  • Time consuming application
  • Heat and glue (if not keratin) required can damage hair
  • Potential hair and scalp damage from tugging

Hair Extensions Before and After (& Some Quick Tips)...

It’s time to see the results for yourself. Precise application and good quality hair can produce unbelievable results. In fact, done correctly and it won’t even look like you’re wearing extensions, just take a look at these…

 

Clip in Hair Extensions Before and After

Cold Fusion Before and After

long and shortImage: Pinterest

Weave Before and After

weaveImage: Pinterest

Tape-in Before and After

Hot Fusion Before and After

hot fusionImage: Pinterest

These pics are real life proof of the power of hair extensions. However, maintaining a top quality finish is going to take some extra care for the wearer. Here are a few hair extension tips:

  • If buying clip-in hair extensions it’s worth getting them professional fitted and cut to suit your hair style the first time. It will boost up the cost, but it will look incredible!
  • Make sure to schedule regular check-ups and touch-ups to keep your extensions looking in tip-top condition, as well as keeping your natural hair as nourished as possible.
  • Avoid tugging and harsh brushing of the hair. Take the time to wash your tresses carefully so the bonds don’t get tangled. Also blow drying your hair will give a shinier finish.
  • Regularly wash your clip-in extensions - don’t neglect them!
  • Avoid the use of silicone or oil based products near the bonds if you have tape in extensions. This could disrupt the bond and cause the extensions to slip and lose their hold.

There you have it! Whilst there is a method to suit all, we are loving the newer tape-in method which allows for super healthy natural hair to be maintained even when longer or more voluminous locks are wanted!


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