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The thought of having thick, long and luscious locks sounds pretty appealing to most. For some though, the only way to achieve the lengthy and voluminous styles that they have their heart set on is to consider hair extensions. Whilst hair extensions have been available for centuries, they have never been more accessible than they are now. But, with so many different types of hair extensions available on the market, it’s hard to decide which are best suited to your individual hair type, lifestyle and budget.
If you’re thinking of getting hair extensions but are feeling overwhelmed with all the info out there, you’ve come to the right place. Dukes Avenue sits down with our resident hair specialist and extensions expert, Sophie Thomas, who’s talking us through all the different types of hair extension methods that you need to know about, and how to decide which one is right for you.
- What Are the Different Types of Hair Extensions?
- Human Hair vs. Synthetic Hair
- Different Types of Hair Extensions Based on Method
- Which Hair Extensions Last the Longest?
- Which of the Different Types of Hair Extension are Best?
- Will Hair Extensions Ruin my Hair?
- What’s the Best Brush for Hair Extensions
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What Are the Different Types of Hair Extensions?
Human Hair vs. Synthetic Hair
Hair extensions can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt, where wigs, weaves and knots were frequently worn by the pharaohs of the time as a sign of wealth and beauty. Fortunately, hair extensions have progressed hugely since then and, of course, they are no longer made from questionable resources such as sheep wool, horse hair or vegetable fibre. And whilst human hair is indeed still used in modern day hair extensions just like it was all those years ago, synthetic hair has also come a very long way.
What your ideal hair extensions are made of is the starting point of this journey as, after all, it’s important to know what you are paying for!
Human hair is exactly that – hair that is obtained from another person. When considering human hair, it’s important to look for hair that has been ethically sourced, so that you know the hair has not be taken unfairly, and that the person whom the hair comes from has not been mistreated. Brands such as Great Lengths and Woven Hair are both great examples of brands that place huge importance on hair that is not only high-quality, but that is sourced ethically.
When it comes to human hair, the first thing you need to consider is the quality grade of the hair, which is often classified as either virgin hair, remy hair or non-remy hair:
- Virgin Hair: the purest and healthiest of them all. Virgin hair has never been chemically processed, dyed, coloured or permed and because of this, it is likely to be the most long-lasting. In fact, since there is no damage to virgin hair due to the lack of styling, virgin hair is typically the strongest.
- Remy Hair: is considered the very best in terms of quality and grade of the hair. This is because 100% remy human hair is collected from only one source as a ponytail, which means that the cuticles of the hair are all facing the same direction, following the natural direction of growth. Since all the strands face the same direction, remy hair is less prone to tangling – but it is more expensive. While it may not be obvious to spot by the untrained eye, remy hair is more likely to remain smooth and sleek, particularly because all strands face the same direction from root to tip.
- Non-Remy Hair: unlike remy hair, non-remy hair is often sourced from different donors. Whilst the cuticles may still be intact, the hair will fall in different directions and may even have been collected from the floor or hairbrushes (thus the nickname ‘fallen’ hair). Since the cuticles face different directions, non-remy hair is more prone to knotting and tangling, and therefore has a shorter life span. Non-remy hair can be purchased either raw and untreated, or finished, which involves removing the cuticles with acid and coating the hair strands in silicone to achieve a smooth and shiny finish.
When it comes to the quality of the extensions, we also need to consider whether the hair is single drawn or double-drawn. In the case of remy hair, hair is collected from a single donor, but this does not mean all the hairs will be the same length – just like our own natural hair. When hair is described as single drawn, it means that someone has manually gone through the piece of hair and extracted some of the shorter hairs.
The next step up is double-drawn hair, where the majority of the shorter hairs are removed, leaving only longer lengths. Since double-drawn hair is all the same length, it means the hair extensions are naturally thicker and fuller, and that each strand of hair has the same thickness from root to tip.
It’s not surprising that double drawn hair is the most popular type of hair for hair extensions, but of course it comes at a higher cost. If you’re looking to get hair extensions for a lower price, you may want to consider long single drawn hair extensions, and have your hairdresser or stylist cut them for you.
When it comes to buying human hair extensions, always remember that buying better quality hair will not only mean your hair will look its best, but it also means the extensions will last longer. In addition, human hair is easier to style, but it does require the same level of care as your own human hair would. You’ll still need to use heat protection when using hot tools, and have regular treatments and trims to keep it in the best condition.
Lastly, remember that once human hair extensions have been coloured, they will dry out and the colour will fade – just like the hair on your head.
Synthetic Hair Extensions
Synthetic hair is used in a wide range of products from wigs to hair pieces and hair extensions. It is made up of manmade fibres that are designed to look and feel like human hair, and whilst there is a range in the quality of synthetic hair that can be bought, it will never look as good as human hair.
Some synthetic hair may be styled with heat tools, but it is generally unchangeable. Steam may be used to change the shape of synthetic hair, but this will need to be done by a professional who knows what they are doing. It can also be washed if using cooler water.
As expected, synthetic hair is much cheaper than human hair and typically, the cheaper the hair the more plastic the look and touch!
Different Types of Hair Extensions Based on Method
Now that you know the difference between human and synthetic hair and how to judge the quality grade of the hair, it’s time to look at all the different types of hair extensions available on the market, allowing you to make a fully informed decision on what would suit your needs, budget and lifestyle best.
Pony Tail Extensions
What are Pony Tail Extensions?
A pony tail extension is essentially a pre-made pony tail that is pre-styled and attached by a clip that is connected to the base of the ponytail.
Who are Pony Tail Extensions Ideal For?
Pony tail extensions are ideal for any type of hair that can be styled to a texture similar to that of the pony tail. They’re perfect for anyone that wants to enjoy the benefits of having hair extensions, without having to commit to them on a longer term basis. The attachable clip means they can be fixed or removed depending on the occasion and need of the wearer, and they are quick and easy to attach without the need to spend countless hours at the salon.
Which are the Best Pony Tail Extensions?
We highly recommend Hershesons and Luxy Hair extensions as the best places to purchase your own pony tail hair extensions.
Do You Need to Go to a Salon to Fit Pony Tail Extensions?
The best thing about pony tail extensions is that you don’t need to visit a salon to have them clipped on to your hair – you can do this in the comfort of your own home without needing to hire a professional.
How Best to Care for Pony Tail Extensions?
Good quality pony tail hair extensions are made from real hair, and need to be treated with the same care and attention you would pay to your own natural hair. After the pony tail has been warn a few times, give the extensions a gentle brush, before gently washing with lukewarm water and leaving them to dry on a flat surface.
How Long do Pony Tail Extensions Last?
The more you look after your pony tail extensions the longer they will last, but on average, they should last at least one year before needing to be replaced.
How Much do Pony Tail Extensions Cost?
Pony tail extensions can cost around £90 and upwards for ethically sourced human hair.
Halo Hair Extensions
What are Halo Hair Extensions?
Halo hair extensions are the newest kind of hair extensions to hit the scene and they fall under the temporary extensions, low maintenance category. Many favour halo hair extensions as they do not attach to your own hair, and therefore cause no damage.
Halo hair extensions are basically a weft of hair that is placed on top of your head underneath a section of your own hair, and are attached by a nylon wire that makes use of your head’s natural shape. Think of it as a crown or tiara placed on top of your head, as that is exactly what it feels like. It’s different to other hair extensions in that it sits on the head, rather than being attached to your actual hair.
Who are Halo Extensions Ideal For?
Halo extensions are perfect for fine to medium hair, especially since your hair does not need to take the weight of the extensions. The hair length should ideally be below the shoulder, so that you are able to cover the wire with a section of hair, and therefore hold the extensions in place. The result? Seamless hair extensions that take a mere few seconds to attach in place and look fabulous.
Which are the Best Halo Extensions?
We highly recommend Luxy Hair for the best halo hair extensions.
Do You Need to Go to a Salon to Fit Halo Extensions?
Anybody can add halo hair extensions to their own hair, without needing to consult a professional. Best of all, it can be done in a matter of seconds!
How to Care for Halo Extensions?
There are a few tips to follow with halo hair extensions. For starters, avoid sleeping with them to avoid matting and tangling – or if you absolutely have to sleep with them, ensure they are braided before going to bed. Although, they are so easy to remove and fit back on in the morning that there really is no need to sleep in them.
Just like with pony tail extensions, halo hair extensions should be gently brushed, before being washed with lukewarm water and left to air dry naturally. Whilst it’s advisable to use hair products like serums sparingly, an alcohol and sulphate-free conditioner and heat protection spray are worth investing in to keep your extensions in top shape.
How Long do Halo Extensions Last?
If treated well and looked after, halo hair extensions could last as long as a year!
Are Halo Hair Extensions Expensive?
The concept of something being expensive is relative to every individual’s personal circumstances, but the price will vary depending on whether you go for real human or synthetic hair, as well as the length. Real human hair 20″ hair extensions start from around £180.
Clip-In Hair Extensions
What are Clip-In Hair Extensions?
Clip-in hair extensions are just what they sound like – wefts of woven hair attached by a silicone clips on each weft. All you need to do is clip each of the hair extensions to your own natural hair. Whilst this is a temporary form of hair extensions, they only take about 5 minutes to clip-in, making them a super easy option for anyone who is pressed for time!
Who are Clip-In Hair Extensions Ideal For?
Clip-in hair extensions are great for most textures and fine hair. They are also ideal for anyone that cannot commit to regular appointments at the salon due to a busy schedule, anyone who is not ready for the more semi-permanent hair extensions options and, in general, for women who are pressed for time and just want to easily achieve longer locks without too much trouble.
Best Place to Buy Clip-In Hair Extensions
We recommend purchasing human hair clip-in hair extensions from Woven Hair and Luxy Hair.
Can I Fit Clip-In Hair Extensions Myself?
Absolutely! They are easy enough to clip on to your natural hair without taking up too much time in the morning.
How to Look After Clip-In Hair Extensions?
Just like with halo extensions, we advise you to remove clip-in hair extensions before sleeping. There is no need to wash clip-in extensions every time you wear them, in fact it’s advisable not to! On the other hand, if you use hair spray and heat tools, aim to wash them every 1-2 wears or so and if you have oily hair, you may want to wash them more often. Wash, condition and dry as you would your own hair, and be sure to use heat protectors when using heat tools.
How Long Will Clip-In Hair Extensions Last?
As with all kinds of extensions, the more you look after them, the longer they will last. Clip-ins typically last anywhere from 4 to 12 months.
How Much do Clip-In Hair Extensions Cost?
Clip-in hair extensions are more expensive if made of human hair and if of a longer length, but they are much cheaper than using tape-in or bonded hair extensions. 16″ clip-ins can start from around £100.
Weave Hair Extensions
What are Weave Hair Extensions?
Weave extensions are fitted to the hair by braiding a plait or corn rows into the hair, and sewing a weft straight onto the braid.
Who Are Weave Hair Extensions Suitable For?
Given that the weight of the weft is supported on the braid, weave extensions are ideal for people with thick hair. The technique involves a lot of tension on the scalp and this would not be recommended for anyone with fine hair.
Can I Fit Weave Extensions Myself?
Definitely not! Weave extensions should be done by professionals only – you can do serious damage to your hair if not done properly.
How to Care for Weave Extensions
Once you’ve had your weave extensions fitted by a professional, they will need to be washed every 1 to 2 weeks. If suffering with an oily, itchy, dry or just sensitive scalp, they will need to be carefully cleaned and maintained using the appropriate products. Your hair stylist can advise on the best maintenance products to suit your hair and scalp best, so please be sure to ask. Bacteria can build up in the braids or corn rows, so it’s really important they are cared for properly.
The weft itself will still need conditioning and treating to avoid it looking dry and frizzy. As with all extensions, be sure to always use heater protectors if and when using heat tools. Try not to wear weave extensions in up-dos too much as the tension will cause damage to the root of your natural hair.
How Long Do Weave Hair Extensions Last?
Weave extensions typically last between 6 to 12 weeks, after which a new braid will need to be plaited and the wefts reattached due to hair growth. Again, the more the extensions are cared for, the longer they will last.
How Much do Weave Extensions Cost?
Professional weave extensions can cost anywhere from around £150 upwards, but it will all depend on your hair stylist and whether you use synthetic or human hair.
Micro Link Hair Extensions
What are Microlink Hair Extensions (also known as micro bead hair extensions)?
Micro link extensions involve your hair stylist pulling small pieces of hair though a micro-sized bead. A strand of hair extension is added into the microbead, after which the bead is clamped shut to hold the hairs in place. No glue or heat is required, but some may find the first few days of wearing the extensions a little uncomfortable due to the added weight pulling down on the scalp. This eases up after a few days.
Who Are Microlink Hair Extensions Suitable For?
Microlink hair extensions are suitable for both fine and thick hair – the finer the hair, the less strands of hair extensions added to the microbead, the thicker the hair, the more hair extension strands can be added. Those with finer hair may have some concerns about the microbeads being visible, but this is not the case. The microbeads are attached very close to the scalp, and come in a variety of different colours which can be closely matched to your hair colour.
Do I Need to Visit a Salon to Fit Microlink Hair Extensions?
Absolutely! This is definitely not something you want to try to do yourself at home!
Do Microlink Hair Extensions Require Maintenance?
While the same set of microlink hair extensions can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year if cared for correctly, you will need to visit your hair stylist every 6 to 12 weeks for regular maintenance. Your natural hair will grow around a centimetre a month, so your stylist will need to remove and replace the beads each time. This can take a few hours at each appointment, so perhaps not the best type of hair extensions for someone who has a very busy schedule.
Aside from maintenance at your stylist every 6 to 12 weeks, they will also require maintenance at home on a daily basis. After all, if investing in a longer term solution for hair extensions, you want to make sure that your money and time are not spent in vain. For starters, it’s important to sleep with hair in a braid to avoid any tangling. You will also need to carefully wash, condition and comb the extensions using the appropriate products. Last but not least, you’ll also want to use some sort of heat protection serums, if you plan to style your hair often.
How Much do Microlink Hair Extensions Cost?
Microlink hair extensions can cost anything from £200 upwards and will depend on the brand, the type of hair and how long they take to fit, which, as we’ve already established can take at least a couple of hours.
Fusion Hair Extensions
How are Fusion Hair Extensions Different from Microlink Hair Extensions?
Fusion hair extensions are similar to microlink hair extensions, in that a few strands of extensions are added to a few strands of human hair. The difference is that the extensions are not lose strands – they are individual bonds with a keratin compound at the top. Once they meet the human hair, the bonds are melted and rolled around your hair to instantly give longer and fuller locks.
Who are Fusion Hair Extensions Ideal For?
Fusion extensions are great for all hair types; long or short hair, thick or thin, straight or curly. They are ideal for adding length, thickness and even colour.
Who are the Best for Fusion Hair Extensions?
Great Lengths always! If you’re looking to find a stylist that offers Great Lengths extensions at a salon near you, take a look at the Great Lengths website. London-based readers can contact Sophie Thomas to book an appointment directly.
How Long do Fusion Hair Extensions Last?
Fusion hair extensions last anywhere between 2 to 6 months. They come in a wide range of bonds, from extra small to large. The bigger the bonds the longer they last, however only thick hair can take the really large bonds.
To make the bonds last as long as possible, maintenance is going to be key – for the hair to last as long as possible and to keep them looking nice, as well as to ensure your hair is kept in great condition. They will need to be brushed everyday with a soft bristle brush and plaited in a braid or low pony tail for bed. It’s also really important to make sure that the bonds at the root don’t start to matte and get tangled. To avoid this happening, ensure you run your fingers through the scalp daily.
As with all of the other semi-permanent extensions, you will need to wash them and condition through the mid-lengths and ends. A heat protector is always recommended.
How Much are Fusion Hair Extensions?
Fusion hair extensions can be quite expensive if done properly. In fact, they are probably one of the most expensive if investing in Great Lengths and if using an experienced stylist with plenty of experience. The cost will really depend on the amount of hair extensions being added to the hair, the length, the expertise of the stylist and the amount of time they take to be fitted.
Fusion hair extensions can be done on a budget if just adding a few extensions for volume or for the odd flash of colour.
Tape-In Hair Extensions
What are Tape-In Hair Extensions?
Tape hair extensions are all the rage with celebrities and there is good reason. As the name suggests, tape-in hair extensions are fixed to your natural hair using medical-grade tape. Each extension is fitted with tape that’s about an inch long (although the size of the tape can be made smaller if need be), with your natural hair being sandwiched in between two pieces of tape.
The amazing thing about them is that they are incredibly easy to fit and remove, bringing the time in the salon from a few hours to an hour or less! Despite being tape, they do not damage the hair and are the most natural looking of the extensions, as the tape sits completely flush against the scalp.
And, because they take such little time to fit and remove at the salon, they are typically lower in price.
Who are Tape-In Hair Extensions Ideal For?
Tape-in hair extensions are perfect for anyone that wants to add volume or length to their hair, without having to spend a couple of hours at the salon every 2 months. They are so easy to apply, remove and maintain that this is by far the biggest benefit.
They are also great for anyone with fine hair, as tape-extensions can easily add heaps of volume, whilst still achieving a natural appearance.
Can I Fit Tape-In Hair Extensions Myself?
Unfortunately not, tape-in hair extensions require the expertise of professional stylists.
Are Tape-In Extensions Semi-Permanent?
Tape-in extensions could last from around 4 to 8 weeks and are considered semi-permanent extensions. Of course, this all depends on how fast your hair grows and how well you look after them. At your maintenance appointment with your stylist, the extensions will be removed and the tape replaced, before having the extensions re-fitted back in with the new tape. Tape-in extensions by some extension brands can be re-taped up to three times, depending on how well they are looked after.
How to Look After Tape Extensions
As with all extensions, the more you look after them, the longer they will last and this is no different for tape extensions. Tape-in extensions should be brushed daily when dry, using a soft brush. Be sure to avoid any tugging – you may also want to consider holding your hair from the root to avoid any excessive pulling.
Tape-ins too should be braided before bed and washed regularly as you would your own natural hair. That being said, we recommend avoiding daily washes, as well as using any hair oils or conditioners anywhere near the tape. We recommend using them from the mid-shaft all the way down to the ends.
Where to Buy Tape-In Hair Extensions
We do not recommend you buy them yourself, but rather reach out to a stylist that can help order and fit the correct tape-in extensions to suit you and your budget. We highly recommend finding a stylist that can source Great Lengths tape-in extensions on your behalf, and if in London, Sophie can organise this for you.
Which Hair Extensions Last the Longest?
Fusion extensions typically last the longest if done by an experienced professional. Despite requiring maintenance, the actual pieces of hair can last up to a year if they are looked after. Clip-in, halo or ponytail extensions also last a good amount of time and do not require going to a salon to have the fitted.
What cannot be done with any method is cutting corners, as this is likely to cause serious damage to your hair and will not look good – which is the opposite of what we want.
Which of the Different Types of Hair Extension are Best?
The truth is that it’s hard to state which of the methods above are best – there’s a great range out there and they all have something different to offer, but they’re just not all suitable for everyone. There’s such a wide range of extensions and it is really about working out what you want to commit both timewise and financially. Will you really be dedicated to looking after your extensions and always remember to braid them before you sleep, or would you rather take them out and put them back in in the morning? Does your schedule allow for lengthy appointments at the salon?
Whichever type of method you decide to go for, always ensure that the hair is ethically sourced, not just for you to get the best quality but also to ensure other people don’t get mistreated in our quest for beauty. Always do your research to find the best brand of hair and once you’ve found one that you love, check their stylist locator to put you in contact with a stylist that uses their brand.
Will Hair Extensions Ruin my Hair?
No, not if they are done correctly. From Sophie’s point of view and personal experience, people have often attach too much hair extensions for what their natural hair can manage. “It’s too heavy and as the natural hair starts to shed, the extension has even less hair to hold on to, then pulls out what hair is taking the weight of the extension. They also get left in too long so can become matted, pulling on natural hair and causing breakage when combing out the matted hair.”
Always do a lot of researching when finding someone to do your extensions for you. Be sure to ask about the amount of hair (weight) and maintenance. If the hair stylist is being vague or not reassuring you, ask more questions. If you are not getting enough information from them and still don’t feel confident in getting hair extensions, then take your time and keep exploring your options.
What’s the Best Brush for Hair Extensions
We recommend using a soft bristle brush when dry, and a wet brush when wet. Mason Pearson make the best synthetic soft bristle brush. It is a little bit pricey, but it’s a tool that will last forever. Denman and Acca Kappa brushes are a close second, but are great value for money. A wet brush is amazing for combing out any knots after washing and is designed to be gentle on the hair when brushing through. This is particularly important, as hair is in its most delicate and fragile state when wet.
Sophie is a technical hair cutting specialist with over 10 years’ industry experience at a local and global level, having covered salon management, education and hair extensions, while working for esteemed brands such as Trevor Sorbie and Josh Wood. She has a well-rounded eye for technique and facial harmony, classic or contemporary and considered, natural style.
If you have any further questions about any kind of hair extensions, feel free to reach out to the Dukes Avenue team and we’ll update the article to answer any other commonly asked questions we might have missed. For London-based bookings, kindly contact Sophie Thomas directly.
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